Woohoo! After a hiatus, it looks like I have some time to start writing again.
Over the new year, we decided to drive the length of the Oregon Coast, with the idea that we could start in Astoria and end at Redwoods National and State Parks before coming home. We got up in the dark hours of early dawn and began the drive to the coast.
Just after sunrise, we arrived in the sleepy, sprawling town of Astoria, Oregon, which is known for its bridge to Washington and a towering column which overlooks the mouth of the Columbia River. Accompanied by the baying of the resident sea lions, we walked along the pier, sipping hot cocoa while the dog scampered along the frozen grass.
We saw a few western grebes, buffleheads, mallards, and pelagic cormorants resting in the water before we continued south to Ecola State Park. A landslide had closed off a few trails and changed the landscape somewhat, but the view remained beautiful, as always.
After a stop at Cannon Beach for the dog to stretch his legs (and to practice some gull IDs), we continued on our way.
We spent most of the afternoon stopping at every wayside we possibly could to look for whales and waterfowl before coming to the D River, purportedly the world’s shortest river. On a whim, I decided to pull into the parking lot next door for a stretch break.
It turned out to be the best idea of the day, as the Other Half got to see a bird he’d been on the hunt for for several years:
A peregrine falcon. Sweeping through in an attempt to nab a hit-by-car gull, the raptor just couldn’t get the lift to get the large gull off the ground. After almost getting hit a few times himself, we moved the gull out of the way so the peregrine could have a safer meal.
Our next stop was Devil’s Punchbowl, a natural area near Newport where, over time, the waves have formed a churning mixing pot.
The view from the site is beautiful. One of the families visiting the area even excitedly pointed out to everyone the giant sea otters out in the bay. It turns out, however, that they were seeing some other interesting landmarks in the area: surfers. The accessible waters of the Oregon coast, however cold they may be, attract a large number of area surfers who enjoy the sport and, unfortunately, only superficially resemble real sea otters.
We ended our day at Yaquina Head, a BLM-managed area with a lighthouse and a beautiful view of the ocean and the surrounding tidal pools, ready to start our next day exploring the southern reaches of the Oregon coast.