Sunday, September 18, 2016

Gearhart: City of Bikes

An hour or more of fighting with a slow connection followed by Myrna's conviction that every site on the web was insecure has led to my forgetting entirely what it is I was going to write about here. Was it this year's grape jamly production? The Castle Cross The Magnet Carter, aka my current book which has both an absurd title and an off-putting jacket design but which I'm still finding unputdownable?

No, now I remember. I was going to post a handful of theme photos from bustling downtown Gearhart which we didn't actually discover until fairly late in our visit. The photos that follow were all taken on our last morning in town, after we'd stopped at the Pacific Way Bakery to pick up supplies for the trip home. By 11:00 Monday morning, the cases were pretty picked over but what they still had was pretty darned tasty. We sat on a nearby bench to eat (turnover for me; scone for Scott) and drink our coffee. As we sat there, I couldn't help noticing that Gearhart is a very bikey little community. How bikey? Well look:

Saturday, September 10, 2016

That birds of northern Oregon post I might write some day

Scott turns his back on Kelso. Or on being at work on a Friday afternoon.
No time like the present, I say, since obviously I'm not going to do anything but stare at a computer screen this evening. Poor Scott is stuck waiting for me to catch up to him in Swann's Way and rather than read, I'm squandering my time trying to catch up on the world of online. It feels a little like binge-watching Mad Men--I sort of feel like I should be drinking some vodka or whiskey.
 However, none of that has to do with the birds of the Oregon coast or even about the Oregon coast though there was a little rye consumption there.
One of many sets of pelicans to be seen off the shores of Northern Oregon
 We decided fairly late in the day--like the last week of August--that we should throw caution to the wind and head down to the Oregon coast for Labor Day weekend though, as a rule, I don't travel on holiday weekends and it seemed unlikely we'd be able to find any place decent to stay. But Enterprise had started up their $9.99/day weekend special so I had a look around online for lodging. We didn't want to spend most of a day getting there and another one getting back so I looked for options well north of our usual haunts. Although the quite charming spots in Seaside and/or Cannon Beach turned out not to be available at all, the nice woman at Vacasa found a condo in Gearhart that seemed like it would work, even if it didn't look all that attractive. The reality was, for a change, nicer than the online photos so while it wasn't exactly heavy on charm, it was more than serviceable and in no way nasty.
Splooshing terns
 Gearhart itself is pretty darned tiny but it has a nice little downtown with a post office and a grocery store and a bakery and cafe. There's a liquor store just off of 101, too, so if only Scott had remembered his wading sandals we would have had no reason to go anywhere else.

I'm calling these marbled godwits
 But what of the birds? Well, we went to the beach as soon as we'd unpacked despite the somewhat uncertain weather. And it did rain on us a little but not badly. How could we complain about that when we encountered a pair of what Mr Sibley would seem to identify as a pair of marbled godwits (see right). On that first day--and, in fact, seeming to want to keep company with the godwits--we also saw an extremely handsome whimbrel. And we saw the first of a great many brown pelicans. By the river that divides the Gearhart beach from the Seaside beach, we saw quite a few Caspian terns, diving quite violently into the water, presumably after fish though I don't know that we ever saw them catch anything. Maybe that's a trick they learned from the kingfisher that was on the unreachable Seaside side. It's doubtful it's something they picked up from the great blue heron, also on the far side of the river.

 On our first outing we failed to find the passage through the creek, river, and sodden environs to reach 101, but we were more successful a day later. On that second expedition, we encountered scores of plovers and sandpipers. Reading reports on the OBOL page a few days later, I found that odds are there were some other, more unusual birds in the mix but since the mud was a bit like quicksand, we didn't want to stand in any one spot for too long.
Handsome whimbrel we saw on more than one beach

On Sunday we got into the car and drove ten miles or so north to Fort Stevens State Park, a spot that I've got to say gets far too little attention in the otherwise excellent Day Hiking Oregon Coast. For one thing, the park is huge. For another, while the Peter Iredale might be termed a bit disappointing, it's only because Scott wanted to see it that we were on the proper part of the beach to see the thousands upon thousands of sooty shearwaters streaming south--and also resting in huge numbers on the water while on their migration. It was one of the most amazing things I've ever witnessed. If you want to be put into perspective, just watch a zillion birds flapping about their business out over the crashing waves of an indifferent ocean for a few minutes. After Scott pried me away--and we'd visited the remains of the Peter Iredale--we headed a bit further up the beach to start our proper beach walk along the spit and, eventually, the Columbia River.

All those tiny black specks between water and sky are birds--sooty shearwaters.
The walk was long and gorgeous, what with those crashing waves and all. And when we settled down eventually, to eat an apple and enjoy the warm sand, I discovered that while peeps will take off if you are walking, they'll just go about their peep business right in front of you if you're just sitting there for a bit. We were a bit tired by the time we got back to the condo but not so tired that I didn't insist upon attempting another quick swim. Sadly, Poseidon was particularly rough and after he stole my hairband, I figured I'd best call it a day.
I want these to be something other than nutrias, but that's probably what they are.

Talk about labels, as if Papa was a pickle bottle

So it's like this, blahdeblahblah. Rather than writing a post here either about making grape jamly today or about the excellent Labor Day minibreak to the Oregon coast on which we saw some thousands of migrating sooty shearwaters--or even just sharing a bit of Proust about clouds that struck me a few days ago, I've spent the last few hours creating not one final label for this year's jamly (featured above) but two wasted ones as well. The first one, well, it was pretty swell. In fact, here it is

I feel like it has a '60s soft rock album feel to it. But then I realized that I had selected the same Gradka photo that I'd used on this year's apricot label and, in fact, the layout was pretty damned similar too.

So I tossed the endearing Gradka image aside and went with a different, more austere Gradka, eventually landing on something like this:

I wasn't entirely sure that I liked it all that much and then Scott questioned how legible it would be so I fussed with the type a bit more until I decided that the whole thing was too disconnected and I should start over again. Eventually the label at the very top came about, and it will be this year's grape jamly label. Don't think that I don't know that I squander too much time on things that no one other than Scott and I give a second thought to. But hey! This year's raspberry label is quite fine:

Coming up some day maybe, birds, etc. of the northern Oregon coast.