Our first stop is the parking lot by the playground and trailhead - it'd be a shame to be here and not let Connor explore the really big dunes we know are just a five minute walk away. Connor's pretty excited so he runs ahead... I meet him coming back towards me with a great big smile on his face.
"Dada...you gotta see this...it'll blow your mind!" as he says this, my smile grows. I love it when he picks up this sort of phrase. There are some phrases he's picked up that I'm not so proud of, but this is definitely one of the good ones.
Linda's caught up to us now. He says it again. We all get a chuckle. Then we're out of the woods and onto the dunes. Connor's in heaven - he just wants to go and go and go. We explore for a while then it's time to go - it's Friday and I know that finding a campsite without a reservation is going to be a challenge.
It's tough to drive by Sea Lion Caves without at least stopping and looking around a bit, so that's what we do. I overhear the cashier saying to someone that there are no sea lions in the caves at this time so I let Linda know we're not taking the elevator down to the cavern. Linda and I have been here before, and went down to the caves, and there were sea lions that time. I'd rather wait so Connor can have the full experience. The views are pretty wicked though.
The stretch of highway between Florence and Newport is pretty spectacular and we do pull off the highway a number of times to take some photos. That the mist is rolling in and that the wind is picking up adds a certain element to the scene that screams "Oregon Coast".
We're getting a little nervous about the campsite situation - every sign we've seen has said "campground full" and when we arrive at South Beach State Park that's what the sign says there too. We decide to go in anyways, to see if they can recommend any options. As I sit in the van, Linda walks up to the kiosk window. I can't hear what she's saying but she turns to me smiling and gives me the thumbs up! We've managed to get the last tent space available for the weekend! Woohoo!
I set up the tent in a new section of the campground that's not in the online database yet - this is why there was a space available. Linda and Connor have gone down the trail across from our site in search of the beach. They're still gone when I'm done so I down a beer and go to find them.
The beach is not as close as I thought. The trails are a bit of a maze but somehow I follow my instincts and I find the 2 of them after about 20 minutes of poking around. They did get lost and both are happy to see me!
We're now on a paved trail but have no idea that we're still about a mile from the beach. By the time we get there, we're exhausted. It's also super windy so we head back to the site.
After a bit of a rest, we pile in the van and head over the bridge into Old Town Newport. We explore a bit - a deeep sea fishing excursion has just returned with a load of tuna. Connor is fascinated. We're all hungry now so we finish of our quick exploration with a super yummy meal at Mo's Annex.
It's getting late but before we head back over the bridge to the campsite, we do a quick stop at Yaquina Bay State Park to snap some photos of the bridge and the historic lighthouse.