Saturday, July 30, 2022

Bandon - The Bonus Pics

As what usually happens, the final day of my Bandon trip dawned with blue skies and sunshine.  After enduring two gray, rainy days this sunlight was most welcome.  I just had to take one last walk on the beach to take advantage of the perfect photography conditions.

Early morning on the beach

The morning was lovely.  My friend Kim and I passed by the seastacks, now illuminated brilliantly, as I tried to capture them with my camera.

Table Rock and some wild iris

From the bluff above the beach, purple wild iris were blooming.  I tried in vain to include these lovely flowers as a foreground in my scenery shots.

Seastack view from the bluff

After walking the bluff path, I suggested to Kim we take the long wooden staircase down to beach level for a final stroll along Elephant Rock.

Wooden staircase

Although the tide was still quite high, we sauntered over to where the Harbor seals were sunning themselves on rocks the prior day.  And then we spotted a scene so cute it had me scrambling to put the zoom lens and extender on my camera.

Mama and baby seal!

A mother and baby seal were playing in the water right in front of us!

Tender moment between mother and child

As soon as I'd attached my lens, the mother-baby duo began swimming away.  I followed at a respectable distance, hoping to get a few more pics.

"Now where did Junior go?"

The seals swam up on a nearby patch of sand.  With my zoom lens, it was close enough range to get some great shots.  

A kiss from momma

The mother and baby appeared to touch noses.  A kiss from momma!  So very sweet!

Just chillin'

This endearing wildlife encounter was a lovely finale.  A perfect way to end what had been a great mini-vacation at one of my favorite places on the Oregon Coast.

Yaquina Bay bridge in Newport

I didn't want to go!  Both Kim and I agreed we wanted to stay longer.  I considered extending our motel reservation, but there were things I needed to do at home.  So in the end, we finally packed my car and headed up Highway 101 for home.  But we did make a stop at Newport for lunch and to get a good look at the lovely Yaquina Bay Bridge.

I'm already plotting a return trip to Bandon Beach in October.  Stay tuned.....

Day one:  Two Days in Bandon

Day two:  Bandon, Day Two

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Bandon, Day Two

Day Two of my Bandon girl's trip dawned.  (If you missed Part one, find it here.)  Since I wake up earlier than my friend Kim, I quietly let myself out of our motel room for an early morning walk on the beach.  Close proximity to the beach was the main reason I'd chosen the motel we were at, and I was pleased with the easy access.  

Morning beach walk

A mere two blocks from the motel was an asphalt path interrupted by a couple of wooden staircases taking visitors down the bluff directly to the sand.  The views were incredible all the way, from the clifftops to beach level.  Because it was early May the surrounding vegetation was a vibrant shade of green.  Just a stunning morning all around!  I was happy to have the beach nearly to myself as I trod past crashing waves and seastacks with many birds perched on top.

Waves hitting a seastack

After a half hour of roaming, I returned to the motel and roused Kim for a quick morning ramble.  We returned to the beach and had fun wandering around the seastacks.  The tide was still quite high, so we had to climb over one rocky area that formed a choke point.  But it wasn't too hard and it landed us on the beach in front of one of the more famous seastacks nicknamed "Elephant Rock."

Elephant Rock with waves splashing through

A small group of people were gathered in front of Elephant Rock, cell phones in hand, capturing waves crashing through two openings in the rock.  The two openings framed what looked like an elephant's trunk (hence the "elephant rock" name.)  Of course I couldn't resist trying to get some wave images of my own, and in the process we struck up a conversation with the one of the couples.  Turns out they were from Canada, and traveled to Bandon every year to visit relatives.  The man showed me some images on his phone he'd captured during a previous visit of the setting sun streaming through one of the openings in Elephant Rock.  The low angle sunlight illuminated the rock a bright shade of orange.  I learned October was the best month to witness this phenomenon.  Apparently the sun is at the proper angle to shine directly through the hole.  Hmmm....I may just need to plan an October revisit!

Wave action through one of Elephant Rock's holes

After several minutes of photography and pleasant conversation, Kim and I wandered directly north of Elephant Rock.  From previous visits I remembered harbor seals often liked to hang out on the adjacent sea stacks.  Well luck was on our side!  Not only did we find a dozen seals lazing on the rocks, we even spied two babies.

Harbor seals checking us out

Further down the beach I spotted a flock of shorebirds foraging in the sand for food.  Not sure which species they were, but their long, curved bills intrigued me.

Some type of shorebirds

I wanted to show Kim some of the more famous seastacks on Bandon Beach, so we walked south towards the well-photographed "Wizards Hat."

Wizard's Hat and other seastacks on Bandon Beach

Further down the beach, Wizards Hat had a look-alike seastack.  It also had a pointy top, but I thought this seastack more closely resembled a howling dog (as a matter of fact, I believe that's the unofficial name).

Another unusual seastack (I think it's called "Howling Dog")

Our tummies began grumbling for breakfast, so we walked back to the motel to fetch my car.  Since my favorite bakery wasn't open Mondays, we ended up in cute café on Bandon's main drag.  What a find!  The place had great coffee and killer breakfast burritos.  Both Kim and I agreed we'd be returning tomorrow.

Beach view from on top of the bluff

Now fortified, it was time to head back to the beach for low tide.  I'd told Kim about the fantastic tidepools found near the seastacks at low tide and she was game for some exploration.

Wandering Tattler

On the way to the tidepools, we walked by a group of birders.  Seeing my large camera lens one of the ladies pointed out a rare sighting of a seabird known as the "Wandering Tattler."  Apparently this species didn't "wander" over to Bandon very often so she was very excited to spot one.  The lady asked if I'd mind taking some photos of the bird and email her a couple copies.  She wanted to post a report of her findings on a website called "ebird."  Always one to help out a fellow birder, I shot several images and the lady collected my email for future contact.  So now I can say I've seen a Wandering Tattler (and have the photographs to prove it!)

Tidepool life at low tide

On to the tidepools!  At the base of the Wizards Hat and two other prominent seastacks Kim was delighted to find a colorful array of sea creatures.  There were orange and purple seastars and green anemones.  

More colorful sea creatures

Dodging the incoming tide, we crept as close as we could to photograph these strange and beautiful creatures.  

Purple seastar

I think the anemones look like weird one-eyed space monsters, don't you? 

Table Rock

After all that morning walking, my foot and Kim's knee were starting to sound the alarm.  So I grabbed my car and we drove over to Face Rock viewpoint, where I'd photographed sunset the previous evening.  I love the ocean views here.  A bright yellow flower called gorse was blooming on the cliff faces, and although it's horribly invasive, the gorse sure makes for some lovely photos.

Another lovely beach view

Our breakfast café had local artwork displayed on it's walls.  I particularly loved a collection of photographs of the area by a local photographer.  One of my favorite images was that of the nearby Coquille River Lighthouse.  The photograph was sharp, colorful and had interesting clouds in the sky.  I told Kim I wanted to go out the lighthouse to try and get a fantastic image of my own.


Classic Bandon view, with gorse bloom

So after soaking in the gorse-lined cliff views of Face Rock, I pointed my car back to Hwy 101 and Bullards Beach State Park.  The lighthouse was located in this state park near the confluence of the Coquille River and Pacific Ocean.

Coquille River Lighthouse

Constructed in 1896, the Coquille River Lighthouse was decommissioned 1939 in and fell into disrepair.  Finally a group of citizens petitioned Oregon State Parks and Army Corp of Engineers to restore the lighthouse.  It was renovated in 1976 and is now a popular attraction.

Kim and I hung out on the rocks surrounding the Coquille River Lighthouse and I snapped images from a variety of different angles.  But the image posted above was by far my favorite.  I think it rivaled the quality of the coffeehouse photograph.  Maybe I'll get this one enlarged and framed.  

Late evening light and fantastic clouds!

Last night while photographing the sunset I met another photographer, a woman from California.  Returning to the lighthouse parking area, who should we run into but the same person!  We chatted once again and compared notes as to the places we'd photographed that day.  In a tiny beach town like Bandon it really is a small world!

Evening light on the beach and bluff

After an excellent early dinner of halibut fish and chips, Kim and I perused a nearby souvenir shop.  The shop also had a fudge counter.  The fudge was so tempting, but full to the brim from our fish dinner neither of us thought we had room for more food.  But because you can't go to the beach and not buy fudge, we broke down and each purchased a large piece anyway.  (Our bedtime snack I guess!)

Sunset, Day Two

Conditions were looking good for sunset.  The day had been dry and some interesting clouds were floating in the evening sky.  Kim and I walked around the beach adjacent to Coquille Point, but the tide was too high for a good beach sunset.  So we climbed back up the bluff and sauntered around on the paved trails.  We found a good overlook (with a bench!) and I decided this would be my sunset spot.

Sinking sun

As Kim and I were sitting at our chosen vantage, who should walk by but the Canadian couple we'd chatted with that morning!  They again stopped and struck up a conversation with Kim.  I didn't participate much in the discussions because about that time, the sun started to drop and the sky began to turn colors.

Almost down!

Although the previous evening's sunset was good, tonight's was shaping up to be great.  The clouds started glowing orange and the setting sun made a trail of light along the ocean waves.

Kim's great photo of me in action

As the sun sank into a cloud bank at the horizon it produced a sunburst.  The rays flared outward in a lovely explosion of light.  I kept pushing the shutter button.

Pink skies to the north

It's always good to look around and not got too caught up on the sunset show happening right before your eyes.  In this case, I happened to glance northward and caught the skies glowing pink.  I quickly pivoted my tripod head to capture this scene before it faded away.

After the sun dropped, the sky colors got even better

Sometimes the best sky color comes right after the sun sinks below the horizon.  This was the case tonight.  After the sun departed, the clouds continued to glow a bright yellow-orange.  These colors  reflected in the waves below.  Our departure was delayed by several minutes as I kept clicking the shutter over and over again.  Absolutely spectacular!

Amazing end to an amazing day!

Day two had been amazing!  We started out watching waves crash through Elephant Rock, spotted Harbor seals, met some wonderful people, had a delicious breakfast, perused the tidepools, saw a rare bird, captured a interesting lighthouse, had an amazing dinner of halibut, and witnessed an off-the-charts beautiful sunset.  Kim and I returned to our motel tired but happy.  

Now for some of that fudge!

(I've got one final post from my trip which I'll try and get written a bit quicker - I hope!)

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Two Days in Bandon

After my late April visit to Cape Perpetua on the Oregon coast, I was eager for another coastal adventure.  I really, really love Bandon, Oregon - a cute, funky beach town on the southern coast, so I asked my friend Kim if she was interested in a girl's trip.  Having never spent any time in Bandon, she was all for it.  So I picked some dates, made motel reservations, and crossed my fingers that the weather would cooperate.

Formal garden, Shore Acres State Park

Well, of course as our chosen days inched closer, it was apparent that Oregon's wet spring weather would continue.  So I told Kim to pack her raingear - my planned outdoor adventures were still on, no matter the weather.  We headed out of town on Mother's Day.  (Kim and I are both moms to grown kids so happy Mother's Day to us!)

Rhododendrons in bloom

I was looking forward to showing Kim some of my favorite places on this section of the Oregon coast.  Our first stop was Shore Acres State Park, just outside of the town of Coos Bay.  Not only was this park located along a magnificent rocky coastline where huge waves crashed at high tides, it also featured a lovely formal garden.  This time of year, I knew the rhododendrons and azaleas would be in full bloom.

Color everywhere!

The oceanside cliffs of Shore Acres State Park were once the site of a huge mansion.  Constructed by shipbuilder Louis Simpson in 1907 it was intended to be a summer home for his wife.  This summer home included an indoor swimming pool, large ballroom, dairy farm and spacious garden.  The garden featured trees, flowers and shrubs from around the world transported by Simpson's ships.  

Garden overview

In 1921 Simpson's mansion burned to the ground.  Although a replacement home was built, financial losses from the great depression sent Simpson into bankruptcy.  The house, grounds, and garden fell into disrepair.  In 1942, the land was acquired by the State of Oregon.  The entire area was eventually designated a state park, and the grand gardens were restored to their past glory.

Japanese pond

The gardens are free to visit, however one must pay $5 to park or have a Oregon State Parks yearly parking pass (which is what I had).  


After battling intermittent rain showers all the way to Coos Bay, our half hour visit the the gardens was luckily rain-free.  Kim and I oohed and aahed over the colorful rhododendrons and azaleas lining the many walking paths.  We marveled at the unusual trees.   I especially loved the Japanese pond, with native shrubs and beautiful stone statues.  

Purple azalea 

After spending a good amount of time perusing the garden, Kim and I walked out to former mansion site, on the top of a tall cliff overlooking the ocean.  The tilted rocks along this portion of coastline are known for producing huge waves during winter storms.  Photographers travel from all over to capture images of monstrous waves breaking over these rocks.

Crashing waves, Shore Acres State Park

Of course about the time we arrived at the clifftop viewing area, the sky decided to open up and dump rain.  Kim and I retreated into the small observation house located nearby. 

Unique rock formations

Luckily it was a brief squall and once the rain let up, we wandered the walkway checking out the waves.  I tried my best to capture the larger splashes with my camera.

Mother's Day beers

After spending an ample amount of time at Shore Acres, I drove Kim out to nearby Cape Arago State Park, a mere 1.5 miles further down the road.  We gaped at the sea lion colony out on the rocks and walked to a few more viewpoints.  Then, thirsty from our explorations, we found a brewpub in nearby Coos Bay and enjoyed a Mother's Day beer.  Cheers!

The sun peeks out of the clouds, Bandon beach

Then it was on to Bandon, 20 miles down Hwy 101, where we checked into our motel and found some dinner (Tony's Crab Shack - my favorite!).

Rainbow between rain squalls

Bandon has one of the most scenic beaches on the Oregon coast.  The many craggy sea stacks that line its shores make beautiful images, especially when photographed at sunset.  My main goal for this trip was to capture a sunset on Bandon Beach.  So after dinner I grabbed my camera and headed to Face Rock Viewpoint to see what kind of sunset the weather would grant.

Lovely sunrays

At first things looked very doubtful.  It began pouring rain again, forcing Kim and I into my car.  And I'd neglected to consult the tide tables and discovered sunset coinciding with high tide.  Since at high tide there wasn't much beach to be found, that meant no images captured from beach level.  I'd have to stick to the viewpoints.  Once the rain let up I roamed around the bluffs above the beach looking for that perfect view and hoping that some light would break out of the cloud layer.

Rainstorm to the south

My luck held!  About a half hour before sunset, the sun poked out of a small opening in the clouds and streamed lovely sunrays onto the ocean.  It looked like God himself was illuminating the sky from his heavenly perch.  Then I looked behind me and discovered a colorful rainbow.  Another rain shower again forced us into my car.  But after it cleared the clouds began to light up in colorful orange and gold hues.  After not expecting much of a sunset due to cloud cover and rain, this was an unexpected surprise.

Beautiful colored clouds as the sun sets over Bandon beach

I ran back and forth between two viewpoints, trying to capture it all.  I'm sure Kim thought I was crazy, but being the good friend that she is, she didn't complain.  When everything finally faded into black, we headed back to our cozy motel room to rest up for another fun day at the beach.

Stay tuned for day two!