I do a fair amount of research before I travel to a new place, but never so much that the sense of discovery is quashed. In that spirit, our road trip to southwestern Oregon and neighboring northwestern California unfolded with a nice balance of the known and the unpredictable: we always knew where we were staying at night, but every day offered up new discoveries.



Take beaches, for example: I’ve seen photos of Oregon beaches and I’ve been to a few of them, so I thought I knew what to expect: crashing surf, vast expanses of sand set with sun-bleached log giants, craggy sea stacks. I expected I’d find sea stars and hoped to spot sea lions. But fossils and rows of geometrically patterned rocks on the beach? No, I didn’t expect that!


That’s Beverley Beach, on Oregon’s central coast in the first photo.  We pulled off Route 101 there one day with little more than a sign to entice us. The parking lot is on the opposite side of the road from the beach, so we took the short path following a log-packed creek under the highway and out to a broad, sweeping beach. Savoring the instant “Ahhh” of relaxation you get when you meet the ocean, we slowly meandered south, enjoying the mind-freeing spaciousness and the satisfying give of sand underfoot. It was a brisk day, the sky packed with cumulus clouds, the tide half-way in, the views up and down the beach nearly empty. No ships, few birds, just ocean, earth and sky, and a pin-like gash on the horizon where a distant lighthouse stood.

Soon the landscape changed, and we arrived at a steep, hard-packed mud cliff, oozing moisture from runoff overhead.



Curious about the muddy cliff, I leaned in, and peering closely, I saw one, two, hundreds – no, thousands – of fossils, arrayed at eye level: a paleontologist’s home run. There were shells displayed at every possible angle, and odd, perfectly spherical protrusions, too. Wonderment is a gift, and we had it in spades that day as we walked the beach, but part of me wishes I’d known a little about the geology here before. I was entranced by the fossils and oddly-shaped rocks but I had no idea I was witnessing evidence of two different formations from tens of millions of years ago: a neat pairing of sediment layers and volcanic ash layers, the now-compacted ash hailing all the way from the distant Cascade Mountains.

Here’s a quick video about Beverley Beach fossils. The photos below may picture the volcanic layer but so far, I’ve been unable to find out what makes these intriguing, sculptural shapes.








The beach offered up treasures, too:





And apparently there are things to eat:




What a piece of luck it was to choose that beach to explore.

Another day we wandered north on Route 101 from Newport, searching for a spot we remembered from a previous trip on the Oregon coast, a scenic overlook that was as far south as we got that time. Eventually we found it (I’m not called Balboa for nothing!) on a narrow, two-lane road called Otter Crest Loop that parallels the highway.  The Ben Jones Bridge, built in 1927, spans a dramatic gorge overlooking a wild strip of coastline. Inspecting the rocks, once again we found Pelagic cormorants nesting here, on precarious crevices high up on a salt-sprayed cliff. Photographing them proved beyond my capability, but it felt good just to watch the birds swoop in to their narrow perches, and listen to wave after wave of foamy turquoise seawater crashing into the rocky shore.




The central coast of Oregon is so packed with scenic pull-outs, it’s hard to know where to stop. Gunta, an Oregon coast expert who blogs at Movin’ On, recommended Cape Perpetua, a headland which is the highest viewpoint on the Oregon coast reachable by car.  Advertised to provide fantastic views on clear days, Cape Perpetua afforded us a dramatic view of a darkening squall drawing nearer and nearer as the air grew colder and colder. A short loop trail through the woods features mighty evergreens and an old stone and wood shelter looking out across the Pacific.  The intense contrast between snug forest and windy sea was a perfect mix.








One minute, dark clouds and icy-cold winds bit our faces, the next, sunbreaks lit up the shore:




And then it was on to southern Oregon and a rewarding day of botanizing with Gunta (close encounters with carnivorous plants!). The day after that we romped on another spectacular Oregon beach, on our way to northern California, where house-sized redwoods kept us humble, and a hundred miles from the ocean, in a charming mining town, the oldest continuously used Chinese temple in California kept us humble, too…but that’s another story, or maybe several stories.






  1. I just KNEW I was going to love to see my treasured beaches through your lens… and I do! The one that took my breath away the most was #19. Then again #20 conveys a sense of what it’s like to DRIVE through the Redwoods. 😀 This post was a true treat! All of it. Eric’s comment was that you have a marvelous sense of the abstract. and you do.


    • PS The sea stars are suffering some sort of disease where their appendages seem to melt away. They are not easily found these days, except perhaps farther north (BC?) where there are still some hanging on.


      • Well, #19 is from your favorite place, or one of them…thank you for telling us about it! My love for abstract shapes was really fired up when I saw those formations at Beverley Beach. We did see a few sea stars, at Meyers Beach, clinging to the sea stacks when the tide was out. I’ve heard about the problem, so many troubles in our oceans! We have to be more careful with this rare planet.


    • An entrance to nowhere, yes, it was a very cool looking little shelter, and the weather was intense. I think I had a polarizing filter on the lens, which darkened things enough to create a lot of noise (the smaller sensor being one issue with micro 4/3). I struggled with processing that photo because of all the noise, but sometimes technical details like that are not as important as the overall feeling of an image. Your comment helps me remember that, so thank you, Ken!


  2. Gotta love that spectacular coastline. And from the looks of things, blessedly free of humans. Thanks for taking us along on your wonderful journey.


    • Coming form the east coast, the emptiness and lack of people really hits you, especially when you get to southern Oregon – it’s just amazing that there is mile after mile of spectacular beauty, and just the occasional small town – very, very quiet. You know it’s my pleasure!


  3. Fascinating! What a beautiful country you live in! It starts attracting me by your marvellous descriptions in both texts and images.
    If not for my fear of weapons all over and in every crazy’s hands …


    • You made me laugh, Ule, sorry. 😉 Really, it’s not that bad, but I would be happy to see far fewer guns in people’s hands. This trip was really enjoyable, and these are places I would gladly return to again. Thanks for being here!


      • No reason to be sorry, I love making people laugh – we all laugh far too seldom.
        Of course, my words about weapons were a bit pointedly formulated. 🙄
        The places you show here are really to return to, even to go there and stay, as coast areas are always for me.


  4. What a lovely, empty place! As a geologist, love the fossils – and the patterns in the rocks may be joints??? LOL not that sort of joint!!! I mean cracks! The ones that really get to me are 7, 8 (the blue-greys!), 9, 10 (writhing snake!), 18 (dramatic!), 19. The Olympus Digital Camera titles, my TOUGH camera does that too, the words can be removed in LR – but they appear here where there is more than one photo together, and then there’s no number under the photo – why Olympus does this I don’t know!!! Lovely post! A 🙂


    • I certainly was thinking of you with the Beverley Beach images…it surprises me that it isn’t easier to get information about those geometric formations, because there’s plenty of info about the fossils online. Maybe I just have to dig more…. 😉
      If you like 7-10, you’d love walking these beaches. The writhing snake is a common, large seaweed called Bullwhip kelp that’s all up and down the US Pacific coast. The colors in the rock in #7 were crazy, as you can see. Such variety there!
      I thought I removed all those titles, but thanks, I see what you’re saying, because I didn’t number the multiple images. Good old advertising!


      • Yes, dear old Olympus put that text in each image’s Caption field, and then when you put a number in that field it gets rid of the advert! As I expect you know, using LR you can simply delete the advert and leave the Caption field empty. A 🙂


  5. Lovely set of images, Lynn! Wow, those fossils and rock patterns are Amazing! I wouldn’t have expected that either, but now when you show them it makes sense that they’re there.. 🙂 Beautiful!


    • Yes, you can’t help think that if you lived there, or had a much longer time to spend, you might make some really interesting images. These were taken on the fly, as it were, and though the quality isn’t always what I want, they are a decent record. I hope to go back!


  6. Another terrific album. I love the misty, almost foreboding B&W ones, and the nicely balanced bands of different colors/textures in #19. That last streaky/spectral-looking one is cool, too!


    • The last one was taken from the passenger seat while driving through the redwoods. 🙂 Thanks you, Robert, I’m happy you enjoyed. Some people say winter is the time to be on those beaches, and I can imagine it would be fantastic, in terms of photography.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Lovely, moody shots. It’s a beautiful coast (but then I’m a little biased).

    Regarding the patterns, pure speculation, but maybe it’s akin to the top of columnar basalt.


  8. Great post, Lynn! Well written, with incredible pics, just as I’ve come to expect from you. I particularly found myself nodding along with your description of trip prep. Plan but don’t over-plan. (Leave room for the joy of discovery.) And look how it turned out! More than you expected, as I find it is often the case. I was a bit of a fossil hound in my day, so I particularly enjoyed this post. Childhood memories and all that. Even the video posted by Geology Nat (a rather dubious moniker) was quite interesting. I’ve been to Oregon but only Seaside. Maybe its time for another look. 😉


  9. A wonderful landscape. I like the rough and the eternal weather changes on the coast.
    water and wind, that’s all you need for a nice day.
    Best regards kiki


  10. Great shots! I come again when I’ve got more time to enjoy your beautiful pictures and text. I liked your last post with the sounds too! Very interesting!!


  11. I do take the same approach as you when I go travelling. I like to do some research beforehand but not more than some is left for chance and spontaneity when I travel. You capture this stretch of beautiful coastline in beautiful images.


  12. The pictures are so beautiful, all of them! The coastfotos are fantastic! The quietness of the place and the elements, if I can say so. The “sparseness”. And the geology is fantastic too. I would love it! And I feel with you: in that moment I would have liked to know, what I see. Strange but fascinating forms! But thats always a nice thing to do after vacation: to catch up on the facts back home. Very very nice, also the pictures from the wood 🙂 Thank you for the journey. I enjoyed it very much!


  13. It’s interesting that after reading and commenting on your most recent post from the gardens, I should see a parallel with your beaches and ours. When comparing these beaches to those in Texas, it’s easy for Texas to come up short: there isn’t so much inherent drama. But your eye has played into the effect here, just as it always does. Developing an “eye” for whatever lies before us is part of the trick.

    That said, each of these is striking, but #19 probably is my favorite. It certainly is a contrast to our beaches this weekend, filled as they will be with vehicles, people, and loud music. I much prefer these.


    • The west coast beaches are heavy on drama, no matter who’s taking pictures, I think, but thanks for the compliment. 🙂 And the more southerly beaches quite deserted, at least outside of summer. But the water’s not at all warm and the waves can be very dangerous, with “sneaker waves” sweeping people out to sea sometimes. Your description reminds me of New York area beaches!


  14. I have also seen and collected some fossils off the beach at Capitola, CA. However, from your post and amazing photos, Beverley Beach looks to be much more interesting!


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