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  • Day123

    Thar Be Whales

    September 16, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 15 °C

    We continued driving down the Columbia River gorge and turned left back into Oregon before heading down the coast. After a fish & chip lunch at a British pub we'd been told about by a ranger hundreds of miles away, we stopped at Fort Stevens SP and biked the civil war and World War 2 base, with its cunning disappearing guns, before ending up soaking in some sun on the beach & examining the Peter Iridale wreck.

    Oregon has got the State Park (SP) system just right. The entirely public coast (no private beaches here) is littered with day use and camping areas, and the secluded sites set amongst beautiful ancient trees are bliss. The fact that they have great free hot showers is an added bonus.

    For lunch we pulled off the road and started building our sarnies when a grey whale spouted just off the headland. They were so close we didn't even need our binoculars so we watched as half a dozen fed themselves against the sea cliffs whilst we munched on our butties.

    We visited the Oregon Coast Aquarium which was only allowable (by Jo) as they no longer keep Orcas or dolphins. It is actually where the whale who inspired Free Willy was kept until they attempted to reintroduce him into the wild. They took him to Iceland & although he didn't completely integrate with the local pods, and still sought human company, he lived for 4 years in the wild before dying of natural causes. We also learnt that over 50% of the Puget Sound salmon-eating Orcas were captured to sell to parks around the world & although it is now illegal it's believed that their numbers are too low to recover. Anyway they now concentrate on education & conservation, they had very cute sea otters there which we were saddened to find out that they are officially extinct in Oregon.

    We stayed in a couple more gorgeous SPs but I've got a touch of the man-flu so I'm not feeling like springing into the bracing sea (I've also passed it onto Jo so we're not the happiest of campers at the moment...) On the 4th morning we woke to sea fog shrouding a few miles inland that didn't look like it was going clear so took our leave and headed inland. We ended up in a lovely spot off the scenic highway down by a river.
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