Although I grew up in the Northwest and was fortunate to see many beautiful places here when I was young, I moved away my third year of college and haven’t had much opportunity to explore the area as an adult. While here for some time with my family I’ve made it a point to set out on a few side journeys, revisiting memories of my childhood. Last week the journey took me to the Oregon Coast. I only had a couple days so Newport was as far south as I dared to go. Lovely town, the highlight for me being Yaquina Head Lighthouse. Built in 1872, at 93’ it is the tallest along the Oregon Coast. The surrounding beach is made up of smooth, palm size stones and the sound made by the surf rolling them back and forth against each other is mesmerizing, making it easy to stand quietly for awhile, watching the Harbor Seals sharing the off shore rocks with many species of sea birds and playing in the water just beyond the breaking waves. They often stop and poke their heads out of the water, looking ashore as we look out to sea. “Who is watching who?” I wonder.
Cannon Beach was my next stop. I hate to admit that I hurried to get there. As a photographer, I am often racing with the sun, hoping to arrive at my destination in time for the “sweet light”, which in this case was sunset. For me, hope is usually replaced with determination, and I barely made it. Oh, but I’m glad I did. I shared it with lots of other people (and dogs) who were just as grateful to be there for such an amazing display. Cannon Beach is a memorable place with rock formations boldly protruding from the surf, the most famous of which is Haystack Rock. (The biggest one in my pics.) They are surrounded by tide pools filled with colorful starfish, sea urchins, sea anemone, small crabs and more.
Because I was racing for that sunset and had to park several blocks from the beach, I left my dogs in the RV that night and high-tailed it quickly to the beach. The next morning though, they were out there with me at sunrise… the first time either of them set foot on an ocean beach, and they were in HEAVEN!!!! They ran gleefully around me, chasing each other, running from the surf, smiling (I mean that literally!) and taunting me to join in the fun, which I did… like the child I once was. It was a special, happy, carefree morning.
Next stop was Astoria, via Fort Stevens. The weather turned quite nasty by the time I arrived at Fort Stevens. I’m sure I must have been here as a child, but I had no memory of the place. Even in the downpour it was quite lovely, green and lush. The rain (averaging more than 60” a year here), although not always desirable, reminds us why the Pacific Northwest is SO beautiful.
Astoria is a quaint town with lots of history. The highlight for me is the Astoria Column. It sits high on the hill with a panoramic view. I debated trying to find a place to park my rig and drive only my car to the top, but that debate only lasted a few moments (mainly because I didn’t see any readily available places to hog several parking spaces for my RV, and driving around looking for one in a small town with tight streets isn’t all that easy. I turned The Beast (with Zippy in tow) up the hill and rose to the challenge. Very steep, very windy (as in lots of curves in the road) and VERY windy (as in gale force winds!!) at the top! Without exception, every time I tell someone who knows the hill that I drove my rig to the top their jaw drops. The hill is only 600 feet high, but the streets are very steep! Once there, I climbed to the top of the 125’ tower listening to the deafening winds from inside, opened the door to the observation platform and was immediately slammed against the wall. Got a few shots full circle while clinging to the rail for dear life with one hand (camera in the other), pried the door back open, scurried down all 164 steps and got the heck out of there! I highly recommend it on a clear, sunny, windless day.
From there I crossed the Astoria Bridge to Washington and drove the very familiar (and always beautiful) Ocean Beach Highway along the Columbia River back to Longview just in time for dinner, and went to bed a happy girl.