Tuesday, January 6, 2009

To The Coast

This afternoon my husband and I returned from having taken a few days off. Sunday we departed for the coast, only about an hours drive, but a couple hours in order to arrive at our final destination. Traffic in either direction, west and east, was minimal, but then really, how many people decide to go to the coast when it's 36 degrees and a forecast of wind and rain?"

As we often do, we traveled with some of our food and several nice bottles of wine, so our first evening meal was already established. Chinook salmon from the night before was not as exceptional as it was then, but nonetheless, still quite nice and tasty. Add to that some fresh steamed broccoli, a wedge of lettuce salad, and a Mirassou Pinot Noir (not a bad Pinot for under $9 dollars a bottle), and our evening was enjoyable and relaxing.

The howling wind, driving rain, and pounding surf interrupted our sleep throughout the night, but with that came anticipation of what tomorrow might bring, what lay beneath the sands surface and would be revealed from the nights turbulence. . . for the entire purpose of the trip was to collect stones and hopefully agates.

About a year ago our neighbors got us hooked; they had been collecting and tumbling and polishing with extraordinary results. To select a stone from the beach, and following a 3-5 week process, to have revealed a remarkably beautiful specimen with color and design. . . well, we bought a tumbler, the grit, collected our first stones and agates from the Pacific northwest beaches, and about all we can say is Wow! They are exceptionally beautiful and we enjoy them every day.

Monday morning: gusts of 15-30 mph were predicted, so we layered and climbed into our rain gear following breakfast, then headed off to our first destination just south of Beverly Beach. We parked along the highway and by 9 a.m. were walking down the path toward the water. (Be sure to click on the photos for a full view.)

The creek pouring into the ocean seemed promising as my husband worked that gravel bed, and I turned to explore the south portion of the beach.

Thankfully the wind gusts did not materialize, but neither did our expectation of finding those precious gems, but this shot was captivating.

And we did select more stones we thought might polish nicely and be additive to our collection, but we would now head north to Beverly Beach State Park.

As we walked along the coastline and through the beds, the rain and wind increased, yet it seemed not to be uncomfortable until a burst of water took up residence in my boots. Perhaps after several hours of walking this was a sign to take a break and change some socks, but first a glimpse of Yaquina lighthouse, south about 3 1/2 miles.

A blue sky emerged and as we ventured out again, the 48 degrees kept us warm, and yes, but very carefully, we descended these steps. An hour later, a few more stones, but still no agates, and it was time for lunch. Some friends had recommended the Starfish Grill; excellent I might add.

The afternoon found us at Agate Beach, a place we had visited with two of our grandchildren on several occasions, and after we walked and walked and walked, it was apparent that we should call it a day and return to our unit for another nice dinner and relaxing evening. For now the best we could do was be enamored by the wind's creativity.

As we were leaving, a lady who was walking her dog stopped to talk, and after discussing our current pittance, said, "This is the most sterile beach. The locals go south of here and down to about Seal Rock". She gave us directions to Wolf Creek, we thanked her, and all were on our way.

The 6 of January, a 7:54 a.m. sunrise, and we were traveling south and accompanied by light rain and fog. We stopped for a short while at Wolf Creek, we think (as it was unmarked), and then headed to Lost Creek State Park. As we stood on the cliff's edge overlooking the rushing water, several logs were being hurled against the hillside. Although high tide had occurred at 6:59 a.m., we decided to travel further south, and in about an hour the receding waters should allow for us to once again safely walk along the shoreline.

The dog lady had said last years storms produced all kinds of agates, and so far this year they are much harder to find. But we still had a great time and collected some more interesting stones for the tumbler. As we approached home, the sun shone brightly and the 54 degrees welcomed us.

Stay tuned, and we will soon show you some of earth's precious gifts.