Whale watching (copy)

The Oregon Parks & Recreation Department's Whale Watching Week runs Dec. 27-31.

OREGON PARKS & RECREATION DEPARTMENT, PROVIDED

• ROSE (roz) n. One of the most beautiful of all flowers, a symbol of fragrance and loveliness. Often given as a sign of appreciation.

• RASPBERRY (raz’ber’e) n. A sharp, scornful comment, criticism or rebuke; a derisive, splatting noise, often called the Bronx cheer.

We hereby deliver:

• ROSES to the idea of ending the old year and starting the next by getting outside for a bit. Oregon's state parks have a couple of worthy suggestions that might provide a touch of inspiration.

First, the winter edition of Whale Watching Week is underway and runs through Dec. 31 along the Oregon coast.

Researchers estimate that 18,000-plus gray whales now live in the eastern north Pacific area. About 30 whales per hour migrate past the Oregon coast during the southbound migration, which peaks during the holiday season. By contrast, the northern migration is more leisurely: Researchers say about six whales an hour pass by the coast, but that return trip is spread over four months. (The spring 2018 edition of Whale Watching Week is scheduled for March 24-31, one of the two peak periods for the northbound migration.)

If you're interested in checking out the northbound migration, pack some warm clothes and a good set of binoculars. For more tips about Whale Watching Week, including the best locations for watching, check out the website https://whalespoken.wordpress.com/

And, if you want to clear out the cobwebs in your head from your New Year's Eve celebration, you can do a lot worse than taking in one of the First Day Hikes on Jan. 1. In all, 24 hikes in 22 Oregon state parks will be led by park rangers or volunteers who will share stories about a park's geology, history wildlife and plants. Day-use parking fees will be waived for all visitors at participating parks Jan. 1 only. 

In the mid-valley, hikes are scheduled at 10 a.m. at Silver Falls State Park (meet at the South Falls Lodge porch) and at 10 a.m. at State Capitol State Park (meet at the Capitol steps). Other mid-valley event include a noon horse ride at Elijah Bristow State Park (bring your own horse) and two hikes, one at 10 a.m. and one at 2:30 p.m., at the Champoeg State Heritage Area. For a full list of hikes, and details about each outing, check out this website: http://bit.ly/ParkStoreEvents. Although it's not required, you can also register for a specific hike at that site.

The hikes offer a great opportunity to stretch your muscles and breathe in some cool, clean air to get 2018 off on the right foot. 

• RASPBERRIES to you if you forgot to celebrate National Fruitcake Day, which was observed this year on Dec. 27. (We can only assume that the day is celebrated after Christmas as a tribute to the fact that the best fruitcake never seems to grow stale.) If you're kicking yourself over missing that holiday, no need to fret: National Bacon Day is coming up on Saturday, Dec. 30.

We are routinely inundated with this type of press release, crafted by legions of hard-working public-relations employees, and we almost feel bad when we just simply hit the "Delete" button on the vast majority of them. This press release caught our eye, though, mainly because it was about bacon. The press release reported that 18 percent of Americans in a recent survey said that bacon was their favorite food, which seems about right. The survey also reported that 21 percent of Americans said they would eat bacon every day for the rest of their lives, which possibly will not last as long as they might have liked because, well, they ate bacon every day.

• RASPBERRIES to everyone who's planning to celebrate New Year's Eve on Sunday with a selection of adult beverages but has yet to make arrangements for a designated driver. You probably don't need a reminder that New Year's Eve and the early hours of New Year's Day will be bristling with police officers on the lookout for impaired drivers. Your 2018 doesn't need to start off with you getting a DUII citation, and having a designated driver on hand is a good way to prevent that. And, of course, if you've volunteered for the designated driver duty this year, ROSES to you. And just think: When you awake on Jan. 1 without a hangover, you might have time to join one of those first hikes.

Finally, this note from the Roses and Raspberries desk to all of you: Have a safe and happy New Year's holiday. We'll see you back here next year. (mm) 

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