Rockaway baby, on the seashore
When the wave breaks, the surf it will roar
When the day ends, the sun it will fall
And out will come tourists, camera and all
You’d think, living only a couple hours drive from spectacular ocean shores, that we’d spend more time enjoying them. But no, it tends to be out of sight, out of mind, and sometimes it calls for a more obvious prompt to get us off to the beach.
Last fall the call of the not so wild whacked us alongside the head; a niece and nephew who live on the east coast flew out to Oregon, rented a house in the little coastal town of Rockaway Beach, and invited their parents (from the Portland area) and their daughter (from the Seattle area) to join them. My wife and I crashed the party, staying at a nearby hotel the first night and at the house the second night.
(Click on any picture for a larger view)
Rockaway enjoys a long sandy beach, perfect for a leisurely stroll, accompanied by the soft roar of the surf rolling in. White noise, fresh sea air, and idyllic views calm even the most frenzied mind.
The birds like it too.
Seagulls line up in groups and in ones, like any family unit. All look to the sea, the bearer of life. (Except for that one self-absorbed dude who was checking out his reflection.)
Sea stacks dot offshore Oregon. At Rockaway Beach there are two, bearing a name that reflects the imagination of the pioneers: Twin Rocks. (I bet those guys were fun at a party). One of the rocks contains an arch, through which from the right angle, at the right time of year, a telephoto lens can frame a sunset. This wasn’t that time.
Between the beach and housing, a natural levee of sand dunes topped with grasses provides both a barrier and an elevated lookout up and down the beach.
Further south on the beach, we encounter a small river running into the ocean, complete with a collection of driftwood. An industrious crew spent time building the frame for a rustic beach house. An ocean view, a river view, rough-hewn timbers, a bed that molds itself to your form: what more could you ask?
Ok, ok, so you wake up with sand in every nook and cranny, morning dew covering the sand, and sand fleas drinking the dew, but you wanted to share it with friends, right?
Speaking of friends, we were there not just for the beach, but to spend time with kith and kin. Sharing walks and evening campfires on the beach, smores, stories, and other excursions gave extra depth and enjoyment to the outing.
We didn’t just stick to Rockaway Beach. We visited Manzanita to the north, as well as Garibaldi, Tillamook, and Oceanside to the south. Some of you may have heard of Tillamook due to its cheese, but if you’re going to swing by the cheese factory it’s the ice cream that gets the oohs and aahs.
There’s something almost primal about watching that brilliant ball of light descend over the horizon, where it seems to extinguish itself in the ocean. You’d almost expect a huge cloud of steam to rise.
And what is that cloud deck but a cloud of steam, cooled to the Goldilocks zone? The gulls know the truth of it, and the sign of rains to come.
After the sun goes down most of the beach visitors retreat, thinking the rite of passage is done and the show is over. They miss the blue hour.
There’s a magical time after the sun has gone below the horizon but still lights the sky that the world reveals itself in shades of blue and violet. Winds often calm, and a sense of peace reigns while the earth tucks itself into bed, rocking away in its cradle, relaxing for a night of rest before renewing again for another day.