Post-Holiday Delights of North Oregon Coast
(Cannon Beach, Oregon) – The holidays just about over, only a couple of hours left of Christmas night, and the north Oregon coast is calling. So heed that sudden need and find a winter wonderland, little towns aglow, funky beach foam and numerous other surprises.
If you weren't there on the coast, this is what you missed.
Earlier on Christmas Day, a considerable snow dusted the big route between Cannon Beach and Portland. It left little to no problems for drivers, but plenty of pleasant sights along the sides of Highway 26. At night, around 10 p.m., these sights became rather magical. At one point, the hills looked like America in its frontier days, or maybe even medieval Europe. This photograph was taken at night.
If you've ever wondered what Cannon Beach looked like at Christmas, this is the famed Haystack Rock and its Needles on that day, seen from the southern vantage point of the Tolovana area.
More in the Christmas vein, holiday lights smother Cannon Beach still. Not a creature was stirring on this deserted street, except for the occasional cop patrol, and sometimes a bird in the far distance.
Down around Manzanita, the skies finally clear and a much longer break from the rain ensues. The clouds begin breaking up and the moon comes beaming through, creating this ethereal scene of Neahkahnie Mountain.
What's also quite remarkable here is the large amount of debris from recent coastal storms. Even at night, these examples are impressive. Not just for their size but their close proximity to the vegetation line and the road running alongside Manzanita's beaches. This grouping of stuff comes up about 30 to 40 feet from the road, and actually closer than some of the dunes that keep the sea away. The ocean brought these mammoth logs up that far.
As the day after Christmas dawns, the north Oregon coast comes alive again with traffic, along with some welcome moments of sun in between the rain squalls.
At Manzanita, this means tons of sea foam lit up in fascinating ways. Other spots are darkened by the clouds blocking the sun. The whole scene is dramatic and moody all at the same time.
Even more spectacular is what happens to all that wet sand when cloud conditions are right. You get a massive reflective surface that causes that line between sea and sky to be really, really blurred. It almost looks as if you're walking out onto the sky itself. Surreal and unbelievably beautitful.
Then the rains quickly kick in again, and the rest of the day and night remains a kind of game of dodge-the-rain-squalls.
In Arch Cape, just south of Cannon Beach, the clouds hide the sunset from view. Major storms have battered this area as well, you can plainly see. Massive blobs of bull kelp sit at the main entrance to this little charmer of a beach.
After dark, Astoria retains some remarkable visual aspects, even in these dreary conditions. In fact, such misty situations enhance the ways the town lights up the sky. A massive Coast Guard vessel near the Columbia River Maritime Museum sits and glows in one heck of an ethereal manner. This isn't a Christmas sight, though it is festive in a way. It's just how it always looks at night.
The rain keeps battering this area periodically, then giving up for a while. It's in one of these stormy moments Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff decide to wait out the water by driving up to the Astoria Column – in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, we can get a shot of that nearly-full moon with the Christmasy column.
Talk about the luck and serendipity – and talk about the money shot. It's a post-Christmas miracle.
Later that night, that same full moon takes on a bundle of ice crystals around it, forming double halos of rainbows around it.
Nature never ceases to surprise on the Oregon coast, even to and from it. This even happens when no one is around to see it, on a night like Christmas.
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