Travels

Sea Lion Caves
7/23/2008 4:54:09 PM by: Elsi

A long, long time ago, just about five decades back, in fact, a happy family went on a northwest vacation.

The mommy wore skirts, because that’s what ladies did, back then. She carried a purse big enough for the daddy’s camera accessories, and she loved to sing songs and play games. She cooked wonderful dinners in the trailer each night: steak, or burgers, or lobster, or broiled chicken, with vegetables and salad, and dessert, too. 

The daddy planned the trip in advance. He used maps and tour guides and made sure the happy family didn’t miss anything interesting along the way. And he took pictures of all the things they did, so they could remember the fun they had. He wasn’t much of a singer, but he played car games on the road, and card games in the trailer at night.

The little girl had her very own Brownie Star camera, a gift on her eighth birthday. She was very careful to take good pictures, remembering to wind the film forward each time, because she had to pay for the film herself. She loved to see new things, and she sang with her mommy and played games with her mommy and daddy, and cuddled with her book and a light blanket in the backseat when there wasn’t anything interesting going on.

On this northwest vacation, the family was trying to see every single memorial to Sacagawea that there was. And there were a lot of statues and signs and drawings. “Check it off!” the mommy would say, when they found another one. And they would mark it in the trip notebook, along with all the state license plates they found, and how many other trailers they passed, and how much they spent on gas.

The daddy had found a sea lion cave on the Oregon coast. The cave had been opened to tourists in 1932. In 1958, when the family was there, you walked along a 1500-foot-long trail, and then climbed down 135 stairs on the side of the cliff. The little girl counted the stairs as they went down them, to see if the sign was right. It was.

And then … suddenly … you were inside the cave! You could look out at the ocean. And between you and the ocean were rocks, and the rocks were covered with sea lions! It was a big cave, about 2 acres, the daddy said.The sea lions swam in and out the opening. There were signs asking you not to bother them. 

The daddy took lots and lots of pictures, working with his light meter and different lenses, as well as something called f-stops that the little girl didn’t understand. She didn’t take pictures of the cave and the sea lions, because her film wasn’t fast enough. But she took a picture of a mummy sea lion, on the floor inside a little fence. It had been there since the cave was first discovered in 1880. 

After a while they all went back up the 135 steps to the top. They bought the little girl a toy sea lion, and got back in their car and went on with their vacation. It had been a fun stop.

Today I went back to the Sea Lion Caves in Florence, Oregon. The owners have installed an elevator to take people down the 208 feet to sea level, for which I was profoundly grateful. Even so, the 20 or so steps down and the 200 yard walk were hard on me … and going back up was almost impossible. I arrived at the top (25 minutes after leaving the elevator) gasping for air and with my hip throbbing.

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Comments

7/23/2008 5:41:23 PM
   
  You've helped bring back memories of my childhood visit to the sea lion caves, Elsi. I'd better visit, especially after just touring Salem for the first time in 30 years (thanks to you)! I'm glad that you had such a refreshing day. Too bad you didn't see Lake Sacajawea when you were in Longview.
   
  Jane,  
   
 

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