Saturday, June 09, 2012

Cannon Beach Oregon

After hanging with the Smale family for a few days, we took off for Cannon Beach.  It is a surprisingly easy 60 mile drive from Hillsboro. We chose it for its convenience and because it is supposed to be one of the more scenic beaches on the Oregon coast.

We stayed at the Ocean Lodge, which was nicely located. It's rooms were generously sized and very quiet. Oh, and the free cookie jar...
One thing that made it scenic was the small mountains just outside of town.  They always seemed to have their own climate. Both Julie and I thought its surge from the sea and lush greenery resembled Hawaii.
How many times do you see a beach this wide?  How many times do you see weather this nice?  How many times do you see so few people on a stretch of beach?  Now combine all those.  Wow!
As you may have seen in other photographs I take, I am a huge fan of capturing reflections.  As the tide went out, it would leave a sheen of water on the beach, which from the right angle, became a mirror of the sky.
This is the iconic Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach. It's home to hundreds or thousands of nesting birds.
I tried playing around with longer exposures.  It is interesting to see the effects on the waves.  The "haze" is all from blowing salt water.  When I got home, my camera and all the lens got a serious cleaning.
This gull was kind enough to stay mostly still during a half second exposure.  When you shoot longer exposures, it's hard to ask all the live subjects to stay frozen.
So I often resort to things that haven't moved for millennia and probably won't any time soon.  To get it dark enough to shoot long exposures in the middle of the day, I use a Singh-Ray Vari-ND filter, my lowest ISO (200), and a high f-stop.
Julie and I visited Ecola State Park, which is just north of Cannon Beach. Through a number of family donations, they have managed to protect over 1,000 acres of very special land.
This is the lighthouse Terrible Tillie, named after Tillamook which is further south down the coast.  Like so many lighthouses, its beam was turned off years ago because of the costs and the advent of modern navigation.  A private company bought Tillie and used it to intern funeral ashes. Unfortunately, this seems to have lots of issues, which make for an interesting read in this NY Times article.
Another view of the coast from Ecola.
Like everywhere in coastal Oregon, the woods are mossy and lush.  It makes for interesting but eery hiking.
Back to the beach with more reflections...
The patterns in the sand were very interesting.  Some were lumpy. Some were long and straight.  I pondered the physics involved in creating the patterns and couldn't even come up with a good guess. Any ideas?
A wide angle lens, some interesting clouds, and the reflections made this interesting.
We were there for two nights and I was really stoked about seeing the sunsets over the Pacific Ocean.  In Park City, most of our sunsets are just a bright yellow globe dropping behind a mountain.  Unfortunately, the first evening brought a driving rain storm. The second evening was more cooperative.
After shooting the picture above, I was starting to walk down the beach when I saw the long string of Pelicans in the sky to the left of the rock.  Wish I had stayed where I was.  You can click on the photo for a better view.
I think this is the end of my rocks and reflections, but they are so pretty.

Haystack Rock is the popular tourist spot.  It is a huge rock formation jutting out from a very flat beach.  To get an idea of the size, you can see tiny people at the base of the rock.  I already mentioned that it is home to huge flocks of interesting sea birds.  Finally, when the tide goes out, there are marvelous tidal pools all around the rock.
I always think of starfish and sea anemone as things for the coral reefs, but Oregon's coast is full of them. You could walk up to the tidal pools at low tide and see all sorts of interesting things.
Some starfish were loners, but you can find them in large groups.  How many of you know the name for a group of starfish?  A flock? A herd?  A gang?  Nope, it is a tird of starfish.  Who thinks of these things?
I have no idea what mayhem struck this tird, but they looked like they were all suffering from hangovers from a wild starfish party.
The next day life was back to something normal and everyone had a firm grip. Well, except that one lying in the water who seems to have fallen off completely.
The tidal pools were also full of small fish, but you had to look closely because they were well camouflaged.
The rocks were heavily encrusted with mussels and barnacles.  Some of the mussels were the size of a softball. They might not taste as good, but two or three would make a meal.
Most of the ocean birds were too far off the photograph, but this little sparrow was cooperative.
And them he stopped by with a yummy, oozing caterpillar in his mouth. Tasty!
At Ecola Park, we saw a pair of Bald Eagles.  The next morning, I saw them both at Haystack Rock.
It is a bit hard to see, but you imagine what happens when a pair of eagles starts flying around the nests of hundreds of sea birds.  The birds go berserk.  Apparently the eagles have been getting smarter, sending one from the front to stir up the birds and get their attention, while the other flies in from the other direction. 
I took a simple picture of a crow on a small rock.  When I looked at it later, I determined that we had seen a rare levitating crow.  I have no idea how he is doing this without spreading his wings. No wonder crows are frequently associated with dark magic.
You have to love a town that has Tsunami Warnings. We were hoping we wouldn't be near one of these towers when a warning went off.  It turns out we were, but they have solved the problems with scaring people with fake sirens.  Instead, a test siren is a bunch of mooing cows. When you first hear them, you can't imagine what you are listening to: very loud repetitive Moo's. Then a voice comes on to explain "This is only a test.  Moo means test."
And we close the blog entry with one of the most  common things we saw in Cannon Beach, a closed sign.  Stores and restaurants seemed to be closed on random days of the week and hours of the day. They seemed quite happy to be enjoying a lifestyle I would associate with a small Caribbean island. Julie asked one store owner when they would open the next day.  "Ten o'clock" she replied.  The next day she arrived to open the store around 11:45.  Nice life!
If you haven't been to the Oregon coast, it is definitely worth a visit.

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