Friday, May 20, 2016

Fabulous Morning in Bandon

(Continuing the recap of my late April trip to Bandon and the Southern Oregon coast....)

I learned the first lesson of yurt rental that Friday night - never get a yurt over a weekend at a popular campground.  Bullards Beach State Park had six yurts for rent - all clustered close together in what they called a "village."  Upon returning to camp after photographing the sunset, I discovered I had several noisy neighbors.

Coquille River Lighthouse

It appeared members of the same family had rented at least three of the available yurts, all directly adjacent to mine.  Besides having lots of shrieking kids (yes, I'm a mom and I know kids will be kids, but these were especially loud) the adults stayed up way past midnight, drinking and talking at full volume.  Needless to say, it wasn't a very relaxing night's sleep.

Morning beach view

Waking before 7 am the following morning, I had about 30 minutes of peace and quiet before the neighbor kids arose and resumed their screaming.  Time to go explore the beach!

Looking towards Elephant Rock

I began my morning with a drive out to the Coquille River Lighthouse.  Located across the Coquille River from Bandon, this small, but charming structure sits at the base of a rocky jetty.  Although no longer in service, and only intermittently open to the public, it makes a nice photo subject.

House with an amazing view

After getting a few lighthouse images, I drove into Bandon and discovered a small parking area on a bluff just south of the jetty.  Several local trails led walkers and runners down to the beach or along the clifftop.  The views back towards the Coquille River were especially nice.

Fab morning light on the seastacks

Then I drove back to Face Rock Wayside.  I discovered excellent morning light illuminating the shoreline.  Excitedly, I grabbed my camera, and headed down to ocean level.

Blue sand reflections

It was a beautiful morning for a walk on the beach.

Morning beach walk

Wet sand reflected the blue sky overhead.  Frothy waves crashed on nearby rocks.  Seagulls glided overhead.


Not only the wide sweeping coastline panoramas, other small details also got the attention of my camera lens.  A small group of shorebirds searching for food in the wet sand against the bright blue water.

Lovely purple shell

And this incredibly lovely purple-hued shell.

Bird reflection

Some of the seastacks cast reflections in the wet sand, and I busied myself trying to capture a few abstract views.

Seastack reflecions

Finally, climbing back up the wooden staircase to the parking lot, I stopped to take in the amazing ocean vistas from on top of the bluff.

View from Face Rock Wayside

Gorse flowers were blooming prolifically along the cliff faces.

Gorse bloom

These bright yellow flora made a stunning backdrop to the blue ocean below.

Lovely colorful beach view

Still having some time before lunch, I headed back to Coquille Point.  I'd enjoyed watching the sun set there last night, and decided the place needed a bit more exploration.

Elephant Rock

Many large seastacks sat a short distance from the beach.  Elephant Rock, one of the largest, was especially interesting, as it was shaped similar to a large-eared elephant.  Hundreds of seabirds nested on it's flat top.

Delicate white wildflowers

Since I didn't have time to explore the blufftop trails the prior night, I took the opportunity to check them out now.  I found several varieties of flowers blooming in the grassy slopes, such as these delicate white ones (which I didn't know the name of).

Seabirds on Elephant Rock

Then I spied a small patch of purple peeking out from the beach grass.

Wild Iris

Wild iris!  One of my favorite wildflowers!

More iris blossoms

I love these vivid, purple beauties.  Hoping to catch their blooming season, I felt like I'd hit the wildflower jackpot.

Colorful beach scene

I spent the rest of the morning wandering about Coquille Point's trail system, capturing as many iris as I could.  (Yes, there's quite a few iris images posted here, but you should've seen how many I started with!)

Great morning to be on the coast!

A hugely successful morning for beach photography!  With a full memory card and empty tummy, I now set my sights on Bandon's downtown boardwalk, hoping to score a bowl of clam chowder.

In my next post, I'll continue the day's recap - with another lighthouse visit and more fabulous sunset shots.  You won't want to miss it!

Sharing with:  Floral Friday Fotos and Weekend Reflections

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Weekend in Bandon

A trip last fall up the southern Oregon coast introduced me to the wonderful town of Bandon.  I stayed overnight and fell in love with this quirky little place.  Having only a limited time to explore, I knew right away a return visit was in order.

Seagull in flight at Seal Rocks

The dark winter months are a good time to plan future adventures.  One February evening, I impulsively chose a weekend in late April, and made yurt reservations at Bandon's Bullards Beach State Park.  Months later when the date rolled around, it wasn't the best of timing.  I sucked it up and went anyway.

And you know what?  Turned out to be a great time to explore this lovely stretch of the Oregon coast.


I left Portland on a Friday, under gray clouds and heavy rain.  But a wonderful thing happened on the way south.  The precip dried up, and the dark skies began to lighten.  By the time I took a pit stop at Seal Rock State Park, the weather had vastly improved.  I made a quick ramble to the ocean overlook, and had fun capturing seagulls doing flybys.

Gorse was in full bloom

Timing my arrival at Bullards Beach State Park to coincide perfectly with 4 pm check-in, I was unloaded and on the beach by 5:00.

Boardwalk trail to the beach

The campground host, a gruff retired lady, warmed up a bit when she realized I was traveling alone and wasn't about to have wild parties or house a bunch of pets in my yurt.  She then proceeded to give me lots of great beta about the local trails.  She especially recommended taking the new boardwalk to the nearby beach.

Wild rhododendrons

The trail was a great way to stretch my legs after nearly five hours of driving.  I passed through a coastal forest brightened by colorful yellow gorse flowers.  And further ahead were a large bunch of pink wild rhododendrons. 

Coastline at Bullards Beach State Park

The beach was nothing too remarkable.  Lots of driftwood and crashing waves but not much else.  It was peaceful, though.

Old float that washed ashore

And I did find an old fishing float that had washed ashore.  Nothing I'd take home, but it sure made a good photo subject.

Sea cliffs in Bandon

Returning to my yurt, I downed a quick dinner, and then set out to explore the town of Bandon itself.  Bandon's city limits pushed right up to the ocean beaches where I'd heard there was a fabulous state park with lots of scenic seastacks.

Sea stacks from Face Rock Wayside

Boy did I choose the right time to visit!  The spring wildflowers were at their peak.  Huge swaths of golden gorse carpeted the beachside cliffs. 

Staircase at Coquille Point

And colorful flowers (I think they were sweet pea) lined parts of the grassy meadows above.

Beach near Coquille Point

I stopped at Face Rock Wayside and marveled at the fabulous ocean views from on high.

Crashing waves

Then, exploring some more, I drove over to Coquille Point wildlife refuge, and parked in their lot.  An extensive trail system meandered out onto a peninsula.  A sturdy wooden staircase accessed the beach below, complete with a covered observation platform.

Photographers at the Wizards Hat

I wandered down to the water's edge.  Some uniquely shaped seastacks anchored the beach's southern end, so I meandered that way to check them out.  One of the tall pointy seastacks was appropriately named the "Wizard's hat."

Golden sunset

I noticed a couple of photographers had tripods set up here.  One guy waded right into the surf, tripod and all, and attempted to get some up-close shots of the Wizard's Hat.  The other person lingered at the waterline.

Lovely evening light on the beach

Watching those photographers in action was great entertainment.  I couldn't believe the man in the water was risking getting his camera doused.  The tide was coming in, and some of those waves looked big.  It appeared he managed to keep it dry though.

Sundown by the Wizard's Hat

The sunset caught me totally off guard.  Thinking this would just be a short walk, I'd left my tripod in the car.  But noticing the sun's orange ball quickly dropping towards the horizon, I knew there wasn't time to fetch it now.  So I did what any lazy photographer would do - simply held my camera as still as I could, and fired away.

Setting sun reflections

As the sun sunk lower, a couple other photographers (with tripods) joined the two gathered at the rocks.  Standing there, cradling the camera in my hands, I felt like a real tinhorn.

Last light of day

It was a spectacular sunset.  I thought the clouds might mask the setting sun, but instead, they glowed in lovely shades of orange and pink.  I even captured the sun's sinking orange ball reflecting on the wet sand.  I was very glad I'd ventured out here!

Pink hues in the sky

Finally the vivid colors giving way to dark skies, I left the chilly beach for my cozy yurt.  The weekend off to a good start, I snuggled in my sleeping bag, looking forward to another day of exploring this charming part of the Oregon coast.

Check back for the next post - a recap of day two!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Mother's Day on Marys Peak

(I want to thank everyone for their kind comments on my last post.  Losing our beloved family dog was tough, and the outpouring of support from all of you really meant a lot.  Truly, blogging buddies are the best!)

I have a Mother's Day tradition.  When that special Sunday rolls around, I gather my family together, and we all go for a hike.  My son was busy that day, but since my daughter had just driven up to Portland two days prior, I decided to travel her way and try a trail nearby.

Where's the summit?

Marys Peak had been on my radar for several years.  The highest spot in the Coast Range, this 4,097 foot mountain was reputed to boast expansive views, from the ocean to the Cascades.  I'd also heard the summit wildflower meadows weren't too shabby.

So my hubby and I picked up my daughter and drove west from Corvallis, up an extremely windy Forest Service road, until we finally reached its end.  The higher we climbed, the thicker the clouds became.  Imagine my disappointment when we reached the parking area, only to find it cloaked in a thick fog.

Mother's Day photo op!

From the parking lot, a short but steep trail leads hikers 0.6 mile to the summit.  Sadly, our tough uphill slog brought no rewards that morning.  Everything was shrouded in a thick, white mist.  Oh well, I made my family pose for photos anyway. 

Photo with the hubby

I posted this photo of my hubby and I on Facebook, and someone commented on the fact that I was bundled up, while Roger was in shirtsleeves.  Don't let my husband's lack of jacket fool you - the wind was blowing up there, and it was freezing!  Roger just has a high tolerance for chilly temps (we joke that he's part Alaskan!)

Heading towards the Meadow Edge Trail

Disappointed by the lack of views, my family and I decided to try another trail.  We left the summit, and located the nearby Meadows Edge Trail.  My hiking book said this short two-mile loop wound through an impressive old-growth forest.

Gigantic tree

And indeed it did!  This path climbed along a margin between a rare grove of gigantic noble fir and a lovely mountain meadow.

Hidden lily

At the meadow's edge, eagle-eye Roger spotted this gorgeous off-white lily.

Mossy woods

Beyond the huge firs was another grove of smaller trees, all draped in fuzzy lichens.

These yellow flowers were plentiful!

The surrounding forest floor was full of wildflowers, especially this tiny yellow specimen (I have no idea of its name).

Forest floor green with Oxalis

Further downhill, the hillside vegetation changed to a vibrant green carpet of Oxalis.

Water droplets on Oxalis leaves

These plants look like large clovers - but with three leaves, instead of four.  (Didn't stop Roger and Denise from looking though!)

Little white flowers

There were even tiny white flowers blooming in some Oxalis patches.

Roger trying for a trillium photo

Deeper in the woods, we spotted a bunch of beautiful trillium flowers.  The first ones I'd seen this year, I spent a lot of time trying to get that perfect shot.  Roger took out his cell phone and joined in the fun.

My trillium shot

This was the best of my trillium images.   Not too bad!

Lotsa lichen

For all you lichen lovers out there, here's a close up of the wispy green and beige lichen that covered most of the trees.  (You're welcome)

Lovely green woods

As my family and I walked through the woods, we began to notice the sky clearing.

Bleeding heart flowers

By the time we'd finished the Meadows Edge Loop, the fog had vanished, replaced by high clouds and partial blue sky.

Road to the summit

Having missed seeing views the first time, I was game for a return to the summit.  Roger said he'd join me, but Denise opted to wait in the car (she'd recently rolled her ankle and it needed a rest)

Summit wildflowers

By this time, quite a few people had arrived, and they all seemed to be taking a gravel road to the top.  Instead of taking the trail, this time Roger and I followed everyone else up this alternate route.

Fantastic views we'd missed the first time

Although the woods had a few good wildflower displays, I was kind of disappointed thus far by the lack of flowers.  But as I got close to Marys Peak summit, that all changed.


Boy was I glad we'd followed the road!  It wound right past an enormous flower field.  The steep, rocky uphill slopes were covered with purple Phlox and a smattering of orange Indian Paintbrush.  Taking the trail this morning, we'd missed all of this.

Summit meadows were a carpet of wildflowers

At road's end, the summit meadows were covered with tiny, yellow blossoms and deep purple larkspur.  It was simply wonderful!


And now I could finally see those wonderful views.  Although not a very clear day, the adjacent hills and farmlands were a great sight to see.  I was so glad the weather decided to cooperate!

Glad I climbed back up again!

I lingered up top for a long time, snapping photos and taking in the vistas.  But a grumbling tummy finally convinced me to head back downhill.  It was long past lunch, and my family had promised beer and burgers at a brewpub in Corvallis.  A perfect end to this wonderful day!

Although it was great to explore new trails and see grand sights, spending time with my family was by far the best part of this Mother's Day.

Sharing with:  Floral Friday Fotos and Through My Lens