Posted in Oregon, photography, writing

Solace by the Sea

Lacking gainful employment and needing to take my mind off recent events, I drove out to the coast Thursday, or as I’m calling it, “The Day After”. I often flee to the sea when I’m upset. This is another one of those things that I feel deeply but am not sure I can articulate without sounding like I should be on medication. The sea is mother, in a primal, primeval sense. Our distant ancestors, before they were recognizably us, crawled out of the sea, and I think that attachment and sense of ‘home’ in the deep has never entirely left some of us (ok, me). Look at how many men used to run away to sea. I suspect many women would have, had they had the chance. Hell, I tried but was landlocked the whole time I was in the Navy (the rate I served as, cryptologic technician, only serves on combat vessels, and women were not able to be assigned to combat vessels. I think they can now).

But back to the point…

The drive took close to two hours from my house, as the road I took is rather windy and meandering through the countryside. I followed Route 6 from Banks to Tillamook, over the Cascade Range and through Tillamook National Forest. This entry on Wikipedia says “Tillamook” is a Chinook term meaning “people of Nekelim (or Nehalem)”. I once heard that “Tillamook” is the Indian (Salish?) word meaning “land of many waters” and if it’s true it is an apt name.  The countryside is dotted with lakes, ponds, rivers, waterfalls. Tillamook is accordingly prone to devastating floods in years of excessive rainfall. Luckily, none of that has befallen this year.

The drive is incredibly scenic, and parallels first Gales Creek, then the Wilson River. I made one stop along the way, at Gales Creek Overlook, to get a couple photos. As always, click any photo to embiggen.

I have a thing for fog. It’s quiet. It makes everything quiet(er). I can convince myself for a few brief shining moments that I have the place all to myself, until another car comes along.

The road is bordered on the north for a good portion of the way by the Wilson River. It’s not a deep river, but it’s quite picturesque, catching glimpses of it between the trees as you cruise along.

You know how I love to take pictures from a speeding car. There’s no place to pull over for much of the drive, except someone’s driveway, so I aim the camera without really looking and hope for the best. (click to seriously enlarge. You can see it almost life-size).

Tillamook has many tourist attractions, some of the most famous are of course the cheese factory where Tillamook Cheese and Tillamook ice cream are made. If you can find it where you live, try them. Both are excellent. I’ve been through the tour once, but didn’t go this day.

Then there’s the Air Museum with a hangar that can house nine fully inflated blimps. Suffice to say, it’s big.

But, my destination this day was the beach, and before that I stopped in at the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum.

I was floored by the number of different exhibit rooms they have and the variety of objects on display. Who knew? Rooms full of photos from back in the day. Here’s one of my favorites. It shows a group of sisters sewing. Not sure what’s going on with the paint on the shawls. At first I assumed it was done deliberately to give the cloth a lacy, textural look, but my guide said it was probably a flaw in the paint that was making it flake off. I thought it looked pretty cool anyway.

There are old guns, military uniforms from the Civil War on up to the Korean. Back in 1943 there was a B-17 bomber that crashed into the side of Cape Lookout (just south of Tillamook). Some pieces of the wreckage are in the museum as well.

They have rooms full of stuffed birds and mammals, including a polar bear (no we don’t have polar bears here, I forget who it was that donated it.)

some very fine examples of Indian baskets

I’m told there is a much larger collection which should be on display in March. I’ll have to make another pilgrimage. These things fascinate me. This collection rivals the baskets on display at the Portland Art Museum.

There is so much there, it’s hard to take it all in at once. I’ve barely scratched the surface of what they have.

But on to the beach.

Here are a few shots from Cape Meares. The road getting to it is windy, mere feet from the bay, with no guard rail to keep you from driving into the drink if you’re not careful.

Cape Meares afternoon
Cape Meares beach

And finally, I drove on down to Cape Lookout. Haven’t been out there in almost six years, thought it was long overdue. I had packed a little picnic and thermos of coffee so I sat at a picnic table overlooking the beach and refueled myself before the drive back home. There were three or four other cars there, but it was pretty empty which was lovely. In the summer it’s a madhouse. The water was quite rough, but winter on the Oregon coast can be pretty dramatic.

So there you have a small taste of my Oregon. There’s no better balm for my soul than a day at the beach.