Sunday, September 28, 2014

Cannon Beach, Cove Beach, and Oswald West State Park

 This weekend Emily and I decided we wanted to get out of the city and see the Pacific Ocean again.  We also wanted to get Leo out in the sunshine for some adventure.  So, on Saturday after a late rollout from bed we headed towards Cannon Beach.  It was cloudy in Portland but once we got over the Coast Range we found ourselves in beautiful warm weather on the beach with lots of other people out and about with us.  Read on...  

Leo was super excited to be off leash and romping around the beach with us.  He would be brave and follow me far out into the shallow surf with the retreating waves but as soon as they would come in with a bunch of froth he'd scurry away.  Extremely cute to watch!  We love him so much!  

We stopped at a local restaurant called the Local Grill and Scoop in town that allowed us to have Leo sit next to us on a deck and got some oyster shooters, clam chowder, and beers in the sunshine.  It was a really relaxing late afternoon.  We couldn't find a cheap hotel that would take Leo so instead we just went across the street to pick up some box wine headed south along the coast to find a place to camp.  

Unfortunately, we couldn't find the campsite near Sandy Beach in Oswald State Park that we wanted to so we needed to start searching.  After some driving around we settled on Cove Beach just south of Cannon Beach.  We parked at a small pathway that led down to the beach between some local homes.  Emily was nervous as usual but I love the fact that Oregon law allows anyone to camp anywhere on Oregon Beaches as they are public land.

We set up our sleeping bags without the tent as it was a beautiful night with no chance of rain.  Leo of course took his place on one of our sleeping bags as we watched the sun set over the Pacific.  Unfortunately, I had forgotten a lighter so we had no way of cooking our meals for the night!  Fortunately, we had plenty of wine and chocolate to hold us over until the morning. 

Emily bought a sketchbook and spent the remaining hours of light sketching our view of the sea stacks off the beach while I prepped the DSLR for some star photos later after the moon went down. The night was getting cool out so Emily wrapped herself up in her sleeping bag around 10pm.  I'm glad we were up high on the rocks as I had no idea how high the tide would come up during the night. 

That night I got some great shots of the Milky Way over the Pacific along with some cool shots of house lights shining over the beach and lights from boats out on the Pacific.  We set up our bags and a blanket for Leo so he could cuddle up next to us.  Although it remained clear skies all night a thick dew moved in during the morning hours soaking both the camera and the tops of our sleeping bags.  Leo seemed to be just fine all night as we had put a fleece jacket on him we had bought in August when Emily's parents came to visit.  

Because we hadn't eaten much the night before we packed up camp and stopped at the Big Wave Cafe just outside of Manzanita.  We had a big breakfast and great service from our waiter who was the clearly Mark Wahlberg's doppleganger.  I really wanted to make a comment about his poor choice accepting the Transformers 4 role but held my tongue as I'm not sure he would have gotten the joke.  I think he also may have been the owner!  We got back on the road and headed towards Oswald West State Park which we wanted to explore before heading back to Portland.

We parked in a lot full of surfers heading to Sandy Beach in Smuggler's Cove.  It was a short walk with Leo down a nice path to the beach where we saw about 40 surfers out on the small waves.  Honestly, it didn't look too exciting out there and I thought perhaps this beach would be a good place to practice surfing if I ever wanted to give it another try (doubtful).  I tried to grab some action shots with the long lens before we re-entered the woods and headed out towards Cape Falcon for a quick 5 mile hike out to the point and back.  

It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day and Leo was clearly excited to be out on a trail with us.  The trail climbed up above the cliffs behind the beach and then out through the woods towards the point of land called Cape Falcon.  We found many old growth trees on our way towards the point, even and old decaying one that was split down the middle making a perfect little chute for Leo to run through for our amusement.

We came to a small stream pouring over the edge of the steep hillside that looked like we could descend down to the beach from but with wet rocks and Leo with us it would have been really risky and our guidebook advised against it.  We backtracked back up to the trail and continued out to the point of land.  

The last several hundred yards out to the point was literally a tunneled out trail through some of the thickest coastal brush I had ever seen.  Without the path there was no way anyone was making it out to the point and I can't imagine how much effort it must take to keep the brush cut back for hikers.  It was taller than us and when it it you couldn't see how much further you needed to go.  

At the end of the trail we relaxed in the sun for quite a while checking out pelicans flying over the water below us and surfers in the distant cove we had started from.  There was a huge squirrel at the end who kept a very close eye on us and Leo and we even got buzzed by what appeared to be a small single engine Cessna.  

For the end of September the weather was wonderful and we were definitely happy we had decided to spend the weekend enjoying the coast.  I never get tired of the sea stacks and rugged Oregon Coast... or the great seafood!  I think next summer we will make it a point to come to the coast beach camp more with Leo.

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