Bandon and the Redwoods - April 8th - 10th, 2017
As some of you may already know, my favorite part of Oregon is the southern coast, and one of my favorite places in the entire Pacific Northwest is the redwoods. The beauty of both of these areas is jaw dropping - if you ever find yourself in this part of the world, definitely visit both areas.
I'm not sure if people know, but it has been one wet winter here in Oregon. Did I say winter, I meant rain season...because that's what it is. Rain. Rain. Another day of rain. Oh what's that? Wake up in the morning and another lovely day of gray skies pouring tears of utter disappointment on your day - that's right, more rain. I like the rain, but I like a warm summer's day cooled down with a lovely afternoon shower, not 42 degrees and raining for 28 consecutive days (that really did happen, by the way).
Before we set off on this trip, it most certainly seemed as though we were going to have a weekend filled with more dreadful rain. On Friday, while packing and getting ready, I checked the forecast for the next 3-days and it most certainly called for rain; shocker, right? Driving down on Saturday morning, I was greeted with an onslaught of rain along the way to Eugene. Occasionally the sun poked out to say hi, but then the rain would pour down as though it were saying, "haha! Not for you!" I grabbed lunch in Eugene and headed west for Florence. After popping out of the woods in Florence, to my complete and total surprise, the sun was out! It's as though the ocean were saying, "Welcome! It's beautiful here and you'll love it."
We were staying in Port Orford, and on my way there I made a detour for Shore Acres. I have been here many times and I have yet to experience one of the big swells of waves - this was another trip in which I didn't get any of the big waves, but the ocean definitely did put on a show with some nice ones for my viewing pleasure. Oh, and before I arrived at Shore Acres itself, I made a quick stop at the viewing area of the Cape Argo lighthouse. I have seen this lighthouse several times the past two years, but not once have I stopped to get a photo. I don't really know why; it's beautiful and I have wanted photos of it many times, but I have never stopped before. This time I decided to commit to it and walked down along the trail and posted up to get a few shots of the lighthouse - it was definitely worth it.
From Shore Acres I made my way down towards Port Orford and decided to stop in Bandon for the sunset. The sky was looking promising for a fairly nice sunset - Bandon is another one of those places I haven't gotten the photos I have wanted in all my visits; this was looking hopeful for once! Once I arrived, I realized I had left my hiking shoes back in Portland. Fantastic... I had to call Antonia to see if I could borrow her hiking shoes - why you might ask? Because I tend to stand in the water when doing ocean pictures and I really didn't want to get suede shoes wet. She met me at the parking lot and a few members of her family decided to tag along and watch the sunset with me. Great! I always like it when others can enjoy the beauty of nature.
We were fortunate to have an outgoing, fairly low tide, along with some wonderful skies. I was able to walk around the beach and get rather close to some of the rock features - some of which I haven't even seen before due to higher water levels. It's nice when things come together like this - it's not very often that I've had an outgoing tide paired with lovely skies; it's typically nice skies with an incoming tide OR a low tide, but with bleak skies. As you might imagine, and as you can clearly see from the photos below, I was very happy.
We arrived at the rental house for and got settled in for the night - I knew the following day would be a long day, but I really wanted to at least look at some of my photos from the day. Well...looking at photos always turns into editing a few, which turns into editing as many as I can before my eyelids get heavy and I have to go to sleep. It was clear that evening, so I set my alarm for 2am - I was thinking of heading out to the Cape Blanco lighthouse for some night photos if the skies were clear enough. Well, I woke up at 2am and the moon was so bright (nearly a full moon, which I knew already), that I could barely seen any stars. I as bummed out as the sky was perfectly clear, but the moon made it near impossible to get any nice star photos around the lighthouse. So, I went back to bed.
That morning was the day we were headed to the redwoods. The spring bloom was in full force in the Portland area, naturally, I assumed this would be the case down in the redwoods. I have wanted photos of the rhododendrons blooming in the forest since my trip last year...turns out that they don't bloom down there until late April/early May. UGH!!!! Don't get me wrong, I always love a visit to the redwoods, but I was a slight bit annoyed that I was there a month too soon. Moaning and groaning aside, the weather decided to grace us with some sun while we were there. The entire drive down from Port Orford was gloomy and raining on and off, but when we arrived at the Stout Grove, the clouds broke and some sunshine peaked through really lighting up the forest in an incredible green glow.
I was in a group of about 10 people, but spent the entire time there by myself. I can't walk more than a few feet without stopping and "ooooh"ing and "aaah"ing - it really is that amazing of a place. Plus, the light was making for some really unique photo opportunities; this meant I was taking pictures like a noob with a new camera, overly excited to photograph everything like it wouldn't be there the following day. I just HAD to have a ton of photos of every changing moment while I was there.
After the redwoods, we headed back north to Oregon. I was hoping for some nice weather so I could get some photos at Myers Beach, one of my favorite places near Gold Beach. Prior to that, I made plans to meet up with a Facebook friend I had yet to meet in person. She was at a beach north of Gold Beach looking for agates. I drove to the location and upon my arrival, I felt like I was greeted from the scene in Forest Gump where Lt. Dan was having an episode and yelling at God while the ocean was in a fury. It was raining sideways, very heavily, and the wind was so strong I could feel it moving the car. Not only was the weather miserable, like an idiot, I forgot my hiking pants at the house in Port Orford leaving me with just a pair of jeans...jeans don't do well in the rain. I texted Rachel and told her I was there, but I was going to sit in the car and just wait for her because, well, the weather sucked. She finished her agate finding mission and we went into Gold Beach to hangout for a bit.
After I left, I drove north towards Port Orford and she headed south to head home. As I got out of Gold Beach, the rain let up and the sky started to open - rays of sun were poking out on the horizon producing a beautiful golden glow over the water. When I was hanging out with Rachel, I informed her that I was pretty sure she brought the rain with her, because I had nice weather in the redwoods. I texted her to tell her the weather broke just north of Gold Beach to which she responded, "it's been pouring rain since I left." This just proved my point that she did in fact bring the rain with her! I just want to point that out, to the entire world, well, to anyone who reads this at least.
The following day was my last day down in this area. I wanted to head south again towards some of the beaches near Gold Beach, but given our timeframe, I couldn't make it all the way to Myers Beach and up to Bandon in time; plus, I had to drive back to Portland that evening meaning I wasn't really for the idea of driving an hour south to double back and then drive four hours to Portland. We went to the beach I had met Rachel at the day prior, but of course the tide was entirely too high to really get down on the beach. So we left, and headed north.
While driving we noticed some beautiful waves off the shore, so we found a wayside park and pulled in. I think I can say without hesitation that these were the biggest waves I have seen from a sandy beach. Typically when I see bigger waves along the coast in Oregon, it's around an area that is rocky, so this was a bit of a surprise. I probably could have sat on that beach all afternoon, but we had to get up to Bandon and I still had to drive home.
After some extensive wave watching, we continued our drive north and arrived in Bandon. We grabbed an early dinner at the Irish pub located in the old harbor before heading to the beach for sunset. Now, I will say I am very glad I stopped at the beach on Saturday because overall the sunset was a bust. I was able to get close to a large rock formation located on the northern end of the beach, that I have not previously been to. That was rather enjoyable - there's a big open arch in the rock that normally you can't get very close to, but with the tide going out I was able to get pretty close for some photos. It was incredible to watch the water rush through this relatively small opening and then burst out on the other end. Aside from the arch, I didn't really get too many photos along the water since the sky went rather flat as the sun went down.
All in all, the trip was a success. After what felt like months of rain, it was nice to have three consecutive days of fairly nice weather, despite the fact that the forecast didn't call for any of it! The forecast predicted rain, and a lot of it, the entire time we were down in this region, so it was almost a blessing with these three days of some sun.