Progressive Patterns

Southern Oregon Coast

When Portland bakes and Grants Pass fries, the ocean beaches remain cool and moist and inviting. Ready to go?! Negative ions await!

A cool, wet morning on the coast

It is early morning on the coast with low clouds and patchy fog. The light from the hidden sunrise is diffused into the deep green of the dense foliage and tightly packed pines. I am the first one in this little viewpoint with picnic tables. Spaced around a semi circle of cut grass surrounded by a knee wall of bushes this arrangement reminds me of … of … a dinner theater.

It is an intimate setting waiting for the show to start. No. It is a show waiting for people to come. The ocean is a show that never stops, that never repeats itself exactly.

I suppose that is the attraction of the ocean. It is big to the point of unknown vastness. It floats immense vessels on its surface. It nurtures a myriad of flora and fauna in its depths. It is blue on a sunny day or violent in a storm. Yet it is that pounding, pounding, rhythmic surf that blends into an almost continuous tone that pulls us into its audience.

All day and into the night we can sit at picnic tables, recline on the beach, walk on bluffs, and lean over railings to see, to hear, to take in the ocean. We can inhale, gaze, wonder, listen, and simply be overwhelmed by the mighty mystery in front of our eyes. Yet, we cannot stay away. We return again and again and again. The ocean is always there and so we will always be there—listening to a song that is always the same and always different.

The ocean is a show constantly performing for any size audience. It will put on a display for one or for thousands. It does not matter. The ocean does what the ocean does and it does it nonstop on beaches around the world. There are billions of front row seats to this greatest show on earth. Pick any one and enjoy. When the act burns itself into your mind, move along the coast to a new seat. The show there will be the same, but slightly different—just different enough to amaze you all over again.

Is this not like God's love? Enough for everyone and enough for each one. Public to the universe and intimately private at the same time. "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."

Amazingly, the Oregon coast is also free. On my circuitous route to Washington, I did not encounter one state park, wayside, or beach that charged to park or visit. Camping always has a fee, but not day use.

After the redwoods of Jedidiah Smith State Park, I headed to the very southwest corner of Oregon to begin my explorations. That corner is part of Crissey Field State Recreation Site. Its centerpiece is a very modern, spacious, and ecofriendly information center.

The very southwest corner of the state

A foxglove still wet with morning mist

While you are there I recommend picking up an Oregon Coast Bicycle Route Map. This is a great little folding map not only for bikers and hikers, but also for general use. It details wind, climate, and traffic volume. It shows every state park and their uses. It also divides the coast into 4 sections from 72 to 96 miles long to help with planning.

As I meandered from Brookings to Bandon I did not spend much time in any one spot. I stopped at numerous beaches, walked along the trail connecting the Samuel H. Boardman parks, and generally surveyed the area. The coast really does seem endless, and compared to other states, Oregon's coast feels friendlier.

One of the many hidden beaches tucked into Oregon's rocky coast line

Light and clouds and sand can make dramatic scenes

Get out to the coast and play like children with your children!

The southern Oregon coast is a whole series of destinations that range from beaches to river mouths to mountains and bluffs. Pick your spot to give thanks to our Creator for such vast and musical waters!


by Ed Lyons, 8/4/17