Surviving The Climb

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALast weekend I finally made it to Yaquina Head Lighthouse to take a tour of the inside of the lighthouse and climb to the top. I had been to this lighthouse several times before, that is located just north of the town of Newport. But had never had the opportunity to get inside and climb up to the top. It is a very busy lighthouse and they only take 16 people in at a time. The tour lasts about 45 minutes total. There is usually a long waiting list but you can go online and book a spot on the top of the hour and show up at least 15 minutes before your tour and pick up your pass. They start tours every half hour but the half-hour ones are on a first-come first-served basis only. More on my tour in a bit but first I made a few stops along the way. I of course stopped at my favorite little pull off Strawberry Hill to check out the tide pools and let Maxine watch the harbor seals play.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
While there I received a text from my friend JoAnn, who I met last year, she was also a guide at the Heceta Head Lighthouse last summer. We have kept in touch over the past year and made plans to get together sometime this summer. She once again was volunteering at Silver Falls State Park for the last couple months. You can read more about my visit with her at Silver Falls last year, here on my blog at this link. Here’s a photo of her at one of the many falls at Silver Falls State Park a beautiful place to visit.20170706_11_resized
She just happened to be in Newport for a few days which is where I was headed. We sent a few texts back and forth and made plans to connect up later in the afternoon, to catch up. In the meantime my next stop was in Waldport, Oregon. Friends of mine (other hosts at the park) had told me about a great little bakery “Pacific Sourdough” that is only open on Thursdays and Saturdays, so I had to make a quick stop to check it out.20180818_113630
You know what it is a great spot when you get there and there are lines of people waiting to get inside.20180818_113613
Once you get inside it’s a small shop but very very busy with lots of great homemade artisan breads.20180818_11432020180818_115121
Stacks and stacks of all kinds of tasty treats.20180818_11511020180818_115113
And after just a little time and $30 later I walked out with piles of things to eat now and fill my freezer for later. Everything I tried from the breads to the cakes were super delicious. Then it was off to my next stop Yaquina Head. I stopped at the interpretive center to pick up my ticket for my 2 o’clock tour of the lighthouse and check out the visitor center. I had a little over an hour to kill before my tour time, so Maxine and I headed down to the tide pools below the lighthouse.20180818_132853
There were a lot of harbor seals hanging out here warming themselves in the sun.20180818_133422
And you have beautiful views of the lighthouse from down on the beach.20180818_132825
This beautiful lighthouse is about 20 years older then Heceta Head being lit for the first time in August of 1873. Maxine had to wait patiently in the car because no pets are allowed on the tour.20180818_132249
Is a beautiful majestic lighthouse the tallest on the Oregon coast standing at 93 feet high.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Unfortunately none of the keepers houses or buildings have survived over time and it stands all by itself high on the bluff. Back in the day, I’m sure this was a much busier site with gardens, barns, the keepers houses and many outbuildings.20180818_132253
All that remains today is the oil house and service room that is attached to the tower. This is a very fancy lighthouse with marble floors and lots of ornamental ironwork.
The tours are given by guides dressed in clothing from the time frame of the late 1800s. The first part of the tour is conducted in the old oil room. Where they have several of the large vintage oil drums that were filled with lard oil.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our guide went on to explain that for about the first 20 years this light was lit using oil, that was made from lard from pigs.
The oil was stored in this room which had to be heated at all times to at least 60°, to keep the lard liquefied. And the lamp was designed so that the oil would drip down onto the lit flame. The heat from the flame below the reservoir, would also keep it liquefied while I was up in the tower. There was a lot of unique engineering that had gone into this design. After they switched over to kerosene, the lantern was replaced with a wink style lantern very similar to the lantern use at Heceta Head. Next they took us into the office and work room where she explained how the keepers spend their days and nights just like we do on our tours.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA From there we headed into the tower itself, to be able to climb the stairs to the top. But first we stopped at the bottom to take in the beautiful marble floors and she explain more about the upkeep and design of the lighthouse.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
It took over 370,000 bricks to construct this the tallest lighthouse on the Oregon coast. And there are 114 stairs to climb to get to the top of this 93 feet tall structure. Being lit for the first time on August 20 of 1873 this lighthouse just celebrated its hundred and 45th birthday. This lighthouse, like all lighthouses have their own unique signature so ships can differentiate the lighthouses from each other. Yaquina’s light originally was a solid white(non-rotating) light that could be seen about 20 miles out to sea. In 1939 it was replaced by a pulsating electric light that is on for two seconds, off for two seconds, on for two seconds, and then off for 14 seconds. This is the current signature of this light today. Where as Heceta Head Lighthouse is a flash once every 10 seconds. Here is a picture I took of myself with the stairs high above me just before we headed up to the top.

And here’s another photo looking upward towards the top of this beautiful cast iron staircase.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
As you get to the top and looked down also makes for cool photo.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Along the way we made a few stops and our guide shared more information and answer questions, she did a wonderful job throughout the tour. And once at the top, we all got turns to peak her head up (one at a time) at the light and check out the lens. It’s a total different design than the rotating lens at Heceta Head.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
You also get some great views of the coastline from high up in the tower.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
There were four whales swimming around just below the tower, sorry couldn’t get any decent pictures. Well I sure was glad I finally took the time out to get a tour of this wonderful lighthouse. But my day of fun and exploring Newport was not over yet. I headed towards Nye Beach Historic District, to meet up with my friend JoAnn and her dog Mia. Mia is a fluffy white American Eskimo, she is a little older than Maxine and super friendly. Her and Maxine have always gotten along great.1404
We spent a couple hours walking along the beach and exploring different parts of town. Catching up on what’s happened in our lives over the last year. It’s always great to meet up with people and spending time with friends. Whether it’s been a few months or a few years between visits. She plans on being in the area and actually coming down towards Florence, before she has to head back home to California and we hope to get together again soon. That’s a quick update on my day trip to Newport, it was a long and fun filled day. Till next time safe travels and best wishes to all, Rick


  1. Wow…the interior of Yaquina Head is beautiful, Rick! So the signature is done electrically? It seems like that would be tough on light bulbs. Awesome that you were able to meet up with JoAnn again. She is such a genuine soul.


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