Wallpaper Monday

Cape Arago

I’m always a sucker for an Oregon coast scene. This is Cape Arago, a rocky headland only one mile south of one of my all-time favorite places, Shore Acres State Park.

The coastline in this area, and in fact most of Oregon, is basalt, an igneous rock extremely resistant to erosion. When ferocious winter surf hits the basalt cliffs and offshore rocks, the explosions of water are a sight to behold. Winter storm tourism has become a vital part of the Oregon coast economy for this reason (that, plus those storm waves usually come with extremely high winds which inland folks can’t experience anywhere else), and the zenith of winter wave watching is at Shore Acres.

Rather than explain, I’ll just give you this video. It’s a little overwrought with the captions, but just get past that and watch the waves. For perspective, the pine trees on the cliff are probably 50 feet high, and you might notice that beneath them are tiny little people.

I have stood in this exact spot, watching those explosions of water, and there is nothing else like it on earth. The ground beneath your feet actually shakes with the impact, and the concussive sound goes right through your chest. It’s best to view it wearing head to toe rain gear; that way you can stay put and not run shrieking every time a particularly big one sprays right over the tree tops.

Heavens but I miss this place.

(Note: the video is long, but if you get bored, be sure to fast forward to 5:15 for a particularly huge wave that sends the tiny people on the cliff scurrying back. At 6:05 is a series of still photos of another giant one, with a rather astonishing height estimate.)

(Click the image to coastalize.)


About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
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5 Responses to Wallpaper Monday

  1. There’s almost no basalt on the coast south of Cape Perpetua, and it’s mostly isolated headlands north of that. The rocks at Sunset Bay/Shore Acres/Cape Arago are silt- and sandstones, mostly, of the Coaledo Formation. But I do agree: that triumvirate of parks is my favorite area on the coast, and they’re well off of 101, so many coastal travelers have never heard of them.

    • oregon expat says:

      Thank you for the geology lesson. My “Roadside Geology of Oregon” book didn’t make the move to Portugal with me, and I was going on memory — most of which was formed by living near and hiking on the basalt headlands you refer to. When basalt is almost all you experience, you tend to think it’s everywhere. (Except for those long, boring stretches of sand on the central coast.)

  2. Cathy White says:

    Those trees must be very sturdy. Mother Nature at her most ferocious

    • oregon expat says:

      They are indeed. Most of the pine trees on the Oregon coast are of the species aptly named Pinus contorta. They twist and turn while adapting to nasty environments, and shrug off winds that send lesser trees to the ground.

  3. Lisa Shaw says:

    “Mesmerizing fury,” LOL. I see what you mean by “overwrought.” Impressive footage, though.

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