I was texting a friend from Los Angeles, and I was jokingly complaining that I regretted leaving California behind. Ever since that moment, I was again absorbed into the drab lack of sunlight I had left Seattle to avoid.
And though I was joking, there was some truth there.
Why would I stop at overlooks when I couldn't see anything, or get sopping wet on a short walk?
What joys could this day possibly bring?
(Spoilers: many, many joys)
Dreary Pitstops & Dreary Pitstops
Before I checked out of Waldport, I put in a few more work hours. The dreary grey outside my window left my spirit dampened.
But, eventually the hour of checkout was upon me; I was compelled to give my windshield wipers a hearty workout as I headed north.
My first stop of the morning was the so-called "Devil's Punchbowl", a dramatic beach, popular whale-watching spot, and geologic marvel.
The views were not there that morning, but a latte from the nearby Left Coast Coffee Company helped lift my spirits... and my eyelids.
Boiler Bay's sodden grass and overcast skies left me again unenthusiastic. There were a number of nature preserves along my walk, places where I thought I could try to do some bird photography.
I felt the prospects for good bird pics were as bleak as the weather -- foggy with low visibility.
Alder Island Nature Trail
The rain seemed to slow a little by the point I hit the Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge, the first of the nature preserve stops on my agenda.
I did a quick & easy walk at the Alder Island Nature Trail. It's a beautiful, easy trail, marred by its proximity to Highway 101. The sounds of traffic, however distant, aid not tranquility. But the surrounds are indeed quite lovely.
You can look upon red alders, and even some birdies in the distance.
From there, my next stop would've been the famed Neskowin Ghost Forest -- the remains of an ancient Sitka Spruce forest that live mostly under the sea, unearthed by a storm in the 90's.
If you read about it online, it comes across like a tourist attraction, on websites from the official Oregon Tourist site to the crowdsourced & monetized Atlas Obscura.
In reality, Google Maps will lead you to a locked gated community. The drowned forest lies beyond those hollowed snooty private streets.
You could potentially walk to the area from a public beach a few miles up the road, but the path would be tide dependant and quite long. I did not have that much time to kill, nor the will for an extended beach slog.
So, instead I just checked out the area around the public beach.
The beach, the fog, the stagnant gross creek, and the nearby apartment buildings made for some stark and beautiful scenery.
Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge
From there, Nestucca Bay was the logical next step for uccessyour nascent birder writer.
It is found via a narrow gravel road, which leads to an unimpressive overlook, and from there an even more narrow road leads to some trails.
From the lower overlook, I was surprised to see some cool birds almost immediately.
I got a quick glance at a Steller's Jay. I see them around Redmond quite often, but generally when I am without camera.
So, it was good to be able to capture one for the first time.
Even better, I got a good look at this Northern Flicker.
I visited the upper trail area where a large group of birders seemed to be hanging out with limited success. I did not linger up there long.
I returned to the car so I could do a bit of work and dial into a work meeting from the beautiful and accommodating Pacific City Public Library.
After that, I ate a hamburger that was absolutely, positively Big Mac inspired, except with a paddy that was thicker than bible paper and without a silly middle bun, so you knew it was better than the real thing. Disconcerting.
Sitka Sedge Natural Area
Sitka Sedge Natural Area was a joy to behold. An absolutely drop-dead gorgeous area, far away from the highway, and with a surprisingly extensive network of confusingly-marked trails.
Here I got to soak in my surroundings, and catch glimpses of a bird of prey, a swimming beaver, and other creatures. (I also tried & failed to get a good shot of a tree-creeper!)
I was just blown away, and highly recommend the area.
Unfortunately, it was getting rather late while I was there, so I decided to make one last scenic pitstop of the day...
Cape Lookout State Park
Around the windy, potholed road I drove, hoping to catch a glimpse of sunset, and what a glimpse I caught.
This is an absolutely gorgeous area with five, count 'em, five waterfalls. I am sure it makes for lovely hiking, and it would be great to revisit.
I awoke on this particular morning with low mood and low expectations, and they were positively blown out of the water.
In a world teeming with so much life and beauty, and so many unexpected encounters, why get down over a few clouds?
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