Spirits up — and down — on the Oregon Coast

Stormy weather causes differing emotions on the Oregon Coast.

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Editor's Note: Part two of this three-part tale about a visit to the stormy Oregon Coast appeared in this section last Wednesday.

The visit took place March 11-18.

That Storm Watch beachcombing stint at Newport, Ore., on Tuesday (March 13) spiked my spirits up.

Way up.

The rains and the blustery winds that dominated Tuesday night, Wednesday all day and all night, Thursday off and on and Friday morning, however, spiked them down.

Way down.

Yet, for those stormy days Darlene, Nora the Schnauzer and I lazed like tranquil cave bears about at the Hallmark Inn. Of course, we ventured out to dine. We visited Starbucks, Fred Meyers and a few tourist shops.

Mostly, Darlene and I read Rex Stout novels. Nora read the corners and the carpets. We all watched TV and the mesmerizing waves roll endlessly toward us.

And we napped.

Nora napped a great deal.

Actually, once we decided to roll with the weather, we enjoyed the lazing.

So to speak.

We gave up our tourists' impulse to skitter among the "things to do on the Coast" like water striders.

At 9:45 a.m. on Wednesday, Nora and I meandered to Starbucks to fetch coffee, a blueberry scone and a coffee cake. Since the Inn's Internet connection remained broken, I lugged along the laptop to connect with the World Wide Web.

And I did, for the four minutes it took to check the mail before hurrying the infusion of caffeine, sugar and calories back to the Inn.

Then, I relaxed and watched the waves.

Before I finished my Pike's Place, however, the rain stopped and the wind slackened some.

In a seize-the-moment frenzy, I pocketed a Mutt Mitt, donned a windbreaker and rushed with Nora to the beach. If she would go numbers 1 and 2, we could relax many hours before going out again.

In addition, a walk to the rocky tide pools at Nye Beach, a quarter-mile to the north, and back would allow Nora to run and cavort and get tired.

So, with me carrying the freshly No. 2-weighted plastic bag and Nora ranging far and wide, we almost reached the rocks.

Too soon, however, a blast of driving rain sent both of us scurrying south across the sand and up the 79 steps to the inn. I lagged well behind Nora, but she waited coatless in the rain atop the steps.

In the room, we lazed some more.

In the afternoon, we drove to the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. We rounded the circle at the mist-curtained lighthouse and headed back to the Inn.

On the way, we decided to visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium.

Once there, however, we eschewed leaving Nora alone in the cold truck.

So, back on Highway 101, we dined at the 24-hour, packed Newport Caf.

After that, we decided Nora and Darlene would return to the Inn, and I would visit the OCA by myself. Once inside, I hurried around the outside exhibits in the wind and rain, including the aviary, the seal, otter, sea lion and octopus tanks. I snapped fast photos of the puffins and guillemots or common murres and a sea otter.

I spent more time at the inside exhibits before returning to the Inn. So much for Wednesday

On Thursday, with the Internet working again and the snow nearly forgotten, I checked mail and Darlene did some last-minute shopping.

In the afternoon, we downed calorie- and cholesterol-loaded bacon-eggs-hash browns and pancakes at the Pig'N Pancake.

We spent much of the evening finding stuff and packing it away for an early departure on Friday.

And Friday dawned with the heaviest rain of the week. With coffee and pastries from Starbucks, we left Newport at 8:32 a.m. We took Highway 18 near Lincoln City from the coast to Portland and Interstate 84 to Cascade Locks. We lunched there and crossed the Bridge of the Gods to Washington Highway 14.

By then the weather had improved. When we reached Columbia Hills State Park, across the Columbia River from The Dalles, we enjoyed the sunshine.

So, we stopped at Horsethief Butte, a part of the park for Nora to toilet and romp. We often stop there. Last October, for example, on our way back from Newport, we met a young rattlesnake curled in the trail.

We again spent an hour there. Nora and I climbed to the top of the butte for a panoramic view across Highway 14 and to the Columbia Hills Park along the river.

We reached Walla Walla at 4:37 p.m.

"We had a good trip," Darlene said as we parked. "But it's nice to be home."

"It is," I said.

Contact Don Davis at dondavis@wwub.com. More of Don's photos can be found online at www.tripper.smugmug.com .

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