Stock landscape and outdoor adventure photos from Oregon, Washington, and the Pacific Northwest

Time Traveling Through Oregon: How to Move from Winter to Summer in Just a Couple of Hours

It’s amazing how much difference a few thousand feet of elevation can make.  Right now, we have warm weather and dry hiking trails in Bend (3,600 feet), while the mountains (10,000 feet) a few miles away are still covered with more than 10 feet of snow.  We can downhill or Nordic ski in the mornings and mountain bike or kayak in the afternoons. 

Driving from Bend to the coast right now provides even more seasonal diversity. After cresting the snow-covered Santiam Pass (4,800 feet), the highway quickly starts losing elevation as it drops down to Detroit Lake (1,400 feet) and then eventually makes its way to sea level.  While the higher elevation eastern side of the pass is still stuck somewhere in the late winter doldrums, the western side is in full-blown Spring and Summer.  The trees along the Santiam River and all of the way to the coast are currently budding in all sorts of beautiful colors.  In a way, traveling from the Cascade Mountains to the coast right now is sort of like time traveling several months ahead because these areas are in two completely different seasons.

My family and I recently had the chance to do a little time traveling during a weekend excursion to the Central Oregon Coast.  Julie (my wife) had just finished working another long tax season and we all felt like we needed a little escape, so we took the kids over to the coast for a mini-vacation.  It was an amazing drive, and hard to believe just how far ahead the seasons had progressed in the lower elevation towns compared to Bend.  Everything looked completely different in the future (Spring/Summer).

We arrived at Pacific City about an hour before sunset, and while the kids tried roller skating on the beach (which I knew wouldn’t work, but sometimes you just got to let them try anyway), I strapped on my camera pack and climbed up onto the cliffs above Cape Kiwanda.  I could tell the sunset wasn’t going to be overly dramatic, but I found a nice spot overlooking the big headwall, snapped a few photos, and then headed back toward my family to help clean sand from the kids’ roller skates.

 

 Sunset photo from the Cliffs at Cape Kiwanda.

Sunset photo from the Cliffs at Cape Kiwanda, Pacific City, Oregon Coast

 

The next day was an absolutely wonderful day.  It was warm and sunny, and there was no wind blowing on the beach.  In other words, it was basically like a mid-summer day by coastal standards.  The kids played in the ocean for a while, and then we took a day trip down to the Oregon Coast Aquarium and the Rogue Brewery, both of which are located in Newport, Oregon.  After leaving Newport, we went a few miles farther south to Seal Rock State Park.  I’ve seen several great photos from Seal Rock, and since I knew that low tide was occurring around sunset, I figured that we might as well go explore around on the beach for awhile.  We stopped and picked up some firewood and marshmallows and then set out for the beach to do a little photo scouting. 

Unfortunately, the low tide wasn’t really all that low on this particular day (about 4 feet above sea level), and therefore, some of the beach’s most interesting rock formations and tide pools didn’t get exposed. I set up my camera and tripod several different times hoping for something magical, but after looking at the scenes again in my viewfinder, I just wasn’t all that moved by them so I packed up my gear and never even clicked the shutter.  All-in-all, it looked like Julie and the kids were having much more fun than me, so I decided to put away the camera and go play with them until the sun got a little lower on the horizon. 

 

 My wife, Julie, and our 18-month-old daughter, Anna.  This picture was taken just before Anna’s face became covered with gooey marshmallows.

My wife, Julie, and our 18-month-old daughter, Anna. This picture was taken just before Anna’s face became covered with gooey marshmallows.

 

After running around on the beach for a while longer, Julie and I built a campfire and sat back sipping on a couple of “Mommy and Daddy drinks” while the kids roasted marshmallows.  As usual, Jacob was drawn to the campfire.  I kept waiting for him to pull his shirt over his head and start screaming “Fire! Fire!” like some old Beavis and Butthead episode.  The next two pictures illustrate the dramatic difference in marshmallow roasting techniques that are used by my two older kids.  Notice how Ella (6 years old) stays so far back from the fire that her marshmallows stay about the same temperature that they were in the grocery store, while Jacob (4 years old) is not bashful at all about sticking his deep into the fire and watching them burn to a crisp.  Julie and I eventually had to draw a circle in the sand several feet away from the fire just to keep Jacob from pulling a truly Beavis-like move.

 

 My 6-year-old daughter, Ella, holding some lukewarm marshmallows somewhat close to a campfire at Seal Rock State Park.

My 6-year-old daughter, Ella, holding some lukewarm marshmallows somewhat close to a campfire at Seal Rock State Park.

 

 

 My 4-year-old son, Jacob (aka “Beavis”) with some overly roasted marshmallows at Seal Rock State Park.

My 4-year-old son, Jacob (aka “Beavis”) with some overly roasted marshmallows at Seal Rock State Park.

 

The later it got, the less and less likely it seemed that the sunset was going to turn toward the dramatic side, so I walked down to the water’s edge and snapped the following photo, and then we headed back up the Pacific Coast Highway to Pacific City.

 

Sunset photo at Oregon’s Seal Rock State Park.

Sunset photo at Oregon’s Seal Rock State Park.

 

The next day was an equally beautiful day on the coast.  We spent most of the morning sitting out on the deck, eating ice cream and enjoying the summer temperatures and then we headed back home . . . and back in time . . . to the winterscape of the Cascade Mountain Range.

Posted by Troy McMullin

NOTE: To see more of our coastal images, please click the following link:  Pacific Coast Images

2 Responses Subscribe to comments


  1. Michael Hatten

    Hey Troy,

    There is a place alittle farther south of Cape Perpetua called Strawberry Hill State Park.
    I have been there twice. My Girlfriend has been there more than me and its her favorite tide pool spot.
    Usually there is very few people and if you blink when you drive by you’ll miss it. One thing about it is that there seems to be seal lions there all the time on a rock that you can get to (if your brave enough) during low tide. The Tide pools are mostly on the southside.

    Enjoy..

    Michael..

    Jul 12, 2009 @ 7:53 pm


  2. Troy McMullin

    Thanks for the tip, Michael. I will definitely check it out.

    Jul 13, 2009 @ 3:57 pm

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