Stunning Sights and Weather On Oregon Coast Right Now
By Andre Hagestedt
(Manzanita, Oregon) – With the holiday weekend coming up for many, this should be a prime time to hit the Oregon coast. There's quite the dichotomy of conditions here right now that make it particularly engaging, as the days and nights alternate drastically in temperature, the whales seem happy to put on a show, and a variety of other natural phenomena come to light (above: Lincoln City's Siletz Bay area puts on quite a sunset show Thursday night).
Late Monday I reach the coast and my second home town of Manzanita, where – it turns out – it's not so traumatic if you lock your keys in your car. But that's another tale. On this night, the rain gets particularly hard and nasty as you arrive, but it all kind of miraculously clears up a bit later. The moon is out – in full glory – and it's windless enough to take some experimental, extremely close photographs of the moon from Manzanita.
This is what the town looks like from above at around 3 a.m.
The next day threatens to not cooperate, but the skies eventually clear considerably, and the coast is on its way to the mostly sunny conditions the forecasters predicted. As I'm taking a series of close-up shots of all sorts of things – including the famed and mysterious Cube Rock – someone asks me if I've seen any whales. No, I reply. And I haven't been paying attention. But these are calm conditions, and the whale migration is still going on, so I tell them the chances of seeing them are good.
About ten minutes later, as I start my car on the overlooks above town, I see a whale spouting way out there, probably a few miles away.
A little ways north, near Cannon Beach, the tide is low enough to see inside the cave at the bottom of the big sea stack at Silver Point. I have again seen something I've never seen before on these beaches.
Yet another revelation awaits late at night. The day has been beautiful and made everything quite photogenic, and it's even been warm in the direct sunlight. But after dark, temperatures dive and the north coast feels like Ragnarok – the icy Viking version of the apocalypse.
Still, I'm pleasantly shocked to nab this close-up shot of the very tip of Neahkahnie Mountain, with its craggy arch and ruins-like feel. This is impossible to notice unless you've got the right optics. But then to also photograph it at night made for quite the visual catch.
Perhaps even stranger still is the fact it is so cold at 1 a.m. that the sand is frozen solid. I have never encountered that before.
The next day, the sun continues its rousing behavior. More visual revelations are at Rockaway Beach: I can now see the famed Twin Rocks extremely close.
Down around Tillamook Bay and into the Three Capes Loop, the tiny hamlet of Oceanside is a pristine blue.
Just to shock myself – apparently – I see if if I can use this powerful new zoom lens to check out the sea lion refuge on Three Arch Rocks, the famed structures about a mile or so offshore from Oceanside. Wow. They are indeed there, in this extreme detail of a very close-up shot.
The fascinating thing about zoom lenses is that they can change the configuration and the landscape of familiar places in ways you didn't before imagine. You are literally shifting your viewpoint of something by moving a few miles in almost any one direction. It is, of course, much farther away by then, but it will look different. Such is the case of Three Arch Rocks when you head south to Cape Lookout State Park. They completely change shape, and yet they're tiny. But with a big zoom lens, you can check out this new configuration of the longtime iconic sea stacks.
After this point, darkness falls quickly. As I head down through Pacific City and onto that part of 101 that veers slightly inland and around the back of Cascade Head, it abruptly becomes windy. Between here, through Neskowin and around the Wecoma viewpoints area, the wind knocks my car around almost violently. Yet by the time I make it down to Lincoln City this has calmed considerably. Then the wind even dies away almost completely by the middle of the night.
Quite curious, and again something I've never encountered.
Above is what Lincoln City's Cascade Head looks like at night, with the moon lighting up the sky and creating a sort of fake daylight.
More discoveries are made around the central Oregon coast, such as oddities like "whale burps" lying around near Siletz Bay in Lincoln City – chunks of beach grass so compacted by the tide they form this neat little stack.
It's all proof that nature has got a lot in store during these bright but chilly days of winter. While the weather will turn over this weekend, there are still plenty of discoveries to be had.
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