Journeys Around Seattle, #41: The Pacific Coast

August 30, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Seal RockSeal Rock This week, Lisa and I went down to the Oregon Coast to spend a few days on vacation with my Dad and stepmother. We stayed just north of the town of Yachats, which is a few hours south of Portland, so I debated whether I could reasonably call this a "Journey Around Seattle." But ultimately, a lot of what I loved about the Oregon coast applies to the Washington coast as well: the raw natural beauty, the tidal pools full of life, the diverse and interesting landscapes.

Having been to the Pacific several times now, the East Coast beaches that I grew up with in Florida and North Carolina, along the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic, with miles of warm water and white sandy beaches, seem, well, kind of boring. Sure, it's fun to relax and read a book and go for a dip in the water, but when it comes to seeing interesting sights and exploring, I've never seen anything on the East Coast to match the rugged, fascinating nature that abounds on the northwest Pacific coast.

We stayed near the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area, which is one of the most amazing areas of an already amazing coast. The tides rise and fall over an incredible array of tidal pools, which host anemones, sea stars, sea urchins, chitons, crabs, and small crustaceans of all sorts. In addition to the pools, barnacles, mussels, and sea palms line the rock almost everywhere the water touches, leading to entire landscapes of mussels and shells and anemones where there is almost no visible bare rock at all.

In addition, the action of the waves and tides creates all sorts of interesting crevices and caves and rock formations, like the Spouting Horn and Thor's Well, where seawater Thor's WellThor's Well sprays up through holes in the rock, sometimes as little puffs of water vapor and sometimes as massive waves and bursts of spray appearing out of seemingly nowhere, then dissipating just as quick. In some places, most notably the Devil's Churn, the waves create a drumlike pounding, as though a Balrog is living in the deeps.

We also saw sea lions far out in the surf, and at one viewpoint even saw a gray whale just off the coast, right near a pack of sea lions. Sea lions and a gray whaleSea lions and a gray whale Perhaps they were feeding off the same school of fish-- there were cormorants, too, skimming the waves and occasionally diving under. There were flocks of pelicans, too, and of course plenty of seagulls, and even the occasional bird of prey soaring overhead (or below, if you were up on the bluffs which lined the shore.)

That's not to say the Pacific doesn't have its share of sand-- there are the occasional sandy beaches, and a little further south was the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. Dunes at the Oregon Dunes Recreation AreaDunes at the Oregon Dunes Recreation Area We paid the dunes a visit, but overall, they just weren't quite as impressive as the rocks and bluffs further north along the coast.

After three days on the coast, it was time to pack up and head home. Dad went back to Florida, and I headed back to Seattle for something a little closer to home, and a lot different: PAX Prime. (That entry will be coming soon! In fact, I've already posted a few pictures on my Facebook page.)



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