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 Meander: To the Seaside We Go!

Finally. It has been ten months since we visited the Pacific Ocean, despite it being barely an hour and a half away. You know how it was back then–there was work, family obligations, trails to traverse in any direction, activities of all sorts to jump in and enjoy. But being outdoors is now perhaps the best way to engage with many bountiful offerings. And we have waited for opportunities to partake of the pleasures–i.e., the fewer knots of people (sadly), the better. The time felt right; off we went.

Neskowin

Marc and I met up with a daughter and her family at ocean’s edge for starters in Neskowin, a village of 170. Neskowin Beach State Recreation Site features a long lovely beach and Cascade headland with good hiking trails. Our goal this time was to breathe the salt sea air, walk beaches for miles, casually rock hunt, enjoy surfer activity and admire the might of ubiquitous waves rolling in. And enjoy the twin toddler grandchildren’s first real experience of the Pacific Ocean. (Only indirect photos of them–safety first.) You can see pleased Grandpa Marc in the red enjoying them; the other two are the protective, loving parents. (We wore masks around family, an abundance of caution–later we did not with few people near us.)

I was amazed that one ran laughing into the water often and tried a couple sand snacks, while her sister more enjoyed squeezing the fine sand between her toes and toddling about. But they sure were happy, as were we all.

A few more shots of Neskowin Beach before moving on below. First up is Proposal Rock, well known in Oregon. A hotel on this beach capitalizes on the theme.

There are always reminders to beware of sneaker waves; never turn your back to the sea, never let your kids go out unsupervised.

After the twins and parents had enough fun, Marc and I moved north up the central coast. We had seen only smatterings of people on the beach thus far, but Pacific City/Cape Kiwanda was another story. You will note swimmers and surfers, while the actual beach was nearly crowded. We stepped out for only a few moments then headed for Oceanside, a favorite place.

We arrived about 6 pm and availed ourselves of Oceanside’s fine beaches as the sun began to sink bit by bit. Dramatic, thickening clouds bunched together–no rain while on the beach, a miracle, but it became windy and chillier. And broodingly mesmerizing, which I love about the sea.

That’s right, get a shot of the photographer/writer, too.

Marc searches for rocks around/inside shallow caves as they are often left behind as the tide recedes. We used to find an abundance of amber or clear agates on this section of beach but not in a long while.

A couple bird-watching.

Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge is a bout a half mile off the shore of Oceanside. Many seabirds live there. Birds include cormorants, Western gulls, storm petrels, tufted puffins, and pigeon guillemots and in the past, tufted puffins and common murres. But Bald Eagles’ comeback has caused them to swoop in and disturb their habitat and prey upon the colonies and many have moved on. Numerous stellar sea lions make this their northernmost breeding site around the huge rocks. (We saw none this time.)

Below a few shots of seabird havens. Graceful cormorants are lovely to see in action.

We always hate to leave Oceanside and as it was we didn’t depart until 8 pm. We lingered and bid farewell–until next time.

Monday’s Meander: Blueberry Picking Day!

Mt Adams stands majestic over “Fruit Loop” farms and vineyards. (All photos by Cynthia Guenther Richardson, copyright 2020.)

Saturday we eagerly left Portland metro–first time in months–to visit a favorite area, the rolling, fecund acreage in Hood River Valley. We drove an hour through the Columbia Gorge along the muscular river that gives it the name. It was a vibrant, burnished day that grew sunnier each mile as rugged landscape showed off its beauty.

Our goal: find blueberry perfection! We always enjoy the Fruit Loop, a 35 mile meander about its fertile land which supports our state’s most productive orchards. There are about 26 farms/orchards/wineries one may visit each season. We were pleased to try a new place, Kennedy Farms, in operation since 1901, and the attractive Dutch Colonial style Gorge White House. We went just in time to pick three pounds of sun ripened blueberries. We needed to test them as we worked at a leisurely pace.

Marc at work, sampling as he picks
Raspberries were not quite ready,

There were groups gathered on grass or at picnic/other tables around the orchards. The Kennedy Farm also produces wine and many were tasting several, as well as enjoying lunch for sale that was prepared there. They seemed a bit casual about virus potential, but many seemed to be with household members, and perhaps half or more wore masks–but it is hard to eat and drink with those on. Marc and I kept clear of others, enjoying more open areas.

Gorgeous dahlias and other flowers to cut–but we were focused on the berries this time!

This craggy, snowy wonder is Mt. Hood.

Having picked enough to share and freeze, we were thirsty and ready to get on the road again. We stopped, as is our habit, at Hood River, famous for wind and kite surfing due to strong Columbia Gorge winds. After admiring athletes’ river activities and soaking up peace by river’s swift current amid mountains, we completed the happy day.

Monday’s Meander: Sauvie Island Time

Beautifully green Sauvie island: this was the place on Mother’s Day I wanted to enjoy a few choice hours. It was a great change from my usual mid-May visits to ocean beaches or Columbia Gorge, (both closed due to coronavirus). Here one can enjoy several bodies of water; smaller Tualatin Mountains west of island as well as three major peaks and Cascades in the distance; meadows and farms; and birds and other creatures all in one fell swoop.

Only about 20 miles from our home, this large river island is situated between the muscular Columbia River on the east, narrow Multnomah Channel on the west and the good-sized Willamette River at the south (which passes through Portland and close to our current habitat). The island is one of the largest of its type in the US, comprised of rolling grasslands, scattered woods and lush farmland over 24,000 acres. There are also 7 lakes I counted on a map; I only saw a couple when once in search of an uncrowded public beach.

The whole island can only be described as fecund and bucolic.

L., Mt St. Helens which famously blew its top in 1980 and R., Mt. Adams–both in WA. state. One can occasionally see three at once–the two above plus Oregon’s Mt. Hood.

Temperature was upper 70 degrees Fahrenheit; breezes were tender on the skin, grasses rustled and danced; birds vocalized their near- symphonic offerings. Horses, sheep, cows all grazed contentedly. We drove around and feasted our eyes; we normally stop at several sites within the large Sauvie Island Wildlife Area but some were closed off. This time we visited Raccoon Point. There were very few people there. We waded through sweeping areas of tall grasses but there was one beaten pathway to follow.

We saw red-tailed hawks and American kestrels while gazing into the treetops and water into near-blinding sunshine, but in prior visits have spotted sandpipers, herons and egrets there, as well as bald eagles.

Moving along via car, we enjoyed more countryside and then the channel, where dozens of houseboats are anchored, along with boats.

As the afternoon ended, I thought briefly how this time of year I am mindful of three family members who passed away so very close to Mother’s Day. It was for once a perfect day: to think of them with love and affection, to have gratitude for their lives as well as my own and more. We were both satisfied by varieties of sensory offerings and tantalizing though familiar scenes. All in all, I felt fulfilled on Mother’s Day, and this was on top of wonderful earlier visits–if rather distanced–with our adult children and a few grandchildren.

I hope you enjoyed our mid-May meander!