Friday, August 24, 2012

Oregon Coast - 22 August 2012

Hwy 101 clung tenaciously to the cliffs for much of today and at one point we read about the first three-foot wide track that was put through where the postal men crawled on their bellies clutching their horse's tail to stop being swept off in the fierce winds and lashing rain.

Not far into our journey was Cape Foulweather, the first geographical name assigned to the American west cost by Captain Cook, so it is clear what the day was like when he was here.

However, we had none of that; we enjoyed a cloudless sky, no wind until late afternoon and amazing visibility; 70 miles down the coast and 37 miles out to the horizon at the best vantage point.

But before that came the little hamlet of Depoe where they claim to have the smallest navigable harbour in the world.   Now, I have not measured any but I have seen quite a few tiny harbours in Cornwall that I would judge were significantly smaller than the harbour at Depoe.

Not wishing to start a trans-Atlantic dispute we moved on south to Cape Foulwind where there were 4 (?) Grey whales swimming off-shore.  For a closer look we dropped down to the Devil's Punchbowl and the whales, obligingly, came in closer as well and put on a great show with their water-spouts and one even treated us to a display of it's fluke.

Grey whales normally migrate up this coast to feed near Alaska in summer and then back down again to breed near Mexico in winter and we were not here for the times when those trips are made. However, some juveniles stay in this area and so sightings are common all year round.

Cape Perpetua is the location of the best viewpoint on the Oregon coast, at over 700ft above sea-level the views are extensive, 70 miles down the coast and 37 miles out to sea.  The view thus encompassed over 2000 sq miles of sea and there was not a thing to be seen in it; no fishing boats, no ocean freighters, nothing at all - just blue.

For a few miles the cliffs stop dropping straight into the sea allowing a totally different geology, topography and ecology to develop; the Oregon sand dunes.  Acres and acres of huge dunes, creating lakes, swallowing mature pine forests, and at one point coming within feet of covering Hwy 101.

The man-made features of note through the day were the lighthouses and the bridges spanning the larger rivers along the route, all different and quite stylish.

203 miles today, total trip 6348. States: Oregon.

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