Nature church is better at the beach part ∞

by Steve, August 11th, 2014

I love mountains and forests and alpine meadows and lakes and streams and wilderness backpacking and backcountry skiing. But this inland-bred landlubber is pretty high on maritimas vitae right now. This past weekend stands out as one of my favorites at the coast so far.

Saturday we saw a bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) flying over Highway 101 with breakfast in its talons (species unknown), closely chased by a western gull (Larus occidentalis) looking for table scraps.

Then we took a walk on Taft beach and had a gander at the local harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) colony across the mouth of Siletz Bay at the end of Salishan Spit.
The neighborhood harbor seal colony

Later Saturday, at low tide, I rode my bike north up Salishan spit to the end of the road. Great blue herons (Ardea herodias) are in abundance around Siletz Bay; I saw three on wing and one fishing in a lagoon.
Blue Heron

I had planned to ride to the end of the spit on the beach, but there was a stiff north wind blowing. Since I’d already said hello to the seals from across the bay, I decided to just head back south on the sand. The north end of the spit is in its natural state, with dunes, beachgrass, no riprap and only limited human presence. Even the southern, built-up end of the spit is quiet, since it is a gated community with no public access except by foot (or bike).

All the way down the beach on Salishan Spit I saw just one other house ape (Homo sapiens sapiens). This common invasive species was in much greater abundance once I got to Gleneden, but not enough to harsh my nature church mellow.

The tailwind made the four mile beach ride home a giddy pleasure. My face started to hurt from so much grinning. I made the four mile sand ride in 22 minutes, including a stop to pick up a nice chunk of amber agate. At the end of my ride I picked up a pocketful of smaller agates.

Sunday we got up early to watch the full moon set into the sea, but were fogged in and instead treated to a minus-tide walk on the sea bed and a sunrise from behind the shore pines (Pinus contorta contorta).
sunrise

Later in the day, we saw a number of California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) heading north out beyond the breakers. (Apparently they’re back from their annual spring/summer mating party trip to California. What a life.) Then we saw a couple of our resident gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) lazily swimming south a little further out, spouting as they went. They were too far out to get a picture of, but here’s a little video from last spring of what I now believe to be two mothers and two calves feeding and frolicking in the shallows.

Summer Project

by Steve, August 4th, 2014

The Land Shark
I got a “fat bike” this summer, and I’ve been making some mods. I plan to do a post about everything (where I got it, how cheap it was, mods, etc.), but for now let me just say that fat bikes are fu-u-un. Biking on the beach at sunset is sublime. And covering 2 miles of sand in 15 minutes (vs. an hour by foot) is awesome.
Fishing Rock
Fishing rock is just under two miles from our front door. It takes about an hour to walk there, which you have to plan in advance if you want to hit low tide.

At a normal low tide, there are some nice tide pools. At minus tides, the whole wall is exposed, with layers of barnacles, anemones and sea stars.
Fishing Rock tide pool

Heading north instead of south, it’s about five miles to the end of Salishan Spit, where a pod of harbor seals is known to hang out. For that kind of distance, I’ll probably ride surface streets home. This bike is quite heavy, and even with the 26×4.0 tires floating on the sand and a reduced gearing, it’s a lot of work to pedal.

Sunset on Siletz Bay

by Steve, August 2nd, 2014

Sunset

The Prettiest Agate

by Steve, July 28th, 2014

The other side

Doorway to the Temple of Nature Church

by Steve, July 24th, 2014

Into the woods

Yaquina Head Light on a foggy summer day

by Steve, July 14th, 2014

Yaquina Head Light

Fog and thunder overhead, then a downpour.

Layered Cake

by Steve, July 11th, 2014

layered cake

Somehow I missed it, but my last post was the 700th post on this blog in 8 years. I don’t do much public writing these days (I’m mainly retired from local politics), but I hope somebody appreciates the pictures.

Velella

by Steve, July 7th, 2014

Velella

From the Everyday I Learn Something New department, velella velella.

Surfer feet

by Steve, July 6th, 2014

Surfer feet

Mt Hood, you’re still looking sweet

by Steve, July 2nd, 2014

Mt Hood