Saturday, April 18, 2009

My Southern Oregon Coast Experience

I first fell in love with the southern Oregon Coast on a cold, stormy day in May of 1996. It's a love affair that has never died. In May of 2009, 13 years later, I will retire and move to the small town of Brookings, which is about as far south as one can go on the Pacific Coast and still be in Oregon.

I remember very clearly the first day I drove up this coast. I'd driven west from Atlanta at a very leisurely pace, stopping for a week at the Grand Canyon, a few days at Sequoia National Park, a week at Yosemite, stopped in Napa and nobody I wanted to see was in town, so I kept driving north up the coast highway. I'd never been north of Mendocino, so yes, this was my first visit to Humboldt Redwoods State Park, and Redwood National Park. A day in the redwoods and then across into Oregon and jaw-dropping scenery that pulled me into its magic and hooked me forever.

It wasn't a pretty day, weather wise. On the contrary, I drove all day in a wild wind and rain storm and wasn't phased by it in the least, other than the effort of keeping my car on the road because of the wind. I simply didn't care -- the coast was/is so beautiful, weather didn't matter. I thought then -- and agree now -- that this has to be one of the most beautiful stretches of highway that exists anywhere. Simply breathtaking between the California border and the town of Port Orford. Beyond that, the road travels inland much of the time up to Florence, but down here, you're right on the water, with all the surf and rocks and nature anyone could want.

By the time I crossed the state line, I was already on sensory overload from the redwoods, where I'd hiked and explored deep into various groves and found what was touted as the tallest tree in the world. When the first expansive vistas of that rocky coast opened up, I thought nothing could possibly be this beautiful. I stopped often between rain squalls to gaze in awe and try to capture the grandeur on film.

I spent that first night in Newport and ended up driving the entire coast up to Astoria and back down through the Willamette Valley, where I eventually settled. The entire Oregon coast is spectacular, and you'll find various definitions of where the 'southern' Oregon coast begins, but for my purposes, I'm going to focus on the area from Newport south to Brookings and on down into the California redwoods as far as Humboldt State Park and Redwood National Park, in general. I expect to focus on the area from Port Orford south to Brookings and on into the Smith River and Jedediah Smith State Redwood Park, more often and in greater detail, since this is my 'hood.

This photo was taken in 1996 at a beach near Florence, and that's about all I can tell you other than that it was very early in the morning and I was fascinated by the lifting fog and the sun rising over the hills.

By this time, I'd settled in Corvallis but was still drawn to the coast. I'd driven over and spent the night in a tent at one of the many state parks with beach-front campgrounds. The early riser in me had me out exploring by dawn.

This photo was taken at the same beach, probably a little earlier. Are you seeing the beauty I saw yet? I hope so. In fact, I hope you will fall in love with this beautiful area and be compelled to follow along as I explore the many inlets and beaches and trails and rivers that are so prevalent along the entire coast.

I get a little crazy sometimes with the camera -- aside from spectacular beauty, I also find great beauty in the natural patterns formed by nature, such as these patterns in the sand on some unknown beach.

Yes, this is the photo in my page header, taken off the Brookings Harbor in April 2009. Can't beat that late afternoon light reflection!

So - welcome to My Southern Oregon Coast. I hope you'll visit often and enjoy what you see and read. I'll be going to festivals and local events, hiking, cycling, and hopefully doing some sea-kayaking as I explore the myriads of expansive beaches, tiny inlets and coves and river mouths, and great groves of redwoods. Join me!


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