Saturday, June 27, 2015

Pretty Duck

Every spring, we always get a few ducks visiting our backyard koi pond.  Usually just common mallards, the ducky couples are fun to watch.  My hubby always puts out cracked corn for our guests, and some of the ducks get so tame that they march up to our back door quacking if the bowl is empty.

But one early May evening, my hubby came rushing into the house telling me to grab my camera.  A brightly colored Mandarin Duck had landed in our backyard.  We'd never had a duck like this visit - ever!

So of course I charged out to the backyard and snuck up the pretty duck.  But it was so focused on helping himself to our corn bowl, he didn't mind the crazy camera lady following him around. 

I took dozens of shots, but these two turned out to be my favorite.  I'm posting them here for you to enjoy too.

Have a great weekend!

Sharing with:  Saturday's Critters and Our World Tuesday.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Those Pesky Pins....

Sometimes life throws you a curve ball.....

Part of last October's bunion surgery on my right foot involved an osteotomy.  An osteotomy is when a bone is cut to shorten or change its alignment.  Because bunions often change the angle of toes, as part of a bunionectomy, the bone sometimes must be realigned.  In my case, the doc removed a tiny sliver of bone from my first metatarsal, rearranged the toe so it was straight again, and pinned the bones back together.  The pins were only temporary, and removal would occur after the bone had completely healed.

X-ray of my right foot

Eight years ago, I had the same surgery on my left foot.  After everything had healed, I asked my doc to postpone pin removal surgery until after ski season.  Well, the pins had other plans, and started to work their way out way earlier than desired, poking up into the skin.  My doc hurriedly fit me into her schedule, extracted the pins, and I ended up missing a month of the season.

This time around, I was paranoid of a repeat.  But after several months, many hikes on the foot, and some short runs, it appeared the pins were behaving.  Not wanting to waste the nice days of summer laid up again, I asked my doc to wait until fall to take them out.  Then I made plans for the summer - lots of  hikes, some backpacking trips, and joining my Monkey Butter Express teammates for another running relay.

Side view

But two weekends ago, things started to go south.  After running 4.5 miles on Saturday, and hiking 5 on Sunday, my foot was swollen and sore.  A tender, tiny bump appeared over my big toe joint.  Was that the head of a pin?

In denial, I took things easy that entire week, thinking it would go away.  But the soreness and bump persisted, and on Friday I finally visited my doctor.  She confirmed my worst fear - one of the pins was moving.  Since I had plans for the next couple weeks (including that relay), we discussed padding the affected area, and scheduling removal surgery for mid-July. 

Tiny troublemakers

Of course, what did I do?  I went hiking later that Friday, and ran 4 miles on Saturday.  I woke up Sunday morning to a swollen, sore foot, forcing me to cancel a hike with a friend.  Monday morning, walking from my car to into work, I felt a stabbing pain.  It was as if the pin was trying to poke through the top of my foot.  I knew right then there was no way I'd be able to run next weekend's relay.  I called my doctor's office the minute it opened, and told her those pins needed to come out - now.

My doc is wonderful.  She worked me in to her surgery schedule right away.  After last Thursday those pesky pins were history.

Back in the boot....again

So....I'm on injured reserve for next couple weeks while the incision heals.  At first I was devastated, forced to drop out of my relay (which I was really looking forward to) and miss hiking during peak wildflower season.

But...on the bright side, I've been home from work all week, allowing me to start catching up on this blog - I'm only a month and half behind!  (You may have noticed the posts have been a bit more frequent lately.)  I've got enough material to cover things while I'm out of action, so no worries - the show will go on!

And after my foot heals this time I'm DONE.  For good.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Devil's Punchbowl

Funny how weather can change so quickly.

After enjoying a lovely sunny day on the coast, I awoke the next morning to a wet, misty world.

Foggy, rainy morning

But it was cozy in my little heated yurt, and I was in no hurry to leave.  Snuggling up on the futon couch, I read a book while listening to the soft pattering of raindrops on the roof.  Today was the day I'd pack up and head home, and I was gonna enjoy these final hours to the fullest.

Not much to see at the beach

A four-hour drive awaited though, and the desire to beat rush-hour traffic finally dislodged me from vacationland.  That, and I'd planned a few photo breaks along the way.

Highway bridge underside

Once on the road, I stopped at the first nearby beach for photos, but wind and driving rain made capturing images nearly impossible.  Further along, I made a final visit to Cape Perpetua.  The fantastic sunny conditions I'd enjoyed yesterday seemed like another lifetime ago.  Today, the rocky shoreline huddled under a dull, gray sky. 

Cook's Chasm wasn't as entertaining today

From the highway bridge, I looked down into Cook's Chasm, hoping for a repeat of yesterday's huge wave action.  But the drab-colored seawater just swirled sluggishly.  The only bright spot was a couple of wildflowers blooming nearby.

Seal Rock

So I continued north, following US 101.  Seal Rock was my next destination.  I'd heard the scenery was fantastic.  And there was supposed to be tons of wildlife - seals, of course, and birds nesting in nearby cliffs.

Lots of birds hanging out

But upon my arrival, the rain and wind decided to turn up the volume.  Emerging from the protective coastal forest, I was blasted with huge raindrops, while strong gales tried to blow me over.  I managed to click a couple of images, before hurriedly shoving the camera into my jacket.  The line of large, offshore sea stacks looked photogenic, and on a better day I would've spent more time.  But I wasn't willing to destroy my camera (or myself!) for a bunch of photos.  Seal Rock would have to wait for another trip.

Devil's Punchbowl

On to another scenic attraction!  My next destination was a wave-sculpted hollow rock called the Devil's Punchbowl.  Located north of the town of Newport, I was hoping the weather would improve by the time I arrived.

Close up of the inlet arch

Although not an official Oregon state park, Devil's Punchbowl was designated a State Natural Area.  It had been many years since I'd visited here, and if not for some well-placed highway signs, I might have missed the turnoff.  The narrow, windy road I was directed onto didn't seem like the main road to a well-known attraction.  I drove for a few miles through a residential area, thinking to myself "Is this really the correct way?"

Interesting orange lichen on it's walls

But, right before the ocean, the houses cleared to reveal a wide street.  A couple of small commercial buildings, including a chowder restaurant, were perched nearby.  A large fence was strung across the road's end.  What was behind there?  Walking up to the fence, I looked down, and spread below, there was Devil's Punchbowl.

Topside, looking out to sea

A much more interesting landform than I thought it would be, Devil's Punchbowl consisted of a huge oblong hole in the seaside cliffs, which resembled, of course, a punch bowl.  Thought to be formed when wave erosion caused the roof of two sea caves to collapse, I admired it's smooth, sand-colored rocky walls, accented by bright orange lichen.

Long way down to the beach!

It was fun to watch waves rushing in through two arched openings.  The foamy water churned around in the middle, before being sucked back out to sea.  Arriving between tides, there wasn't a huge amount of splashing action, but I assumed high tides would likely put on quite a show.

Interesting "islands" carved into the cliffs

A paved path followed the clifftop, and wandered along the sea.  High cliffs prevented beach access here, but there appeared to be a path closer towards the neighborhood that led to the sand.  But the crummy, windy weather wasn't persuading me to explore down there.  As a matter of fact, that nearby chowder house was looking mighty tempting.

Not a day to sit outside

The restaurant was nearly deserted.  I had the fastest service in my life, and good conversation with one poor waitress who was probably bored by the lack of customers.  As I enjoyed a steaming bowl of delicious clam chowder, the heavy rain and wind decided to make a comeback, slamming at the windows.  I silently thanked my lucky stars for the good sense to photograph Devil's Punchbowl before having lunch.

One more rainy shot!

Thus ends my Central Oregon Coast trip recaps.  Looking back, I'm glad I made the effort to explore this part of the coast.  Many years had passed since my last visit - and I now remember what I've missed.  Although a lot was packed into 2 days, there's still many places I'd didn't get to.  They're on my list for a return visit - which I can guarantee will happen soon.

Just in case you've missed any, here's all the links to my Central Oregon Coast mini-vacation posts:

Goin' Coastal
Heceta Head Lighthouse
Cape Perpetua - Land of Big Splashes
Seaside Sunset

Sharing with:  Our World Tuesday

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Seaside Sunset

It had been a busy day.  Up at dawn to catch the sunrise, to Cape Perpetua for high tide, Heceta Head Lighthouse, and back to Cape Perpetua again at low tide.... By dinnertime I was worn out.  Back at my cozy little yurt, it was mighty tempting to kick back and enjoy the bottle of wine I'd brought.

But one item remained on my to-do list - capturing a sunset on the Oregon coast.

Relaxin' at the yurt

So about 7 o'clock that evening, I reluctantly tore myself away from my comfy chair on the yurt's front porch and grabbed my camera gear.

Lovely evening light at Bob Creek Wayside

Driving back and forth between Cape Perpetua and Heceta Head had given me a chance to check out this stretch of coastline.  For sunset photography, I wanted a beach with something of interest - tall seastacks or a rocky headland I could silhouette against the sky.

Some nice splashy waves too

In the end I chose Bob Creek Wayside, due to it's lack of crowds and picturesque rocky shoreline.

The rocky shores were most picturesque

Upon arrival at my beach of choice, I was pleased to discover low-angle evening light illuminating things quite nicely.

A beautiful evening

I wandered amongst a rock-riddled shoreline, trying to capture more crashing waves, while scoping out the best place to photograph a setting sun.

Evening light on the shore

Although the day had been sunny and warm with clear skies, a light misty fog was beginning to creep in.  I hoped it didn't interfere with the sunset.

A surfer and her dog

I was alone on the beach except for a couple of surfers.  Their dog waited patiently on the beach until it's owner paddled ashore, and then happily ran to meet her.  A very cute reunion!

There goes the sun!

After walking down and then back up the water's edge, I finally located my sunset spot.  Bob Creek burbled lazily into the the surf, rocky outcrops caught huge waves, and a tall headland anchored one side. Yes, this would do nicely.

Huge waves crash against the rocks

Anyway, as good as I was gonna get - about the time I'd decided upon this spot, the sun was already beginning to slip downward, coloring the sky.

Lovely sky colors

Hurriedly, I stretched out my tripod legs and positioned it facing west.  Clouds had begun forming over the ocean.  At first I was disappointed, thinking they would obscure the sun.  But as the light sank lower, I realized their wispy layers added a dash of interest to the sky.

Almost down....

The sky began to turn a lovely shade of orange.  I was pleased to see this color reflecting nicely in the wet sand.  Crashing waves in the background didn't hurt either!

The sky turned a gorgeous orange-red

Slipping below the horizon, the sun's last rays illuminated evening skies a brilliant red-orange.

The sky reflected on the beach

Whose colors again reflected beautifully in the wet sand and waters of Bob Creek.

Fading pinks on the sand

By now, the surfers had left, and I was all alone on this rocky beach.  Temperatures began to drop, and a light mist crept in, fogging my glasses and camera lens.

Daylight's last gasp

But I stayed put on that damp, chilly beach until the last light faded from the sky.  So lovely, I didn't want to leave.  What an amazing sunset!


In the end, I was happy I didn't succumb to the pull of my cozy yurt and bottle of wine.  Capturing that sunset was the high point of an already incredible day.  I'm learning that getting those extraordinary photographs always requires a bit of sacrifice.  But, as you can see, the rewards are well worth it!

Sharing with:  Scenic Weekends and Weekend Reflections and Skywatch Friday

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Cape Perpetua - Land of Big Splashes

Besides Heceta Head Lighthouse, the other destination on my coastal mini-vacation was Cape Perpetua.  A marine wonderland of tidepools, rugged rocky shoreline, and spouting waves, this designated National Scenic Area is a "must-see" for anyone traveling the central Oregon Coast.

Foggy coastal morning

After trying to catch the sunrise, (which turned out to be a dud) I headed north on Hwy 101 in hopes of capturing early morning light at Cape Perpetua.  On my way, I pulled off at a scenic little parking area for a few quick images of the morning fog rolling out.

High tide + waves = big splashes

Then it was on to my destination.  Arriving at 8 am, an hour before it's "official" opening, I had the place to myself.  Although this coastline is rimmed by a lovely old-growth forest with many great trails, that wasn't the reason I was here.  It was high tide, and I was looking for wave action.

Interesting shore rocks

The jagged volcanic rocks lining Cape Perpetua's shoreline were most scenic.  As the sun rose over the adjacent headland, it lit up the water with some gorgeous light.  The foamy waves became bright white, the water, a lovely royal blue.

Waves traveling up a rock crack

Inside these craggy, basalt rocks were lots of cracks and fissures.  When waves traveled far enough up these, wonderful huge splashes were the result.  Incoming high tide made for a spectacular water show.

Cook's Chasm rainbow

A couple of the larger openings actually had names.  One, called Cook's Chasm, was fun to watch.  Incoming waves would hit it's steep rocky walls, and splash upwards most dramatically.  The retreating mist sometimes created a lovely rainbow.   If the wave was strong enough, it got funneled into an adjacent hole, and spouted out like a geyser.

After several tries at photographing the splashing waves and rainbows at Cook's Chasm, I remembered my GoPro.  A movie captures the action so much better!  (This is best viewed at full screen)

Nice morning light on the water

After spending a good two hours wandering around the rocky shoreline, I hiked back to the road, and headed to another nearby attraction - Devil's Churn.

Devil's Churn

Devil's Churn started out as long crack in the lava, but many years of pounding wave action have  eroded it into a wide slot.  It fills with each incoming surge, the larger waves crashing into it's rocky terminus.  Things got exciting when incoming and outgoing waves collided, exploding into tall, frothy fountains.

A switchbacking trail takes visitors down to the very base of this churning slot.  But first, I captured some footage of the action from above.  (Please view at full screen - and ignore my dorky comments)

Lots of good splashes at Devil's Churn

After several minutes watching the swirling waters from the upper viewpoint, I rambled down to trail's end - on the very banks of this active water feature.

Although I saw a few people venture to the very edge of the churn, I kept a comfortable distance.  The action was just as good from there - and much safer!  Here's another video I took of some up-close wave power.

Staircase to the beach

Watching those waves rip into this narrow canyon and crash together was mesmerizing.  I don't know how long I lingered here, entertained by the moving waters.  But finally, I tore myself away, and continued along the loop trail to another rocky beach.  A steep staircase led visitors to the water's edge.

More big splashes

Some outlying rocks were catching the waves, creating more huge splashes.  I hung out for awhile, taking yet more pictures, until a grumbling stomach, and the hot midday sun reminded me that it was time for a break.

Obligatory wildflower photo

Low tide was scheduled at 3:00 that day, so I decided to come back then and explore the tidepools.

Cape Perpetua at low tide

Returning later that afternoon, it was remarkable to see the difference between low and high tide.  All the rocks that were underwater that morning, were now very much exposed.  A rocky, jagged plain stretched far out from the main bluffs.  The retreating water meant no big splashes.

Slimy green algae

I'd hoped to explore the tidepools in search of sea creatures.  There was supposed to be some good ones to view.  But as I wandered amongst the sharp, slippery rocks, I didn't see a single critter.

Picturesque highway bridge

There were a few wildflowers blooming in the adjacent grassy slopes.  And the view under this highway bridge was sort of scenic.

Adventurous young people near the waves

But after the morning's rowdy wave action, low tide was kind of a disappointment.  I wandered along the shoreline looking for photo subjects.  This group of young men, inching extremely close to the water's edge was about as exciting as it got - especially when one guy turned his back on the ocean, fixated on his phone.

Low tide exposes the rock

Although some people got right out on those rocks, I decided I wasn't comfortable being so close to the water.  One slip, and I'd get pulled out to sea.  Besides, it was hot down by the water's edge, and my early morning was starting to catch up with me.

View from above

One final trip before dinner, I drove to the top of the adjacent bluff to take in a view of Cape Perpetua from above.  The Civilian Conservation Corp had built an impressive stone shelter at the very top.  Looking through it's arched windows framed a nice vista of the mighty Pacific Ocean, stretching out for miles.

Stone shelter over the sea

Then it was a short trip to Yachats, for an iced chai frappuccino before returning to my yurt for some rest and dinner.  I still had one more item on my coastal wish list to fulfill that day - capturing a sunset.

Check my next post to see what I find!

Sharing with:  Wednesday Around the World and Our World Tuesday.