Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Morning Beach Walk

(Continuing the recap of my Southern Oregon Coast trip in late April....)

After a fine afternoon and evening exploring the beaches of lovely Bandon, Oregon, I awoke early the next morning, ready for more.

Flowers on the bluff

Sadly it was the last day of my Southern Oregon coast trip, and I was facing a long 5-hour drive home.  But I had one final morning and aimed to make the best of it.

Table Rock dotted with seabirds

I drove back to the beaches near Coquille Point, and parked at the terminus of a dead-end street.  A paved walking path connected here and led down to the beach.  From up on the bluff, I got a great view of flat-topped Table Rock, dotted with seabirds.

Close encounter of the feathery kind

As I wound my way down the switchbacking path, I came face to face with a bird sitting in the tall grass.  The little guy held still long enough for a couple of photos.

Scenic place to sit

Flowers were blooming along the side of the bluff.  Morning light illuminated them nicely.  I passed a well-placed bench.  What a great vantage to sit and watch the crashing waves!

Tidepool view

I hadn't paid attention to the tide tables, so was delighted to discover I'd arrived at low tide.  Instantly, I headed towards the rocks nearest the water.  Usually inundated, low tide had left their bases high and dry.

Open anemone

The receding water had exposed all kinds of interesting sea creatures.  Like these funny green, spiky anemone.


And seastars!  In bright orange and purple.

Seastar doing the splits

Some sort of disease had been killing off seastars along the West coast for the past few years, so I was happy to spot several clinging to the rock's undersides.  Hopefully this means they are making a comeback.

Lots of life hidden under the rocks!

When anemones are exposed to air, their spiky tops disappear and the entire body morphs into a long, green slimy tube.  They look like creatures from outer space!

Birds flying everywhere

At that early hour, I was pleased to find there weren't many people on the beach.  I did run into a lady with her dog, and we kept meeting at the same tidepools.  We'd point out interesting starfish and other finds to each other.

A seal!

After a few meetings, I again caught up to the lady.  She pointed out a seal sitting on a nearby rock.  Jazzed by such a find, I whipped out my camera and zoomed in as close as I could.  But I only managed two shots before her dog also made the discovery.  Off-leash, her dog ran towards the seal at top speed, barking loudly.  Of course, this spooked the seal who quickly slipped into the water and was gone.

Dramatic ocean views

I couldn't believe the lady didn't have the sense to restrain her dog!  That was the end of being friendly to her.  Shocked and disappointed, I distanced myself.  Looking back I probably should've said something.  I'm pretty sure allowing your dog to harass wildlife is against the law.

More tidepool life

I spent the next hour wandering around the tidepools, looking for more colorful creatures (and hoping the seal would return.  He didn't).

Lone seastar on the rocks

This section of coastline was so beautiful.  The offshore rocks created some impressive scenery.

Loved these sea stacks

The low tide enabled me to get much closer to the rocks that I ordinarily would.

Starfish buddies

After a couple of hours, the world began waking up, and more people began to appear on the beach. Solitude gone, I began having to wait for people to move out of my frame.

Lots of stuff to see

That, coupled with a growling stomach and chilly hands and feet (it was cold and windy out there!) made me decide it was time for breakfast at my favorite bakery, the Bandon Baking Company.  They make the best white chocolate chip cranberry cookies!  I ordered a breakfast burrito and a half dozen of those cookies (which were nearly gone by the time I arrived home).

One final view

Another wonderful long weekend on the Oregon coast!  I explored new territory and revisited a few old favorites.  Time to bid this area goodbye -  until next spring (if not sooner......)

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Bandon, My Bandon

 (Continuing the recap of my Southern Oregon Coast trip in late April....)

After spending a most excellent three days at Harris Beach State Park in Brookings, Oregon, I reluctantly packed my car and bid a somber "good-bye" to the wonderful yurt that had been home for the past three days.  But - more good things awaited.  I was heading north to my beloved city on the Oregon coast - dear, scenic Bandon.

Coquille River Lighthouse

Now having three previous trips to this town under my belt, I was looking forward to revisiting my favorite places, including lunch at Tony's Crab Shack, followed by a walk on the beaches at Face Rock Wayside.

Nice boat in the harbor

Although my arrival would be nearly two hours past lunch, I stubbornly saved my appetite for fish tacos and a bowl of Tony's delicious clam chowder.  Totally worth the wait!  After stuffing myself with seafood, I walked off some of the calories with a stroll along Bandon's beautiful waterfront, clicking photos of the boats docked nearby.

The gorse was in full bloom

Having another hour before yurt check-in at nearby Bullards Beach State Park, I killed more time by wandering the viewpoints along Bandon's lovely beaches.  My timing was perfect, and  I was able to catch the gorse at full bloom.  The bluffs surrounding Bandon's ocean shores were golden with this flowering plant.  An amazing sight!

I love the sea stacks on this beach

Sadly, this flowering yellow plant is considered an invasive species.  Imported from Irish immigrants in the late 1800s, gorse flourished throughout Bandon's coastal community.  This oily, noxious plant would play a key role in a devastating 1936 fire.  When shifting winds directed a forest fire to the city limits, gorse ignited as though it was made of gasoline.  The fire leveled nearly all the buildings in town and was responsible for the deaths of 10 people.

More golden bluffs

Deadly as it may be, the gorse bloom made for some amazing images.

Looking north from Face Rock Wayside

I easily passed the time clicking away at all the ocean viewpoints.

Blue skies and green sea

After getting the key to another nice State Park yurt and settling in, it was time to head back to Bandon's beaches for one final coastal sunset.

Evening beach walkers

I parked my car at the Coquille Point Wildlife Refuge parking area, and climbed down a long wooden staircase to the beach.  Although the sky was covered with clouds, the evening's muted light was nice for photographs.

Sky reflections in the wet sand

I noticed a huge amount of the blue-hued organisms called Vellela Vellela stuck in the sand.  These unique sea creatures float in the ocean, propelled by a sail on top of their bodies. At the mercy of prevailing winds, they often end up stranded on nearby beaches in huge numbers.  This time Bandon's coastline became their final resting ground.

Vellela Velella

As I walked towards the southern end of the beach, I noticed the golden gorse-covered bluffs reflecting nicely on a patch of wet sand.

Golden reflections in the sand

I couldn't have wished for a better photo opportunity.

A stream of gold

Of course this being the coast, that meant wind, and for a second straight night, it was blowing strongly here too.  That meant taking a few breaks ducking behind large shoreline rocks.

View from behind a tall rock

Of course, the views behind these rocks weren't too shabby, so nothing lost.

Evening light on the beach homes

I took way too many photos of the tiny streams flowing across the beach. 

Looking towards the sea stacks

The patterns and reflections in these tiny water bodies were fantastic.

Cloudy sunset

Sunset appeared as if it was going to be a non-event.  Thick clouds rolled in just as the sun began to sink.  I was able to capture a few shots of "heaven's rays" emanating from the clouds. (Almost looked as if God himself was watching the show).

Lovely light on the beach

Thinking sunset would be a bust, I climbed back up the stairs to my car.  But before I could pack up and leave, I became distracted by some fabulous light on the beach below.

The golden hour

Cloudy skies diffused the light so it cast a warm hue on the surrounding beach and bluffs.  Just as good as a sunset!

Pink hues from the sun's fading light

The last fading rays lit the clouds with a pink hue that reflected on the beach's wet sand.  A wonderful welcome to my return night in Bandon! 

I was going to end my coastal trip series with this post.  But....the next morning's walk on the beach produced some of my favorite images of the entire trip.  Totally deserving of a separate post - you'll get one more set of photos out of me before I return this blog to it's regularly scheduled hikes (of which I am now hopelessly behind!)

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

More From the Scenic Corridor

(Continuing the recap of my Southern Oregon Coast trip in late April....)

After spending a good portion of the morning wandering around uber-scenic Cape Ferrelo (if you missed that post, it's right here), I hopped back into my car to explore the rest of Southern Oregon's Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor.

Whalehead Beach

To recap, this state-desigated scenic corridor is a 12.6-mile long linear "park" squeezed between the Pacific Ocean and Hwy 101 north of Brookings, Oregon.  Showcasing this fabulously scenic stretch of coastline, numerous beaches, short trails, and viewpoints can be accessed from the highway.

However, I learned the hard way some of the parking areas aren't well marked, and consequently zipped past House Rock Viewpoint before noticing the pull out.  So I continued on to Whalehead Beach, which happened to be next in line.  Not wanting to miss another stop, I paid close attention to the signs and road shoulder, and successfully located the very steep side road leading to this lovely beach.

Seagulls on the beach

The sky was still moody and overcast, but at least it wasn't raining.  I parked in the nearly deserted lot and made my way towards Whalehead Beach's sandy shoreline.  A huge flock of seagulls were roosting at the water's edge, and I spent the first several minutes trying to capture their antics.

Lots of driftwood

This beach had lots of interesting offshore sea stacks (huge rocks jutting up from the water) and a dense coastal forest carpeted the bluffs above.

Walking the beach

I shared this beach with just a couple of other people the entire time, and very much enjoyed the solitude.  It was nice to walk along the firm sand at water's edge, watch huge waves crash over large sea stacks, and photograph to my heart's content without waiting for people to move out of the way.

But after an hour of sauntering, more people began arriving.  Time to move on!

Path to Natural Bridges

The next stop on my "tour de Boardman" was the Natural Bridges Cove Viewpoint.  A short trail through a beautiful, fern-filled coastal forest led to a wooden platform.  Below were two large arched rock formations, former collapsed caves eroded by wave action.

Natural Bridges - Amazing!

Those arches were a really amazing sight!  The deep green seawater surrounding the scenic cove made for a lovely setting.  Then I noticed a man walking on top of an arch.  How did he get there?

Can you spot the man on the arch?

A trail continued from the viewing platform, diving down into the thick forest.  Should I follow?  Curiosity got the best of me, so of course I did.  The path was rough, steep and rocky.  I tripped and nearly fell several times.  One particularly close call with a slippery tree root made me stop and reconsider.  The trail seemed to keep dropping steeply and I'd be hiking back up this on the return trip.  Plus, I was by myself.  If I fell and got hurt, no one was around to help.  I realized hiking all the way down to stand on the top of the arches wasn't probably the safest (or smartest) thing to do.  So I wisely retraced my steps back to the parking area.

Magical green forest floor

The most northern overlook on the Boardman Scenic Corridor was Arch Rock Viewpoint and picnic area.  This was my next stop, and it was high noon by the time I pulled into it's spacious parking lot.  By now, all of the visitors had converged here, and the place was hopping.

Unique leaves

A short trail led out to multiple ocean viewpoints, past another gorgeous coastal forest.  Every viewpoint was swarming with people, and that combined with harsh midday light meant terrible photographic conditions.  There was one nice arched rock, but it wasn't nearly as spectacular as the formations at Natural Bridges Cove.

Trail to Thunder Cove

Now that I'd reached the northernmost point of the Boardman Scenic Corridor, it was time to retrace the route back south and pick up some of  the viewpoints I'd missed.  Some of the short trails were minimally signed, or even unmarked, so it took a bit of cautious driving and eagle eyes to spot these lesser-known attractions.

Lovely coastal forest

I parked my car at the first pullout south of Arch Rock.  A tiny homemade sign indicated a 10 minute walk to a nearby viewpoint.  My guidebook mentioned this was an overlook into Thunder Cove.

Amazing views from Thunder Rock

Although some climbing was involved, I found it a pleasant walk through another spectacular coastal old-growth forest.  Then the forest gave way to a grassy headland - with the most amazing view.

Lovely blue sea

By now the clouds had finally blown away, and sunshine streamed down upon the ocean.  It glistened a brilliant blue-green.  Several large sea stacks and other scenic rocks rose up from the water.  It was a photographer's paradise!

Outlying islands

As I was capturing all this lovely scenery with my camera, another couple and their dogs emerged from the forest.  We exchanged greetings and then the woman mentioned she and her husband had been married on this very spot.  They asked me to take their picture, which of course I gladly did.  Then, snapping a couple final images of the wonderful view for myself, I left the couple alone to enjoy their lunch, bottle of wine, and memories.

Colorful foreground

Back on the road, another gravel parking area enticed me enough to pull over.  There were more of the same ocean views, but this viewpoint had a bunch of bright red flowers - perfect foreground subjects!

Tribute to the Father of Oregon State Parks

On my return trip, I was able to spot House Rock Viewpoint in time to pull off the highway.  It was kind of a disappointment....tall trees partially blocked the ocean views.  But a large rock placed in the middle of a grassy knoll bore a plaque honoring Samuel H. Boardman, who, as superintendent of the Oregon state parks, was instrumental in preserving many of Oregon's spectacular landscapes.  I'm so thankful there were conservation-minded people like him around who saw the value in saving these unique natural treasures.

Bright colored petals

My final stop was at Lone Ranch Beach.  By now this area was full of people and the wind had begun to kick up. 

Huge wave at Lone Ranch Beach

I stayed long enough to capture some pretty pink flowers blooming near the parking area, photograph a few huge waves crashing on offshore rocks, and surprise a little ground squirrel mid-chew.

Caught this critter in mid-chew

Then it was back to my yurt for a little R 'n R.  But on my final night at Harris Beach, I wanted to be sure and capture one more sunset.  Where to go?

Evening light at Lone Ranch Beach

I decided to head back to Lone Ranch Beach.  Although the sun wasn't scheduled to set until nearly 8 pm, I arrived a couple hours early, thinking I'd spend the time photographing the coastline.

Shoreline rocks

But...I didn't count on the wind.  It was absolutely howling - cold, blowing sand everywhere.

Hiding behind a rock to escape the wind

It was miserable.  To escape the cold blasts, I ended up ducking behind a large rock and venturing out for a few minutes at a time to catch low evening light illuminating the beach.

Low light on the sand

I almost didn't make it to sunset.  It was very tempting to just go back and spend the evening reading in my yurt.  But, again I reminded myself I'd come here to take photographs.  I could read my book any other time.

Sinking sun

My persistence paid off when I was rewarded with another spectacular ocean sunset. 

Another fabulous sunset!

A wonderful way to end to my last night on the southern Oregon coast.  Despite the wind and rain, it had been a great couple days of exploration.  Tomorrow, however, I was headed north for one final stop, the city of Bandon - my favorite place on Oregon coast.  Come along with me in my next post as I revisit this special town.