Albany, OR, is in the lush Willamette Valley, and though it was a little chilly in March, spring had definitely begun to bloom. (I happened to be reading The Postman by David Brin on the airplane flying out to Seattle, so I was amused that we drove through Corvallis that morning.)
|The Coast Range in the distance|
|Up we go!|
The drive over the Coast Range was quite pretty. The mountains (foothills?) are heavily forested and little streams and rivers seem to flow through all of the valleys.
I was particularly fascinated by the giant trees that stand almost twice as tall as the "normal" trees around them. Some kind of fir or sequoia, I think?
Our destination was Newport, OR, at the mouth of the Yaquina River. It's exactly what you want from a tourist town---small, friendly, terrifically artsy, and with an abundance of amazing scenery.
|My first glimpse of the Pacific!|
|The bridge over Yaquina Bay|
|Looking north up the coast|
|Panorama from the beach|
|Happy little seagulls|
We stopped in an antique store along the coast because that's what model horse collectors do no matter where they travel. You never know what fabulous finds might be waiting! And then Jackie asked if I wanted to stop in a glassblowing shop. I collect pottery, not glass, so I thought that would be pretty safe entertainment. Hahaha, how wrong I was!
Ocean Beaches Glassblowing & Gallery is a fantastic gallery of exquisite hand-blown glass by a variety of local artists. I was absolutely blown away by the artistry of everything on display.
I was completely unaware of the old fishing practice of using glass floats with fishing nets until we visited this shop---I guess that's what comes of living in primarily landlocked places. But I was fascinated by the proprietor's stories of how collecting floats that washed up on the shore was a time-honored tradition for Oregon beach combers. They have become scarce since most floats these days are plastic, but the local glass artists continue to make beautiful decorative ones instead.
Not surprisingly, I was unable to resist the allure of art and history lesson all in one, so I came home with this exquisite float by Joe Novello, a local Newport artist.
The gallery features a working shop where customers can watch artists at work. It's utterly mesmerizing to see a piece of glass made from start to finish.
The rocks right along the shore are covered in California mussels, and the tidal pools are full of fascinating sea life, like anemones...
and more anemones. Visitors are allowed to gently reach in to touch them. They feel sticky.
Back up the stairs and on to the lighthouse!
|A memorial to those lost at sea|
Our next stop was Agate Beach just down the coast from the lighthouse. The tide was out but, but from the right angle, you could see how saturated the sand was. It kind of looked like walking on water.
I am a rock hound and have been all my life, so interesting rocks are very often the sort of souvenirs I like to bring home with me when I travel. There's something about the tactile nature of them that brings the place where I collected them back to mind vividly. That said, visitors are not allowed to take cobbles from Cobble Beach, but the rangers on duty said we were free to collect shells or driftwood, so I did. At Agate Beach, I found a cobble-like stone and some pumice to add to my little souvenir hoard. (The horse and skull are from the model horse show of course.)
The afternoon was winding down by this point and the rain was picking up, so we headed back into town to poke around the various galleries on the main street by the bay. We followed the sound of barking and grunting to find these sea lions lounging around near the marina.
|The lovely Yaquina Bridge again|
|Back over the mountains after an excellent adventure|