Covering 180 miles of Oregon coast travel: Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita, Nehalem, Wheeler, Rockaway, Garibaldi, Tillamook, Oceanside, Pacific City, Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Waldport, Yachats & Florence.
Those Sunny, Slow Simmering Oregon Coast Days of Late OctoberBy Andre' Hagestedt
(Manzanita, Oregon) - It's the tail end of October, and the weather usually turns towards more stormy, cloudy conditions on the Oregon coast. But on this particular week, all over the coast, all of a sudden things go from drizzly to sunny, with warm days that feel like that Indian summer in the inland parts of Oregon, as well as stellar nights that shimmer with an intense vibrancy that’s mind-boggling.
It's the whole "second summer" thing gone mad in the latter half of the month on the coast, bringing with it a whole new set of surprises and epiphanies. Things move more slowly out here on the north coast, and things just happen differently than they do even in other small towns around the state.
All week, the weather dudes and dudettes on Portland TV stations have been predicting warmer conditions for the Oregon coast, and even showing off exceptional sunsets, wild colors and clear skies from their sky-cams in Cannon Beach, Lincoln City, Newport, Astoria and elsewhere. Congratulations, guys: you’re getting it right more often these days. All four stations seem more careful and exact in the last year or two about weather predictions for the coast. Local authorities and tourism entities have made their voices clearer about that recently, especially after skewed, sensationalist coverage of the December ’07 storm wound up hurting the region’s economy badly in the early part of 2008. Plus, we here at BeachConnection.net know they’ve been paying attention to us and our more accurate coverage of conditions, and we believe we too have helped set the bar higher.
So it's no wonder the good stuff in Oregon coast skies is shown off a little more – partially because there’s more of it than people realize.
This week wound up insane. Tuesday and Wednesday saw temperatures close to 80 in many spots, like Manzanita and Nehalem. Certainly the slightly inland towns of Nehalem and Wheeler were nearly sweltering at times. I actually turned on my air conditioning during my travels between Wheeler and Cannon Beach on Wednesday.
Late that night, the universe came to resplendent light with clear skies. It was another night of stargazing on the north Oregon coast. This time, not only are the stars in full bloom, but the shooting stars are screaming past about once a minute or two and the Milky Way Galaxy is again vibrant and prominent in the sky.
It’s something like 1:30 a.m., and I’ve again become restless from hours of toiling away at the computer and some wicked marathon of “Hellraiser” flicks on cable TV. I must get up and move around. In fact, a couple times I went out to my car in the deep darkness and heard the ocean a few blocks away, making massive crashing noises that sounded more like the rugged basalts shelves of Yachats than the soft sands of Manzanita. This is more than slightly curious, and I’m drawn to it intensely.
Eventually I hop in the car and drive down to that road that runs along the length of Manzanita’s beaches, stopping in an area where the street lights no longer have any reign over the night skies. I step out and go for a brief walk beneath the stars.
The mushy mass of the Milky Way is gargantuan, stretching across the sky at a grand diagonal. Neahkahnie Mountain, which looms over Manzanita, is lit up in spots, causing chunks of the basalt walls to show up as if glowing in the sky, like ghostly remnants of the unimaginably enormous lava flows that created this forested beauty.
Oddly enough, the ocean sounds normal once I arrive and appears to not be doing anything more insane than usual. It’s another curiosity of Manzanita: for some reason, sometimes the ocean sounds like it’s going bonkers and smacking all sorts of things around at night here. It’s another one of the town’s endless mysteries.
It didn’t take long to see a magnificent shooting star zipping across the sky, Then another one, within the next 30 seconds. And yet another. It averaged two a minute for a while: some big and spectacular, some small and timid.
Thursday was exceptionally beautiful and strong on sun, but it was quite chilly. A solid wind was whipping things up, making even my buttoned up jacket not quite enough to stave off the cold. You can tell the tourists were coming out. There was increased traffic all day between Cannon Beach and Rockaway, though I was able to tool around a totally unpopulated beach next to the south jetty of the Nehalem Bay.
Saturday, I find myself in Lincoln City and Newport. Things have steadily warmed up. A misty, thin fog tries to hide the sunset in Newport, but all it succeeds in doing is add a fuzzy texture to astonishing colors that wash across the sky at sunset. There’s little breeze on this day, and it’s easily in the upper 60’s.
Sunday is more of the same in Lincoln City: bold, blue skies and not a cloud to be found. In fact, there’s a warm breeze blowing, heating things up even a little more. It’s definitely in the mid 70’s. You wouldn’t know it was fall by the feel of the air, nor its smell – it feels like early summer. The only thing giving the season away is the weakened way the sun shines this time of year, even in the warmest hours of the day.
A mild rush of crowds is hitting the beaches, and traffic has its moments of tension. But the place is still devoid of “no vacancy” signs.
At the extreme northern end of Lincoln City, something magical is happening. The Road’s End district has a new face where the cliff dead-ends on the beach. A mix of extreme low tide and apparently much lower than usual sand levels has created a vast garden of rocky slabs and wild shapes where Wizard Rock sits; normally there’s just a few rocks and a lot of sand surrounding them. Not anymore.
Now, in fact, it’s apparently much easier to reach the secret cove behind this already slightly secretive area of Lincoln City. It sits bathed in the ebbing light of the day, a kind of soft mix of oranges and yellows.
At sundown, at the bottom of 21st Street, the ritual begins again, as various locals and tourists gather at this overlook some 100 feet high to watch the waning moments of the sun. I search for the green flash, but it doesn’t happen.
It seems some of this weather may last for a few more days. It’s yet another example of the things the coast cloisters close, waiting to spring one surprise after another on you.