It's a seal's life along Yaquina Head

Yawns and smiles appear on seals' faces at Quarry Cove.

Yawns and smiles appear on seals' faces at Quarry Cove. Don Davis

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LINCOLN CITY, Ore. — Darlene and I scurried across the parking lot through a slanted downpour and into the Pig ‘N’ Pancake near our friends’ beach house at Road’s End.

Nora the Schnauzer watched through the truck’s rain-blurred side window.

We had slept late that Thursday and, after three days, no more bagels! So, we combined breakfast and lunch with bacon, eggs, hash browns, toast, jelly, orange juice and coffee.

Then we headed toward one of our favorite sites, the Outstanding Natural Area at Yaquina Head, 20 miles south at Newport.

We had made the drive the day before and left without stopping because of a windy downpour.

“It looks a little brighter to the south,” I said as heavy rain splashed the windshield. “Maybe we’ll be lucky.”

And we were.

Entering Newport, we turned from Highway 101 onto Yaquina Head Drive and saw a wide swath of blue sky to the west.

No one manned the gate, it being the first of November, so we stopped briefly at Quarry Cove.

A pickup had passed the barrier to the observation deck.

A dozen or so seals lay on a rock, dry above the rising tide.

Then we stopped to show our pass at the visitor’s center, and I asked about passing the barrier at Quarry Cove. The woman loaned me a device to raise the bar.

Then I hurried toward the lighthouse to check the mammoth rock formations for brown pelicans. Sometimes in October-November they congregate there by the hundreds.

Alas, not this time.

A few circled overhead, but I saw none resting on the rocks.

The waves nearly covered the tide pools below the winding wooden stairs.

That left the quarter-mile hike up the hill above the lighthouse.

Nora and I took the trail while Darlene read and watched the thumping surf.

A chill wind rustled the thick, stiff-stalked salal along the trail.

Nora sniffed at millipedes.

I gawked at views of Beverly Beach to the north and Agate and Nye beaches to the south, not to mention the lighthouse and rolling waves to the west and the gaping quarry with the visitor center to the east, a quarry that once provided gravel for building Highway 101.

Then we visited the seals.

I raised the barrier and rolled down to the observation deck. Darlene, Nora and I stood at the rail, watching and being watched, as waves splashed into the cove, washed seals from the rock and spread a white blanket of surf foam on the cove’s calm water.

Two smiling seals on the rock happily rolled with the waves.

Others in the water approached close to the deck, eyes mainly on Nora. She stretched her neck under the railing for her own closer look.

Finally, we toured Newport’s Old Town waterfront and saw tons of barking sea lions and preening pelicans on harbor rocks.

Then the rains came.

We headed back toward Road’s End. We stopped at Mo’s and picked up chocolate chunk cookies at Safeway.

Cookies and coffee would encourage us while we packed for an early morning departure, with Egg McMuffins from McDonalds, for home again.

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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