Thursday, July 23, 2009

I Must Go Down to the Sea

"I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;"

Those opening lines from the poem "Sea Fever" by John Masefield kept running through my mind as we viewed the Pacific from the Oregon coast.

The overcast skies emphasized the loneliness of the sea on the day we visited the Umpqua River Lighthouse. Located six miles south of Reedsport, Oregon, above the entrance to Winchester Bay, the lighthouse is identical to Heceta Head Lighthouse (July 21 blog). An earlier structure, commissioned in 1857, was the first lighthouse sited on the Oregon coast. It fell into the river in 1861 after sand eroded the foundation.

The current structure with its 65-foot tower overlooks sand dunes from its 165-foot elevation. This view from the lighthouse shows the dunes and the fog-bound coastal waters beyond.

From Florence to Coos Bay, the Oregon Dunes extend for 40 miles along the coast. Formed by the ancient forces of wind, water and time, these dunes are like no others in the world. These are the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in North America and offer numerous opportunities for solitude.

These two photographs (above and right) show the formations behind a large department store on the northern outskirts of Florence.

It would appear that the fence was no match for the wind and the sand in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.

Just north of Florence is the town of Heceta Beach and its beach. In my attempt to photograph a sunset over the Pacific, I have been met with clouds and fog banks during our stay in Florence. So, turning to the beach itself, I found this piece of driftwood behind, interestingly enough, the Driftwood Shores Resort.

Just south of Florence was the South Jetty Beach with sand dunes rising nearly two hundred feet in some places.

European Beach Grass, planted in the early 1900s to stabilize sandy coastlines and protect water supplies and homes, has now become a problem.

The western snowy plover is a bird that needs dry, open sand to survive. As the grass invades the open sand, this bird has become threatened with extinction.

When I took this photo late one evening on the dunes, the wind was so strong that I did not want to risk damage to the camera lens and mechanisms. Besides, I thought I would have more opportunities to photograph other sunsets over the Pacific.

I thought.

"I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way, where the wind's like a whetted knife;"

No comments: