Stuff I’d seen on the Internet before I went to Oregon said Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint was a good place to see sea lions. I really wanted to see sea lions. I also wanted to see the Cape Meares Lighthouse.
When we got to Cape Meares, it was about 4:15 in the afternoon. A group of people were standing in the parking lot, three of them in ranger uniforms. Mary Alice walked over and asked them about the possibility of seeing sea lions. They told her that once in a while one is seen in the water off the Cape, but to get a good look we’d have to head down the coast 100 miles or so. We weren’t about to do that.
We started down the path toward the tip of the Cape and stopped at a cliff-top overlook to check out a Common Murre colony on a rocky island. The group from the parking lot followed us and stopped where we were. I offered them a chance to see the birds through my spotting scope.
When we got down near the lighthouse, we stepped off to the side to avoid horning in on the group. Next thing we knew, we were being invited to join them. It turns out that the group was made up of Oregon State Park summer volunteers being given an orientation tour by three park employees, one of which was the director of all Oregon State Parks! And that’s not all — the lighthouse closed at 4:00, so we were being given an opportunity we would have otherwise missed!
The light is 217 feet above the ocean, but the tower is only 38 feet tall, the shortest in Oregon. It was built in 1890 but replaced by a nearby automated lamp in 1963. And get this … the lighthouse brochure says it’s a good place to see sea lions.
Anyway, there wasn’t much to the tour. The old service shed is a gift shop. There’s a small room at the base of the tower with a few photographs. A spiral staircase leads up to the small landing around the lens itself. Part of the original Fresnel lens is still in place, but bits of it were broken by vandals before the State Parks took over. The ranger giving the tour didn’t really know what she was talking about (and she was the one who told us we couldn’t see sea lions there). The director kept correcting her and adding things she missed. We stayed up top for maybe five minutes.
The guy disappearing around the bend in that last photograph is the director of all Oregon State Parks!