Harbor seals rest on the rocks of Yaquina Head’s Quarry Cove.

LINCOLN CITY, Nov. 17, 2011 —

I’ve been visiting the Sea Gypsy my entire life, and now that I manage five condos — including one that my family owns — I have the perk of getting to play tourist on many of my business trips to the beach.

I recently spent two nights at the Sea Gypsy in mid-November, a month that’s not known for drawing big numbers of vacationers to the Oregon Coast. But even in the slow season, Lincoln City and the central Oregon coast is blessed with some good weather and sight-seeing opportunities. When it’s up to me, I prefer visiting in the so-called slow season. I like it when the Sea Gypsy is less crowded, and the beach is quiet and the tourists are few and far between.

A friend visiting from Ohio joined me for my recent “business trip.” After going over some inventory and check lists and all the boring things that constitute a property manager’s modus operandi, we decided to make a wildlife viewing excursion out of a nice mid-November day.

My friend is a biologist and amateur wildlife photographer. The weather was beautiful, and she spent the first hour of her day exploring the beach in front of the Sea Gypsy, photographing birds and collecting rocks. We then jumped in my car and headed south on Highway 101, with an itinerary of wildlife viewing destinations.

Josephine Young Memorial Park.

Our first stop was a quaint, relatively unknown beach spot on the edge of Siletz Bay known as Josephine Young Memorial Park. It’s kind of hard to find, which makes it that much more interesting. Heading south on Highway 101, you take a right on SW Jetty Avenue, merge onto 62nd Street. This road passes through a quiet residential neighborhood. Stay on 62nd until you reach 65th Street, where you take a right and arrive at Josephine Young Memorial Park (if you need some help, consult the map at the bottom of this entry). The park features one restroom and just two parking spots (one is for handicapped).

This small city park does not get a lot of traffic, and judging from the footprints we might have been the first visitors this day — at least of the human variety. The beach was covered with crabs — some as small as my thumb, some larger than my fist — that the gulls had not yet gotten to. Sea shells dotted the sand, as well as the occasional keepsake that would be gone on a beach with more tourist traffic.

From this park, you have an amazing view of Siletz Bay and the expensive homes built on the spit. Tree stumps and logs that have washed out to sea and back are scattered along the shore. The fact that this park is relatively hidden makes it that much more special.

We continued south along Highway 101 but didn’t have to go far until we came to Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

This refuge was established to allow the area to return to its natural state of marshlands influenced by rising and falling tides. The area was once diked to allow dairy cows to graze, but with the removal of those dikes it is now home to more of its original inhabitants, including waterfowl, herons, raptors, beavers and anadromous fish. We parked in a safe spot adjacent to the refuge and snapped pictures before moving on.

My friend doesn’t get to the Oregon coast often, so we took the opportunity to stop at just about every viewpoint between Lincoln City and Newport. And there are many.

Depoe Bay is worthy of a day trip of its own, if given the time.

We also stopped briefly at Depoe Bay, where parking is plentiful along the huge sea wall that runs the length of downtown. At high tide the waves crash into the sea wall and shoot high above you, making for spectacular photos if snapped at just the right moment. There are several interesting downtown boutiques as well as a Whale Watching Center here, but we chose to move on. We were eager to get down the highway to Yaquina Head where we knew we could get up close to some wildlife.

Yaquina Head’s historic lighthouse.

Yaquina Head is located right on the outskirts of Newport. Officially titled “Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area,” this federally managed area has a $7 entrance fee and features an interpretive center, hiking trails, a historic lighthouse, tide pools and a marine garden known as Quarry Cove.

We skipped the interpretive center so we could visit the lighthouse and photograph some wildlife before sunset and the closing of the area. This most definitely was the highlight of our wildlife viewing excursion. High tide had covered the tide pools at Cobble Beach, but the high waters in Quarry Cove had brought in numerous harbor seals to roost on the rocks. Some appeared to be as curious of us as we were of them. Quarry Cove was once a rock quarry that has been reconstructed by the Bureau of Land Management into an intertidal zone. There were probably 30 seals resting on a series of rock outcroppings, right at dusk.

Harbor seals rest in Quarry Cove.

Our second-to-last stop on this wildlife viewing excursion was the least remote place of all. We drove down to Newport’s ever-popular Bayfront District to a spot where there’s always guaranteed to be California sea lions. They rest in several areas around the bayfront, including a dock built specifically for the sea lions off Bay Boulevard behind Port Dock One.

California Sea Lions in Newport.

I’ve visited this spot many times over the years, and I’ve never failed to find it lined with fat, smelly, barking sea lions. They were obnoxious as ever — and their smell reaches your senses despite a viewpoint 20 feet above — but my friend found them endearing.

I’ve been visiting Lincoln City, Newport and the Oregon coast my entire life, and this day proved that no matter how often I visit, there’s always something new to do. Even in November! When you’re staying at the Sea Gypsy, a day trip to Newport is a must, and we capped off this one with something I had already done, yet never gets old: dinner and a beer (or two) at the Rogue Brewery.

Rogue Brewery’s Taster Tray.

Here is a map of our stops on this wildlife viewing trip:

Click on a blue marker or zoom in to learn more about our wildlife viewing excursion.

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