Inspiration on the Oregon coast Part 1

• Salmon spawning.
• Marathon running.
• Brazilian stew.
• The Devils Churn.

Where the Yachats river joins the sea. Click to enlarge then back-arrow to return to blog article.

WHEN I WROTE THIS, I WAS LISTENING TO THE POUNDING OF OCEAN WAVES ALONG THE OREGON COAST. As I looked toward the setting sun, large waves curled over and broke into agitated foam. Even closer than the waves is the Yachats river – I could throw a stone into the water from the deck where I sat. Sometimes the river flows gently into the sea, but at high tide the ocean submerges it and pushes it back in a flood.

Salmon swim in from the ocean to spawn in this river. I wouldn’t have believed this except that a local man was fishing across from my deck, and showed me some piccies. One chinook salmon he caught was 31 lb, and that’s a big fish by any standard.


Fishing for chinook salmon.

That same day, I saw what must have been two seals scouring for fish in the river, bobbing their heads up and down. Above the seals whirled about a thousand seagulls who came every day to catch minnows when the tide came in.

I SAID HELLO TO RIKA WHILE WAITING IN LINE AT A RESTAURANT. She was 45 or 50 years old I guessed, and slimly built. Said she was from Missoula in Montana. Came down to Yachats to run in a foot race she called the “Coastal” race. A marathon, I asked? No, longer than a marathon – 31 miles. I was incredulous. How long did it take, I asked? 6 hours and 42 minutes, she said. I cannot imagine running for almost 7 hours.

By now I’m wondering what else surprising happens in Oregon. I soon found out. The next day the sky was blue with little wind, and three good friends and I headed for the Devils Churn. Mary came all the way from

Wave breaking over the crocodile rock. Click to enlarge, then back-arrow to return to blog article.

Kansas, while Don and Julie drove from Idaho potato country. We hiked down through cedar-like trees, with trunks covered in lichen, to a 50-yard long natural opening in the rock ledge. When a decent wave entered, it built up as the channel narrowed until it broke with a whomp and a leaping spray. We were fascinated at the heaving sea and the drama each time a big wave entered the Devils Churn. See more drama at the Devils Churn below.

A SIGN SAID IN BOLD LETTERS TO BEWARE OF SNEAKER WAVES. We called then king waves in Australia. A sneaker wave is simply an extra-large wave that comes out of nowhere. And that’s what kills. People who are snooping about tidal pools looking at tiny crabs can be swept out to sea, or slammed against the sharp barnacled rocks.

Farmers Market in Yachats, Oregon.

On Sunday we visited a farmer’s market in town. Yachats, situated about the middle of Oregon’s fabulous coastline, is only 700 population. And uncommercialized, which we like. A man was selling opals from Australia. I bought a painting of the Heceta lighthouse for Julie, who loves lighthouses. Mary bought a dogfood snack for Chanel, her little morkie, that was made from sweet potato and supposed to be good for her sensitive tummy. Chanel loved it.

A lady was selling soup from the largest pot I’ve ever seen. Brazilian soup she called it. I had to ask…. and she said it contained sweet potato, a little meat, and a lot of peppers. It was delicious. So I asked was she from Brazil? No, she laughed, but my six children are. It took me a second to figure out what she meant. We lunched on Brazilian soup and a grilled cheese.

Mary and her little windblown morkie, Chanel.

THE NEXT DAY THE WAVES WERE HUGE. It struck me that the Devils Churn could be really churning, and I zipped over there – it was just a mile south of Yachats and in the Cape Perpetua State Park, a truly rugged stretch of coastline.

The first hint of something unusual were voices shouting “Wow”, or “Oh my”, or “Look at that”. As I drew closer, I could hear the loud whomp of the waves hitting the rocks. What I never expected was the texture of the water in the Devils Churn….there was a one-foot thick layer of cream on top of the water. Same color as cream. And the channel was continually churning, which of course created the cream foam. It filled the entire channel.

Slo-mo tsunami with living tendrils groping and grasping for air. Click to enlarge than back-arrow to return to blog article.

A WAVE WOULD COME IN AND CREST AND BREAK AND FOAM, but the foam already in the channel was thick and that increased the viscosity of the water. It turned each wave into a little slow-moving tsunami. And the front of the wave contained tendrils of foam that rose up and stuck out and drooped and curved and moved around like a living thing, all in slow-motion. It was weird!

When the wave finally hit the end of the channel, there was an explosion of foam – a great ball of tendrils fighting each other to stay up as the ball slowly collapsed back into the foamy surf. I stayed for hours, mesmerized by what I was seeing, and trying to understand the wave motion through the eyes of a physicist. One of the high moments of my life…..

Foam-packed wave exploding at the end of the channel.

TO SEE THE AWESOME 9-SECOND VIDEO OF A CRASHING WAVE, CLICK HERE. Then hit back-arrow to return to blog article.

A sign in the rental house says,
We do not remember days; we remember moments.

Some of our inspirational moments are included above, from the enthusiasm of Rika running 31 miles to the fisherman who caught a 31 lb chinook….. inspiring personal achievements. And our own shock and awe at the foamy little tsunamis crashing in the Devils Churn….. despite the name, we were inspired by joy in God’s creation along this splendid stretch of Oregon coast.

COMING IN OREGON COAST PART 2: a bald eagle, sobering tsunami warnings, an awesome labyrinth design in the sand, and more crashing waves.
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The Gray Nomad ….. help someone to hope.

I love you, LORD, my strength.
The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold…..
He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the LORD was my support.
He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.
[from Book of Psalms, chapter 18]

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Janette Little
Janette Little
6 years ago

Loved the views of “home” you’ve posted and the commentary on how you found the area. I sure remember how you loved the Oregon coast when you came to visit us out there.

6 years ago

Also, thanks for Psalm 18, beautiful. And thanks for a
wonderful and memorable visit with you and Mary Ann, and of course Chanel. Don and Julie

6 years ago

Thanks Ian for great descriptive writing, felt like I was back there again; and great pictures too.

6 years ago

Good description and pics Ian. Sounds like a good trip.

Mary Ann Pollock
Mary Ann Pollock
6 years ago

I loved reading the blog about the trip to Oregon. You did a great job of describing the beautiful creation that honors God. The salmon and clam chowder was so good that is was hard not to order it for every meal. The view from our house was so beautiful that I could not imagine anything more spectacular. But I was wrong because all up and down the coastline was awesome. We really enjoyed Julie and Don’s visit. They are great people and I truly love them.

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