Please enjoy the original writing, Christian travel journal, and photography by a hapa haole named Gail Rhea.

Original Writing & Photography

by Gail Rhea




From: "The Hapa Haole Journal"


Sent: Saturday, November 18, 2006 3:53 AM


Subject: The HHJ: Eureka!


Wow! Whoo-hoo! Hallelujah! Yowza!

I've had a couple of great days for driving and don't recall all the stops I made or exactly where they were. There was a Haystack Rock that looks exactly like a giant haystack stuck offshore out in the ocean, Natural Bridges for which I wish had better lighting for photography, and the Arch something-or-other.

What got me on Tuesday were the sea lions. I swung into a couple of scenic points because I wanted to snap Heceta Head Lighthouse, didn't think the views would make good photographs compositionally, and at the last one, started to pull out again when an older woman looked at me, saying something and pointing down the cliff. Not understanding what she said 'cause I couldn't quite hear her, I got out of the car because it seemed important to her that I do so. I approached her and her husband.

"Sea lions," she pointed again. "They're out instead of hiding in the cave."

I went to the edge and looked down. Sea lions were all over the place. Huge, nearly black ones, big and small light beige to dark brown ones, all soaking up the rays, catching their ZZZs and occasionally barking at whoever was disturbing their nap by lumbering over them. My favorites were the ones that are colored exactly like a seal-point Siamese cat: light bodies with dark extremities.

I went back to the car, turned off the ignition, and grabbed my camera bag and tripod. For the first time, I wished I had my SLR with me because my pocket point-and-shoot doesn't have enough zoom to get up close and personal with them and I'm not into doing the Galen Rowell mountain climbing & rappelling thing.

Oh, well.

After a while, the older couple left and a younger couple arrived with a pair of binoculars.

"Man, see how those big guys are all scarred up." He hands her the binoculars.

"Is it from fighting? You don't think they got cut by a boat's prop, do you?" she asked.

"I suppose they could, but I think it's from fighting each other."

I went and got my binoculars.

Scanning them closely, I discovered that a few of them were branded on their left sides with four characters. Thinking that one was a uniquely symmetrical scar, I tracked the sea lion as it dove into the tide pool for a cooling dip. There was no mistake. I was looking at a "Y." It wasn't until after it got out and clambered over others raising their ire, "ORK, ORK, ORK," to find its own napping spot that I was able to see the rest: 203Y. It also had a tag on its right front flipper close to its body.

Examining others, I found 200Y, 423R, 216Y, and _ _ 62. On that last one, I never did see the first two characters because a neighbor was using it as a pillow and a third on the other side was resting one of its flippers on it, too.

(If you want to check out this spot, it's a scenic viewpoint south of the Heceta Head Lighthouse and north of the Sea Lion Caves. My GPSr's WGS-84 coords read N 44.12569 and W 124.12569 - No, that's not a typo; the decimal digits are the same for both North and West.)

Finally leaving, I found that the coastal scenery got dramatically more attractive south of Bandon, closer to Port Orford.

I stopped at Gold Beach for the night with the understanding that I'd pay for a second night depending on the weather report.

Which was bad as I already knew.

So, Wednesday morning, I paid for another night and waited for the afternoon winds to hit.

And waited. And waited.

Bored, chomping at the bit, too rested to be inactive, and thinking that I could try out my smaller kites in the nearly empty parking lot (three vehicles, including mine, in two groups with a large space in between) before the high winds came, I assembled the make-your-own kite given to me at the Kite Museum in Long Beach, Washington.

Hearing a chain saw start up earlier, I simply figured someone was cutting up firewood. Flying the kites made me realize that there was a man w-a-y UP THERE. At first, I thought he was topping off the tree, then as more and more of it disappeared with him lowering himself further and further down, I abandoned the kites in favor of my binoculars.

Once again, I wished I had my SLR for its zoom. But, I was able to watch the tree come down in sections and kill a lot of time. I thought.

The motel manager walked by and we had a chat about the tree coming down. As he departed, I asked the time. It was only 11:40 a.m.

CRUD! I should have checked out and headed down the road!

That night, however, I heard that Crescent City had been hit by a  tsunami from Japan and suffered $700,000 worth of boat and dock damage. The citizens are outraged at NOAA. Other places experienced winds in excess of 100 mph. Except for a bunch of pine needles and some other leaves covering my car, I never knew anything was going on at my Motel 6 overlooking the Rogue River.

God had kept me in a safe place, once again.

There was another benefit, a visual one. Thursday was such a fine day that I drove less than 35 miles, stopping and enjoying the sights until I got to Brookings where I spent the night.

Today, Friday, started out fine and I wandered the towns, Brookings - cross the bridge over the Chetco River and you're in Harbor - until it clouded over and started getting colder in the early afternoon. Finding the kite with the 30-foot tails that I almost bought in Long Beach for less in Harbor (not the expensive 11-foot lattice delta that I still want; I mean the other one, the affordable one), I bought it appreciating the reduced price, that Oregon doesn't have sales tax, and the savings on shipping I won't have to pay by mail-ordering it from the store in Long Beach.

Having been warned by the desk clerk in Long Beach, Washington to gas up at Brookings-Harbor, Oregon because the price jumps in California, I filled up at $2.54 a gallon.

She gave excellent advice. As soon as I crossed the state line, gas became $2.73 to $2.85 a gallon.

So, now I'm in Eureka, California having gone through the Redwood National and State Parks, admiring the Humboldt Lagoons, and nearly stopping at Samoa just so I could say, "I've been to Samoa."

I like being in California and the redwoods, even the small ones, are special having stature and a presence comparable to, but better than the cooling, restful effect of entering a pine forest on a hot day.

Tomorrow, I'll leave 101 to take 211 to Cape Mendocino cutting back over to 101 at Honeydew and passing through the Humboldt Redwoods State Park then the Avenue of the Giants.

At Leggett, it'll be Highway 1 down the coast. There's supposed to be another front coming through on Sunday or Tuesday or something. I forget. But the further south I go, the less the winds are predicted to be a problem although I may have to contend with fog which I've done before down around San Francisco. 

If that's the case, I can stay put until it burns off. I could drive slowly if the fog is light, but I don't want to miss the views.







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