As soon as I found out I would be headed to Portland, Oregon, to photograph a ship's christening, I knew that if I could make it happen, I would be headed to the coast.
I've never been to Oregon and a chance to spend even one day on the coast taking photographs was something that I wasn't going to pass up. The only plan I had was to get to the coast before the sun came up and that I would start at Ecola State Park, about 80 miles from Portland and work my way south and see what I could.
The weather was great, something many locals told me was unusual, as I left for the coast and when I saw the first sign for Ecola State Park off Rte 101, I took it. The problem with arriving someplace entirely new while it's still dark, is you don't really have any reference as to where you are going or what you will see once the sun comes up. And with nine miles of coastline within the park, you have to take a chance. Also, while making my way down to what turned out to be a closed-off trail, I found myself about 30 feet from 15 or so grazing elk. That's kind of a surprise in the semi-darkness; for both of us.
I spent around one hour at the state park, finally finding a path which led to a nice view of Ecola Point Rocks. Never made it all the way down to the beach, only because I was alone and did not want to take a chance with the unfamiliar terrain.
After leaving Ecola in search for coffee and a bite to eat, I found myself at Cannon Beach which I explored a bit. But as I was leaving town I saw this giant sea stack to my right and almost drove off the road. It turned out to be Haystack Rock Marine Garden, so I did a u-turn and lucked out on some parking right across from an access point to the beach.
After spending about an hour on Cannon Beach, I continued to head south stopping only to make a few photos from scenic overlooks and make mental notes of where I might explore on the way back. I made it as far as Tillamook, where I didn't take many photos but did enjoy some cheese at the Tillamook cheese factory.
On the way back North, I stopped at one of the locations I noted on the way down, Oswald West State Park. Prior to the trip to Oregon, I had noticed this park on the map and thought it would be a good option because there were some short hikes that looked interesting.
I entered the park using the Short Sand Beach Trail and hiked on the Old Growth Forest Trail, Cedar Crossing Trail, and Sitka Spruce Trail, before arriving at Short Sand Beach via the South Beach Access Trail. And while this sounds like I did a lot of hiking, trust me it was only about one and a half miles total, out and back.
Short Sand Beach is a popular surfing destination, so for the second time in three weeks, I found myself photographing surfers.
Besides the surfers and the beach, there is old growth forest to photograph at Oswald West State Park. In fact, I've been to where parts of Jurassic Park was filmed, and this location easily conjures up thoughts of dinosaurs and other bigger than life images.
Overall, if you get the chance to visit the Oregon coast, do it, you won't be disappointed. If I had to do it again, I would probably start the day at Cannon Beach and the Haystack Rock Marine Sanctuary, spend the middle of the day hiking and exploring Oswald State Park, then end the day at Ecola State Park.