Monday, March 15, 2010

Taking the LONG Road from Astoria

Another church assignment took us out to Astoria, OR on Sunday.

These are great trips - fun to see friends, and then to see the sights of the Pacific NorthWest on the way home.

The two oldest boys hadn't been to the Astoria Column before.

They were impressed. Even though they white-knuckelled the railing the whole time.

The day was overcast and cool, but clear enough to see Mt. Rainier, and this view of Mt. St. Helens.

Very pretty blues.

Some snow on Saddle Mountain, too. This is on the list of our spring hikes...

The kids kept yelling to "come alittle closer"... but I knew better.

They'd been talking about water balloons all morning, and so there was NO WAY I was going to get closer...

After the column, we wanted to take Highway 202 back. Hwy 30 is nice, but well explored by the NWPodcast team.

Problem is, no maps. Oh well...

We found a nice little hatchery on the Klackskanine river. A small river to be raising half-a-million steelhead and another half-a-million Coho salmon on!

A quick test confirmed the water was cold...

... and that the fish are BITING!

The attendant brought out some pellets and fed the steelhead for us. It was a feeding frenzy!

A million hungry fish on a small, out-of-the-way river... we all agreed we need to come back and FISH this river in the fall!

After alot of "exploration" without a map, we eventually found familiar terrain.

We stopped at the Lee Wooden Park and enjoyed the waterfall.

This is a great stop. The County really should let people camp here - it is close to alot of cool things to see and do.

The highlight of the trip was the Jewel Wildlife preserve.

We weren't disappointed! There were about 3 dozen nice bulls out and close for us to see.

All these were bulls - about half of them had dropped their antlers.

Seemed to be all the bigger animals had dropped antlers already.

The animal on the right is topless, and much bigger bodied than the 5-point to his left.

The bulls with antlers used them often to push the other animals around, too! Paybacks, maybe?

We spent alot of time watching the bulls - it was a beautiful setting with Saddle Mtn in the background.

Very few other visitors, too. We were all alone in both of the parking areas.

There is something compelling about seeing these big animals.

A warden once commented about how nothing makes grown men more stupid than elk and salmon.

It is true - seeing these bulls brings something out that can only be described as 'greed'... just like seeing a few salmon running in the river. Maybe that is why grown men still poach or do silly things when pursuing these big game and big salmon.

Further down the highway was a larger herd of cows, calves, and spikes.

Interesting to see how the animals segregate themselves - even so soon after the rut.

The bulls were much more focused and even agressive in feeding. Alot of calories to make up for after a busy fall season.

Just outside of Vernonia we ran into another herd of elk.

These were 'wild' elk, not being fed by peoples.

They were much more wary and skitish. There was a decent 4-point bull with them, too.

It is cool how these animals stand out and yet blend so easily in the hillside colors.

A great day of seeing the country and animals - waterfalls, salmon, steelhead, elk, and ocean in just a few hours. Another successful NorthWest trek.