Deliriously Delicious Surrealism Emerges After Dark on Oregon Coast
Published 08/03/2016 at 8:11 PM PDT - Updated 08/04/2016 at 1:21 PM PDT
By Andre' GW Hagestedt
(Otter Rock, Oregon) – Some of the most startling and stunning aspects of this place come out after dark. There's much to hail about the central Oregon coast and its sunsets, fine sands and whale watching. That's certainly quite a bang for the buck. But there's even more. Much more. (Above: Depoe Bay looks like something from an alternate universe at night).
Always, the Pacific Ocean surprises – in ways that are startlingly unexpected. Such as after the sun has disappeared.
Case in point: one particular set of nights on the central Oregon coast during one January a few tears back, in what is supposed to be the dead of winter.
Indeed, at this point the sunlight has drenched the coast for about two days. At night, this meant plenty of spectacular scenes, especially with a full moon that has been flooding the nocturnal skies as much as its brother, the sun, has been dominating the day. Ocean conditions have largely been calm and serene – even to the point of glass-like seas, which have resulted in copious amounts of whale spottings.
But something abruptly changes.
Depoe Bay has been particularly striking at night. Increasingly angry seas have made for bigger and bigger waves hitting this already remarkable, basalt rock-covered area. At one point, the town simply seems to glow with a yellow tinge – a kind of halo for a whole village. The breakers smack hard against these rocky shelves, while lights from hotels on the point create more interesting, colorful casts.
The next day is a let down, with a penchant for clouds and occasional drizzle, but also the tease of periodic moments of sun.
Then, over the course of the day, the seas get increasingly rougher and rougher. You get the sense a storm is coming.
Meanwhile, out on the horizon, crab boats dot the edge of the world, springing into life after the sun sets. As darkness gets deeper and deeper, they noticeably light up the clouds above them, thus looking and acting like small cities way out there.
Somewhere around midnight, at a spot just south of Depoe Bay called Rodea Point, it’s pitch black on this gravel overlook, some fifty feet above the surf. Down below, it’s not a sandy beach but a craggy basalt shelf, which in turn greets the waves in an abrupt way that causes them to slam hard against the rock.
Indeed, though it’s dark, hard to see, and sea level is a ways down, the waves are massive all of a sudden. They are visible in this faint light and frightening. They often look as if they’re not going to shrink and dissipate as they approach this overlook, and that they may be gunning for you personally. The big ones erupt in an upward geyser so high they actually tower over you by ten feet or more – but luckily they’re far enough away not to wallop you.
If the sight of them wasn’t impressive enough, their sound certainly is. They periodically smash against the rocks with more of an explosion than the usual wave crashing noise. These are loud and startling.
To the south of here, there’s another small promontory where a few homes reside. You can see these gargantuan waves scratch and claw at it as well, and the scene looks a bit like those old B/W horror movies with evil castles set above a raging surf.
Just a few minutes up the road, at Otter Rock and the Devil’s Punchbowl, conditions have changed dramatically again. Instead of getting a cloud cover that allows the nearly full moon to light things up as before, all of a sudden it’s foggy here. Very foggy.
Night shots here now take a longer exposure, and the horizon has disappeared into the fog – save for one fishing boat that guides the way for your eye. The clouds and the fog become a mysterious whitish gauze in the middle of the night, lit up slightly by the moon. It’s an ethereal, unforgettable scene.
Meanwhile, the night before, it had all been quite a different vibe, with the clear sky and sea lit up by the moon, all in a vibrant blue blanket (the shot above was taken just 24 hours earlier, in the same spot).
It’s yet another example of how dynamic the Oregon coast can be: from hour to hour, day to day, and even milepost to milepost. Where to stay in this area - Where to eat - Maps and Virtual Tours Below: a bright moon at Depoe Bay on another night.
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