Wednesday, August 28, 2013

In the Footsteps of Lewis and Clark (Oregon Trip Part 2)

This is the second in a three part extravaganza[i]  about our July 4th trip to the Oregon Coast. You may wish to start here, and then procede here after reading this post, but hey, it’s up to you, I’m not the blog police.

Canon Beach Landscape
Cannon Beach Landscape (B&W)

Day 3
As dawn cracked over the ocean on the third day, I was already up and out again while the rest of the clan hibernated on. Unlike the bright and sunny day before it, this morning was a proper Oregon coastal gloom. I spent a bit of time wandering the beach and bumming around taking landscape shots in the surf (involuntarily[ii]).

Sea Stars in Tidal
Cannon Beach
Canon Beach Landscape
(B&W)Windblown Tree
Canon Beach Landscape
(B&W)Western Gulls in Tidal
Canon Beach Landscape
Starfish in Tidal Pools, Beach Texture, Beach Rabbit, Cannon Beach Landscape, Cannon Beach Landscape (B&W), Windblown Tree (B&W), Cannon Beach Landscape (B&W), Cannon Beach Landscape, Western Gulls in Tidal Pools, Cannon Beach Landscape, Cannon Beach Landscape (B&W)

After I was sufficiently soaked and shivering, I meandered back to the hotel to meet everyone for the day’s sojourn[iii] to Ecola State Park[iv]. Located on the north end of the beach, Ecola is dominated by high promontories yielding expansive coastal vistas. It was prominent in latter adventures of Mr's Lewis and Clark, including a tale of a massive expedition to Cannon Beach to get oil from a beached whales. Fun times. 

Ecola State Park
Family at Ecola State
Park Ecola State Park
Vista with Tree,
Ecola State Park Vista Panoramic, Family at Ecola, Ecola State Park Vista, Vista with Tree

Many of its offshore sea stacks and rocks were dominated by overwhelmingly vast colonies of Common Murres[v], and its highlands are covered by dense coastal forests and wildflower stands.

Common Murre
Foxglove Yarrow (Achillea
Common Murre Colony, Foxglove, Yarrow

Along with having craggy cliffs and dense Pacific forests, the park hits the rugged coastal hat trick with views of an austere-looking lighthouse on an outcrop offshore[vi].  It was one pirate ship and a couple old-timey words[vii] away from being a Decemberists song.

I guarantee this thing is haunted by ghosts and/or Colin Meloy.

After a hike along the coastal trail, we lunched at a small rocky beach where I had a run in with one of my all time favorite rodents[viii], the California Ground Squirrel.  Equally fascinating were the Goose-neck barnacles, which demonstrated some sort of phototropism…if you blocked the sun from a group, they would begin to slowly shift their orientation. There were also scenic views, tidal pools, blah blah blah.

Family at Ecola
BeachFamily at Ecola
(B&W) Wood-framed
Barnacles Sea
California Ground
Family at Ecola Beach, Ecola Beach Lunch Stop, Kate at the Beach (B&W), Wood-framed Stones, Goose-neck Barnacles, California Ground Squirrel!

 Later that night we grabbed a casual dinner at a place that would have been fairly forgettable if it had not been that A) they served local beer in massive 32 oz glasses, and B) their fish and chips was made with fresh-caught Halibut[ix].

Sunset Day 3

Day 4
Ever the masochist, I dragged myself out of bed once again the next morning but the gloom of the previous day persisted, accompanied by a foggy shroud, so photography was limited but interesting.

Foggy Haystack
Heerman's Gulls Pigeon
Guillemot Black Oystercatcher
Chick Harlequin
Cannon Beach
Foggy Haystack Landscape, Heerman’s Gulls, Pigeon Guillemot, Black Oystercatcher Chick, Harlequin Ducks, Cannon Beach Vista

 The ladies had booked a spa trip for the day, so the gentlemen took off for another hike. On the south side of the Beach lies Oswald West State Park which, as you can guess from the fact that it’s about three miles away from Ecola, is very similar. That being said, we had a great hike through some massive coastal forests and along a crabshell strewn beach of odd rock forms.

Above the
Pacific Northwest RainforestBridge Lava Flows
Dead Crab
Unidentified snake
(garter sp?) Leaves
Ghost Pipe (Monotropa
uniflora) Waterfall
WaterfallOn the
Above the Beach, Pacific Rainforest, Bridge, Lava Flows, Garter Snake, Leaves, Ghost Pipe (Monotropa uniflora), Waterfall, Waterfall, On the Trail

We finished with a trek up to a waterfall in the cliffs above the beach before heading back to meet the ladies for dinner. Finally, we settled in with a little wine and an incredibly long round of Agricola[x].

It’s Farming! It’s Sheep! It’s Agricola! (Picture courtesy


[i] Italian for “long-winded, rambling diatribe”.
[ii] Soemtimes getting the good shot means getting a little wet. If you see some of the shots of sea stacks with water swirling around in the foreground, you may say to yourself “how can he possibly get that shot without being in the water?” The answer is, “he can’t”. Thank goodness for weather resistant gear and fast-drying shorts.
[iii] Since it was Fourth of July in a tourist town, the only sensible option was to get the hell out and as deep into the woods as we could.
[iv] Part of the beauty of the Cannon Beach location is that it’s sandwiched in between majestic coastal parks of the robust Oregon state park system.
[v] A type of seabird. Think, “weapons-grade mini-penguins”.
[vi] Which apparently isn’t an actual lighthouse anymore, but a repository for cinerary urns. The proper term for this is a columbarium. I could only remember this with the pneumonic device, “what do you do when you have some ashes you want removed?” “Call ‘em, Bury ‘em.” Ok, so it’s not perfect, but I will never ever forget what a columbarium is now, a fact which I’m sure will serve me well. 
[vii] Of which my favorites are “balustrades”, “consumptive”, “barrow”, “wastrel”, and “parapets”.
[viii] If the fact that I have a favorite rodent, let alone several favorite rodents is a surprise to you, you may have mistaken me for Brad Pitt and are understandably confused. It’s ok, it happens all the time. Despite the obvious similarities, you can tell us apart by the fact that one of us is dashing, charismatic, and naturally appealing and the other is named Brad. If you are a long time reader and were surprised that I have favorite rodents, you just haven’t been paying attention.   
[ix] As I’ve mentioned before, I am a fish and chips connoisseur. I have had fish and chips fresh off the boat (the fish, that is…I’m fairly sure the chips were not wild-caught) in remote reaches of Canada, etc. These weren’t the best I’d ever had, but I was pretty impressed that it was made from halibut. As it turned out, despite being about $12/pound at home, halibut was a pretty common cheap fish there.
[x] Think Settlers of Catan, FFA style. Surprisingly fun. “Sheep and a Food!” became a rallying cry for the rest of the weekend.

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