Posts Tagged ‘Coos County OR’

In mid-September an early autumn storm loaded with copious moisture from a Pacific typhoon roared over the Oregon Coast. Rain was heavy, five to ten inches, with 70 mph winds on the capes, dangerous seas worthy of Winslow Homer, and 23′ breakers.

Often the most impressive displays of oceanic fury follow shortly after Pacific storms move eastward. As the cold front passed, we headed for Shore Acres State Park, near Coos Bay. Shore Acres is the place for storm watchers on the south and central Oregon Coast, and that is our destination, our pilgrimage to see the salty essence of oceanic power.

At the park, a trail leads through sitka spruce towards the grassy cliff and to numerous viewing angles. We first hear the bombardment, water thundering shoreward before reaching the cliff. A few steps further, and we see a great plume of water climbing 50′ vertically, rising almost to the cliff top in a powerful crescendo, until gravity brings down a  frothy white plume that splashes the roiling surf below and coats my camera lens with salt spray.

The surf  for a few moments is quiet. A momentary lull. But a new wave of big breakers then rolls in from the deep ocean, breaking near shore or against the cliffs, one after another, five or ten in a row, roaring like a cannonade, reverberating across the headlands, only finally muffled by the silence of the deep forest.

My photographs taken that day give only a few dimensions of the reality. The camera clicked and clicked, slowing as the computer tried to process so much intense light. Many wave pictures are now taken with a slow shutter, thus blurring and smoothing what is really wild and chaotic action. The fast shutter of these pictures emphasizes that wildness and chaos. But it’s the viewer who must anticipate the almost terrifying audible dimension of crashing water, the taste of salt spray, the smell of brine and damp forest, in fact all the senses and emotions when confronting such spellbinding nature as a Pacific storm. A photograph can only suggest.  SRE



all images © SR Euston

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Wednesday morning found us on 42S, a narrow, winding road which leaves Bandon on the south side of the Coquille River and wanders up its valley to the picturesque community of Coquille. Coquille, the Coos County seat, has a population of somewhat less than 5000. We were heading there to get a new driver’s license for Stan, on the recommendation of local friends who promised a quick turnaround. Considering the office was empty when we arrived at 11:20 am,  it probably would have been, if giving drivers’ tests between 11:00 am and 1:30 pm weren’t prohibited. Humm….

Still, what could we do but take the office workers’ advice and proceed on to Coos Bay? It was our ultimate destination anyway.

And besides, it turned out to be a beautiful side trip. Warm air, a blue sky with patchy clouds, fog bands against the hills beyond the verdant valley.  Outside Coquille, enormous farms dotted the hillsides, multiple silos lined up beside giant metal barns.

Coquille River Flood Stage © SR Euston

After this past weekend’s six plus inches of rain, it was obvious the Coquille River had flooded its banks. At one ranch we saw a flock of domestic geese who had taken to high ground on the opposite river bank. A pig waddled through the mud towards its shed. Waiting for the water to recede, the large cattle herds huddled their barns. (I guess that’s why they’re so huge!)

Near Riverton we stopped to look across a wide expanse of flooded fields. It looked like the rice paddies of the Sacramento Valley. A large flock of Ruddy Ducks had gathered. Bands of swallows swooped and circled. In places water reached over halfway up the crossfencing.


Coquille Flooded Pastureland © SR Euston

Downtown Coquille is a quiet farm and forestry center with narrow streets. We talked with a nursery owner, a Southern California transplant. How wonderful the climate was in Coquille, he told us. Perfect. Never too cold, never too hot. And, after hearing we lived in Port Orford, not windy! “Oh the coastline is spectacular, but that wind!” he said with a laugh.

The wind? It’s true. But oh that coastline.

Cloud Reflections 1 © SR Euston

Cloud Reflections 2 © SR Euston

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