Continuing with our time in Yachats at the Tillicum Beach Campground, we were relieved to finally have the smoky haze gone and see sunshine and clear skies. We drove seven miles south to the Cape Perpetua Headland which at 800 feet is the highest point accessible by car on the Oregon coast. It was a fairly clear day and there were beautiful views extending 37 miles along the Oregon coastline. Captain James Cook first sighted the Headland in 1778 and named it after Saint Perpetua.
In 1933 President Franklin D. Roosevelt formed the Civilian Conservation Corps and Cape Perpetua was a base camp. The CCC’s built a stone structure which we were able to stand in at the overlook. They chose to build this structure here because of the magnificent views. The stone structure served as a lookout for enemy ships and planes during WWII.
One day we were out geocaching and whale watching and stopped to pick some blackberries. In a short time we had enough for a cobbler. Oregon produces nearly 100% of the nation’s commercial blackberries, black raspberries and boysenberries. They also grow more than 70 million pounds of blueberries a year.
We spent quite a bit of time stopping at viewpoints looking for whales, often with much success.
One day we took chairs and sat at a viewpoint watching and waiting. As you can see from this picture, it was very chilly.
We could see whale watching tour boats circling around which meant whales were close by. It takes time and patience when watching for them.
Their pattern is usually they surface and blow or spout to replenish their oxygen supply. The number of blows depends on how many minutes they have been down, one blow for every minute down. The spout or blow shoots nearly twelve feet high, expelling 400 liters of air in a single blast. They then dive below the surface for three to five minutes and swim 300 to 400 yards. They then come up for another series of blows.
If they are frightened or sense danger they may stay down for 30 minutes. Sometimes they dive and can reappear a quarter of a mile away, so you really have to have a keen eye as you search the horizon. Some whales “spyhop” which means they lift their heads above the surface of the water to get a better view of their surroundings and spy on local whale watching tour boats. Whales have the largest brain of any animal on earth and they are very intelligent and curious. Those whales sure are quick which makes it really hard to get a good picture!
the whales pass twice a year while migrating north in the early spring and south in early winter. Those are the best time to see the whales but there are some resident gray whales who hang out in this area year round, feeding close to shore. There are volunteers at 24 viewpoints along the coast from Ilwaco, Washington to Crescent City, California to answer questions and help visitors spot whales.
Our last day in the area we drove north to Cape Foulweather which was discovered by Captain James Cook in 1778. The weather was particularly stormy the day Cook arrived with winds of 100 MPH so he named the area Cape Foulweather. Winds of 100 MPH are not uncommon here during storms.
This area is the first geographic location named on his voyage to the north Pacific coast. Captain Cook’s accounts of this voyage were published and aroused world wide interest which was followed by the fur trade. The views here are stunning.
Next up: Florence, OR and huge sand dunes