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Thursday June 9- Sea Lion Cave, Heceta Head Lighthouse, Cape Perpetua, Sandrail

We woke up to the most beautiful day! Bright blue skies, light wind and temps in the low 60’s. Here is our site at the Thousand Trails. Even in the bright blue sky, the site is wet, dark, and depressing! Our plan was to have an early start, so we took off traveling north to sight-see. Our first stop was at the Elks campground, about 2 miles north of Florence. This is a very nice park. We spoke with the camp host, who also gave us a calendar of the events at the Lodge in Florence. This RV park is so much nicer than the Thousand Trails! It has water and electric, with a dump station for $20 per night, in a really nice environment. We will stay there the next time that we come through town. We are going to continue to stay at the Thousand  Trails, since we have full hook-up and I can do laundry.

We continued north, with our next stop being the World’s Largest Sea Lion Cave, as certified by The Guinness World Book in 1997 The cost was $12 each. You enter through this building,

then walk down stairs, out to the ocean deck below. If you go right, the trail takes you down to the elevator, which drops you 20 stories, into the cave. Then you walk down farther into the cave to see the sea lions. In the spring, the animals move out onto the warm rocks, for resting, hunting, and swimming. There were still a few in the cave,

one male (he is much bigger than his females). We watched a 6 minute video on the cave and sea lions, then wandered over to look at the inside sea lions. The cave was discovered  on a summer day in 1880 by Captain William Cox. He piloted his boat throught the south opening, that small area straight ahead in the cave.  He claimed the land, and his family owned it until the 1930’s when they sold it to the current owners, who privately run this site. The cave is 2 acres with a rock dome high above. We are standing at 35 feet above sea level and 300  feet below Highway 101. After looking at the sea lions, we climbed some stairs to see the north cave entrance. There were a lot of birds hanging out there, and this one lone male sea lion.

I guess he was tired of listening to his ladies. You could also see the Heceta Head Lighthouse and Light Keepers home (now a B & B run by the National Park Service). We rode back up in the elevator, then hiked back up to the building,  stopping on the ledge between the two areas to take this picture.

then down the other side to view the sea lions and seals, sunning on the rocks below from this lookout.From here, we continued a few miles south, through a low tunnel (we are taking the motor home though here on Sunday, so checking it out was a good idea!). We pulled into the parking lot at the base of the lighthouse trail.

There was a ½ mile uphill walk to the lighthouse and a $5 parking fee, so we decided to move on. We continued south, about 11 miles, stopping at some of the viewpoints. We crossed over into Lincoln County and stopped at the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center. The center was very interesting with lots of nice exhibits, both indoor and out. These pictures are from the viewpoint on the ocean side of the center.

We started back to Florence, and since we were now rested, after our hikes up and down the hills at the Sea Lion Cave. So we stopped back at the Light house, paid our fee and hiked up, and I do mean up, the ½ mile trail to the light house. We took the tour, given by another full time RV’er.  This picture shows the lights from the Fresnel light prism when it turns.  The lighthouse is 205 ft above the ocean (see I told you it was a hike up!). This is the view from up in the lighthouse.The first edition Fresnel light, at the top of the 56ft. tower, was first  illuminated in 1894, and can be seen for 21 miles from shore. It is rated as the strongest light on the Oregon coast. We went up as far in the lighthouse as you can climb.  Here is what it looked like from up in the lighthouse looking down.

After we finished at the lighthouse, we headed back to the motor home. We ate lunch, walked the dogs, and then we were off on our next adventure.

We drove next door to the park to Sandland Adventures to take the Sand Rail tour. The sandrail is a dune buggy on steroids. This only cost $14 per person, for a one hour tour (I keep thinking of Gilligan). It was an accelerating hour! We climbed aboard the sand rail and took off on our adventure, winding through 8 miles of sand dunes

We crossed a river.

Then went out to the beach for 2 miles. Since it was a sunny day, we wore our hats, which we had to hang onto most of the time. We then headed back into the dunes. This road was like a washboard. Riding, slowly, over it was like being in a storm on a boat, rocking side to side.

Other than the trees, the vegitation that you see should not be here. It was placed here by humans to stabilize the dunes.  We went up, and uh oh, down steep dunes! What you are seeing are our tracks when the driver took us straight down the dune!  Remember, these dunes can be as tall as 500 ft. There was a lot of screaming on the down hills (not us)! I even managed to keep my eyes open the whole time!

 It was definitely an adventure. We went back to the motor home and I did some laundry, we barbecue’d some chicken and hit the bed!

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