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Discovering Monsters on the Oregon Coast

Published 04/13/23 at 6:12 AM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Discovering Monsters on the Oregon Coast

(Manzanita, Oregon) – I ain't gonna white wash it: I kind'a have the weirdest luck. Without trying, strange stuff just drops into my lap, or even in my face. Now, that's not always a good thing. It's come with its share of trials amid the jaw-dropping, unusual surprises. Like freakish bad luck streaks that go on for an awful long period of time. But on the flipside, a lot of it is rather wondrous to hilarious – but with some darkness mixed in there. Yet it's often just plain unusual. (All photos Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

And that's OK, because I dig the oddities in life – and certainly in science. Certainly some of what I encounter is just because I'm more observant than the average Joe. (One bartender told me I'm “annoyingly observant” because of all the wacky little things I notice in bars).

So when it comes to this gig of roving around the Oregon coast, it's no surprise I keep finding the surprises. Some of these come with a startling aspect, that's for sure. I somehow keep encountering “monsters” on the coast in one fashion or another. Whatever the case, these cases of monster hunting wind up hilarious.

The Monster of Manzanita. This took place a couple years before Oregon Coast Beach Connection was actually born, and at the tail end of an editor job for another coastal publication that soon folded. Granted, some amount of alcohol was involved here. The drinky-poos at local watering holes can be, er, um, potent.

It's three in the a.m. and I'm taking a long, somewhat staggering walk on the beach. All of a sudden I'm startled by something new and creepy.

Case #1: the Monster of Manzanita (photo at top). It’s the summer of 2005, just before Oregon Coast Beach Connection was born, and I’m (again) wandering the beaches of Manzanita after dark in a questionable state of sobriety. Thank you drinky-poo’s at the San Dune Pub and elsewhere.

This is about 3 a.m., and I discover a brand new kind of terrifying visage. I've been smacked by sneaker waves, growled at by random dogs on the beach and seen driving on 101 that would curl your hair. This was out of the blue.

Somewhere in the dark of this black beach, silhouetted against the lights of a motel, there's a strange, dragon-like shape. I edge closer and closer, inspecting it ever more intently. I get the chills just a bit (actually not kidding on that comment).

I quickly fire off some shots of it and run away – it does not give chase. Upon examination of the little digital screen, it appears the creature has set the world on fire behind it. OK, that’s probably my drunken photo technique (actually it’s on purpose, a trick I learned shooting live bands).

Sure enough, some twisted, demonic shape juts upward from the sand, in a kind of ready-to-pounce position. I illuminate this creepy creature with the light from my camera, and its features become clear: a long, thin and craggy body, with a head somewhere between a horse and an evil giraffe. There’s probably a horrific number of teeth lurking in various rows inside that pointed snout. Surely there are.

The following day I head back to the beach and I now see it clearly in broad daylight: someone has ingeniously stuck two driftwood logs together. To this day I’m still not sure if they intended to make it look like a creature or not.

Monsters at Bayocean. One fine day around 2011, I'm bouncing around Tillamook County and make my to the wee village of Cape Meares. Not the famed Oregon coast headland but the tiny town below it. At the main beach access, among the massive logs piled up on the rocky beach, there's a giant smiling monster. Someone has painted happy monsters on the tips of the logs. They've done so with quite the flair.

I proceed to starting shooting them, playing with exposures and trying to get just the right mood. All of a sudden a car appears and a lady jumps out, all bubbly and beaming. And she asks: “Do you want me to take a picture with you next to it?”

It quickly became apparent she was the one who painted them, and pointed out she'd seen me here (OK nevermind the question of how she saw me from one of the distant homes). She was proud and rightly so, but it seemed to greatly deflate her that I was photographing them myself, trying to do a pro job of it.

I really wanted to do a story on her and these things, but neglected to ask her name and contact before she went off. I believe I told her these shots were going in the publication.

I saw none of these unique creations upon subsequent visits to the place. Bummer.

Scary Running Man. Early on a summer’s night in Seaside, with haze causing the beach to glow in odd ways, I’m taking night photos of the ethereal scene. It’s gorgeous and surreal, and I’m thousands of feet from anyone else. Or so I thought.

Standing next to my tripod in the dark, taking exposures that are minutes long, you tend to zone out and become unaware of things. All of a sudden, a large figure in the dark starts running my direction, and within seconds I realize this guy is coming right at me. Great. I’m about to get robbed of my nifty camera gear, and just like in space, in Seaside’s nether beaches no one can hear you scream.

Scream I do, like a little girl. He’s got a light on his head, I see now, and as I reach for my wallet, ready to surrender it to him, I scream “What the hell do you want!!!”

He quickly freaks out, apologizes profusely, and then explains he was engaged in some kind of beach hide-n-seek game with his son. He’d seen my flashlight and thought I might be the kid. Holy crap.

I think at this point he was now more scared than I was: he was bounding away as fast he could. Within seconds, although still shaking, I burst out laughing at the whole misunderstanding. That guy’s got an awkward tale to tell.