Monday, December 20, 2010

Winter Solstice Wishes

May the peace of the ocean on a cold winter's day bring love and light to each of you throughout the coming year!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Fast Ships and Pirates

I am still fascinated with our local shipwreck, The Emily G. Reed. A little further research tells me that she was an American Bark Ship similar to the one in this picture.

These ships were said to be the favorite of pirates as they were very fast. Note: I am also still fascinated with pirates--but that is a story for another time.

Anyway, the community newspaper finally figured out it was a story worth writing about and this article describes a little of the history.

Meanwhile, another sunny winter's day on the beach reveals even more of the ship's hull. There is now 72 feet exposed. As you can see by the photo below, the excited crowd of shipwreck enthusiasts has yet to arrive. Fine by me. We are quite happy to examine, ponder and experience such a piece of history all alone!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Emily Shows Herself

photo of the emily g.reed shipwreck in rockaway beach oregon
The shipwreck we discovered appears, in fact, to be the Emily G. Reed. She came ashore in 1908 during a storm. At 219 feet long, there she lay and was eventually submerged in sand.
She stayed there until 1938, when winter storms washed away the sand and this photo was taken. Once again the Emily G. Reed was covered in sand thanks to Mother Nature.

There was mention in the local paper that the shipwreck was visible in 1954, but no photos were available.

And then again yesterday. Emily showed herself to those of us lucky enough to be there at the right moment. What a gift on a warm, winter's day!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Mystery Beneath Our Feet!

I took a long walk yesterday at low tide. The weather was warm, not a breath of wind and just one other couple on the beach. There were lots of pebbles but nothing else too exciting to report.

This morning, we took another walk on the beach across the same sand. The same sand we have walked crossed hundreds of times--once on the way to our wedding. Today the tide was slightly higher, the pebbles were still there, but so was this amazing sight...a shipwreck!

There--where the day before, I saw only sand--was definitely a section of the hull of a ship. A very old, wooden ship.

The beach was still fairly empty and no one seemed too interested in this incredible find. One couple passed by and matter-of-factly said they believed the ship to be the Emily G. Reed which came ashore in 1908.

My vivid imagination reels with colorful tales of pirates, gold and riches right here in Rockaway Beach. Time to search for the treasure map!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Headin' Down The Highway

There was a black bear cruising up Highway 101 along Miami Cove as we came around the corner heading to Saltair Station last week. What a surprise! It was a pitch black evening with no moon. There he was, rolling along as fast has his short bear legs would carry him. We passed him like a couple of rubbernecking tourists as our jaws hit the floor.

We quickly pulled over in hopes of seeing him again or at least offering him a ride in the pickup to his final destination--perhaps Karla's Famous Smoked Fish Shop? But it appeared he made a right turn back into the forest. I think we were way more excited than he was.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Where Now, Green Cow?

photo of cow in rockaway beach oregon Tillamook COWnty had this terrific idea to put these cow statues around the area. After all, there are more cows than people in the county--I'll give you that. Problem: there aren't any cows in Rockaway and folks don't really relate to the whole "cow theme". Perhaps if it were a fish or sea gull or a pirate, it might have a better chance.

Anyway, this poor cow (it was white at that time) was first placed on the front lawn of the high school. After much community unrest, it was agreed the cow must go and the search began for a new home. Not a lot of takers came forward.

Finally, the city council decided The Wayside--our town's "outdoor living room"-- would be a fitting place for it. So it was moved and painted. Painting apparently didn't help because once again this cow has become the subject of much controversy. The neighbors do not want it to stay and I have heard talk of a petition being circulated. To their point, it really looks out of place.

Perhaps it would make a great boat anchor at the bottom of Tillamook Bay? Just a suggestion.

Friday, October 29, 2010


Yikes! Luckily, he is not as scary as he looks.

We have made it a tradition to be at the beach for Halloween. There are so many trick-or-treaters and scores of houses are vacant this time of year. It is very sad that so many of the older residents turn off their lights and bolt their doors instead of welcoming the little ones for good old-fashioned fun. All witches, pirates, princesses and sponge bobs welcome at our place--the more the merrier.

Note to self: Never grow old in spirit!

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

False Advertising

I'm sorry, but my Paradise doesn't have a laundromat to wash my own clothes!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Giants in the Neighborhood

Yesterday we found a treasure just six blocks due south from home--an old growth cedar wetlands perserve. Seriously, who knew? In all my time here I have never, ever heard anyone even mention it. Yet there it was at the end of a residential gravel road, not marked, no parking lot, nothing that would lead you to believe it was there.

Dropping bread crumbs as we ventured into the forest along a trail that was incredibly "boggy" in places. Navigating huge dips in the trail that were actually the divets left by enormous trees that had fallen. We stopped to look up at the wall of roots which were 15-20 feet wide. Amazing sights followed one after another along the trail--giant trees, a bald eagle's nest (we even heard it's call), a sweet salamander, and stunning fungi.

At the end of the trail was a magnificent Western Red Cedar with a 49 foot circumference. Its sheer size gave the impression it was more of a community than a single tree. Being in its presence was very spiritual as we sat quietly pondering its majesty and the magic of being surrounded by an ancient forest. Eventually and reluctantly we followed the trail to return home.

Happily, we know we will return again and again. Next time I will bring the camera in an attempt to capture our experience and share it with you.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Blowin' in the Wind

There was a furious storm several weekends ago that had my weather station reporting 67 mph wind gusts. The strange part about it was how warm it was at 63 degrees F. So we had the windows open listening to the rain and the wind in the trees. It was as if the whole house was breathing in and out with each strong gust taking on a life of it's own. It was quite fun, but then I love a good storm.

The next few days after the storm were warm and lovely. While our beach combing didn't turn up any floats or bottles with messages, the remnants were exquisite shimmering in the sun!

"After the storm the world is left in a brief moment of purity, stripped of all its airy evils, the air is fresh and sweet to the smell." Nicholas Belt

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Road Side Attraction

Driving through Tillamook yesterday evening we came across a state trooper with his flashing lights on. We couldn't figure out who he pulled over until we looked past him to the field usually reserved for dairy cows.

There in the field was an entire herd of elk grazing away apparently unaware they were in cow territory and on private land. The elk were quite beautiful and many had impressive racks of antlers. I am not sure how they got past the fence or their plan to get out again--they didn't seem concerned and neither did the cows.

The trooper seemed to be the most concerned about keeping the local citizens from "tagging" the elk as it is hunting season.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Football and Drunken Sailors

What do these two things have in common you might ask? Neah-Kah-Nie High School--home of the Pirates--hosted a Friday night football game last week. We couldn't resist joining in and watching the home team.

The evening was warm as the players took the field. The pep band struck up a tune to cheer them on and the rally girls furiously shook their pom poms and was a familiar melody. Suddenly we realized the words to the song were..."What'll we do with the drunken sailor....what'll we do with the drunken sailor...early in the morning." We laughed until we cried but nobody else in the stands seemed to think it odd these young women were motivating their team with the drunken sailor song.

I guess when you are a Fighting Pirate, disposing of a Drunken Sailor is part of the game and well worth cheering about!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Local Wildlife Report

Lots of activity happening here at Saltair Station. Let's look at the highights...

Bears - Black bears have been sighted in several coastal communities including ours. Apparently the berry season wasn't very good this year, so they have come down from the Coast Range to see if there is anything better to eat in town. They aren't aggressive like some other bears, just hungry. Sad to say, we know of at least one who was "removed from the situation."

Deer - Hunting season is upon us so the local deer have also moved in town for the duration. You can see them morning, noon and night roaming the streets--the Saltair Street Gang. They have decided the plants in front of the boat house are yummy and are willing to fight Bob for them. One of the locals says they are bedding down in his backyard at night. I am personally glad they are in town out of danger.

Dragonflies - This past week, the dragonflies have been amazing. There are always 15-20 within sight at any given time both scurrying about and sunning themselves on the rocks. They are so graceful and confident!

Humans - With the tourists pretty much gone, the locals are enjoying their best kept secret--September weather. It was 82 degrees yesterday and no wind. They are soaking up the sun, enjoying the quiet and spirits are high.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Ocean in the Air

We were sitting outside by the campfire enjoying the full moon the other night. It was a still, magical night. And there was also something curious happening. The scent of salt air was as strong as if we were sitting right on the beach. The sound of the ocean was as loud as if we were on the beach. You could hear each wave distinctly crashing instead of the usual dull roaring sound we hear from a few blocks away.

Earlier in the day I overheard a couple of "locals" talking about how unusually strong the salt air smelled. While I agreed, I didn't think much about it then. My new husband--who loves to confidently explain things he isn't really all that sure about--tells me it was caused by an onshore breeze. Although there was no breeze.

Curious and wonderful--the mystery remains! Perhaps it was the full Harvest Moon.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Fruit of Our Labor

We are spending our honeymoon here at Saltair Station. And as usual, the September weather has been beautiful. Of course, everything is beautiful when you are in love!

We are enjoying the garden's first year of growth. My Dad taught me that gardens take years to grow and fully mature. Patience is the name of the game. When we started in March this was just a vacant lot filled with weeds. So this first year, my goal was to define the "bones" of the garden and do some basic planting. I also scattered wildflower seeds to fill up a flower bed I didn't take on this year. But they came up and are quite sweet.

The groom is soaking up the sun in the background and this year's effort has really paid off!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Love...True Love!

We exchanged our vows on the beach at the same spot Bob asked me to marry him. Perfect!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer

Summertime at the beach transports us to a different world. A world where kids play games with only their imaginations, shovels and sand...couples wander along the shore hand in hand... grandparents spoil the kids with huge ice cream cones eaten together in the sunshine...teenagers meeting for the first time around a bonfire...dogs chase sticks into the waves. Even if this world only lasts for an hour, a day or a week, it builds memories that last a lifetime.

This magical world comes to an end each year on Labor Day. We sit at the cafe, drink coffee and watch the town empty out. The locals call it "watching the circus parade" and--based on the variety of rigs driving down Highway 101--they have a point. But Labor Day always seems a little melancholy to me as the cars go by with children looking out the back windows saying their goodbyes to summer. Saltair Station feels empty too as the houses are closed up for the season and the laughing voices up and down the main street dwindle.

But the magic never leaves, it simply awaits their return and for their children and someday their children's children. Because this is a place where sharing simple pleasures with those we love never grows old.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

In the Presence of Wonder

This is the time of year in the garden to sit back and enjoy the bounty.

One of my favorite things to watch in the garden are the spiders. They weave such beautiful webs that glimmer in the morning dew. And spiders are everywhere in late summer.

This spider waited so patiently with the whole web wafting in the breeze. Hours and days on end undisturbed by the rest of the world. If only I had that much patience AND the ability to build such a beautiful web.

"Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder." EB White, Charlotte's Web

Monday, August 16, 2010

Keep It Simple

One of the things I love about small town life on the Oregon Coast is the simplicity. Here is a great case in point. If you are hiring an exterminator in the Portland Metro area you have your choice of:

  • Alpha Ecological
  • Natures Pest Control and Extermination Experts
  • Interstate Pest Management
  • Orkin Pest Control Services
  • Summit Pest Management

All with ostentatious titles. You get the idea.

When we asked at the coast (because the ant army isn't inside yet, but they are marching our direction) all the locals said to call,

"Dan, the Bug Man"

Says it all...doesn't it?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Next Stop...Idiotville!

Yes, in fact, there is an Idiotville. It really explains a lot. Each of us has probably been from there at some point in our lives and known other citizens as well.

It turns out this was once a logging camp and is now a ghost town located on our drive between Rockaway and Portland. The town overlooked the banks of the beautiful Idiot Creek. (I swear I am not making this up,_Oregon ). Apparently it received such a distinguished name because it was said to be so remote that no one but an idiot would live there.

Over the past few days, we have had great fun coming up with town slogans and wording for tourist t-shirts. My favorite entry is from Della..."Idiotville – Where few live but many belong."

My only hope is that I am not appointed Mayor!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

How Times Have Changed

This year they are "capping" the jetty at the entrance to Tillamook Bay. Huge boulders are being trucked in from a quarry outside of Seattle for the project.

The old jetty was built in the early 1900's and in this photo you can see the dark stones used to build it. My guess is it was a pretty slow process involving horses, men and a lot of shear willpower.

The light boulders to the right have been brought in to cap the jetty and sit in this staging area awaiting huge yellow frontloaders to move them out to the cranes for placement.

To get an idea of the scale, you can see Bob standing on top of the jetty past the "Danger, No Trespassing" sign (he is never one to follow the rules).

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Lullaby Tree

This magnificent tree graces our backyard. It has survived many a beach storm to get to this size and serves as home to a whole community of animals. We call it the Lullaby Tree. Each morning before sunrise hundreds of birds start to sing welcoming in the new day. And then once it is light, off they fly to do their official bird duties all day long.

In the evening--just before dark--the birds arrive home. Sitting on the branches of the giant tree, they sing the sweetest lullaby you can imagine. Hundreds of individual voices in harmony sing to welcome each other home and thank the universe for another day. It is the most peaceful melody you will ever hear.

Then as soon as darkness falls, they settle quietly in their nests and the tree offers it's still protection.

Reasons to Love Coastal Gardens, Part Two

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ahoy Bucko! Be This Your Ship?

Rockaway hosted it's "First Annual Pirate Festival" this year. We were sad to hear the news--not because we don't love a good pirate--but because it replaced the Annual Jazz Festival. The ocean served as the backdrop for The Jazz Festival and offered wonderful music on a summer's evening as the sun set and stars appeared. Last year, Tom Grant's performance with Shelley Rudolph's remarkable vocals was truly a memorable event. Their rendition of "Midnight at the Oasis" had us both swooning!

Anyway, back to the pirates. This year, we walked down to the Festival and did manage to spot a few pirates here and there among the booths selling the usual beach trinkets. It seemed the hub of activity, however, was the wayside filled with carnival rides. Try as I may, I couldn't figure out the connection between pirates and amusement rides. I pondered for quite a while. Finally it occurred to me, the Galaxy 3000 was not a ride, but in fact, must be the latest in pirate ships. The buccaneers had docked it here while attending the festival. Arr swabbie, a fine vessel she be at that!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Can You Hear Me Now?

Using your cell phone here is a challenge. It is one of the things we like about our Saltair Station world--the ability to disconnect. But sometimes we do need to communicate with the outside world and had been known to stand on one leg, turn to the north and wave the phone until those pesky bars appear to make a call.

Our first summer here, there appeared this chair at the edge of our property with a note designating it for cell phone use. We are not sure who puts it there each year, but the locals have apparently figured out this is the spot with the best reception in the community and wanted to make it more comfortable.

And all day long--evenings too--people come to this spot to have their conversations. It really works! This is extra fun for us because while in the garden we can easily hear all of the conversations--without straining. Parents checking on teenagers left at home, teenage girls checking on boyfriends left at home, lovers swooning, couples fighting and all of the other conversations of life.

When the weather takes a turn for the worse in the fall, the chair disappears and not too long afterwards the tree behind it is decorated for the holidays. Again, by those invisible locals. I have to believe all winter long, folks are inside sitting by a warm fire communicating over the screaming fast internet this town offers. But, we are all still longing for the warm summer and the cell phone chair.

Friday, July 16, 2010

July 4th Fireworks

photo of purple african daisy in bloom

The fireworks in Rockaway were spectacular this year. There is nothing quite like the experience of watching the pyrotechnic team set them off, hearing the boom and seeing the explosion of light and color immediately overhead. The crowd cheered with each an every rocket. WOW!

Meanwhile--back in the garden--there was also an explosion of color and vibrant beauty. The African Daisy I brought home from the Tillamook Farmers Market was not intimidated by the "Big Show" and was strutting its stuff. Just like during the fireworks, I applauded and cheered this spectacular display. WOW!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Hot Dogs in July

The Fourth of July in Rockaway is quite an event. The town swells in population with nearly every house full to the brim and then some. There is an incredible sense of community and bountiful hospitality for those just visiting. While there a number of fun activities, there is nothing quite like the "Firecracker Weiner Nationals."

Yes, this annual running of the dachsunds has become a very popular event. This was my first year, but it apparently has had quite a following for a number of years with "Sheriff" being the odds-on favorite. One gentleman was telling me his pooch was out in front last year when he made the fatal mistake of cheering the dog on from the sidelines. As soon as he shouted, Go, Maxie!" The contestant stopped to greet his friend and lost the race.

With more entries than ever, the competition was fierce. In the excitement, I didn't catch the name of the winner. But he sure was proud--and so was the guy holding him over his head excitedly racing around the field for a victory lap.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Reasons to Love Coastal Gardens, Part One

Enough said!

Don't Fence Me In

Our 2010 project is putting a fence around the yard. I say "our" but I really mean "Bob's". We wanted to add a little decorative privacy but built it to be friendly to the neighborhood atmosphere Rockaway offers. When Bob designed the fence he quickly gave up the idea it would keep deer or other critters out.

In true coastal time it has been a work in progress. Meanwhile I have started to shape the garden and make sense out of what has been a large patch of weeds. Gardens require patience and I know it won't be done this year or even next. But after each working session it is nice to sit back, relax and enjoy the view.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mocking Birds

There is no picture here of the two beautiful blue jays that are building a nest in the tree outside the house. They have been working furiously using salal branches, twigs and anything not nailed down. The birds are the most fabulous color blue and set against the green forest it is quite striking.

But they are also quite tricky. Every time I grab the camera they fly away--refusing to pose. As they take flight, they squawk at me as if to say "you are not taking my picture." Mocking birds!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Will you look at the size of that thing!

photo of huge pink azalea in rockaway beach oregon

I have never seen such a big, beautiful azalea. It was breath taking. Just sitting at the edge of a vacant lot--not being nurtured by human hands. I included the telephone pole in the photo as a reference point for it's size.

If I have learned one thing about gardening on the Oregon Coast it is that you will be incredibly successful if you choose plants that are native to the area. But if you choose plants that you love--but they really don't love the climate--you will be a dismal failure or very busy keeping them alive. Much more so than gardening in Portland.

This photo will serve as a reminder when I am tempted at the nursery!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Sprung!

On the first day of spring, I found the Lady Ferns in our back wooded area had popped their heads through the earth. The long winter is over at last!

Another--less subtle--harbinger of spring also arrived. Tourists on spring break! There was a steady stream of traffic on Highway 101 and the town is buzzing. Local merchants are joyful the long winter is over too!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Hey Sailor!

Ten years ago if you would have told me I would be engaged to a wonderful man who shares my dream of spending ridiculous amounts of time at the beach, I would have laughed in your face. But the dream has come true for both of us.

Our beach house is a place to relax, rejuvenate, play, spend time with friends and family and build something together. When you meet later in life there aren't many "firsts" to be shared as a couple. We both had houses and children and marriages and all of the memories that come with those things.

The beach house has given us the opportunity for our own firsts. Bob picked it out, I did a little decorating and he patiently hauled all the IKEA furniture we bought and put it together. Sweat equity makes it possible and he never complains about doing more than his fair share. I putter and he builds.

Valentine's Day was unseasonably warm and we celebrated with another first--a moonlight dance on the deck to the sound of the ocean waves. Talk about the local wildlife!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Service with a smile

Feeding the birds is one of my favorite things in Portland. I love watching them. At the beach, there are many different varieties and lots of them. So when we moved in, I immediately hung three feeders on the trees outside. I started buying bird seed in 10 lb. bags and my feathered friends went through the food rather quickly.

I stored the food in a sturdy plastic bucket with a really tight lid. Shortly thereafter I noticed a rather large hole in the bucket that was definitely not made by my feathered friends. It was that same weekend when we were sitting outside in the early evening. Down from the trees over the deck came a large rat and an even bigger raccoon. The raccoon reached over and grabbed one of the bird feeders. Seeing it was nearly empty, he shook it...looked me straight in the eye...and threw it at me as if to say, "Fill this up and make it snappy!"

Lesson #2 in getting along with the local wildlife.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Coastal Time Zone

When traveling over the coast range it is important to remember the time change. While the clock doesn't actually move forward or back, the relationship to time certainly does. The closer you get to the ocean, the slower the pace. Cars don't seem to be in such a hurry as the view is worth seeing, service is a little slower because people are catching up with their neighbors and things that seemed so urgent back in the city seem to drift away.

Good to know when you are trying to get things done at Saltair Station. For instance, we needed to get some dry rot fixed on the house so we called a contractor who showed up to take a look at it after just three weeks of phone calls. He promised to come back and fix it the next week, but never returned. Six months later we found another contractor who said he would be happy to fix it the next time the weather was good. The whole summer went by and no contractor. Well, it has been two years and we know one of them will show up someday.

The time zone is also in effect at the local coffee shop. One Saturday I went in for a cup of decaf coffee. The sweet girl behind the counter told me they were out of decaf but would have some on Wednesday--I should return then. Now in most cities, not having more than one type of coffee to serve for five days would be bad for business. But no one seemed very concerned.

So on your way down the highway, remember to switch to Coastal Time and glide on in.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Oh Deer Me!

I considered myself a "nature girl"--living in the Pacific Northwest, camping, swimming, rafting, and generally being outdoors whenever possible. I know about most of the plants and animals. You know, the ones to keep away from and the friendly ones.

When we first bought the place, I was excited about all the deer that roam around the neighborhood. I wanted to feed them, but saw the neighbors continuously waving them out of their yards. So dropping that plan, I went back to planting.

The back deck needed planters with lots of colorful flowers and I was filling them all. Blooming and beautiful, with just a little water and sunshine the deck would be glorious in summer. Just a few days later when I went to water them, I got quite a surprise. All of the flowers and many of the leaves had been devoured. Munched right down to the stems. Along with all of the flowers along the apparent "deer path" which goes through the yard.

I bet the deer were thrilled with their new neighbors who put out a whole buffet line of salad bowls just for them! My self-annointed status of nature girl is suffering just a bit!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

What is in a name?

In my grandparent's time, Saltair Train Station would have been right down the road from me. Getting to Rockaway Beach from Portland was a daylong trip over the mountains in the early days. The other option was to take the train. My grandparents traveled by train--including their honeymoon spent on the Oregon Coast. Both my father and grandfather were lifetime employees of Southern Pacific Railroad and we traveled by train whenever we could.

My grandparents had a place in Rockaway from the early 1900's until 1948. It started as a small cabin and my grandfather added on to it room by room using lumber he had scavenged nearby. By the time they sold it, the "cabin" slept 23 people. During the war, my family hosted off-duty servicemen at the beach and especially enjoyed Midwestern folks who had never dipped their toes in an ocean.

Salt air and trains seem to run in our blood and the relaxing lifestyle remains the same here at Saltair Station.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Groundhog's Day!

The winter is really long sometimes on the Oregon Coast. The good news is you can curl up with a favorite book next to the fire and listen to the storm blowing outside. But too much of a good thing is too much and it is time for a break before cabin fever sets in.

What many people don't know is that during the winter there are fabulous days with sunshine, warm temperatures, no wind, and beautiful surf as a result of recent storms. It is not uncommon to be on the beach in shirt sleeves sitting on a log sun on your face in February.

Kind of like being a groundhog that is happy to see it's shadow!