Monday, February 17, 2020

Valentine's Day Weekend on the Coast, and Self-Reflection

Thursday, February 13th; approaching sunset.

Taken from the wayside.

I spent a much-needed--and greatly appreciated--few days at my aunt and uncle's beach house this weekend. I left Thursday morning and returned to Portland today. Driving Highway 6 to the coast is a real treat during the daytime; I rarely leave for the coast before nightfall anymore. Trees and moss, low clouds, a multitude of creeks, and the Wilson River begged for photos. I will have to return to answer their call.

I'm happiest when I'm discovering new places. After realizing I liked my art better when it was a hobby, this was an especially relaxing trip. I brought art supplies, but only drew a couple pages in my sketchbook. When agreeable weather greets me at the coast, I HAVE to be outside.

While lunching with Kerstin and Ely last Monday, we discussed hiking and the coast. The gal sitting to my right chimed in and asked if any of us had visited Short Beach: "It's south of Cape Meares and north of Oceanside!" When she described it to us, I knew I had to visit it. Friday morning was sunny in Rockaway Beach. I checked tide tables and left for Short Beach (forty minutes away) at 10AM.

The stairway to Short Beach lies just before Radar Rd. heading up to Cape Meares (off of Cape Meares Loop / Bayshore Dr.). Easy to miss unless you know what you're looking for! 

This stairway is pure magic. Residents maintain it--Short Beach is not a state park--and it's rickety in places, yet I could not help but think of LOTR as I stepped down. 

Short Creek falls from a concrete spillway onto the beach. Larson Creek Falls is further north. I began venturing toward it, but turned back when I considered the rising tide and approaching rain (after I'd beach combed for an hour or more).

Anyone beach combing the Tillamook Coast is probably looking for one thing: agates. I found some agates along with many other fascinating specimens. I am no geologist, but DANG I love me some rocks! Some agates may be mistaken for jaspers--but both are varieties of chalcedony. The main difference is agates are translucent, whereas jaspers are opaque. Many thanks to this page for the clarification. Rocks that display properties of agates and jaspers are dubbed "jasp-agates."

Someone had placed this beautiful treasure on driftwood for others to admire. If I told you I didn't want to take it home, I would be lying straight to your face. Alas, geology this alluring is best left for all to see. I settled for photos. I wish I knew what kinds of minerals it contains! Hopefully I will be able to introduce it to friends when I can next visit Short Beach.

The sea stack hosts seagulls and black oystercatchers, the latter of which I hadn't seen in person until then. I loved observing them hunting for food and bathing in the creek with the gulls.


Found me a Gollum cave.

I crossed Short Creek over a log and got the sea stack from another angle.


Thank you, log-bridge!

Behind the Short Creek waterfall.
Gulls and black oystercatchers!
Pardon the blurry zoomed photo, but--BIRDS!!
I spent a good two hours at Short Beach. When beach combing, or simply while being someplace new, I often lose track of time. It's nice to feel this way sometimes.

Since I was so close to Oceanside, I parked at the wayside for a pit stop, then walked through the tunnel to the "secret beach" (Tunnel Beach) at Maxwell Point. This is also a good agate hunting destination!

The three specks above the treeline are hang gliders!
Cape Lookout to the south.

The Maxwell Point tunnel was constructed in 1926.

Found this lovely cairn at Tunnel Beach.


I didn't stay long, but enjoyed my brief visit. Oceanside is one of my favorite spots along the coast, and I've had the pleasure of introducing many friends and my parents to it!

I treated myself to lunch at the Blue Agate Cafe, just across the street from the wayside. I had a tiny nook overlooking the ocean. Ordered some crab tacos. Fine as heck.

After lunch, I continued south. My thirst for adventure brought me to Gammon Launch viewpoint, just north of Cape Lookout. It is a memorial to Dick Gammon.

An elderly couple parked nearby and were kind enough to take my photo here; I took their photo in return. Little interactions like this make me happy.

I don't like how I look too well, but eh, what can ya do?
At this point, I figured, Heck, I'll do the full Three Capes Scenic Loop and head to Cape Kiwanda. On the way, however, I discovered another new favorite: Sitka Sedge State Natural Area! This is one of Oregon's newest state parks, if not the newest. I'd briefly stopped at Sandlake Recreation Area before coming here.

The trail starts along a dike and plants you amidst evergreens dripping with moss. Branching trails are well-maintained and have just enough elevation change to be fun, without being too strenuous.

The larger and less famous Haystack Rock of Pacific City is visible above the trees in this photo. It also points to my next destination: Cape Kiwanda!

I can't wait to bring friends to Sitka Sedge. So many ecosystems within one park!

Haystack Rock from the boat launch at Cape Kiwanda.
The first time I visited Cape Kiwanda was September 2016. I'd come to the beach house for a post-RCCC getaway. After hitting up Munson Creek Falls, I discovered the Cape. I thought, DAMN, I can drive ONTO the beach? This is great! Past the wayside, down the ramp, onto the beach: this is bliss.

Flashback time 2016: I DROVE ONTO THE BEACH!
I visited Cape Kiwanda again in July 2018 after my folks came to visit Rockaway. I was really excited to drive onto the beach again--but I got stuck. Like, waaay stuck. Some kind four-wheel-drivers towed me out of the soft sand, and I drove back up the ramp in defeat. I ended up at Bob Straub State Park to the south; a nice trade-off, even if I could no longer drive onto the beach.

The ramp is now a boat launch, with signs strictly warning experienced folks to use 4WD vehicles when driving onto the beach. Oops. I wonder if my summer 2018 shenanigans helped prompt the change? (To be fair, there were A LOT of other people stuck on the beach that day...)

2016 was such a special visit. I long for a summer return!
Cape Kiwanda is popular AF, even during the winter. The parking lot at the wayside wasn't completely crowded, however, so I parked there and headed to the dune on foot.


Cascade Head to the south.
Cape Lookout to the north.
Obligatory dork-ass selfie on a Very Large Dune.
Climbing the dune is tough, but the reward is running down. I passed a couple trudging gingerly through the sand. They saw me leaping headlong like a deer toward the beach and stood dumbfounded. I think eventually they picked up the pace because they returned to the beach not long after I did. Somebody Make Dune-Running A Sport 2020!!

Cleaned my toes before heading home.
All told, I was out on Valentine's Day from 10AM to 6:30PM. So utterly refreshing. The fact that it was Valentine's Day wasn't significant to me, personally, BUT it was fun to be a weird singleton gallivanting the coast while everyone else seemed to be paired, or in family groups. Powerful ambivert recharging vibes, yeah?

Saturday was rainy, so I read the anthologies I picked up from Mary and Madison at Furlandia last year. I love anthologies! Perhaps I shall contribute to one someday. I rounded out the night by binge-watching the fifth season of Samurai Jack on Blu-ray. Mmmyesss, gimme dat Genndy goodness! I hadn't watched it since it aired in 2017. Took me long enough to watch my copy, sheesh.

I washed and vacuumed the ever-loving dirt out of my li'l Kia on Sunday, then walked to Manhattan Beach. Watched a murder of crows bathing in Crescent Creek before a woman walking her dog scared 'em off.

I was reluctant to leave the coast this morning, but I got to visit Catherine and Mac and their friend Susan. We had breakfast at Back to Eden. It's amazing how good they can make gluten-free and vegan food taste! I am not vegan, nor do I require a gluten-free diet, but man, what a treat.
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Cape Meares as seen across Tillamook Bay, south of Garibaldi.
Once home, I busied myself with making time capsules with the treasures I'd collected from Short Beach. This is one of my favorite hobbies. It's especially fun because they're for my memories only; I would never monetize them.

I replanted Doug into a larger pot so he can recover from being root-bound. I've been much better about letting my plants relax during the winter, and only water them on sunny days, when I know it will evaporate quickly without threatening mold or rot. I owe this knowledge to Kerstin and Aki!

I shared my loot with Kerstin and Ely on Discord. This particular rock from Short Beach looks amazing when wet, and it has a smooth edge and nice heft suitable for a worry stone. I think it's a jasper? There is a lot of this blue-green ("bleen" heh heh) rock along the Tillamook Coast.

The joy of coastal exploration and seeing friends gave way to post-vacation depression. As badly as I needed it--as tempted as I was to return after breakfast with Catherine--I need to keep applying for jobs. I have a list of them. If I could find a job that paid me to adventure, hoo boy. I did apply with a tour guide company, but haven't heard back from them. Moving on.

This is a long, rambly post, but thank you for reading it, or browsing my photos. I miss posting here, even if Blogger suffers from phony page views. I'd like to share my adventures in addition to my art. My goal is to keep discovery at the forefront of 2020. Some of it has been brutal (my Hobby Vs. Hustle dilemma; the case files that turned up in my background check for a potential job), but it is February, so there is a lot of 2020 left to share with family, friends, and myself.