Michelle was right -- I was in Newport in Oregon's Central Coast for the weekend.
Yaquina Bay Bridge. I borrowed the earlier pictures but these ones are all mine.
Thursday afternoon the sun came out briefly and I got this urge to get out of town. A look at the weekend forecast and a few phone calls later and Friday after work found me throwing a few things into the car and heading out to Newport. Since I'd already done the beachfront hotel thing back in February, and didn't really have the money to do that this time, I found a dirt cheap hotel off of Highway 101, about six blocks from Nye Beach. It was bare bones in terms of amenities but it was clean, relatively quiet, and had everything I needed. Even the bed was comfy.
I hadn't been to that part of the coast for at least ten years, if not closer to 15. I'd actually forgotten about the aquarium there, which is fairly surprising considering I'm such a nut for zoos and for marine mammals. Really, an aquarium is the perfect thing for me. Especially when it turns out that they offer sea lion kisses!
This is Lea, one of the aquarium's three sea lions. Isn't she cute?
The Oregon Coast Aquarium offers a short Sea Lion Kisses program where it's basically just the kiss, and a longer Sea Lion Encounter where you get an aquarium tour, including behind the scenes stuff, plus meet the mammalogist and, of course, the sea lion who will be smootching you that day. The kisses are part of that sea lion's daily enrichment/training. The other two get theirs in the morning's public feeding.
I'm such a pretty sea lion...
The behaviors they learn are not only for play but for handling and health reasons. For example, the trainers brush the sea lions' teeth every day so they learn to open their mouths and hold them open. It's so cute. If you've ever seen a Sea World show with the sea lions, seals, or walruses, they can do a lot of that stuff too like say yes and no, talk, blow kisses -- Lea was learning that behavior. And, they also give kisses.
They had me go first since no one else volunteered and I was the total geek pressed right up against the rope line to get as close as I possibly could to the sea lion. Please ignore the fact that I have no chin.
You can tell this is a seal because they don't have ear flaps.
Sea lion Quill. See the ears?
Sea lion Max.
In addition to seals and sea lions, there are my other favorite, otters.
Did you know that there is an otter network? It's true. All the otters talk to each other, passing on information about their favorite people. I know this for two reasons. First, because this otter kept coming over to just me, doing turns and flips and every time he came around he'd raise his head right out of the water towards me at the glass directly and make serious eye contact. The people next to me were giving me the weirdest looks.
Second is of course because a few minutes after I arrived to make his acquaintance he showed me that he too is a hygienic otter.
In other words, this year's Christmas card!
The aquarium also has a huge acrylic tube that passes through several tanks where there are, among others, big ass sharks.
We're gonna need a bigger boat.
Find a happy place. Find a happy place!
Dude, I ATE Nemo.
I also visited Yaquina Bay Lighthouse and Yaquina Head Lighthouse. In case you're wondering, it's pronounced Yuh-QUIN-uh.
I love this next pic. Dead seals!
Yeah, not really. But if you didn't know...
And no trip to the beach would be complete without a new sampling of chowders. Three hits, no misses.
All in all, a good trip. Batteries are recharged for another month or two.