Have you ever been to Newport? Oof. I am sure it is home to many nice, hardworking residents, but I found it a downer to be a tourist there. That could have been due to the fact that it's kind of like an 80's ghost town. It obviously boomed then and has been steadily declining ever since. Falling into the 80's time warp stirred up all sorts of tween weirdness for me, which is not necessarily something I look for in a vacation.
But we were all together and our (80's, of course) hotel was just fine and right on the beach and we had a lot of fun. On our first day we got there later than we planned, with just enough time to see the Visitor Center at the Hatfield Marine Science Center. Admission is by donation (and they don't guilt you into giving), and the boys enjoyed it. We probably could have told them it was the Oregon Coast Aquarium (the main destination of our visit) and called it good.
We ate dinner at what seemed to be the most standard tourist joint. It sounded safer than going with any of the many newer-fangled options, most of which were just too expensive. Our food was good; Shaun and I had fish and chips, and Nels eschewed chicken fingers in favor of a big bowl of clam chowder. For some reason it seems odd to me for a seven year-old boy to love clam chowder so much, and it warms my heart to watch him eat it.
After dinner we paid a visit to the candy store. The clerk had stepped out to her car and caught someone breaking into it shortly before we got there, so we had the bonus excitement of watching the policemen take the would-be thief into custody. At bedtime Nels told me that that was his favorite part of the day.
The next day we went to the Oregon Coast Aquarium. The boys were engaged, but less impressed than I expected them to be. We probably should have prepped better by getting out some of our books on sea life. It's always more fun to see things when you know a bit about them. I felt a little sad that our kids won't get to grow up on the coast like I did, and therefore cannot readily identify a chiton, for instance. They had no idea what an abalone was.
But NONE of us had seen this before, and we were all impressed.
They are Japanese Spider Crabs, the largest crabs in the world, and they are crazy spooky. There is no way the pictures can convey how amazing and creepy these things were.
The jellyfish displays were spectacular.
Here, three prawns are harassing a crab. One of prawns seemed to be trying to beat the crab with its puny arms. I don't know what the deal was. It was weird.
I would like to live in a coral reef for the colors.
This is a sea pen. Imagine all the fancy stories you could write with it if it worked.
The seals in this tank were swimming laps around it, as seals do. I didn't notice until now that three of the girls are wearing the same sweatshirt. I guess I was too busy wishing for the seals to do something interesting.
Oh, yay, we're surrounded by water. My overactive imagination and I totally love this.
Willem is hoping to get eaten by a shark.
Nobody got eaten by a shark or even stabbed by a sea urchin. At the end of our visit we squashed a penny in the machine for each boy (the cheapest souvenir available) and headed out for more adventures. Or for what passes as adventures for us these days.