Sunset at magical Cannon Beach, Oregon


I’m not a beach person. I don’t enjoy lying in the sun, sweating on the sand, nor do I like to swim in the ocean. You don’t do any of that at Cannon Beach, in Oregon, which is one of the reasons I enjoy it so much. Instead you sit around campfires dug into the sand high on the beach, wearing sweaters and scarves against the chill, and watch the sky fade from blue to gold as the sun goes down over the Pacific. (Or you watch the fog roll in — that’s lovely too.)


Cannon Beach is an hour and a half northwest of Portland, a charming seaside town of gray-shingled cottages and a friendly collection of shops and restaurants. Its wide, sandy beach overlooks the famous Haystack and Needles — basalt sea stacks — marooned in the surf, eroded long ago from the mainland.


There’s a natural majesty here, and a sense of wonder.


At low tide you can walk out to the monolith and see tide pools, but we’ve only ever seen it surrounded by the crashing, icy surf of the Pacific Ocean.


We visited late one mid-August afternoon, stopping for dinner in town before taking a sunset stroll along the beach. I expected fog, but the day was clear and fine.


As the sun dipped lower, other families stood facing west, watching a golden path appear atop the waves. (These kids remind me of my own two, only a few short years ago.)


Bird in flight along the shore


As we sat in beach chairs with our toes dug into the sand, the sun dropped lower…


…and lower…


…and finally sank below the horizon, turning the evening sky rose, blue, and pale yellow. Campfires sprang to flickering life up and down the beach.


What an entrancing twilight view. This is the beach life I love.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my garden and nature posts from our road trip up the northern coast of California, over to Crater Lake, and up to Portland. For a look back at my visit to the luminous Portland Japanese Garden, click here. You’ll find links to my earlier posts at the end of each article in this series.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
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Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Get ready for fall garden tours in Texas! The Garden Conservancy is sponsoring Open Days tours in Fort Worth on Oct. 8th, San Antonio on Oct. 14th, and Austin on Nov. 4th.

Get on the mailing list for Garden Spark Talks. Inspired by the idea of house concerts, I’m hosting a series of garden talks by talented designers and authors out of my home. Talks are limited-attendance events and generally sell out within just a few days, so join the Garden Spark email list for early notifications. Simply click this link and ask to be added.

All material © 2006-2017 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Columbia River Gorge, waterfalls, and flower farms, a scenic Oregon drive — before the fire


I debated about writing this post right now. During our August road trip from San Francisco to Portland, we made a day trip along the majestically scenic Columbia River Gorge, the “playground of Oregonians” that’s currently on fire. As the Eagle Creek fire has raged for a week along the waterfall-festooned gorge, threatening historic structures and torching 33,000 acres, even raining ash on the city of Portland, I’ve been saddened to think that the natural beauty we marveled over just a month ago may be blighted for years to come.

And yet wildfire is a natural occurrence (even though this fire was human-caused), and perhaps the fecundity of northwestern Oregon will soon hide the burn scars. People’s homes, of course, are a different story, and every loss there must be difficult to bear. As a tribute to the region, I decided to go ahead and post about our recent day spent exploring the wonders of the Columbia River Gorge.

Waterfalls


Streaming from high cliffs along the Oregon side of the Columbia River, more than 90 waterfalls make this a spectacularly scenic area. A number of big ones can be easily viewed from pullouts along the Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway, and trails take you to others, like Bridal Veil Falls, pictured here.


Latourell Falls, spilling straight down from a cleft in a lichen-covered basalt cliff face, is especially beautiful.


Wahkeena Falls sluices down a curving drop and then fans out into a wide sheet along the trail…


…creating a chilly breeze for those who get close.


The most famous of the waterfalls is Multnomah Falls, a 620-foot cascade with a picturesque footbridge between the two drops.


We climbed the trail to the bridge and admired the view along with throngs of selfie-taking tourists.

Hood River


All that waterfall viewing made us hungry, so when we reached Hood River we headed straight to Full Sail Brew Pub for burgers and a tasting flight of their beers (delivered on a sail-shaped stand, no less) on the deck overlooking the colorful sails of kite and wind surfers on the river.


Afterward, we walked along the river to see the kite surfers and wind surfers doing their thing.

Fruit Loop


Next we headed south along the Fruit Loop, a 35-mile loop in the scenic Hood River Valley, where dozens of orchards and flower farms offer their wares at roadside farm stands. We stopped at the picturesque Gorge White House for cherries, drinks, and a stroll through their you-pick flower field.


Snow-capped Mt. Hood floats in the distance — rather otherworldly to this Southerner. I could hardly tear my eyes away from the mountain…


…until I spotted the flower field.


Dahlias in summer glory glowed in the late afternoon light.


Black-eyed Susans too


Mesmerizing


Ahh, look at them!


Tall sunflowers blazed against blue skies.


I admired their friendly faces.


And so did the bees.


Gladiolus flying colorful pennants


By the time we left, all the farm stands were closing for the day, but we stopped at Lavender Valley Farm anyway because of an amazing view…


…Mt. Hood rising over roadside meadow grass and Queen Anne’s lace.


That sky!

Columbia River


As we drove back along the Columbia River toward Portland, the sun was gilding the river and cliff faces. At a pullout, we stopped to admire the view and get a few golden-hour shots. That’s Vista House, an observatory atop a sheer promontory, where we’d stopped for a bird’s-eye view earlier that day.


What a majestic view


I’m grateful to have experienced the beauty of this place for a second time. Click here to read about an earlier visit I made in 2014, with lavender fields in bloom below Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams.

Up next: Danger! My return visit to the Danger Garden of Loree Bohl. For a look back at the Eugene, Oregon, garden of Rebecca Sams and Buell Steelman, click here.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Get ready for fall garden tours in Texas! The Garden Conservancy is sponsoring Open Days tours in Fort Worth on Oct. 8th, San Antonio on Oct. 14th, and Austin on Nov. 4th.

Get on the mailing list for Garden Spark Talks. Inspired by the idea of house concerts, I’m hosting a series of garden talks by talented designers and authors out of my home. Talks are limited-attendance events and generally sell out within just a few days, so join the Garden Spark email list for early notifications. Simply click this link and ask to be added.

All material © 2006-2017 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

After the volcano blows: Crater Lake National Park


Mt. Mazama spilled its guts in a massive volcanic eruption 7,700 years ago, emptying itself out to such an extent that the mountain collapsed in on itself, creating a 3,900-foot-deep caldera. As the centuries ticked by, the caldera partially filled with snowmelt and rainfall, transforming into a sapphire-blue lake — the deepest lake in the U.S., with a depth of 1,943 feet — ringed by a partially forested mountain ridge at an elevation of 7,000 feet. Meanwhile the volcano kept belching up lava, creating cinder cones on the lakebed. One, dubbed Wizard Island, rises like a conical wizard’s hat above the lake’s surface, making a mini-mountain island to one side of the 6-mile-diameter lake.

Such is the dramatic history of Crater Lake, a national park in south-central Oregon that I’ve long wanted to visit and saw during a family road trip last month.


Ombre shades of blue

Crater Lake is famous for its sapphire hue. It’s so blue, we learned, because the water is very deep and nearly pure. No streams or rivers flow into or out of the lake, and so it doesn’t contain river silt or mud. The park receives a tremendous amount of snowfall every year — 43 feet on average — which helps keep the lake at a constant level, compensating for evaporation.


The rim views are stunning, but it’s even more amazing when you think about the fact that you’re standing atop the rim of a volcano, looking into the cone. True, it’s dormant, but no one’s ruling out the possibility of a future eruption.


Wildfires were raging in the area when we visited and the park’s West Rim Drive was closed, so we weren’t able to drive the entire rim. I worried that smoke would haze the view of the lake, and it did get hazier throughout the day. But when we arrived that morning the skies were clear and the lake clearly visible.


The caldera’s steep, crumbly sides make it impossible to reach the lake except along a single trail, the Cleetwood Cove Trail, which usually opens in mid-to-late June. My husband and daughter were keen to hike it. Following tradition, they both plunged into the icy lake — surface temps are around 50° or 60° in summer — just to say they did.


Crater Lake is a snowy place for much of the year, and we saw for ourselves that snow can remain on the ground even into August.


Off East Rim Drive, we saw the Pinnacles: fossil fumaroles — aka ancient volcanic vents — that cemented through intense heat the ash they spewed. Surrounding material eroded over the centuries, exposing the fossilized vents as fantastical spires.


Of course, pun lovers that we are, we immediately dubbed this photo Penickles at the Pinnacles.

Up next: The inspiring, jewel-box garden of Buell Steelman and Rebecca Sams, owners of Mosaic Gardens in Eugene, Oregon. For a look back at our visit to Redwood National Park and Fern Canyon, click here.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Get ready for fall garden tours in Texas! The Garden Conservancy is sponsoring Open Days tours in Fort Worth on Oct. 8th, San Antonio on Oct. 14th, and Austin on Nov. 4th.

Get on the mailing list for Garden Spark Talks. Inspired by the idea of house concerts, I’m hosting a series of garden talks by talented designers and authors out of my home. Talks are limited-attendance events and generally sell out within just a few days, so join the Garden Spark email list for early notifications. Simply click this link and ask to be added.

All material © 2006-2017 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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