Spring weather on the Oregon Coast varies greatly day to day. Over these spring months, I have had the opportunity to get out to the coast a few times. Each visit has been beautiful, but then again, I am an Oregonian and a beach bum at heart. (Bad days at the beach never happen!)
I really enjoy the blustery, windy, rainy and stormy days. Despite the chill, the strength of the elements has a way of grounding me. Somehow the energy exerted to walk the beach on those days never exceeds the energy restored by the brave walk. Besides, afterwards a strong, hot and slightly sweet black tea tastes so much better while watching raindrops slide down the windowpane as your bones warm and your hair drips dry.
Now with that said, I must say that I do appreciate the idyllic warm, sunny beach days as well. Those days, with a slight cool breeze and a bright sky overhead stretching blue over 180 degrees as it merges and reflects in the open ocean, recharge my energy levels to a point of calm and full. Walks in the sunshine of those days take my problems, my worries, and shrink them to nothing-size.
Life isn’t always perfect, but God makes each day perfectly. Thankfully my visits have included both types of beach days.
Here are a few photos from Pacific City on a beautifully blustery early spring day. This was my first visit to Pacific City, a mid-sized coastal town where car bummer stickers proclaim: “Pacific City: a town of drunks with a fishing problem.” With the bay for fishing and a State Park with some very large sand dunes and strong wind for hang gliding, this town keeps hoppin’. I parked in the public parking at Cape Kiwanda and walked north on the beach away from town. Hiking the sandy Cape to get some of these shots was a calf-stretcher, but worth it!
My next visit to Pacific City was on a day more quintessentially the perfect beach day – sunny and warm. This time I explored along the southern end of Pacific City’s coastline, parking by the Green Acres horseback riding stables near Bob Straub State Park. The small parking lot had a very steep sand dune between it and the beach, which I had to climb – both ways, entering and leaving the beach. Slightly winded, I ended up sitting in the beach grass at the top of the dune for a bit. Sitting there I realized that, unlike Seaside or Cannon Beach on such days, there were very few people out on the beach. It was a nice ratio of people to sand space.
That same day, my friend Anna and I left Pacific City and drove south on highway 101 to Depoe Bay. There I shared with her the Depoe Bay Scenic Lookout. We walked along the rock coastline to view the town from a northwestern angle. Anna had previously only driven through Depoe Bay, which is understandable considering it doesn’t really have sandy beaches to speak of. It literally is a coastal town with a bay and a good fishing culture.
With summer almost here, I got one more spring beach trip in. This time, it was for a birthday celebration. The group of us drove out to Astoria, out on the mighty Columbia River – where the river meets the sea. During our stop in Astoria, we took the Old 300 trolley tour of Astoria’s old town. I highly recommend the one and a half hour tour. It cost a $2 donation and the guides were informative and very friendly!
For dinner we drove on to Fort Stevens State Park, out near the wreck of the Peter Iredale, where we built a bonfire and had a picnic dinner. For the fun of it, we brought a croquet set. Let me tell you, it is a whole different game in the sand! Balls just don’t roll the same in the sand as on grass…
The Oregon Coast – far enough away that I don’t get there as often as I would like, but close enough to get there every so often.
This particular spring day was warm enough that I, along with many other beach-combers, felt comfortable walking barefoot in the surf! It was amazing. I forget how the lovely the salt breeze, the sparkling soft tan sand and cool glittering water revives me. I forget that is, until I get there. Then I am surprised I don’t make the short trek more often.
Over the Easter weekend I stayed a few nights in Depoe Bay, Oregon with my family. While Depoe Bay does not have the lovely beaches of neighboring Lincoln City, the ocean front town and its piece of the coast is still beautiful. The ever-changing weather of the Oregon Coast made this a gorgeous experience. And naturally, I did make it over to Taft Beach in Lincoln City.
Saturday morning we rose to bright and beautiful! With bright blue skies and a blue ocean, my blues were far, far away.
Just look at those little harbor seals smiling for the camera!
By the afternoon, the World’s Smallest Harbor had a bit of chilling aura, with gray skies and good old Oregon drizzle.
Personally I wouldn’t want to go out on the ocean in weather like this, but then again, it would beat being baked…
Then the next day came around.
Easter Morning, with its rays of sunshine at Taft Beach, reminded me once again of the freshness and the new Life Easter stands for.
It was chilly, but held the promise of a nice day. I like people watching by the way. These three friends came out to run on the firm packed sand and stopped to watch the harbor seals bobbing in the water. I see friends shaking hands, saying ‘how do you do?’ – what they’re really saying is, ‘I love you‘…
Here is Depoe Bay. This is it. Well, most of it anyway. It is not a big town. The day was still nice at this point. Refreshed, we walked through the neighborhood and into town, noting every sign for the upcoming “Crab Feed” plastered on every light post and telephone pole.
It stormed. What. A. Surprise. Not. But when the sun came out – ooohhh….
A rainbow! And over our neighborhood too! Actually, if you look closely, you can see that it is a double rainbow! Not wanting to be sent into the cove with the elusive pot of gold, I didn’t get as close to the edge as I wanted to. If I could have gotten just a little more northwest, I could have captured more of the rainbow. The rainbow wasn’t just an arch – it was three-quarters of a circle!
Leaving Depoe Bay by way of Lincoln City, I got to stop at the little D-River, a contender for world’s smallest river. Here it is folks. That’s just about an entire river right there.
Have I said how much I enjoy the Oregon Coast in the winter? I really do. I especially enjoy these late winter, early spring-like days. When the sun shines, warming you and the sand despite the cool ocean breeze with its fine salty mists, the day shines. It really does.
This last Monday, my day off, found my mom and me making the 2-hour jaunt to Lincoln City for a mini-vacation. Of course while there we searched for the elusive glass floats. We also picked up a bag of beach trash, and this time I got to the Cultural and Visitor’s Center in time to enter for the monthly drawing in exchange for it. While filling out the entry, I also gleaned some tips* for finding a float.
Walking the beach, racing foaming waves, soaking up sun, snapping photos, colleting beach trash and treasures, admiring driftwood shacks, laughing at wet stick chasing dogs… there is always something to do at the beach. Sometimes I almost forget you can actually sit and rest at the beach. Even so, I eventually did pause to simply take it in. While relaxing in the warm sand, the driftwood cool against my back, I settled down to simply enjoy the day.
Listening to the ocean started with merely hearing the background roar. The bright blues and teals of the ocean, the sparkling sand, the bright shine of the sun and the bright blue sky with a few puffy glowing white clouds and swooping sea gulls seemed to be right there. Then I began hearing it. I began hearing the oscillating pattern. With each approaching wave the roar would become imminently louder before resolving with a slap and then a fizz as it slid up the sand, and then some more fizz as it pulled back. But as one wave’s roar resolved, the next one behind it was already rumbling, gradually louder and louder, before it too resolved with a shattery slap and then a fizz. The rhythmically soothing pattern was in a way new. How can I not remember listening like this or hearing such a melody before? With five senses, it amazes me how sometimes one of the sense overshadows the others, and at other times, one sense picks up something I am not even aware of until I stop and consciously consider it.
As my stomach grumbled, my mind drifted to the peanut butter and honey sandwich sitting in my car along with the apple, travel mug of mint tea and homemade molasses cookie. With visions of lunch in my head, the rhythmic ocean faded again to the background. Grabbing the lunch sack, we ate on the beach while watching the harbor seals across the water. Someone had a fire going and wafts of smoke would mingle with the salty beach air. After enjoying the beach a little longer, we headed home singing a song.
Yes, singing a song.
Give me two bottles of kombucha, I want one for each hand.
Let’s set sail with Captain Mom – though we’ll never leave dry land.
My troubles I’ve forgot them; I buried them in the sand.
So, give me two bottle of komucha, I’m your good-drivin’ gal
* I’ll post those tips in tomorrow’s entry! So that despite my lack of luck so far, you perhaps might better your odds!
A wide cold river.
An obscure location.
All these components make a unique physical feature of Neskowin an intriguing draw along the Oregon coast.
Last year, about this time actually, I posted about Neskowin Oregon. In that post I described the wide-open beach north of the monolith – a beautiful rock island for which I didn’t even mention its name (which by the way is Proposal Rock). Nevertheless, the location drew me back, eight days shy of one year later. This time, it was for a hardly known attraction south of Proposal Rock.
What would you say if I told you about an ancient forest along Neskowin’s southern shore? A forest that appears and disappears with the shifting sand and because of its location, its visibility depends on the tides?
Well, it exists. The Neskowin Ghost Forest was hidden in the sand south of Proposal Rock until 1997 when a large storm uncovered this gem. The barnacle-covered stumps are the remains of a Sitka spruce forest believed to be over 2,000 years old. After an earthquake or resulting tsunami, the coast lost some footage to the ocean with the salt water and sand preserving the claimed trees.
After learning about the Ghost Forest in the November/December issue of the Via magazine and before heading to the coast, I did a bit of research. It seems that in order to better your odds of seeing this elusive sight, you need to go after a winter storm has shifted sand out to sea and when the tide is at its lowest.
While we couldn’t plan out the weather, we did figure out the lowest November tide we could make. That happened to take place last Sunday afternoon, when the low tide was expected to be .3 feet high. Then when we got to Neskowin, we asked around for the best spot to see the Ghost Forest. From the public parking lot we found a nice local who walked with us out to the beach and pointed out where the remains might be found.
“Goodness, I don’t know if you’ll be able to see them,” the tall gray haired lady said, “but they’re out below the rock. Ya know what – I’ll show you.”
Her long steps kept her just ahead of the group and the smell of her potato chips wafted back. As we quickly walked along the river, she explained that she had actually been interviewed by the Oregonian about 20 years ago when the forest was uncovered by a storm and thus discovered; she had even had her photo with the forest in the paper.
As we stood facing Proposal Rock she said, “The trees are out over there – over the river. I don’t see them right now though, but that’s where they are.”
At the local’s suggestion, it was decided that we did not want to wade across the cold river even if the weather was nice, bright and sunny. So, we got in the car and drove south a little ways – over the river – and found place to park before walking through a neighborhood and to the southern section of beach.
Did we dare hope to see the trees? I had seen photos of the scene. In those photos, trees resembling pier pilings without any docks or boats stuck upright in the sand. The dozens of post-like projections stood out three or more feet from the sand.
As we walked out to the water’s edge, there they were! They weren’t as high, nor nearly as many, as in the photos I’d seen, but there they were! They almost looked like driftwood, except that, like rocks, they had barnacles all over them. On a closer look, the wood fibers were visible in crevices between the barnacles. It was pretty amazing, and my friends and I took many photos.
After walking in the Ghost Forest and to the southern most end of Neskowin beach, we walked back to our car and drove back to the other side of the river. There we then went and climbed, or rather scrambled, up Proposal Rock in time to catch the last few rays of the sunset. What a sight! The bright winter sun setting over the sparkling Pacific Ocean lapping up against the rocky side of the monolith made for a lovely conclusion to the day.