Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Smith Rock

I am officially the worst blogger ever! We are taking trips and I am not writing them for a over a month afterwords. :sad: In early November we got to cross Smith Rock off our list, finally! And we just happen to have stunning weather, which is mostly unheard of and a total hit-or-miss that time of year. Unfortunately, we did not do any climbing. Josh isn't a big climber and I mostly like to only climb in gyms (which it has been forever) and we brought the dogs with us. Smith Rock is about 2 hour from Corvallis, it was an easy and beautiful drive since we got to go through the pass and see Sisters, Oregon. I have blogged about Sisters in the past. Sisters is a beautiful town that is set up to have an old western feel to it, but it very clean, modern, and not tacky feeling (a lil touristy, but not all cheesy).

Smith Rock is an amazing site, and it's a little funny because it is sort of out of no where that these rocks just appear. Obviously, you can see them from a distance away, but you have to drive just outside of city limits (Redmond) and through a farm, then as you are headed down the entrance road - bam - a giant rock meets the end of the road. There is no man-stationed ticket booth or gate to pass through and there is a lot of parking, but trust me, on gorgeous days it's full early. 

Smith Rock is one of Oregon's Seven Wonders and is known through out the climbing community (I encourage you to visit the link and see what Oregon has to offer). It also has a ton of trails, you can be out there for a few hours, like we were, or for days (although Im a not sure if camping on the trail is allowed?) The big trail we wanted to do, once we got there and saw all the trails, is called Monkey Face. We had to skip it since it was a no dogs allowed trail. We kinda decided the night before to head out there so there wasn't a lot of planning involved. We just wanted to get our eyes on it for the first time, we are coming up on our fourth year here in Oregon and this place has been on our list for a while now. Knowing how easy the drive is and how it's not really as far as we were thinking, we really want to take a trip sans dogs. 

We got a late start as usually, because for some reason we literally can not make it anywhere on time (serious pet-peve of mine and it drives me up the freaking wall!) and as we were unloading the car, dogs, and snacks Josh went to reach for his backpack... and it wasn't there. On top of always being late, we always forget at least one important item, you should see how many travel dog water bowls we have. Luckily, since Josh was at sea during the previous weeks, I had been walking the dogs a lot more solo and was trying to get Daisy used to her backpack again and left it in the car so it would always be ready for her. Daisy to the rescue! SO glad I did those walks with her prior, she gets somewhat neurotic and nervous of new things, like harnesses, backpacks, shoes... But training paid off! We carried our Nalgenes in hand and packed a couple essentials in the dog pack. This is not a trip to take without a bag, especially if you go in summer when it's hot. You will need water. And the hikes are long and down a giant hill from the cars, you will also want a snack (or meal) if you plan on being out there a while. 


Now to let the photos speak for themselves

I guess horses are not uncommon here.
We let the dogs relax in a small pasture along
the trails. 

People were covering a lot of these rocks, I tried to get some shots of climbers, but they were so little from where we were taking the pictures. You can climb on your own, or you can have guides, there were LINES of people all over waiting to climb.

happy boy!

We spent a solid 3 and a half hours just walking around. SO much to look at and so many pictures I couldn't pass on taking. That's one of the wonderful things about Oregon, all you have to do is own a camera and walk outside, the photos take themselves! 

Since we had driven across the pass we and couldn't hike any other trails with the pups we decided to see what else was close to there. We found a little canyon about 2 miles up the road. I thought I took a picture of the sign that had the history, but I think it's actually on Josh's phone. Peter Skene Odgen (for whom Odgen, Utah is named after. A stunning town we passed through on our move out here. Serious mountains and beautiful scenery we still talk about.) started this project way back in the day (wish I had that photo with the facts on it) and it's a railway above this canyon. I did happen to capture the sign that says "no pets allowed". People and pets have actually died here, off to the left of the photo below, on the other side of the tracks, the guard rail ends and it's a 300 foot drop straight down! Not the kind of heights to be messing around on during a windy day. 

After that we were ready to head back into Bend and grab some dinner before the drive back. We stopped at the Deschutes Brewery and had the best beer and pizza ever (aside from Chicago pizza, of course). We can not wait to go back for some longer hikes, maybe next spring?! 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Seal Rock, Oregon Coast

I don't know how I have been up and down the Oregon coast so many times and never knew about this little spot! Seal Rock is beautiful, even on a cloudy fall day. Just a short drive south from Newport (about 8 miles/ 12 minutes ish), with a paved trail, and a couple entrances,  this is an easy stop that could occupy a 5 minute break or a full day of walking around and exploring all the tide pools. 

We pulled into the first entrance and took the short path to the overlook. It was a cold day and when I took the picture I didn't realize my coffee cup was in the shot! But I liked it too much to not post it and I don't have/ use photoshop. 

We then walked down the trail to the beach and to the rocks. 

Have you heard about the seastar wasting disease?! It basically disintegrates the stars and causes them to breakdown. Thankfully they are finally getting some leads on it, one step closer to saving them. I hated to see all these stars turning to mush.

If you enlarge the picture,
the puffy discolored part in the middle is the disease. 

what happens when you are looking through the camera for a good wave shot

Rock dance party

This very unassuming spot off 101 is a great way to spend a few hours.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Drift Creek Falls

{The computer had to undergo some surgery, then Josh took it on his boat for a while. But this ol' 2007 MacBook is back up and running, so I am going to get a couple more post from it still. I am sensing a new laptop for 2015.}

Drift Creek Falls is one of the places I got stuck in my head, and when we couldn't go I became determined to get there! Our first attempt mid-late summer was rained out so we ended up at the outlet mall up the road instead. [Got an unplanned head start on some Christmas shopping.] Drift Creek is on the coast, so the weather there is different than what we can predict for the valley. I was really bummed, it's not a far drive from Corvallis, but since it was summer that means hight of tourist season on the coast and Highway 101. Tourists are the worst! They cause unnecessary traffic, walk in the middle of the roads looking at things around them totally oblivious that they are in the middle of the highway, and drive the prices of hotels and local eateries up. At the same time, some of these smaller towns probably would not survive without them ::sigh::.

Anyways, enough ranting about too many people in small places. I had my head set on getting to Drift Creek, it's just a few miles north of Newport and just south of Lincoln City and has great signage! I mean seriously, for such a small place, it there were a TON of signs! The boat Josh was on in September was in a rotation schedule with another boat in their fleet, so he just happened to have about 2.5 days off over labor day weekend. We spent one day laying around and taking it easy, and the second day we bolted for Drift Creek. His days off are FEW and far between and he can get called in at anytime, they are not true guaranteed days off. We usually avoid holiday weekends that attract crowds, but we had to go when we could. Surprisingly, it was raining when we got to the coast... sense the sarcasm? It was okay, we packed a lunch and our rain jackets and ended up with two muddy dogs! 

nervous of the bridge
mid-yawn face, silly boy
Because of the rain we didn't get a ton of pictures, but what is fun about this place is the huge suspension bridge at the base of the falls. Also, the hike is pretty short at only 3 miles round trip and only a small hill at the trail head which is eased by light switchbacks. It would be a nice place to take visitors, minus the dogs next time. The trail is slightly more narrow than other trails we've frequented, which is what makes it a little tight for the dogs. They were wet and muddy and although they are OVERLY friendly, some people just don't like dogs at all and on that trail there isn't a lot of space to maneuver. Also the bridge is narrow... and moves.... a lot. I am not a bridge person, I do not trust man-made heights - no bridges of any kind. I have gotten a lot better through the years, but this is the first suspension bridge I have been on this size. 

The bottom of the falls and all the water is accessible by a small walk down the rocks at the base. If we did not have the dogs or it wasn't so crowded (covered with screaming kids, screaming because they were having fun that is) we would have ventured down, it just didn't line up for us this time. There is one waterfall and it comes off the side of the mountains into the river falling 75 feet. The trail is open year-round and there is a decent amount of parking, but not a lot, so go early if it's a nice day. It is also close to camping, hotels, and shopping, so you can make it part of a weekend coast trip. It's off HWY 101, going N from Newport to Lincoln City, turn right onto Drift Creek Road (after the golf course, there is a small sign on your left pointing to it) and follow the signs up the mountain. I think they do a lot of boy scout type stuff up there where they bring in busses of kids, there were signs at every intersection and even though it was a forestry road it was all paved. Super easy to find.

It really is a beautiful bridge! 

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