“She Gets Excited Easily”

That’s how Tracy excused me when I suddenly jumped up and left our weekly Zoom trivia game. Go Team Donner Party! Just without me for a bit. There was a whale within sight, and I had to grab the binoculars to watch it surface.

This was the third majorly wonderful wild animal spotting in a week for me. But first, the where-we-are-and-how-we-got-here yadda yadda part.

Farther up the Coast

We made a two-day drive from northern California to southern Oregon, up Highway 101 as we’ve traveled this whole spring. We spent one night in a Casino parking lot, which sounds terrible except that:

1) It’s free.

2) It was right by a brewery, so after checking in with the casino security people, we drove over and had dinner and a couple of beers in the chilly but neato beer garden.

3). Elk were grazing in the fields surrounding the casino, so close that I didn’t walk Banjo except right in the parking lot.

Elk count as a very cool wild animal sighting, in my book.

The drive along 101 was very narrow, with redwoods right close to the road and thick woods all around us. I would say it’s amazingly lovely, but I kept falling asleep. Lucky for me I’ve made this drive before, but still, Tracy was ever so carefully towing our trailer along hairpin curves so we could take in the majesty of this country’s redwoods, and I was probably drooling and snoring.

Oregon: Big Trees, Big Ferns, Big Campsites

Our destination: Cape Blanco State Park in Oregon, a wooded area along the coast with an historic lighthouse and gorgeous views all around, when a thick fog bank isn’t covering everything. (Tracy reminds me that this photo isn’t of the Cape Blanco lighthouse but of the Crescent City one we walked near when we had stopped at the brewery the day before.)

We’re parked in the midst of dense woods, with giant spruce and fir trees and ferns all around us, plus a path right from the trailer down to the Pacific Coast Trail.

When the sun’s out (which will be about 10% of the time we’re here), this is where we sit, a few yards from the trailer and with a view of the ocean.

It’s where Tracy spotted the whale (or whales, probably). Without binoculars we could see them spouting out their blowholes, but they followed a behavior pattern so closely that as soon as we saw the first spout, we’d grab the binoculars and follow the remainder: another blow, a back surfacing, then the whale dives and shows its tail fin. They must’ve been feeding in the area; we were able to stand and watch (and leave the trivia game rudely) for about an hour.

Tide Pool Jackpot

Walk south on the trail and you hit a sandy beach, and walk north to see the light house and hit a rocky beach, my new favorite type.

We were at low tide there the first morning, and Tracy estimates that here the tide varies something like eight feet.

So we carefully walked across a huge area of rocks with tide pools interspersed and saw plenty of my new favorites: sea stars, anemones, snails, hermit and regular crabs, and lotsa little fish.

One tidepool caught my eye because of extra movement in it, so I stopped, squatted down to peer underneath the rocks, and look what I saw!!

For about 30 seconds I watched this octopus reach out from underneath a crevasse, feel around, then withdraw again, probably spooked from me standing and shouting, ”Tracy! Octopus!” like an idiot.

Seriously, the arms were as thick as my thumb, and the one that reached out farthest may have been eight inches long. That was just what I was seeing; I couldn’t see the body or the arms closer to it.

I’ve seen octopus while scuba diving and snorkeling, but only maybe twice before, and it felt like an honor. So I squatted there on that rock all slick with kelp until my ankles ached, staring and waiting and hoping to see the octopus again. No dice.

I hiked back the next day, only to find the tidal pools swarming with … students, damn them. Marine biology students mapping anemones and crabs.

No octopus that day.

Still, that’s 🦌, 🐋, and 🐙! Not that I’m counting! Or getting so excited that I’m using exclamation marks!

5 thoughts to ““She Gets Excited Easily””

  1. Tidal pools are probably the most amazing little ecosystems(probably not the right word) on the planet
    So lucky to see an octopus!!