In the Hall of the Forest King

The dreams of my second night seemed so real at first.  Then it got weird.

We spent the afternoon of the first day communing in the Hall of the Sand King. Little did I know, besides setting me on an unexpected quest to save a damsel in distress, the king would send a sandman to haunt me.

Southwest of Coos Bay, Oregon beyond the little burgs of Barview and Charleston, there is a string of state parks hugging the coast: Sunset Bay, Shore Acres, and Cape Arago. This would be our initial destination on day two of the trip.

(Click on any photo for a larger view)


As we walked a short trail that occasionally gave views of the Cape Arago lighthouse I had to wonder.  Why isn’t Cape Arago lighthouse within the confines of Cape Arago State Park?  It’s actually in the Sunset Bay State Park section.

There must have been some government bureaucracy involved.  (I’ve always thought that bureaucracy should be spelled bureau-crazy.  Government, corporate, small-town politics, somebody always wants to do it the hard way.)

The bay at Sunset Bay was nice enough, but we were not there at sunset.  The light was bright and the seascape was merely ordinary.  (I’m a little jaded.)  The more interesting section, topographically, was at our next stop, Shore Acres State Park.


Windblown trees and rocky outcroppings etched with abstract shapes give this park more character, along with its forest trails. Who says the best thing about a coastline is a sandy beach?


Sandstone and wind.  Water and waves and time.  The sand in the dunes of day one came from somewhere, and the sculpture that erosion left behind would leave Antoni Gaudi jealous.

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Of course, nature is an old hand at this.  A really oooooooold hand, with a finger like the century hand of a geologic clock.


After exploring a bit more, we headed further south to the town of Bandon, our original target.  That’s a story for another day.  But we liked this section of the coast; we returned again, later in the day.


Shore Acres has a formal garden.  Naturally, I discovered this after the trip was done. But you can’t stop petal power.


There’s a rule of thumb among serious landscape photographers; shoot primarily at the days beginning and end.  The light at those times of day is softer, less harsh, more colorful, more appealing.  Midday is for scouting, or editing, or going from point A to point B.

I rarely pay attention to that rule.

Largely that’s because of laziness.   I’m rarely motivated to get up before the sun and commute to some spot I’ve already scouted out, so I can find it in the dark. Evenings are easier, but all too often I’m comfortably ensconced on the couch, never bothering to go to a place with a view in the first place.  If I’m out at all, it’s often at the wrong time of day – convenient for me, but not the best light.

I guess that’s why I’m not a “serious” photographer.

In any case,  Mr. Non Serious was looking forward to an actual sunset in the Shore Acres evening.  As always for sunsets, we could only wait and hope for magic light.

On this day it wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad.  We could have used a few more clouds and shades of color.



And so at days end, after cruising the south coast and hanging out among the sandstone and the trees and the ocean, we retired to bed and the shenanigans of the Sandman, and what magic the evening light would bring.

Do you remember your dreams?  This one seemed so real, until it got weird.

In the beginning, we were back at Shore Acres State Park.  The sandstone was up to its usual bug-eyed hijinks.


Then, the scene shifted to Simpson Reef. This reef, a few hundred yards offshore, was the noisy haul in point for hundreds of seals and sea lions, barking and arguing and sticking their noses in the air like a herd of uppity sorority girls.


Leaving the parking lot of the viewpoint, we came upon two crows, chatting.


The weird thing was, I could understand them.  They’re just as sarcastic as you might imagine. They were laughing at me, “wait until he meets the king!”


Walking into the forest, I had little idea of what they meant.


Was this the king? A big, wooden octopus? Would those arms suddenly animate, reaching out to envelope me in a permanent embrace?

No.  That was just the gatekeeper.  Further, within a copse, was the Hall of the Forest King.

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Head like a moose, gaping jaws, antlers of wood reaching off into the distance, he eyed me with disdain and laughed a woody laugh.  It sounded like a bassoon gone mad.

“Mortal,” he sneered, “how dare you invade my realm?  Did you not see what I did to those upstart sea lions? I introduced them to my friend the Sand King.”

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Uppity seals, turned into petrified sand, ocean swells and all.

“And he’s watching you too.  See the Sandman, just over there?”

It was too much. I didn’t want to be a corpse in a copse. I ran, leaving the slowpoke rabbits in my dusty wake.  The king laughed again, and began to dissolve.

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And as I made it to the ocean, I saw that even the sandstone seemed to dissolve into pools, with ripples of liquidy stone.

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Dreams end.  For many, the end of a dream has a negative connotation. For this one, in the Hall of the Forest King and the domain of the Sand King, the weirdness was too much.  Waking up to the morning light was welcome; the invitation to a more tangible dream, of touring further along the Oregon coast.


71 thoughts on “In the Hall of the Forest King

  1. pinklightsabre

    That’s incredible, those gnarly tree photos are sick. Haven’t heard of these parts of the coast, will have to investigate. Feels like I’ve seen a whole lot of it on a road trip we did once but maybe not. Thanks for sharing. Bureau-crazy is right, too…

    Liked by 2 people

  2. That’s a great location with so many interesting features to keep a photographer, serious or otherwise, busy for hours. Shore Acres, eh? Must be named after another blogger we know.
    I go back and forth with your sculpture image, frog or turtle. I don’t think time will tell. Fun post, Dave.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Steve. I hadn’t made the connection with Shore Acres the blogger. I’ve seen her comment on several of the blogs I follow but I don’t think we follow each other. Still, as big as the blogging world is it’s interesting in our little piece of it there seems to be a far bit of name recognition.

      There is a lot of places in Oregon that are target rich for a photographer. I wonder why I don’t get out more often.

      I’ve never been to your part of the country. But I’ve seen evidence that it’s target rich too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My bad for assuming. I knew I had seen you comment on blogs in common and thought Linda’s was one of them. Yes, I am always just a little surprised when I see someone with whom I am not at all familiar like one of my posts or start to follow and then when checking theirs out see a lot of familiar names. I had seen you comment on some I visit and won’t embarrass myself again although I could make a few likely guesses. My memory is one of my weak links. 🙂
        I have seen a lot of Oregon locations on the web and know it would be fantastic to visit and photograph. New England has a lot to offer in a different way although we do have some nice coastline as well.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t know the tribes owned the lighthouse Before this trip I didn’t know the Coos Bay area had such a nice chunk of coast. I’d only passed through on highway 101 and missed it.


  3. Nice narrative or story to accompany great pictures you captured from these places. I completely understand what you mean that you go out on your convenient time than during the time of golden light. I would like to one day try to catch such time and see but it is much lower in list.

    Love y our strange looking trees, rocks and rendering of them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a lot easier to go out in the afternoon, unless you’re already primed and on site. And how often does that happen?

      Digital editing tools are pretty crazy these days. It’s amazing what you can do for them (especially for those of us who have no talent with a regular paintbrush.)

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Greg. Coming from a great story teller that means extra. Photography was fun to start with, and these days with the digital editing tools available it’s a lot easier to get to wow. 🙂


    1. Bwa-ha-ha-ha! (In a mad, bassoon like tone.)
      Actually, I don’t remember my dreams. I wake up and poof, they’re gone. So who knows, maybe a dream, a link to a parallel universe, did go that way!

      That’s a more fun explanation than coming up with a fictional story to match the fiction a few of my photos turned into. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. One of our favorite places on the Coast, Dave. And great shots of the Forest King. I think I recognized a few of the snags! 🙂 Peggy and I are heading over to celebrate our anniversary in a couple of weeks and visit their Christmas light show. It’s fantastic. Thanks for the reminder and preview. I’ll be sure to go in search of the king. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Cool shots, great story!
    That sandstone looks like old weathered wood. and I enjoyed the strange dream sequence — did you ever see a Terry Gilliam movie from the ’90’s, “The Fisher King”? even though Robin Williams was in it, it wasn’t that great, but it had some great fantasy sequences with a scary Red Knight, who seems to be a cousin to your Forest King. I loved the fossilized animals-turned-to-stone idea, this was a great story Dave!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I vaguely remember that movie. The Forest King story was semi accidental. I’d worked up that picture and the other surrealistic ones first, then it was, how do I explain this? Folks seemed to like my fictional excursion in the last post, so I gave it another whirl.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting, the shots that got your attention. On the face of it, the crows are kind of ho-hum, but that S-curved rail was a great leading line. The forest path took some tweaking to soften up, the original was pretty HDR. Both shots almost didn’t make the cut, glad you liked them.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the camera companies catagorize me as an “enthusiast”, which I’d be inclined to agree with. Not quite pro, but not Joe Average either. Forest paths are magical, haven’t your heard? Walk down one and you’re almost guaranteed to feel better.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I love the rock formations that create natural sculptures, as do the old trunks of the trees. With regards to the ideal times for light, yes those are classic, but I also found that depending on where you are and time of year, light can be greatly impacted. For example, the light in Chicago in summer is extremely bright and harsh whereas the light year round in South of France and in Ho An Viet Nam where we live, is just softer and easier to work with when taking photos.

    Love your collection here. Bravo.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Location does make a difference. I think the harshest light I’ve ever seen is up in the Andes at Lake Titicaca at midday Between the clean air and the elevation (12,500), every detail was etched. Sounds like you’re in a softer, gentler set up these days – suits you.


    1. I first visited Bandon in 1977 when I was on my “explore the west and decide where to live” trip. I’ve always wanted to go back and finally did. I’ll feature it in the next post. Too bad I wasn’t there at sunset.


  7. J.D. Riso

    You do pretty darn well, for a Non Serious Photographer. I also have a hard time getting up early to get the good lighting, but then again, I don’t consider myself a photographer. I never know what trippy story you’re going to include with your fabulous images. Now I wonder if this will seep into my dreams.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, how about semi-serious hobbyist? I tend to compare to a friend who uses pro level gear, takes pro level trips, shoots at pro level times of day, and get pro level results, but is an engineer as his day job. That’s serious.

      I admit, this was probably the trippiest story I’ve done. But then, it had some of the trippiest photo effects too, so I had to come up with something. I’m not sure what I’ll do with the next set of trippy effects…

      Liked by 1 person

  8. All your pics area beautiful but for some reason the b&w’s are speaking to me today. How I miss the PNW. Someone needs to invent a teleporter, then I can go there whenever I want. British Columbia and Iceland are the two cleanest air places we’ve ever been. It’d be a dream to drive the coast from CA to Seattle but we don’t drive 😦

    Liked by 1 person

      1. We book tours. Iceland you can see some things by yourself and for others you need a guide. For ice walks and glacier walks you have to use a tour because the terrain gets really rugged. They have monster looking vans w giant wheels for the areas that have no road.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. So many other bloggers hike on their own without guides. We don’t feel safe enough without a guide, we know how to survive in a city not the woods 🙂 Although I’m not always good at navigating crowds (you think I’d be good at that by now, nope.)

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m glad you’re not a “serious” photographer – the crows would stop talking to you and your stories wouldn’t be half as much fun.
    As for the seascape, I’ve always found rocky shores more beautiful than beaches. Less people!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amazing what you can do with a digital editor. The dream sequence was courtesy of Topaz Studio; I edited a few shots then had to come up with a story that would fit. They were even further from reality than a lot of Instagram landscapes. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  10. This part of Oregon looks like a photographic paradise. The landscapes are so beautiful. Sure, golden and blue hour light make for great photos, but when you’re travelling and only have limited time, take the photos when you can.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Good call on not paying too much attention to that golden rule of landscape photography, I think. This summer I did a few long hikes where I would start very early to beat the heat. I took a bunch of pretty pictures on those first morning hours, but my few favourite images were taken around noon. The harsh light is difficult to work with, but can produce some striking images.

    – Verne

    Liked by 1 person

  12. “I guess that’s why I’m not a “serious” photographer.”
    Proximity helps a LOT!!!
    If I was any good at indexing, I could take you right to so very, very many sunset shots at Sunset Beach… 🥴

    I see some of my followers commenting here. Why did I never find your blog before? I like what you’ve done with quite a few favorite spots of mine. 😍


    1. It’s interesting how such a big world, with a bazillion travel sites, can turn into a small world. I’d guess it’s part kindred spirits and part following commenters with good comments.

      Or maybe cream just rises to the top. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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