Thursday, October 12, 2023

Have a whale of a time with resident visitors in Depoe Bay, Oregon

Depoe Bay's small, beautiful harbor leads the way to an exciting time with resident whales. 

Bruce Keller and Christene "Cookie" Meyers
enjoyed four days with the whales of
Depoe Bay. They're called "residents'' because 
they stay several months during migration.




Carrie Newell's passion for whales is
apparent in her enthusiastic introduction
to whale watching in Depoe Bay.

FIRST, THERE is the irresistible lure of  the whales. It's not to be ignored, and one brilliant and dedicated woman makes sure you understand that.

She's Carrie Newell, distinguished marine biologist who has spent her impressive 35-year career
researching the whales in this quiet and peaceful cove on the Oregon coast.  Depoe Bay is a marine biologist's dream. So it's no surprise that it has attracted the likes of Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of famed oceanographer and naturalist, the late Jacques Cousteau.  The younger Cousteau and colleagues have visited Newell and benefited from her expertise and research, joining her on multiple expeditions.

BETWEEN outings with our whale watching expert, we relaxed and hiked at Inn at Arch Rock. It's a perfect place to unwind between whale watches and fine dining, which is abundant in Depoe Bay. 
This magical corner on the Oregon coast is
Carrie Newel, center,
returns with happy
whale watchers.

A grey whale spout is a stinky exhale which Carrie's dog
Koda is trained to smell, react and track to visitors' delight. 
the world's smallest natural navigable harbor. It covers six acres, with a 50-foot wide, 100-foot long rockbound, dog-legged channel connecting to the Pacific Ocean.

CARRIE'S WHALE watching is enhanced by her remarkable dog, Koda, whom she trained from an early age to spot and respond to whales. They're named and called "residents" because they hang around several months -- May to November -- feeding and enjoying the warmer waters while others move on north to Alaska.  

Koda was trained from her early puppy days to smell
the blow of whales and recognize that as a sign to bark.
It is a clever way to alert whale watchers to a nearby whale.
Bruce Keller and Christene "Cookie" Meyers,
and behind them, Carrie Newell, on the trail
of the grey whales in Depoe Bay.
Carrie coached Koda to get excited about whales when the dog was a pup. The instruction included taking Koda along with a small boatload of whale watchers, downwind of a gray whale. Once Carrie spotted the critters with her "eagle eye" for whales, she  encouraged the dog to smell the blow. It's an aroma like bad gas or hard-boiled eggs, a sulphury blast to the nostrils. The dog learned that the blow meant the whale was near.  Koda heard and smelled the blow and alerted passengers. Soon, all could see the whale and watch for another blow. Koda's watch continued with Carrie's encouraging “Whale, whale, whale.” The dog connects the dots and responds, all without treats, just praise. "Koda's pay is lotsa love!” says Newell.
BACK ON LAND, Carrie's museum is a trip in itself, a wondrous exhibit of sea treasures, lovingly collected and curated by Carrie herself.  Her lifelong love of all things ocean-connected is evident in the array of shells, nautical photos. artwork and other memorabilia -- an amazing amount of information, displayed in a compact, efficient and eye-catching way. 

RETURNING TO the inn, you'll find yourself on a bluff above the Pacific Ocean, relaxing in one of 19 comfy units. They range from quaint and cozy rooms for two, to grand and spacious two-bedroom suites for up to six guests. Each room is individually appointed and all but one have spectacular ocean views. Trails to the ocean and a private beach are a stone's throw away. We saw whales from the balcony, and reveled in that during our too brief three-night and four-day stay.

Inn at Arch Rock offers stunning views of the ocean,
and often whale spouts and flukes. It's a lovely retreat.
THE HOSTS are Nate and Polly Neet,  a genial couple devoted to service and the pleasure of guests. The Neets are proud, hard-working innkeepers, with a love of hospitality and a dedication to the place they've nurtured and improved with meticulous but natural looking landscaping and other loving touches.

They are fonts of knowledge about the area they love, and suggested we hook up with Carrie's unique and thrilling enterprise. We did that on the first afternoon and loved it so much we made return visits each day of our stay. A bountiful breakfast is part of the room fee, and the Neets' genteel hospitality combines with a genuine affection for people and their bird's eye knowledge of the area's attractions. They'll help with restaurants, hikes, shopping or whatever's your pleasure. Their appreciative clientele spans the globe.
Carrie Newell and her expertly trained colleagues navigate
boats in and out of the narrow, rocky switchback. The
 dramatic harbor is one of the world's smallest.

OUR SECOND-floor room was spacious, modern and smartly appointed with whaling and sea life decor. Add those spectacular views of the whales from the balcony, and a pair of binoculars to enhance sightings and you're a happy visitor.
A lavish breakfast of fruit, eggs, muffins, biscuits, bacon and yogurt awaits. You'll enjoy the inn's own coffee label. At day's end, comfy beds point the way to sweet dreams of whales, an enterprising marine biologist and that endearing retriever. 

MORE INFO:  Carrie Newell's spectacular Whale Research EcoExcursions:

Nate and Polly Neet and their welcoming 


Bruce Keller and Christene "Cookie" Meyers blast off for Kennedy
Space Center, where they enjoy the exhibits and take fascinating tours
of the internationally known center of space research and enterprise.
UP NEXT: We're blasting off for Kennedy Center. Reaping the "labors" of the ambitious U.S. space endeavor,  we offer a two-part look at Orlando, Florida, and its wonders. The booming area attracts visitors 12 months of the year with Epcot, Universal Studios and Disney World. We explore internationally known Kennedy Space Center, take a delectable food tour, and a foray into the swamps on the trail of alligators and we take a look at a top-ranked zoo. Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live and catch us weekly for a fresh spin on travel, nature, family, performance, the arts and more. 

1 comment:

  1. Miami Whale WatchersOctober 16, 2023 at 8:37 AM

    We've watched whales all over the world, too. This woman and Koda sound extraordinary.