The trees are starting to get leafy, the grass is getting greener, and the gorse blossoms are filling the air with pollen – it’s spring on the coast, and time for us to begin our travels.
We made our last visit to Simpson Reef to view the seals and sea lions. It was during high tide and the combination of a smaller area of beach and larger amount of California Sea Lions made for an interesting show of noisy, squirming animals. While the other seals and sea lions like to be spread out, the boys from California just love piling on top of one another. It’s a California thing. We’ll miss the magic of the reef with its seals, sea lions, Gray Whales, Bald Eagles, and occasional Peregrine Falcon – if you’re ever in the area; don’t pass up a trip to this viewpoint.
The nearby town of Charleston is a small but vibrant fishing community. It also hosts the University of Oregon’s Charleston Marine Life Center, where we visited with friends Rob and Syd. It’s sort of a miniature version of the Newport Aquarium, with touch pools, exhibits, and a bit of local history. The marine center is a small part of the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology, a 100-acre campus that provides undergraduate training in Marine Biology, services for visiting scientists, and of course their annual “Aw Shucks” oyster feed. We visited on a beautiful sunny day which provided us a great view of the harbor from the center. Inside, we enjoyed viewing the skeletons, underwater videos, and even got a “hug” by an anemone in the touch pool.
From Coos Bay we headed over the coast range to Junction City, where we had scheduled some motor home work at the new Winnebago service center. It turned out that the work would take longer than we had anticipated, so we decided to defer it until the fall and headed for our next stop, Salem – the state capital that no one can remember when reciting capitals of the United States. After five months of being shopping and restaurant deprived on the coast, we were anxious to visit a big city again, and found a great RV park convenient to the city center.
Salem isn’t a particularly picturesque town, but the capital grounds and downtown shopping center are interesting. Stores contained in buildings on four city blocks are all connected by covered walkways to form a large shopping mall, with another block serving as a multi-level parking garage. Macy’s, Penney’s, Nordstrom and a host of smaller typical mall stores are here, as is Brenda’s favorite – Kohl’s. But it was the capital grounds that we found truly special.
We strolled the North capital grounds, an area of cherry trees, azaleas, and a spectacular fountain. The capital building is the fourth-newest in the states, finished in 1938. Atop the dome is an interesting statue, the 22’ tall, gold-leaf covered “Oregon Pioneer”, also known as the “Gold Man”.
We enjoyed our stay in Salem – we caught up on shopping, made two visits to Buffalo Wild Wings (whoo hoo!) and had a great day visiting the capital grounds. We’re traveling East over the Cascade Range to our next stop, Prineville. We’ll be posting again soon, so check back!