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December 30, 2015

The Needles and the Haystack

You know how I lamented in my previous post that Portland had seventeen consecutive days of rain in December? I was wrong! It was actually twenty-five! So what’s a newbie to do when the weather forecast shows only 20% chance of rain? You literally drop everything, jump into your nondescript mid-size Japanese sedan, and hightail it to the beach! That’s exactly what Andrew and I did!

The Oregon coast is a mere 75 miles west of our current apartment. The drive took about an hour and a half through winding mountain roads and past signs that said “Elk crossing,” “Ostrich Jerky Sold Here,” and “Warning – Entering Tsunami Zone.” Our destination was Cannon Beach, famous for Haystack Rock and the Needles. (Good name for a band, right?) Now normally when I think about hitting the beach in winter, Miami is the first image that comes to mind. However, even though our day at Cannon Beach was a world away from our South Beach vacation last year, it was no less spectacular. We felt like Mother Nature did a complete 180 and granted us bright sunshine as a belated Christmas gift. It was her way of convincing us to stay awhile in Oregon. And just like that, we never want to leave.

This is Highway 26 which leads straight out to the coast. We had snow flurries near Portland the day before, and obviously the mountains got a lot more. There were long stretches of fog too (as you can see on the left).

Haystack Rock surrounded by smaller formations known as The Needles. They were created by lava flows almost 15 million years ago. (Yes, this puts everything in perspective.)

No crowds (hooray!) meant that I easily got this panoramic shot of the wide open beach.

This was the breathtaking view to the south.

Another shot of the rocks, this time in silhouette.

My head framed by the Haystack as high tide was rolling in. (And in case you’re wondering, it was a crisp 45 degrees with a faint breeze.)

A misty view to the north and striped pattern on the sand.

From Cannon Beach, we drove about eight miles up the coast to the town of Seaside. It’s the place on the Pacific Ocean where the Lewis and Clark Expedition ended.

The ocean at Seaside around 4pm. (The sun set forty minutes later.)

This was a street-level billboard on the side of a building. It basically sums up my first impression of Seaside. Perhaps it’s a lovely place to visit during the summer but in the off-season, it felt sad.

Back in the car heading home, I snapped this blurry photo of a roadside espresso hut. Cute pit stop for a caffeine fix.

Did I mention the fog?

And then after a few minutes, it seemed to dissipate into a picturesque winter wonderland and a clear path forward…

See you in the New Year!