The Magnificent Sea Stacks of Harrison Beach… Marvels of Erosion

Once, these two magnificent sea stacks would have been part of the coast. Erosion made them part of the ocean. The evening sun was bathing them in a gentle glow.

I am continuing the exploration of the Oregon Coast on my Friday travel blog. This is part of the Harris Beach series. So far, Peggy and I have given you a tour of the tide pools teeming with interesting sea life. Today I will focus on the sea stacks that adorn the coast. Harris Beach State Park is located next to the town of Brookings, which is just north of the California border. The following photos are taken by both Peggy and me.

Goat (or Bird Island) at Harris Beach SP near Brookings is the largest Island on the Oregon Coast. According to the Audubon Society it is an IBA, an Important Bird Area. And it is. Over 100,000 birds nest there annually, including tufted puffins, a bird I more closely associate with my years of living in Alaska. The island is off-limits to people.
This massive sea stack appeared to have a face looking out toward sea. The rock base made me think of a many legged creature.
A closer view.
The reflection caught our attention here.
Peggy and I wandered among these rocks checking out tide pools.
Later in the day, the tide started coming in. It was time to stop playing in tide pools and start thinking about the sunset.
More color here.
I’ll conclude with this sea stack which was smaller but also colorful. My travel blog next Friday will include human-size rocks, an impressive hole in one of the sea stacks, and drift wood.


Monday’s Blog-a-Book Post… From “It’s 4 AM and a Bear Is Standing on Top of Me” : The shameless shenanigans of Pat the Greyhound and Demon the Black Cat get them fired from ghost guard duty.

Sea Anemones Go to War… Harris Beach State Park

It’s the first day of spring here in the Applegate River Valley, and behaving like it. I watched two male flickers (woodpeckers) strutting their stuff this morning for a female while she studiously ignored them by pecking at the ground. One very pregnant doe was busy chasing off her twins from last year. She’ll soon have a new fawn— or fawns— to take care of. And, the swallows have arrived back in our neighborhood. Their aerial performances are truly amazing. Before long, they will start checking out our oak trees and bird houses for possible nesting sites. 

The first of our daffodils have burst into bright yellow blooms, shooting stars are covering the hillsides, and irises are popping up everywhere. Peggy and her sister Jane dug up our iris bed last year to separate the bulbs that were crowding each other out. Peggy discovered that there were more than she could possibly plant, so she started stuffing the extras into gopher holes and covering them— like you might sweep dirt under a rug. Well, that’s what I thought. The gophers will have a feast. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Each hole is now proudly sporting its own iris and Peggy is giving me an “I told you so” look.

And what else happened this morning? There was snow, rain and sunshine. Sometimes simultaneously. Spring has arrived for sure.

Meanwhile, I have a nasty cold. “We don’t likes it,” as Gollum of Hobbit fame would say. I have a box of Kleenex on one side and a paper bag on the other. I feel like I am an essential part of an assembly line for creating dirty tissues. Pull a Kleenex out of the box, sneeze into it, and stuff it in the bag. Repeat. I filled two bags yesterday. I’d be worried in this age of Covid, but my sniffer is working fine, I don’t have a fever, and Peggy and I had our second dose of Moderna in February. 

I was totally out of it yesterday and the day before. Instead of writing, I read a 400-page fantasy novel about a reluctant hero, a kick-ass princess, a unicorn without a horn, and a dragon that collected butterflies instead of virgins and gold. It was just what the doctor ordered. I’m almost human today, which is why I am back to blogging. Today I am returning to the tide pools of Harris Beach for a look at sea anemones.

The sea anemones at Harris Beach come in a variety of shapes and sizes. This was one of the larger ones we found, a giant, green sea anemone or Anthopleura xanthogrammica, if you want to be scientifically correct.
A more typical view. The tentacles are covered in stinging cells that the anemone throws into small prey like a harpoon. Once the poison has done its job, the anemone then uses its tentacles to work its prey into the gaping mouth seen in the center. When the feast is over it jets the leftovers out its mouth that has conveniently become an anus. I wonder if the anemone then gargles with sea water. The anemones stinging cells are more or less harmless to humans. How do I know this? I petted a few in my youth. The anemones don’t seem to like it; they immediately close up shop, like the anemones below.
A few of the big guys hanging out together at low tide. Anemones close up when exposed to air as a way to protect their tentacles. A small, dark fish is lurking in the remaining water. Some small fish seem to have a symbiotic relationship with anemones and swim among the tentacles, free of worry. Predators beware.
I found this interesting. A number to the anemones were covered in brightly colored pieces of rocks and shells. Scientists speculate that this serves as a natural sunblock when the anemone is exposed to air at low tide. I was curious about how they go about gathering and affixing their collection but couldn’t find anything about it.
Some smaller sea anemones live in colonies as seen here. These are clones of each other except they differentiate into scouts, warriors and moms. When two colonies meet, they go to war. It’s the scouts job to find new territory for the colony as it expands. When they come on another colony, the warriors take over by whaling away at each other with their tentacles. The ‘moms’ stay in the middle out of harm’s way. Next Friday, I’ll cover the other sealife we found in the tide pools.


Monday’s Blog-a-Book Post… “It’s 4 AM and a Bear Is Standing on Top of Me”: I move outside to commune with nature in the summer but the ghosts continue to haunt our backyard. I hire the family pets for protection. They charge a high fee.

The Starfish of Harris Beach State Park, Oregon

We saw this colorful starfish from a distance and came over for a closer look. It’s scientific name is Henricia leviuscula. It common name is Pacific blood star.
I decided a slight shift in perspective would create a twirling ballet dancer! Or is it a whirling dervish?

We were lucky to find any starfish at all. The population up and down the Pacific coast came close to being wiped out in 2013. A rather nasty virus that melted these attractive creatures from the inside killed millions. Legs would fall off and go crawling away. It sounded like the plot to a Grade B horror flick. Fortunately, evolution came to the rescue. A small portion of the population seemed immune to the virus. Maybe some of the legs got lucky. They came back with a vengeance. We did find a few that were obviously dead. I touched one. It was mushy. Melting.

Everywhere we looked we saw starfish. Sometime in bunches. These purple and orange star fish belong to the same family, Pisaster ochraceus. Scientists don’t know why they come in two colors.

Here are some fun facts:

  • These rather amazing five-legged creatures have seawater for blood. It serves the same purpose, delivering nutrients to cells. 
  • Starfish can regenerate an arm lost to a predator. But what if the arm loses its starfish? It can regenerate a new starfish, an exact replica. Pretty cool, huh.
  • They have very small mouths but like large, tasty morsels, like mussels. Not a problem. They have big stomachs. They send them out through their mouths and wrap them around what they want to eat. They digest their dinner and then suck the nutrients back into their mouths, along with the wandering stomachs. 
  • They move around on tiny little feet that are found on their arms. They fill these little feet with water and mimic walking. They travel slowly, at least I have never seen one move quickly. 
  • The feet also serve another purpose; they work as suction cups. The starfish will wrap itself around a closed mussel, attach their little feet, and pull the shells apart. Not an easy task.
  • One more thing about their arms, each one comes with eyes. Not eyes like you and I have but photo receptors that allow them to distinguish between light and dark and move around in search of food, or to avoid becoming food. 

Following are more of our photos:

At first, I thought that the ugly guy above the starfish was seaweed. But looking at it more closely, I decided that it wasn’t something I wanted to meet up with on a dark night.
I’ll conclude with this edgy fellow.


As you read this post, Peggy and I are on our way to Pt. Reyes National Seashore north of San Francisco. When she asked what I wanted to do for my birthday week, it popped up. The National Sea Shore is one of my all-time favorite places and I have been escaping there for 50 years. So, beyond responding to comments, I will be taking a break from blogging and reading blogs this coming week. Translate: Vacation! I’ll be back to work on March 8. See you then. –Curt

Harris Beach State Park… Another Gem on the Oregon Coast: Part 1

Harris Beach State Park is located just north of Brookings, Oregon, which, in turn, is located north of the California border. It is one of a number of beautiful state parks located along the coast.

Peggy and I just returned from visiting another of the scenic state parks along the Oregon Coast. This time we followed the Redwood Highway from Grants Pass to Crescent City, which, in itself, is worth the trip. Highlights included following the plunging Smith River as it tumbles down to the Pacific Ocean and winding through the giant trees of Jedidiah Smith Redwood Park. (Smith, BTW, was an early mountain man, explorer, pioneer and author in the western US. His name is on lots of places. Had I been in his boots, those places would be named Mekemson. Grin.)

Harris Beach State Park is a short 26 miles from Crescent City following Highway 101. It’s about three hours from our home. We lucked out and got a campsite overlooking the Pacific that is normally booked months in advance. We don’t do months in advance.

The park is named for George Scott Harris, a native of Scotland. According to the Park website, he obtained the property in 1871 after a lifetime of wandering, which included serving in the British Army in India and spending time in Africa and New Zealand.  In 1860, he made it to San Francisco where he worked in railway construction and mining, finally migrating to what would become the park, settling down, and raising sheep and cattle.

We’ve visited the park before. This photo is from one of our trips. You can see why we would want to return.

While we are always fans of reflection shots, Peggy and I found something else to amuse ourselves with this time: Tide pools. Half of our beach time was spent ferreting out sea life. I plan to feature what we found in this five part series including starfish, anemones, hermit crabs, snails, limpets, chitons and seaweed. Oh my! Plus. Naturally, there will also be sea stacks, driftwood, unique rocks, and sunsets— the types of things one expects when visiting the Oregon coast. Today, I will post a few introductory photos to the park.

Looking down on the beach. We timed our visits for low tide so we could visit the tide pools. People walking on the beach provide perspective.
Looking out to sea.
It pays to look down, as well. Interesting patterns can be found in the sand. Temporary art, soon to be washed away. This reminded me of a ferocious ocean bird. Travel back from the long, pointed beak to the fierce eye.
Looking up provided a view of a dead tree, yellow flowers and rock. The yellow flowers are bourse, another visitor from Scotland that came to Oregon and decided to stay.
A whole different world exists on top of the rocks. Seabirds find the seat stacks at Harris Beach an ideal place for raising families.
Speaking of nesting, the largest island on the Oregon Coast is just off of Harris Beach. Known as Goat Island, it is also known as Bird Island since over 100,000 birds nest here in spring, including tufted puffins.
The rocks also have unique stories to tell.
While I like drift wood because of the character it develops bouncing around in the ocean, many people find other uses for it. One person’s photo op is another person’s fort! Or possibly, a beach campfire.
If you need a change of scenery, look back toward shore. My focus here was on the shallow stream spreading out over the sand.
Here, I liked the distinctive layers starting with the sand and working upward. Note the size of the driftwood logs.
A closer perspective.
I’ll conclude todays’ post with a sunset. Next Friday I am going to focus in on star fish, also known as sea stars. They were almost wiped out in the past few years by a virus but have made a miraculous recovery.


Monday’s Blog-A-Book…It’s 4 AM and a Bear Is Standing on Top of Me: I discover that the overgrown, jungle-like graveyard next to our house is a great place to play during the day but becomes very scary at night when the ghosts come out.

Tuesday’s Blog-A-Book… “The Bush Devil Ate Sam”: While driving a laundry truck to earn money for college, I meet a young Liza Minnelli in her babydoll pajamas at casino magnate Bill Harrah’s home, and am held at gun point during a laundry takeover at Lake Tahoe. Later on, I was amused by the thought that it was good training for me as a student at Berkeley and as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

The Beauty, the Geology, and the Weirdness of Sunset Bay…

A couple of weeks before Christmas, Peggy and I made a trip over to Cape Arago on the Oregon Coast. The waves featured in my January 7th post were from this trip as is today’s post on Sunset Bay State Park, which is located at the beginning of the Cape just outside of Coos Bay.

Sunset Bay at sunset with the tide out.

The tourist and real estate industries of the Oregon Coast prefer to ignore the next BIG one, or put it off to sometime in the distant future. The folks involved in predicting earthquakes have a different perspective. The sheer number of tsunami evacuation route signs along the Oregon coast speak to their concerns. The Cascadia Subduction Zone is real. A massive 9-point something or other earthquake known as a mega–thrust is in our future. They happen every 300 to 600 years. The last one was in 1700. The oceanic Juan de Fuca plate is diving under the North American continental plate and it will not be denied. It’s stuck right now. Small earthquakes near the surface are creating pressure on the trapped area, however. When it gives, all hell will break loose.

I, for one, pay careful attention to the evacuation routes whenever Peggy and I visit the coast. If the earth shakes, we will be out of there! So what if we leave our welcome mat behind.

Sunset Bay State Park is a geological wonderland when it comes to featuring various aspects of what can happen when a massive earthquake strikes. The most fascinating to me are the stumps of ancient trees. Twelve hundred years ago, a forest stood above the ocean where Sunset Bay now stands. An earthquake caused a subsidence in the land, drowning the forest. At low tides, the remains can still be seen.

I was fascinated by the different shapes of trunks left by the ancient trees.
Octopus like…
A different perspective…
This ancient tree stump at Sunset Bay State Park bears a strong resemblance to a man doing jumping jacks.
This tree has roots on roots. A genealogist would be impressed.
Incoming tide surrounded the tree trunk and reflected the fluffy clouds in the sky.
Peggy stands in front the ancient tree trunks to provide perspective. Her Covid-19 mask serves as a scarf.

Faults, fractures in the earth’s surface along which the blocks of crust move relative to one another can be seen among the tilted and layered rocks of the Bay at low tide. The rocks, BTW, also provide an excellent area for tide pools that feature sea life loved by kids and adults alike. 

Low tide at Sunset Bay. You can see a number of tide pools to explore, but it also shows a clear fault running from left to right. A second fault can be seen behind it. The crust between the faults moves when earthquakes strike.
We spent a few minutes peering into tide pools.
We were impressed by the sea anemone. The slit is the anemone’s mouth, and, for convenience, its anus as well. The tentacles contain stingers filled with a toxin for stunning dinner, which is then transported to its mouth.
For fun, I rendered the anemone in black and white.

While the bay represents an earthquake caused subsidence, the Whiskey Run terrace surrounding the Bay represents uplifts and folding also created by tectonic activity related to the Cascadia Subduction Zone. The wave-caused erosion taking place in Sunset Bay operated on the terrace when it was at sea level. It’s estimated that the land rises approximately three feet every thousand years. 

The terrace above Sunset Bay was once at sea level. Like the Bay, waves created the flatness of the terrace.
A close up of the Whiskey Run terrace. The sedimentary layers have been tilted down to the right by tectonic forces and then eroded away by wave action. A layer of dirt/rock has since been laid down on top, providing soil for the forest.

And finally, I would like to feature a strange, non-tectonic feature of Sunset Bay: concretions. Peggy and I first came across these round, rock-like structures on the southern coast of the South Island of New Zealand. They are created when groundwater triggers extra amounts of ‘cement’ around irregularities in the rock such as shells, creating a round structure that continues to grow as more cement is added. The hardness of the covering makes it harder to erode than the surrounding rock. 

This is a concretion.
And these are concretions apparently marching out to sea. Why, I haven’t a clue.

I’ll conclude with a few other photos from Sunset Bay that I found interesting.

An orange rock with ripples…
A ghost tree…
Sea grass in the late afternoon sun…
Peggy walking through the tunnel that connected our campground to the bay.
And finally, I’ll wrap up this post on Sunset Bay with more waves.

NEW BLOG SCHEDULE: I’ve been working on revising the book on my Liberia Peace Corps experience— adding a few chapters on my experience working for the Peace Corps after I was a Volunteer and updating the chapters I wrote about modern Liberia. Several of you have read the book and a few of you may have even been around when I first blogged it several years ago. Anyway, I am going to reblog it again, adding it to my schedule. On Mondays I will continue to blog my book, It’s 4 AM and a Bear is Standing on top of Me. On Wednesdays, I will blog The Bush Devil Ate Sam. On Fridays, I will continue my travel blog.


Blog a Book Monday: Will you believe I actually have a good day on the Sierra Trek?

Blog a Book Wednesday: Introduction to the Bush Devil Ate Sam

Travel Blog Friday: I return to my Backroad series following Highway 191 through Navajo country in Utah and ending up in Arizona’s Lyman State Park.

Can Sunsets Get Any More Dramatic?

I was writing in our library when Peggy urged, “Curt, you have to come in here and check out the sunset.”

Four or five times a year we get dramatic sunsets at our house. It is always a time to stop whatever we are doing and watch as the sun lights up the clouds with gorgeous red, orange, yellow and purple colors. The front of our house, which faces a westerly direction, provides front row seats for watching the show. These photos don’t require any description. Enjoy.

As the sun completed its evening show, the Red Buttes took on a dark blue look. The show was over.


Blog-a-book Tuesday: I contemplate killing the ‘lost’ Trekker who had decided to go on a detour but failed to tell anyone. The Four Mouseketeers discover a new pastime at Robinson Flat that their mothers definitely would not approve.

Travel Blog Thursday: Sunset Bay: Beauty, weirdness, and geology

The Bandon, Oregon Series: Part 3… Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint

Peggy and I arrived in Bandon on a stormy day and drove over to the Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint as soon as we had checked into our campground. Face Rock was shrouded in rain and mist. There’s a legend that says you can hear a woman’s voice in the wind if you listen. It all sounds like an appropriate Halloween tale…

According to Native American lore, the beautiful Indian maiden, Ewauna, arrived with her father, Chief Siskiyou, in the Bandon area for a major potlatch. Ewauna had never seen the ocean and immediately fell in love with it. (For those of you who aren’t familiar with the potlatch concept, the object is to give things away to guests, the more you give, the more you are admired.)

What’s not to love about the beautiful ocean beaches near Bandon? This photo is looking south from the Face Rock Scenic Viewpoint. The rock in the distance is Haystack, which I featured in my last Bandon post about the Devil’s Kitchen State Park. The two people among the rocks provide perspective.

“Don’t go near the ocean,” the old men of the tribe warned Ewauna. The evil spirit of the ocean, Seatka, lived in the waters along the coast and apparently had a thing for beautiful young Indian maidens. But what young woman full of life listens to old men? That night there was a great feast as part of the potlatch. After being stuffed with bear and deer and elk and berries, and mussels and clams, everyone drifted off to a deep sleep. That is, everyone except Ewauna.

She quietly got up, careful not to wake anyone, and slipped off to the ocean taking her dog, Komax, her cat, Tenas Puss Puss, and Tenas’s kittens with her. She carried the cat and kittens in a basket. Ewauna ran up and down the beach with joy and jumped into the ocean for a swim, telling Komax to look out for the cat and kittens. Out she swam, farther and farther, as Komax barked louder and louder, warning her of the danger. Suddenly an ugly monster surfaced and grabbed her. It was the evil spirit, Seatka.

Komax stopped barking, grabbed the basket in his mouth and swam madly out to rescue his mistress. Dropping the basket, he sank his sharp teeth into Seatka’s arm. Good boy! The evil spirit screamed in anger and pain, grabbed Komax, and threw him far out into the ocean. For good measure, he also grabbed Teanas Puss Puss and her kittens, tossing them as well. He then increased his grip on Ewauna, squeezing her tight.

“Look into my eyes,” he demanded. He could only possess her if she looked at him.

“Never!” she had replied, staring steadfastly up at the sky and moon. And that is how Chief Siskiyou found her the next morning, still staring up at the sky, refusing to let the evil spirit to possess her. And that is where you can find her today.

Coming back the next day, Peggy and I found Ewauna still staring up at the sky with a smile on her face. Still free. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
Her pets, too, have been turned into rocks (shown on the right) and wait faithfully for her.
Later we returned to the beach to watch the sunset and found Face Rock turned orange by the setting sun. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
Speaking of faces I caught this photo of Peggy as the wind had fun with her hair at the scenic viewpoint.

While Face Rock gives its name to the scenic viewpoint, there are a number of other sea stacks to admire.

Photo by Peggy Mekemson.
Photo taken from inside a cave by Peggy.
Peggy caught this unique shot of the sun sinking into the Pacific Ocean. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
Mine was more traditional.
I’ll conclude my Bandon series with this dramatic evening look of sea stacks at Face Rock. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

NEXT POST: After a thousand posts, it’s time to consider changes in my blog.

VOTE— As If Our Democracy Depends on It… It Does

My first participation in elections is close to ancient history. It started when Adlai Stevenson ran against Dwight Eisenhower for President in 1952. My parents were dedicated Republicans. Family loyalty dated all the way back to Abe Lincoln and the founding of the Party. It’s not surprising that they sent their 9-year-old child off to school proudly wearing an I Like Ike button on election day. Another set of parents, equally devoted to the Democratic Party, sent their fourth grader off to school wearing a Vote for Adlai button. It was inevitable that we would meet up for a debate. 

It took place in the boys’ bathroom, conveniently away from adult supervision. Neither of us knew enough about the issues to carry on a rational discussion, however. After about five words, we reverted to describing the other person’s candidate with as many expletives as we knew. Sound familiar? I was well-practiced in the art form. When I was younger, my brother and I had often held swearing contests where we creatively cussed each other out for fun. My opponent lacked this experience and I easily won the debate. I was still teasing him when we went outside for recess.

Unfortunately, his sense of humor had gone south and he was carrying a baseball bat. He reared back and smashed me across the thigh. (I’ve often suspected he had a slightly higher target in mind.) As it was, I ended up in the hospital with my thigh muscle the size of a softball, or was that a basketball. I was ever so glad that my man Ike won. Revenge can be sweet.

It was a painful lesson, but I learned two things from the encounter.

The first was quite obvious: Never get in a political argument with someone carrying a baseball bat. The second was more complicated. There had to be a better way to resolve political differences. 

The best answer that we have been able to come up with as a nation is democracy.

There is nothing guaranteed about our form of government, however. As astute leaders have noted for the past two hundred years: The price we pay for our liberty is eternal vigilance. There are always people who will rob us of our independence for their own personal gain or ideological beliefs. But there is more, our system of government is based on a few simple concepts. These are some that came to mind.

Our democracy…

  • Reflects the majority view of Americans while, at the same time, protects the basic right of minorities. 
  • Provides stability while adjusting to new challenges and changing needs.
  • Is more pragmatic than ideological when it comes to solving problems.
  • Recognizes that compromise, coalition building, and across-the-aisle cooperation are essential to the decision-making process in determining the nation’s best interest.
  • Provides for a peaceful transition of power. 

More than anything else, people have to believe that democracy works, that their concerns and interests are represented and addressed, and that they receive a fair hearing. When they lose this faith, our democracy loses. We all lose.

The single most important element in protecting American democracy is our right to vote and an uncompromising commitment to a smooth and peaceful transition of power. 

While getting out the vote is a time-honored practice in American democracy, suppressing the vote of those who don’t share a particular perspective is a dark and dangerous path that will inevitably lead to a dark and dangerous future. Numerous examples of suppression exist today in the 2020 election from tampering with the mail system, to making voting difficult, to spreading misinformation, and to threatening voters via the mail, phone and internet. When direct physical intimidation of voters is encouraged, whether it is people carrying AR 15s— or baseball bats— to polling places, the dark times are that much closer.

There are reasons why the Putins of the world, both outside and (sadly) inside our country, wish to reduce our faith in the democratic process. It weakens our nation and points toward an autocratic future— a future that few of us want to see.

Americans are a hardy breed, however. We have been fighting for our rights ever since the founding of the nation with an ever increasing and inclusive definition of citizenship that reflects the changing world we live in. 

And we are not going to stop now. 

Millions of Americans have already voted regardless of how many hurdles have been thrown up. In fact, they are dancing and singing in the multi-hour-long lines that voter suppression has played a role in creating. 

If you haven’t voted yet and are a citizen of voting age— regardless of your sex, ethnicity, color of skin, age, health, economic position, religion, sexual preference, occupation, other differences, or political party— PLEASE VOTE. Our democracy is depending on you.

Curt and Peggy

Back to Bandon II… The Devil’s Kitchen

Only a guy with a little Devil in him would offer his sweetheart a bouquet of sea palms washed ashore by a turbulent ocean. She wasn’t too impressed. (Photograph by Peggy but the words are all mine.)

If place names are any judge, the Devil does get around. There are literally dozens if not hundreds of locations in the US named after him. New England seems to win the prize for the most, which is understandable since the Puritans were among its first settlers. They saw Hell in just about everything.

The Oregon Coast has more than its share of Devilish locations, however. There are 10 places along the coast alone that bear his name. Among them are the Devil’s Punch Bowl, Cauldron and Churn and various body parts including his Elbow and Backbone. I was reminded of the various cathedrals in Europe that stock up on the bones of saints to impress the holy and solicit their offerings.

Peggy and I dropped by his Kitchen on our visit last week to Bandon, Oregon. I’d been there before and speculated in a blog on how the Kitchen got its name. The answer provided by the sign-board seemed a little prosaic in comparison to my speculation. It had to do with the cold waters of the ocean bringing a rich brew of nutrients to the surface that were eaten by plankton, that were eaten by small fish, that were eaten by bigger fish, that were eaten by still bigger fish, that were eaten by seals, otters, and a whole host of seabirds, not to mention people and anything else that could sink their teeth into them.

Possibly if you were on the receiving end of this long chain of being eaten, you might think that the Devil was involved.

I’d still go with a Devil rock like this. Stare at it long enough after imbibing in your favorite mind altering drug and who knows what you might see. After a mere two glasses of wine I saw four sets of dead eyes staring back at me. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
This large crooked rock towered above the Devil rock above. That’s kelp buried in the sand to the right of it.

Mainly, Peggy and I saw a beautiful beach with some great sea stacks, crashing waves, impressive homes, driftwood, a quiet stream, and two driftwood forts that had either been built by energetic kids eager to fight pirates or adults reliving their childhood. I could see our son Tony enthusiastically joining his three sons on such a project.

The large sea stack just off the coast from Devil’s Kitchen is known as Haystack Rock.
Peggy discovered that a cave ran all the way through the massive rock and allowed the ocean to flow through. It is one of many such caves in the rocks off the coast of Bandon. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
I took a close up. At a really low tide, you could probably walk through to the other side.
One thing, we had no problem social distancing on the beach at Devil’s Kitchen, as Peggy demonstrates. We were still carrying our masks, however.
It had been storming the day before and waves were still crashing ashore.
Some very impressive homes had been built on the cliffs above the beach. I figured this house could easily accommodate a large family with a dozen kids, or maybe 20. I’m a small-house type of person but with a dozen kids, I would definitely want this one!
And another one
I was even more impressed by the rock in front of the house. I’d almost feel safe in case of a Tsunami. This section of the coast is threatened by a giant one as the Juan De Fuca Oceanic Plate continues it dive under the North American Continental Plate and threatens a massive earthquake. The last really big one with a rating of over 9 on the Richter scale was in 1700 and they are known to occur every 300-500 years. It could be a hundred years from now. Or tomorrow. I’d blame the Devil.
This driftwood fort was not quite as fancy as the houses but a heck of a lot less expensive. A mom and three kids were playing in it. “Can I take a photo?” Peggy asked. The answer was, “Of course.” You can barely see the family. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
I found this driftwood fort just around the corner. It had been decorated with rocks and kelp.
It was built at the base of an impressive rock.
While on the subject of driftwood, I though this piece set off by ocean grass was rather attractive.

Piles of kelp and other sea treasures had been ripped away from their firm attachments to rocks by the stormy seas the day before and were left behind on the beach.

Piles of kelp like this were found strewn over the beach at Devil’s Kitchen and other beaches along the coast neat Bandon.
Peggy took this close up of the kelp.
This photo gives an idea of the length of the kelp plant from where it is attached to a rock on the ocean floor up to its leaves.
This shot I took of a family carrying a kelp gives an even better idea!
Here’s another use for kelp that I confess I have tried on occasion— using it as a whip. It is so tempting! And also a bit devilish. Get thee behind me Satan.
Kelp wasn’t the only thing ripped from the rocks. Peggy was charmed by this plant and took its photo. Note the roots. All of these plants had ways of attaching themselves to rocks that resist all but the most powerful of ocean waves.
Like these mussels and barnacles we found on the Devil’s Kitchen beach, for example. I think that the mussels had been harvested by seabirds.
I’ll conclude today with this impressive pile of kelp backed up by the Pacific Ocean and Haystack Rock.

NEXT POST: We will be traveling up to the next beach north, Face Rock with its marvelous sea stacks.

Back to Bandon, Oregon… And Its Art

We returned to one our favorite go-to places on the Oregon Coast last week, Bandon by the Sea. The area features the wave-tossed Pacific Ocean, magnificent rock sculptures known as sea stacks and a charming town. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

I’ve blogged about Bandon before. And will undoubtedly do so again. The coast with its crashing waves and towering rock sculptures calls to us. And the town is charming. It comes with good restaurants, fun art, cranberries, cheese, and a bookstore—no town should be without one. While Winter River Books is small and doesn’t include a book-store cat, it is well-stocked for its size.

One of the books I bought was the “Roadside Geology of Oregon” by Marli Miller, a professor of earth science at the University of Oregon in Eugene. Our library includes a number of books from this series on other states as well. If you have ever found yourself curious about the rock formations you are seeing beside the road, these books make wonderful traveling companions.

I am going to do three posts on Bandon this time. The first is on art in Bandon. Next will be the Devil’s Kitchen State Park. There are interesting houses hanging out on the cliff, sea stacks, and forts made of driftwood. I am also going to take a look at what the recent storm tossed up, mainly kelp, piles and piles of it, plus a bouquet of sea palms for Peggy. I’ll conclude the series with a visit to Face Rock State Park and its famous name sake. While there, I will include a number of other sea stacks/rock sculptures that we admire and can never get enough of. As always, our cameras were quite busy!

The art of Bandon: Not surprisingly, it comes with an ocean emphasis.

Meet Nora the Salmon. She is one of a number of sculptures in Bandon made out of trash collected on the beach and created by Washed Ashore, a nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness about all of the garbage we are pouring into our oceans around the world.
A close up. Nora is a fun sculpture with sharp teeth and a serious message.
Henrietta the Rockfish, another fun sculpture by Washed Ashore, was decked out in her Covid-19 mask, bringing us two messages at once.
And finally there is Grace the Humpback whale whose tail tells a tale of trash.
A close up. An information board next to Grace listed a few of the items used in the sculpture. Included: water bottles, hat visors, a toilet seat, golf balls, a cooler, a steering wheel, flip flops, toy wheels, boots, and an umbrella handle. But enough trash talk, there are a number of other art works scattered throughout Bandon. These are from along the Boardwalk.
I’ve always been intrigued by this carved wooden sculpture of an octopus with its waving arms.
And this carved seahorse. I immediately thought of a merry-go-round.
Like so many cities and towns today, Bandon has its share of murals.
This dramatic totem pole was a next door neighbor to the two fish murals shown above.
Main Street, Old Town Bandon, is filled with small shops and restaurants. We always walk along the sidewalk and find something of interest. The book store is a must. But there is also great chocolate to devour, good food to experience, and craft beer to drink.
There is also a toy store that Peggy finds irresistible in her ceaseless efforts to spoil our grandchildren. While she was checking out games, I found this crow. I thought a close up of its beak appropriate for Halloween.
I’ll conclude today with this wild looking fish that was part of a mural. It was my fave!

NEXT POST: Peggy and I visit the Devil’s Kitchen State Park where the ocean crashes against the rocks, interesting homes hang out on the cliffs, forts are made of driftwood, and storm-fared kelp is tossed up on the shore.