I planned to get up early, catch the sunrise, and snap some pictures. (Oh, lord, what have I become!? Someone who does that!?)
I set an alarm for 6:30 AM. After lying in my sleeping bag, feeling the vibration of my phone and low volume beeping, I decided to stick with my plan and actually get out of bed.
One of the easiest ways that I've found to get myself out of a tent when I'd rather snooze is to open the deflate valve on the air mattress beneath me. When air rushes out, and soft comfort is replaced by cold, hard ground, it's easier to actually emerge into the light.
So, I did that. But an unpleasant surprise awaited me.
I walked to my car, electronic key in hand, and it did not open...
Of Keys, And How They Fail
The car remote had died, and with it, my electronic key.
No bother. I was worried about something like this happening in the new-fangeled world of keyless entry, and I knew how to pop off the piece of plastic hiding the keyhole and actually unlock the thing.
I couldn't actually remember, though, how to start my car with a flat key battery. Also, though the driver's side door was open, the electronic locks for all other doors were non-functional... on account of there being no electronic key detected.
So I took my tent and accouterments down and shoved them into my car through my driver's side door, took care of morning hygiene rituals, and flipped through the manual on replacing the key remote battery, and starting the car. It took me a little while to find the correct section, but once I did, it turned out that the proper procedure was pretty straightforwards and painless. (And could have saved me the indignity of shoving my tent through my driver-side door.)
With all that time wasted, I might as well have slept in, if only I didn't rouse myself so efficiently. The sunrise was almost over...
A Last Desperate Glimpse
I left the campground at my earliest convenience, hoping to catch the very tail end of the sunrise as I made my way around the cape.
At Cape Arago State Park, I caught, fleeting, final glimpses of the sunrise... and lots of beautiful views of craggly rock and ocean currents.
From there, I headed back north. I needed to get on my merry way so I could begin my workday, but I still had time to stop at a few other overlooks, back at Sunset Bay, and at Shore Acres, the state park that lies between them.
It's really weird that this small section of Oregon Coast is somehow divided into three separate state parks.
I guess Sunset Bay differentiates itself by having a campground, while Shore Acres boasts a garden (not in January!) and an admission fee. Cape Arago is where to go for sunrises, so I guess that's what it brings to the table. But, why three and not one?!
Of Keys and How They Are Revived
After leaving the gorgeous cape, my next stop was... Wal-Mart, where I endeavored to buy a battery, and camp cutlery, given that I had forgotten to bring mine. (I realized this around when I was cooking and consuming dinner off in my backpack campsite in the most boring reaches of Humboldt Redwood State Park. Picture that one, if you wish.)
Removing the battery cover from my car remote and prying the battery out was simple, and achievable with my bare hands. Prying the replacement CR2025 out of its hard plastic blister packaging was not so. I ended up stabbing the plastic repeatedly with my newly purchased plastic fork's tines until it eventually yielded.
Shortly thereafter, I could start my car without following the special dead key battery procedures.
After that, I stopped by the Coos Bay Library. It wasn't open yet, so I parked on the street so I could use their Wifi and join a meeting.
After that, I drove for another hour or so without stopping, because the dense fog and rain meant that the scenery wasn't so scenic.
Sea Lion Caves
The Sea Lion Caves are a historic attraction along Highway 101, sometimes regarded as a tourist trap. (Enough so that I have a vague recollection that I cannot place of recently seeing a cartoon or something about cavemen or dinosaurs that go on a trip and come back outfitted in Sea Lions Cave merch. Weird.)
The caves are in fact one of the largest sea caves in the world and were first discovered in 1880. The sea lions that live in them do not live in captivity, and are free to roam and enjoy the surf as much as they want. The only human additions are a distant viewing platform, an elevator, and a giftshop that charges admission to view the caves.
And, I figured I may as well stop for a visit. Why not admire some sea lions in some caves?
Sure, they're kind of ugly, but when has that ever stopped anyone from stopping here?
Given the foggy, dim morning, I shouldn't have expected to be able to get great Sea Lion shots inside of a cave. Indeed, it was not to be.
It was really fun staring down a super-telephoto zoom lens, watching Sea Lions get splashed about and play inside of quite harsh currents. But, these images are my very best captures, and frankly, they're not all that great.
But hey, I was glad to have my camera with me, because without it, the full span of my view would have been roughly this:
I definitely lingered more than most of the other visitors, and I think it is because I got a lot more for my money.
I would have loved to spend some time at the nearby Oregon Dunes, but given the dense fog, I continued onwards.
Strawberry Hill Wayside
Famous for its life-abundant tide pools, I ventured to Strawberry Fields where I walked around in the mist for a bit, and decided I'd rather just check out the local birds instead of hopping about on soggy rocks. The orange-billed oystercatcher is my new favorite maritime bird!
The whole area of Cook's Chasm is just a lovely set of blowholes and weathered rocks that provide quite a striking view at high tide. It was raining quite heavily while I was walking around, and I did not do a great job of keeping the water off of my camera lens. Whoops.
Thor's Well is another attraction, a truly epic set of blowholes. I went in with low expectations, and I was just pleasantly surprised to the max.
From there, I stopped in Yachats, where I hoped to find a place to grab a late lunch. "That's tough on a Tuesday," said the post office worker, "most things are closed."
I was tired, and hungry, and hangry even. Local food options were slim and would have included a fish sandwich or meal at a bar. I was eager for a cup of coffee, and certainly hungry, though at the time, I was not so eager for those two choices. So, I made worse ones, obviously.
I saw a coffee stand near a Dollar General. Turned out it was closed too. So, I went to Dollar General instead, where I bought one box of oatmeal cream pies and some sort of gross prepackaged Starbucks beverage. I sat in the car for a while and took a nice long breather.
I was only fifteen minutes from where I needed to be.
Of Steves, and How They Are Revived
What I picked as my next accommodation was a private listing in Waldport, OR. You can find it on Airbnb, or on VRBO. Reviews mentioned a comfortable bed, and the cost was super reasonable.
Well, let me tell you.
The bed was comfortable and I was maximally eager to do some relaxing.
...and with that, I'll take a short hiatus from updating this particular "series."
Stay tuned for more, eventual updates.
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