Friday, February 6, 2015

Cape Meares

Continuing my recent fascination with the Oregon coast, two Saturday afternoons ago found me again traveling west, in hopes of catching a beach sunset.

Foggy beach near Oceanside

This time a change of venue!  Instead of hitting my usual Canon Beach haunt, I instead chose to head further south, bound for the charming coastal towns of Netarts and Oceanside.

Sunbeams through the coastal forest

It was a beautiful sunny day in Portland (very rare most winters, except for this one).  I expected the same clear blue skies on the coast.  Imagine my surprise, when, a few miles from the beach, a huge fog bank rolled in, and began to blot out the sun.  What???  How was I supposed to capture the sunset now?

Ocean view from Cape Meares

On the outskirts of Oceanside, I pulled into a roadside parking area and captured a few misty beach scenes.  Then I continued past the town, climbing a steep, windy road, until a sign for the Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint came into view.

Tall cliffs

Lucky for me, Cape Meares is a tall headland rising 200 feet above the ocean.  That day, the elevation was enough to escape that murky fog shrouding Netarts and Oceanside.  Popping out of the clouds, I was treated to blue skies, and amazing ocean views.

Wave action at the cliff's base

The big attraction on Cape Meares is a historic lighthouse.  However, an overlook near the parking lot provides a killer Pacific Ocean panorama.  It was enough to keep me (and my camera) busy for several minutes.

Cape Meares lighthouse

I finally tore myself away and headed down the path to the park's main attraction.  A huge fan of lighthouses, this one did not disappoint.  The first overlook gives visitors a view looking down on this amazing bit of history.

Dramatic view from the lighthouse base

The Cape Meares Lighthouse was built in 1889, and commissioned on January 1, 1890.  The tower, standing a mere 38 feet in height, has the distinction of being the shortest lighthouse in Oregon.  It's structure consists of bricks covered with iron plates.

Fresnel Lens close-up

The lighthouse is illuminated with a first order Fresnel Lens, made in Paris, France.  The lens was shipped around Cape Horn to Cape Meares, and then hauled up the steep cliff by a wooden crane made from native timbers.  It is eight-sided, with four primary lenses, and four bulls-eye lenses covered with red panels.  The light can be seen from 21 nautical miles at sea.

Looking back on the fog bank enveloping Oceanside

A sad footnote, in 2010, a couple of local yahoos drove into this park under the cover of night, and shot up the Fresnel Lens.  The two guilty men were arrested and charged, but much time, effort, and money were poured into the restoration of the lighthouse and it's historic lens.  Happily, the lens is now repaired to it's former condition.

Oceanside beach before sunset

A return loop trail to the parking lot gave great views of Oceanside and it's beaches.  Well, if not for the fog, anyway.  Despite the thick cloud layer, I still got some great shots of the headland and sea stack tips sticking out of the gloom.

Lots of fog means minimal views

After a nice walk around Cape Meares, I headed back down to Oceanside.  One of my very favorite coastal towns, I love it's laid-back atmosphere.  There's no touristy shops, no cell phone coverage, and no ritzy resorts.  A tiny beach gives wonderful views of a group of sea stacks known as Three Arch Rocks.

Still, a peaceful place to be

But today's fog prevented any sea stack sightings.  I could barely glimpse their outlines through the mist.  Not enough for any good images.  Instead, I had to be content with photographing beach scenes.

Setting sun turns everything golden

As the sun sank lower in the sky, the fog began to lift for a couple of short minutes.  Hoping for a nice sunset, I stayed put.  But the clouds rolled back in, and I had to console myself with some shots of diffused golden light on the sand.

Lovely light on the sand

A high sneaker wave caught me while I was concentrating on a photo, soaking my legs below the knees (note to self...never turn your back on the sea!).  After that, I was ready for a hot cup of tea.  So I didn't bother sticking around for the sunset, and instead decided to beat the darkness back home.

Still not a bad way to spend a winter's afternoon.  I've bookmarked this location for a return trip.  Hopefully next time will be a sunny day!

Sharing with:  Scenic Weekends and Our World Tuesday


  1. I would love to visit this area - its so beautiful.

  2. It may have been foggy, but your photos never disappoint. Definitely worth a return visit.

  3. Peaceful and gorgeous, I could see myself enjoying a nice walk there!

  4. your photos are truly wonderful Linda. I am not sure how you get these amazing shots but you do find the most interesting places.

  5. Your images have me longing to be back there on the Oregon Coast! We were at Cape Meares in April 2010, when the damage was still pretty fresh. I remember thinking what a senseless, senseless crime vandalism is. So glad the lens has been restored!

  6. Great captures! You even got a bit of a sunset.
    I love this part of the coast!
    Those sneakers are pretty sneaky.. sometimes we forget just how sneaky they can be.
    Super post!

  7. Wow. What an informative, fascinating, beautiful post. Love the views from the cliff top, but my romantic soul leans to the fog bank and the misty beach.

  8. Wow, these are lovely shots of Oregon's coast.. I am sorry the sun disappeared but the fog adds a beauty of its own. I love the lighthouses too and the lovely sunset..Wonderful series of images. Have a happy weekend!

  9. As always a wonderful collection of Oregon images. The silver sunset is great. Tom The Backroads Traveller

  10. Nice series- For some reason I stopped getting notification of your new posts

  11. Absolutely stunning photographs. I laughed about having the sea sneak up on you like that. Your pictures are outstanding, and I especially love the second and third ones. :-)

  12. Boy, you have a really spectacular coast to go and photograph! Just the sort of outing I'd love. Great pictures. I love the second one of the sunbeams in the trees.

  13. Linda, you know I love those lighthouses! The water and the cliffs in the pictures are really beautiful.

  14. Magnificent shots of the Oregon coast and beautiful sunset shots ~ though they may not have been exactly what you want Mother Nature delivers in her own way ~

    Happy Weekend to you,
    artmusedog and zoe

  15. Well you got some beautiful photos despite the weather, and really captured how it looks when a marine layer rolls in!

  16. You will never run out of amazing photo ops living near the beautiful Oregon Coast. Thank you for sharing the beauty and for the memories. (I think. Now I'm a little homesick. And with the temps the way they've been in the Eugene area, a/c to family). We don't even have the joy of knowing were escaping days and days of cold and damp.)

  17. Beautiful - the misty forest photo is truly magical.

  18. The only thing you can rely on the weather to do, is be different from what you thought it would be! Still, there is always something to see on a beach.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  19. Great post, Linda! What a spectacular place. I especially like the third image from the top with the caption "Ocean view from Cape Meares". I love lighthouses! They fascinate me. Too bad about those yahoos shooting up the Fresnel Lens. Such morons.

  20. Oregon is such a beautiful place even in fog. Unbelievable that a couple of yahoos wanted to shoot up the lens!

  21. I think the foggy shots are gorgeous.

  22. That picture of the trees with the sunbeams is fantastic, it's like from a magical story. The shore is so beautiful too especially the one taken from Cape Meares. Fog is beautiful in fact, it gives a dramatic twist in pictures.

  23. The sunset was not there, but it were wonderful views of the sea, which I love and lighthouse. Regards.

  24. Still lots of beauty despite the fog.

    excellent images

  25. We love the Oregon coast and hope to go back. Your photos brought back a lot of memories.

  26. Linda, these are absolutely beautiful pictures. Our daughter in law spent some time in Oregon and she always tells us how beautiful it was and how she hopes one day we can travel there...her descriptions along with your very beautiful photos are enough to get me packing. These are some of the best ocean shots I have seen, just wonderful!

  27. Notwithstanding your disappointment with the weather Linda, you've still achieved some magnificent shots - love those sunbeams through the trees and the golden sun on caramel-coloured sand!

  28. I think the fog adds a very mysterious quality to the ocean, but too much of it drives me crazy too:) Loved your photos up at Cape Meares--what a gorgeous lens! I am always shocked to hear of vandalism of historic buildings and cemeteries. Sigh.
    PS: Watching a special right now on TV about our beautiful coast:)

  29. Beautiful photography, Linda! My husband and I have not yet visited Oregon and we hope to drive from San Francisco up the coast all the way to the top of Washington State one day along route one. I can see the views will be fantastic!,

  30. Wow! Your photos are very beautiful. Ocean view from Cape Meares are fantastic. I like the photo of
    Sunbeams through the coastal forest. Thanks for sharing.

  31. Dearest Linda; What a magnificent and beautiful pictures♪♪♪ Love the way you captioned 'Looking back on the fog bank enveloping Oceanside' sounds poetic♡♡♡ And great reflection photograph.

    Sending Lots of Love and Hugs from Japan to my Dear friend, xoxo Miyako*

  32. Beautiful photos of the beach!

  33. Hello greetings and good wishes.

    Lovely photos on a cloudy day along with very interesting commentary. I appreciate the great trouble you took to shoot these photos for us to see.

    Best wishes

  34. Really a beautiful place Linda. I love the fog photos. Yup, the sea is not anything you want to turn your back on. Good excuse for a warm cup of tea. I love lighthouses and the history behind them.

  35. Great post! I enjoyed seeing the Oregon coast vicariously through your photos and words. It brought me back to my visit in the area. Thank you.

    Take 25 to Hollister

  36. The OR coast is awesome. I don't think I've ever visited Cape Meares though. I love lighthouses so I may just have to make sure to visit this one someday. That is awful about them shooting up the lens. You got some fabulous beach photos and the golden sky was lovely. Yep, the sea will get you every time if you turn your back.

  37. What lovely seascapes! The fog is awesome. Your coast looks a lot like our Taranaki coast.

  38. Love the shot of the sunlight in the forest--and the fog is beautiful! Very neat to see the lighthouse.

  39. Unfortunately, the shattered elements of the Fresnel lens were not repaired, but merely "stabilized", with surviving chunks glued together. One can see the considerable damage in your otherwise magnificent photos. The perpetrators were fined $100,000 -- a considerable some for most, but apparently an easy payment for their wealthy families. The actual cost to repair the lens is estimated at $500,000, with no efforts underway to begin the process. What a great loss to history: the lens travelled by sailing vessel 130 years ago by way of Cape Horn from France.


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