Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Oregon Coast: Reedsport & Depoe Bay

Onward and northward...a change of pace from last week for sure: this week we slipped effortlessly back into a leisurely schedule of slow mornings, Nancy working while I bike or do chores, then some exploration in the afternoons, dinner, a movie and early to bed. Our driving, too, has been moderate over the last week, as we moved up the Oregon coast just a hundred miles or so at a time.

Our first stop was at Tugman State Park, just south of Reedsport. This was a super nice park: large sites, electric and water, and dense foliage separating sites resulting in one of the most private places we've camped. Oregon state parks generally seem to be among the best we've seen. Many of our states could stand a lesson from Oregon in this regard. This particular park was situated a couple of miles inland, separated from the Pacific by the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. Thankfully only a few of the campers at Tugman were among the thousands of ATV enthusiasts who flock to the dunes to tear around on quads. We saw other campgrounds in the area which were crowded with ATVs, and I can only imagine the resulting constancy of noise and stench from these machines. Anyway, we were camped near Eel Lake, popular for fishing, kayaking and swimming. There was a nice forest trail partway around the lake which I enjoyed biking on. We explored the local area and braved the high winds and blowing sand for some time on the beach:

Up the coast, driving on a beautiful stretch of highway 101, we passed by gorgeous coastline overlooks, including this one at Heceta Head Lighthouse:

Our next stop was in Depoe Bay, a little fishing port/tourist/beach town. The campground butts right up to the miles-long beach, great for dog walks and just sitting & enjoying the ceaseless roaring of the surf:

Depoe Bay harbor claims to be the world's smallest:

We watched several gray whales spouting just off shore from town. Then we stopped at a state park where we walked out onto a bluff to enjoy the best whale viewing experience of our lives: a young gray whale was feeding practically below our feet in the clear waters at the foot of the bluff. We could see it swimming, see it approach the surface to breath, watch it arch it's back and flex it's flukes to dive again. It was awesome! Unfortunately, my $%&@#ing Lumix camera's display chose this time to go out, so I couldn't tell where I was aiming or how much to zoom. So, I missed out on getting some great closeups. This is the best that I got, which at least gives a sense of the visibility and clarity that we had:

Another little adventure was my kayaking-in-the-surf episode. I'd been eyeing the surf right off of the beach here, and was hankering to repeat the fun I'd had back in the Carolina's. So, I got suited up in my wetsuit, the water being 55 or 60 degrees cool, and dragged the Frenzy down to the water. Just getting out there proved to be a challenge. My first attempt to escape the shore-break bowled me over and spit me back up onto the beach. Then I waited for what seemed like forever for a lull, and finally finding one, paddled out past the breakers. There I enjoyed riding the rollers, feeling like a duck as each wave lifted me high as it passed beneath. Then I began to look for some steeper waves to ride. I found one, but it wasn't really steep enough to surf. Moving closer, I found myself in front of the first of a set of extra large waves:

This one was bigger than I'd wanted, and I attempted to paddle out of its way, but I was too far in, and saw with horror that it was a split break, with me in the middle! I turned to shore and accelerated, hoping to ride it out, but it ate me whole. It rolled me over and buried me! The boat was pushed to shore and I was left to endure the remainder of the set of waves, each of which had their way with me as I struggled to the beach. I crawled out on shore while Nancy retrieved the boat from the wash and snapped a few photos to show me in case I ever suggested that I'd like to do that again... So, that ended that, and no harm done other than a bruised ego. You can be sure that when I venture into the surf again it'll be only into the tamest little "kiddie" waves that I can find!

1 comment:

  1. Better to have tried and failed right? I would never have gotten out there :D