Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mom comes to visit!

Two weeks ago I was paid a visit by a very special lady named Mom! She flew in on the last day of my field work in Long Beach, WA so I swung by the airport and picked her up on the way back south to Corvallis. We didn't really have any particular plans for the week so we decided to play it by ear about what adventures to embark on during her stay. Coming from Ohio, it was no surprise that the first trip she wanted to take was to the dramatic Oregon coast. I haven't really spent much time in Southern Oregon, so we (Mom, Dave, and I) headed down to Sunset Bay for a night of camping.

The area was amazing! It consisted of a small bay that was very well protected by a combination of the surrounding topography and rocks offshore. There were several trails in the park, but by the looks of them, they were not often frequented by hikers... we had to literally bushwhack through the coastal forest, tripping over branches, vines, roots, and spider webs, to catch a glimpse of the areas less viewed.

Needless to say, it was worth the trouble. After crawling out of the bushes we found ourselves balancing along cliffs that provided spectacular views of a beautiful sapphire blue sea armored with jagged rocks just offshore. There was also a lighthouse located on a nearby island. We made this our primary destination of the hike. Another island was actually connected to the mainland by a small tomobolo. Dave and I scaled the side of the cliff (which was even harder to get back up!) to get down to it and got some pretty good shots of the lighthouse in the distance. The geology in this area was just fantastic! Huge slabs of rock have been tilted up ~90 degrees and you can see the different layers eroding at their own pace depending on the make-up of their deposited material.
When we reached the lighthouse we were surprised to find many of the dead, leafless trees had become home to large, nesting cormorants. As if it couldn't get more osprey was perched just below them on a branch. He was scanning the shallow water below in search of a fish to snatch up for dinner. Much of the afternoon was spent watching the baby birds bonding with their mothers and hoping for the opportunity to capture a shot of the osprey in action.

The island on which the lighthouse sits was inaccessible to the public. A rickety bridge connects the island to the mainland, but it is fenced off. Because of rapid erosion occurring on the island, the lighthouse has been rebuilt 3 times and its most recent construction was completed in 1934. Unfortunately, this little beacon had the similar fate as many other lighthouses and in 2006 it was retired.

For those bird lovers reading this blog....I'm sure you're wondering if we ever actually saw the osprey leave his perch. The good news is yes we did! He took flight and dove into the water, capturing an unsuspecting fish and carrying him off. The bad news is that we were also unsuspecting and missed the best shots. We were, however, able to document the tail end of the catch (see picture below).

And of course...what would Sunset Bay be without its sunsets! We grabbed a bottle of vino and watched the sun go down in all its glory. We then headed back to the campsite and sipped on more wine and listened to music on Mom's iphone while keeping warm by the fire. What a great night.