Oregon Coast Under the Winter Sun: December is Not Dark and Dreary
(Oregon Coast) – As the winter solstice approaches, bringing the shortest day of the year, don't think the coast is all about dark and dreary days. While the weather has been somewhat frightful on the beach recently, there have been several sunny days in between the atmospheric melees, and certainly not a tempest the whole time.
Looking back at last year's December, sights like these abounded, such as here at Ocean Beach Picnic Ground in December of 2011 (photo above). A ways south of Yachats, those seemingly endless hidden beach accesses were actually a little less hidden, even for an early December. Plenty were partaking in these beachy pleasures. Among them was Ocean Beach Picnic Ground, about 15 miles from Florence, where the waves were a curious mix of calm, reflections from deep blue sky, and yet the frothy, sudsy clumps of white foam that can only come from being knocked around by storm conditions.
The fun finds of December are plentiful in other ways, with empty beaches, frothy foam and flotsam from the deep wandering up after storms.
Case in point: the tides backed off here and there at Seal Rock, just enough to allow access to 4,000-year-old stumps from an ancient forest buried somewhere around that time. These were revealed a bit earlier than usual because of winter storms.
You can get a hint of those storms by just looking behind this ancient wonder: the waves at Seal Rock are detonating with particular ferocity. To get a stronger sense of how big those waves actually are, know that they are a mile away from this spot and still appear so large.
On another day, it was a combination of reckless waves and bright sun just south of Depoe Bay (seen above). Where Otter Crest Road begins its winding trek southward there's a secret cove here, just below what's called the Ben Jones bridge, created by famed Oregon architect Conde McCullough. The skies may have been clear then, but the ocean was full of raging, storm-like madness. Big waves slam this scenic spot with consistent splendor, all away from the eyes of most because hardly anyone knows this viewpoint.
Much more well known is the lighthouse at Yaquina Head in Newport, which on one day that month was extremely warm in one spot but bone-chilling in others, depending on how you were shielded from the wind – which strangely wasn't all that strong. Any exposure to it was a kind of central coast refrigerator. Below this placid scene, the ocean was going bonkers as well.
Nearly 40 miles south of here, a ways south of Yachats, there's Cook's Chasm and its wild and wacky spouting horn. On this day early in the month last year,, the clouds were thick, but managed to break apart a bit for a while, illuminating this mysterious and manic geologic feature, which sort of resembles the Smoke Monster from the show LOST.
Late in the day in Lincoln City, this sunset at Siletz Bay was much talked about all over social media. Plenty on Facebook and Twitter were sharing shots of this colorful wonder all over on that day last year.
At night in Lincoln City, things calmed down considerably after one particularly cloudy day. The wind eases dramatically. Head to Oceanview Park, a new installation next to the Coho hotel complex (next to NW 15th street), and this eerily beautiful scene comes to light after dark.
Another day at Newport that month saw the famed McCullough-crafted bridge from near the other lighthouse in town. The last rays of the day bounce around some of those wind-tortured trees as well as the bridge itself.
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