Monday’s (Dream) Meander: The Gem of Yachats

Ah, what a picture of simple pleasure, even innocence. And good Yachats, how I long to see you!

I am dreaming of travel, any kind of small rambles, as I remain captive indoors here in Clackamas County, OR. It has been 7 days since Oregon’s catastrophic fires began to rage closer to our home and seriously threatening the county I live in. In fact, there have been 40,000 evacuated people, many of whom have lost their homes already in this county; 500,000 in all of Oregon have been evacuated; ten confirmed deaths with a dozen more persons missing at this time in Clackamas Co. The air quality is so hazardous–Portland metro’s is reportedly the world’s worst now– we are strongly advised to not leave our homes (those who have dwellings still).

So I have not set foot outdoors yet, though our suburban city (set among woodlands) is no longer on alert to evacuate since yesterday–a small mercy. I unpacked my “GO bags” finally this afternoon, a bit uncertain but trusting our experts. The constant barrage of images and news is hard to hear and see. Below is one terrible shot of the devastation not so far away. Some fires have been contained now; many others yet burn on and spread.

(Image on left: AP Photo/Paula Bronstein. Image on right: citizen Dale Voris, from car.)

Even large areas of Oregon’s Pacific coast lands (and of course, California…) have been aflame. But I believe beautiful Yachats has remained safe and in good shape. I’ll visit there today with you via photos from a trip in 2016. Most important, too, is remembering the wonders of Oregon, and that we’ve had many bad fires each year as this is part of living in the Pacific Northwest. Just not like this conflagration of 35 fires that have ravaged 1 million acres, so far. It is inconceivable to me.

You can see I have mixed feelings: relief and worry; gratitude and some lingering fear; hopefulness and sorrow. And I keep thinking of the people whose lives have been altered beyond recognition, some lives having been lost. And , as ell, the fleeing and harmed wildlife. Someone I know heard a cougar roar outside her bedroom window in the night. Yes, we live that close to these creatures and many others.

But at least here on WordPress we can take in a breath of fresh air, even when it happens with memories sparked via pictures. I value these even more today.

The village is a favorite because it is less touristy and gentler in mood, and I am fully absorbed by nature’s charms–which is always my first and last priority when I am not in the city. But no matter where I go–like so many– I enjoy cultural attractions, shopping a bit, savoring tasty food at cafes/restaurants. A local good place for coffee, baked goods and sandwiches is the Green Salmon. Another favorite stop is Earthworks Gallery. Many favorite pieces of jewelry have been found there over the years. This village lures artists of all mediums in residence. I can see why they end up staying…

I will get back to the green and the waves and the forest trails, the wildlife and open sky. Patience, I counsel myself. Faith in nature’s remarkable ability to regenerate. Even with such glaring evidence of climate change as these fires, there remain possibilities to improve things. I know environmentalists and others are working hard on it. We must–so that our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren may well inhabit and revere an earth they can yet call home territory.

Monday’s Meander: Hello, Oceanside!

For 28 years, I have immersed myself in the pleasures of this stretch of Oregon coast. I fell in love with the village of Oceanside–tucked into a hillside–shortly after moving to this state. One of my sisters long owned a vacation home on Whiskey Creek Road not far away; another family member still owns a second home at another village, Netarts, a stone’s throw from Oceanside.

Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge

Marc and I have stayed for long week-ends many times–but not this year. Thankfully, we take plenty of day trips. I posted a few pictures in July along with other beaches. Here is a fresh batch from a visit last Friday. I hope you like visiting with me! (There may be a few spots on photos where salt spray landed–I missed a few on my lens…)

Top of a headland.

I hadn’t climbed up the rocks in awhile and so made my way through goose barnacles at Maxwell Point. They live on rock in inter tidal zones. I don’t want to kill any, but likely you know some sea life can inflict painful scratches if a hand or other part of skin gets scrapes–and are prone to infection. (Had one once that took weeks to heal.)

Three of my views, below.

This tunnel was made by an early 20th century family as part of plans for a fancy resort. That didn’t work out–but it’s still used to connect the main beach to a smaller one. The falling rocks can be a hazard, but the trip to the other side well worth it. Agates can be found there, there are small caves to explore and other sea gifts.

Once emerged, this is the south side of beach. When the tide is extremely low, one can walk around the Point, at left. There is a rather large cave around the corner, unseen here due to higher tide.

The man and his sons below were having great fun–and that water is not warm!

Below is the other end of the lovely beach–some call it “Star Wars” due to the geological formations.

One good way to get to that area is over a huge piece of rock. But the tide was lower, so I walked in waters around it.

Lots of bird colonies–one reason why it is a protected area.
Castle by the sea
Back on the other side where more people tend to congregate.
Farewell, Oceanside-until we meet again.

On the way home, more sights to savor…

Dairy country and Tillamook Mountains on way back up and onward.
The diversity and beauty of nature is succor to the soul.

Monday’s Meanders: More Summer Hikes and Rambles

Willamette River, Oregon

I know–more rivers and woods, what’s the deal? Since travel is limited and close to home, that’s what I see most often in Oregon. (I promise to dig into photo archives if there’s nothing more noteworthy to share next time!) Over the week-end we did a lot, though–a visit to the more urban Willamette Park along our trusty Willamette River (which flows through the center of Portland); a good work out hiking trails at Tryon Creek State Natural Area; and a long peaceful meander through Tualatin Hills Nature Park. All of it was a pleasure, a fun prescriptive action that always fills and calms us.

First off: another park by the river. Lots of people enjoying the spot (looks sparse but I seldom photograph strangers) while reading, eating, visiting with friends or family, snoozing and, always, kayaking or other boating.

Note the houseboats along the far shore–we have many on our rivers.

After a short look around the smallish park, we headed to a favorite–Tryon Creek State natural Area.

This state park offers a 650-acre-plus area with second growth forests, located between Portland and city of Lake Oswego. Many creatures live here, not the least of which are cougars that sometimes wander into our nearby city. It is a 15 minute drive to this wonderland for me. There is much to enjoy with 8 miles of hiking trails, plus 3.5 miles of horse trails and a 3-mile paved bicycle trail. Additionally, there are easy access trails with viewing platforms for those who may require smoother paths, or use wheelchairs. There are lots of huge Douglas firs, Western red cedar and hemlock, Ponderosa pines, etc. , ferns, mosses and lichens galore–and often we find wildflowers. Never enough time to try to identify such wealth of nature.

This land belonged to several Native tribes/bands, including Clackamas Chinook, the Wasco-Wishram, the Willamette Tumwater, the Multnomah, and other Chinookan peoples and more of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers.

We took an ascendant winding horse trail and before long I realized I’d chosen one of the steepest paths back to our starting point. Horses were not to be seen this time–though they had left plenty of evidence of their passage–and it felt wilder as we kept on. It looked more lush than when I was last there. I carried dwindling water and my shirt grew damp; the forest was permeated by late day heat. I trudged on with knowledge that this was a great exercise, and the air released its sweet and loamy fragrances of forest. We hiked two hours altogether and were fine–only tired and sweaty.

The horse trail we climbed and climbed from a deep valley.

The next day we chose a milder outing, labor-wise, and walked a couple hours in Tualatin Hills Nature Park, a half hour or more from our place. It is a stone’s throw for bustling southwest Portland suburbia. There was something extraordinary about the honeyed light making those trees golden and bright. Perhaps it’s because there are more deciduous trees than I am used to, and sunlight suffused the acreage with larger patches of sky glimpsed.

There were a number of families so we zigzagged along side paths. There are wetlands, forests and streams with 5 miles of mostly flat trails on 222 acres. Plenty to observe and enjoy. We were especially taken with the many spiders at work–did not get a good enough shot this time. (I tried to capture one in a smaller gallery picture, below, showing branches curving in an arch–a web is faintly seen as a shimmery spot mid-picture.)

Since there are extensive wetlands with boardwalks in various places–handy, and protects a lot.

Pretty lily pondso full pf the broad leaves, could not see much water!

We circled back to the nature center which has resources and staff to answer questions in healthy times. It was a bit sad to see the nature center closed up tight, as it is with other such centers due to COVID-19, as well as severely decreased staff. Otherwise, it would be a lively scene with people attending any pictures, examining various specimens, sitting and chatting outdoors. But it is what it is.

We did try out a lens that produced a kaleidoscopic effect so we could gawk at tiny succulents and lichen rather psychedelically transformed.

Behind shuttered buildings was a peaceful spot, it being uncharacteristically empty of human activity. But the breezes were refreshing, the heat more gentle in the shadiness, and birds kept singing and chattering. There are some things still right and good in this world…

Marc took several photos of me–the light was good, setting perfect. It’s a bit odd to have two here but I thought I’d use one for an updated photo of this blog’s “About” page. If you have an opinion, please note below! I prefer outdoors shots of all people–and certainly it is my favorite place to be, year after year.

Back to an ordinary suburban life with all its clamor and the anxious squash of humanity–for now. I will be outdoors tomorrow, God willing! Every day I have is a day of more mystery and beauty, a day of learning, a day of gratitude. I sure hope you find your own natural haven and absorb all the good energy and interest it offers. We need such a sanctuary even more during these hard times.

Blessings on all.

Monday’s Meanders: Never Too Much Beach Time

Horsewoman pausing after maneuvers at Cannon Beach; Haystack Rock looms behind them. (All photos Cynthia Guenther Richardson copyright 2020)

I know, I posted on the Pacific Ocean not long ago. But it was Marc’s birthday last week and that is where he wanted to be–so off we went, about a 2 hour drive. We ended up at spots we often enjoy: Manzanita, Hug Point, and Cannon Beach.

Manzanita is a favorite place with 7 miles of beach (and the home of a fine bookstore, Cloud & Leaf). It is the area that inspired past Governor Oswald West to determine that Oregon beaches should be free and public–thankfully! We’ve had many overnight visits at the comfortable Inn at Manzanita, and recommend it. We tend to cook simple meals when we vacation (or order pizza) but I hear there are excellent eateries, also; cute shops line the one main street–now only a few are open with limited hours.

Since this was a day trip, we got out there to avail ourselves of windswept sands, walking much of it. The wind across the beach created fantastic patterns. From some of my viewpoints it seemed an near-alien landscape.

View after leaving Manzanita.

Our next stop was Hug Point State Park, a wayside with short beach many well enjoy once discovered. The rock formations are interesting, there are caves in the sandstone headlands/cliffs and tide pools, as well as a small waterfall. The tide was coming in when we arrived so didn’t explore as much as we hoped. I also will admit I was slowed some after foolishly stepping right into a hole while clicking the camera; this was on a paved path so landed hard, though I rolled to avoid cracking bones, on a thigh and hip. No harm done but was pretty sore!)

The view from the path before I fell over.

Though we began in Cannon Beach, I am ending this post there. A much more touristy spot, it has always had that beautiful long beach with Haystack Rock–and many attractive shops and good restaurants (none of which we visited last wk.).

Ecola Creek’s fresh water mixes it up in sea water at the north end of beach.
This athletic youngster was honing his skills, no doubt hoping to some day try big waves like the wet-suited surfer…
Several headland climbers–something I’d do if not inexperienced at 70…
An easy way to fly a kite.
A pelican getting a meal…I think!
Leaving groups of people and Haystack Rock behind–until next time.

Monday’s Meander: At the Park with Three Dads

Any day can be a day of gratitude for fathers but Sunday being Father’s Day, we spent time with my son, his wife and his son, as well as our daughter, our son-in-law and their two 14 month olds (plus one other daughter with partner). Gabriel Park has great groves of trees and broad grassy areas, woods and a community garden. Many people wore masks as did Marc and I though this was in open air with plenty of space –much safer. Son Josh (Falk), a pro skater, and Asher (14, long hair–our grandson), were mask-less due to much sweaty athletic activity. They had a great time out there sharing a mutual passion.

I can’t show much of the now-toddling granddaughters as it is preferred we do not. But I took action photos of the guys skateboarding. Josh has been skating since he was 12; he is 45, still sponsored with his skateboards and other items sold, and photographed for magazines (though he’s a contractor full-time). During most of my shots a man (in a black t-shirt) who was filming asked, without knowing who I was, if he was ruining my shots. I laughed, “Oh, I have hundreds of shots of my son, several of my grandson!” He asked who it was so I said, “The guy you’re filming mostly today!” He replied with surprise and appreciation that I was his Mom, out there a dazzlingly hot hour shooting away, in my sweaty mask. Hubby Marc relaxed on a bench.

Earlier in the day we met with another part of the family. Here is a far more protective picture with the toddlers and their parents–sorry to not share more. We brought fruit and animal crackers–those growing girls loved munching on a pear and a peach, and our short visit was good fun!

Alera, Alex, David, Morgan

On through the trees and into the community garden area to finish the beautiful day.

Marc, here on the pathway, helped me raise five kids! He is still standing, God bless him.

An altogether happy Father’s Day with loved ones. My own father passed away 30 years ago, but he is lovingly recalled. I hope you were able to appreciate your fathers and grandfathers, here or gone, as well.