Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Oregon Coast: Rocks, Waves, Seagulls, and Family

The Oregon Coast: Rocks, Waves, Seagulls, and Family
Darrel L. Hammon

Sunset on Cannon Beach
oanne and I have always wanted to go to the Oregon coast. We have been to lots of other places in the world but never the Oregon coast. Recently, we had a very good reason to go: to visit Hailey, Joseph, and little Clark.
After living on the high plains/desert for most of our lives, the vast greenness of the northwest overwhelmed us, causing us to just sit back and breathe in the greenness. Everything is green, green, green. Of course, the ubiquitous rain shows helps with all that. But there is a sense of freshness everywhere, especially along rivers and creeks and ocean.

Fort Clatsop

Our first stop was Astoria. After living in Lewiston, Idaho, for several years and being a part of Lewis and Clark History, we had to stop at Fort Clatsop to checkout where Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery spent 106 miserable days after they arrived at “the big waters.”

One journal entry states: December 16, 1805—“The Winds violent. Trees falling in every derection, Whorl winds, with gusts of Hail & Thunder, this kind of weather lasted all day. Certainly one of the worst days that ever was!…Several men complaining of injuring themselves…” -Captain William Clark.

Fort Clatsop
Sounds like the place to spend the winter, right?

The original replica fort burned down in 2005; so they built another one. While it is a pretty site, I can see how it would be miserable if it rained there most of the time.

Los Hammon with Clark in Front of Sea Breeze Court Sign

Cannon Beach was definitely our favorite. We stayed just a short block off the beach at Sea Breeze Court, a lovely place on the main highway coming into town. The people who ran the place were incredibly nice, most of them former teachers.

Oregon Hyrangeas

In the front entryway were gorgeous purple hydrangeas. Everywhere you looked, hydrangeas grew like wild weeds. Their heads were absolutely incredible.

Some of the sand dollars

We loved the early morning walks along the huge expanse of beach that is mostly under water during high tide. We found lots of sand dollars although not many of them were in perfect shape, but just finding them lying all by themselves on a beautiful beach sparked a feeling of joy. Those pesky seagulls wake up earlier than we did and have a tendency to peck out anything that might be edible. Thus, numerous portions and pieces of crabs lay strewn helter-skelter along the beach.

Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach

Haystack Rock is a favorite. I suspect it has been photographed a zillion times, and each photo is different. Its massiveness stirred me. Around it were other small but impressive rocks. Hundreds of birds, most seagulls, clung to the far-reaches of the Haystack while others lazily glided in and out of the many crags. The music from these birds enthralled us, a mixture of both shrillness and urgency.

Haystack Rock with her sisters

One morning we walked up close to Haystack Rock and marveled at the many little sea creatures that had attached themselves to the rocks. During high tide, they are underwater; at low tide, they are under scrutiny from a multitude of beach walks and anyone with a camera.

Stranded Starfish

The starfish intrigued us most. While we in the Caribbean, we saw starfish. In fact, Joanne even picked one up when we swam in the natural swimming pool just off the coast of Bayahibe between Bayahibe and la Isla Saona. The Oregon starfish are differently colored and beautiful. One of the starfish seemed to be clinging for its life.

Little Clark playing on the beach
Little Clark loved the beach and the water and the birds. Especially the birds! With his big brown eyes, he would follow the seagulls in the air and then when they landed. These little scavengers were always on the lookout for anything—cookies, bread, crackers, candy. A little family from eastern Europe was there with a loaf of bread and began throwing it into the air. Soon, hoards—perhaps flocks—of seagulls of all colors, sizes, shapes, and shrill cries began hovering and catching the bread as the people tossed it to them. Clark was absolutely fascinated.

Hailey with little Clark on the beach playing in the sand

While Clark was playing on the beach with his little sand toys and truck, he had a cracker in one hand and dug with the other. As we watched, the crafty seagulls cautiously landed and then began sauntering sideways toward Clark. I think they thought this: “If the kid doesn’t give it to us, we’re going to take it from him.” Hailey wouldn’t let them close enough to fulfill their assignment.

We also spent some time in Tillamook because we wanted to go to the Tillamook Cheese Factory and to the Cape Meares lighthouse.

Christmas bulbs from The Original Fire Ring Glass Works
On the way to Tillamook, we stopped at a roadside stand of glass works called The Original Ring of Fire Glass Works. Actually, we had passed it, and Joanne said she wanted to go back; so, we did a u-turn and headed back. We met John. Joanne looked at all of the glass and decided on a beautiful round blue one that we can use as a light once it is filled with oil. Then, Joanne and Hailey headed out while John and I chatted about his business. 

Vases from the Original Ring of Fire Glass Works
 I actually wrote a blog about The Original Ring of Fire Glass Works on my consultation blog ( It was just fascinating.

The cheese factory was interesting. We took the self-guided tour and watched the cheese being made. Automation also has fascinated me.  Of course, we had to eat ice cream. We sat down in the cafeteria to eat our ice cream. Next to us were three Chinese monks. One of them stopped on their way out and made a face at Clark. It was so totally weird. We discovered, ironically, we could buy Tillamook cheese and yogurt for much less here in Pleasant Grove than at the factory. One would think that price gouging tourists is an okay thing.

Cape Meares Lighthouse
The Cape Meares Lighthouse was actually rather cool. It was a few hundred yards from the parking lot to the actual lighthouse, down this path that skirted the ocean. Joanne and I made the trundle down.
Periodically, it had view spaces where you could look out over drop off and into the little bay below. One lady said, “Look, a sea lion.” I looked, and a sea lion was lazily swimming far below us. The water was so clear and beautiful, I wanted to snorkel. But I also knew, I would freeze in that water.

Cape Meares Lighthouse
Fortunately, we were part of the last group tour. We climbed the extremely narrow, winding staircase up into the loft area where we could see out into the ocean. They have maintained the lighthouse well, mainly through donations.

Roseanna's Café in Oceanside
On the way back to Tillamook, we stopped at Oceanside, a small touristy place with typical seaside homes and lovely views, and had a lovely dinner ($$$) at Roseanna’s Café, overlooking the beautiful bay. Again, huge rocks jutted out in the ocean like memorials to the beach and the community.

Beach at Oceanside, Oregon
Overall, our trip to the Oregon was short, and we didn’t drive all the way down—just to Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Tillamook, Cape Meares, and Oceanside. But it was just enough to entice me to do it again and again and drive the rest of the way and take loads of photos.

Haystock Rock
 There is just something about the beauty of huge rocks sitting out in the ocean and cascading waves crashing on the rocks and then rolling along the beach, spreading and oozing and oozing and spreading their watery fingers and then seeping and retreating silently back into water only to repeat the eternal event in a few minutes. I could stand and/or sit there for hours, taking in the cadences and the cacophony of birds and ocean sounds. Plus, I could take a thousand pictures and never be bored.

More of Haystack Rock from the other side
Perhaps, that is the essence of travel—soaking in the sights and sounds of your surroundings, feelings its majesty and wonder and understanding once again the majesty and simplicity of God’s works for all to enjoy.

Joanne and Hailey in downtown Cannon Beach