Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area (+10 insets and a sandy adventure!)

(+10 insets!) (This is very long but hopefully entertaining! Enjoy! Photo descriptions are below under "Today's Pictures" :D)

It's So Windy!!
Everyone knows that coastlines tend to be windy. Growing up in San Francisco, the torrential winds and thick fog sweeping in from Ocean Beach still held a lot of bite three miles away at our family home seated at the base of the centrally-located Mount Davidson. It's easy to understand why cold wind is one of my least favorite weather conditions. As much as I adore rugged coastlines and picturesque beaches, I am not a fan of the bone-chilling, finger-freezing weather that often accompanies the breathtaking views.

Up until now, our stays along the coast have included plenty of wind but it's been tolerable and no big deal, especially when we dress for a walk on the beach. However, our stay at Heceta Beach RV Park has been in a different class all-together. The winds begin at the crack of dawn with a telling 5mph breeze that rustle the bushes. By 11:00am those poor bushes are whipping around like gremlins are sitting underneath, maniacally shaking the branches with wild abandon, their howls of mirth adding to the wailing wind. All afternoon until the early evening, the wind whips through the trees, gusting to 25-30mph, shaking the trailer in vain attempts to pick it up and fling it miles away.

We want to go agate hunting, confound it all! We want to wander around the area's well-known dunes and take pictures of the pristine mountains of sand there. We had a plan!

A Romantic Walk on the Beach…Errr….Maybe Not
Steve and I drove forty-five minutes south through Florence and down the coast to visit the Oregon Dunes National Recreational Area. Fanciful ideas of how our adventure would go filled our heads… We would walk along the beach together, hand in hand. Here and there we would bend to pick up amazing agates to add to our collection of rocks to tumble when we got home. As we made our way along the beach, I would pause now and again to take pictures of the windswept dunes, and together we would ooh and ahh at the sight.

We should have known better. I'd seen the forecast. Prominently positioned at the top of the page was a stern warning: "!! SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY !! Gusty winds of up to 40mph+ and steep seas could capsize or damage smaller vessels." But surely that didn't apply to us, right?!

Visiting the Oregon Dunes National Recreational Area
Stretching nearly 40 miles down the coast, Oregon Dunes National Recreational Area is one of the world's longest temperate coastal sand dunes in the world. It is hugely popular with the off-road vehicle crowd, but there's plenty of space for nature lovers too. It's also an important nesting ground for the darling and endangered shore bird, the Western Snowy Plover. All of the dry, sandy areas of the dunes where grass grow are important breeding grounds, and all of it is strictly off-limits to people. Excellent!

Arriving at the northern-most park entrance at Sitcoos Beach, we pulled over to pay the self-service parking fee. Carrying on, we passed many windswept mounds of grass-covered sand, stunted bushes and bedraggled trees and soon pulled into a space at the parking lot. We weren't alone. Lots of trucks with trailers were there too. Some had motorcycles, ATVs and other off-road vehicles in place, but most were empty, their occupants off on adventures in the dunes.

The wind roared. Sand drifted across the parking lot in diagonal streaks and the grass at the tops of the dunes rippled beautifully in golden waves. We put our windbreakers over our long-sleeved shirts and sweaters and hopped out. Time for our romantic adventure!

Staggering drunkenly towards a trail that went up and over a dune leading to the beach, we noticed a pair of bundled-up people standing at the trailhead. We figured they might be rangers but when we got close, they asked us if we'd been here before and if we knew about the Western Snowy Plovers. We told them we did and looking past them, we could also see there were roped-off areas to keep people off the grass-covered dunes, as this was a breeding habitat. The volunteers let us know what areas to avoid, though happily, they were plain to see. We thanked them for standing out there in the whipping, cold wind and really appreciated what they were doing for these birds. It's because of efforts like these that the population has risen from 30 to 400 over the past 15-20 years.

We climbed slowly up the deep, sandy trail that led over the dune, sliding back half a foot for every foot we made forward. Persistence wins, so a few minutes later we got to the top and looked out to the beach below. We didn't like seeing the deep, soft sand that led down quite a ways before firming up much closer to the sea. More than that, the wind hit us full-force in the face, unobstructed by dunes or distance from the ocean. Grains of sand stung our cheeks and my eyes teared at the velocity.

Steve burst out laughing, "This is insane! I've been in plenty of windy places but this has to be the windiest place ever!" I laughed in agreement as we carefully headed down the sandy slope, trying to balance against the crazy gusts of wind. I teetered and tottered, nearly losing my balance several times. Finally we got out to firmer sand and Steve turned to look at me, cackling at the ridiculousness of it all. "Your HAIR!! It's everywhere!" "What?! I can't hear you over the wind" I cried. He came closer and repeated himself. I looked at him and guffawed in return, "The wind filling your windbreaker makes you look like a Pillsbury Dough Boy!!" "WHAT DID YOU SAY?!!!" Steve couldn't stop laughing and came over…not only was his windbreaker full of air, it was madly flapping in the gale-force winds.

Scanning the beach, we noticed broken shells from crabs and mollusks and a smattering of rocks here and there, but it was obvious that we were in the wrong place today. Looking up at the dune that trailed off down the beach, I saw that it wasn't the pristine sand mounds I'd dreamed of and agreed: this was not the place for our happy rock-hunting walk. The wind blew me off my footing if I wasn't leaning into the wind or standing carefully at a 45-degree angle. This was no place to be!

So, before we turned and hobbled back to the truck, we took funny pictures of each other to laugh at in the future. Then we made our way slowly up and over the sandy hill, stopping once so Steve could pour the beach out of his shoes. At the truck I did the same thing, pulling off my shoes and socks and smacking them against a railing to remove the sand. I even had sand between my toes, the poor dears! :)

Even though we didn't have the long, romantic adventure we'd planned on, our short visit was hilarious and great fun in the end. We'll be back--and in fact, when September rolls around, we are planning to stay at a state park within the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area called Honeyman Memorial State Park, we'll have ample opportunity to appreciate the dunes then.

Today's Pictures
If you read this epic War & Peace-length post, you'll know that our visit to the Oregon Dunes didn't turn out quite as we'd hoped, but it was a super visit anyway. In fact, the main picture here--along with the other sand dune pictures I'm sharing--are not from the park at all! You'll laugh when you read the truth! Steve and I went grocery shopping one day and as we pulled into the parking lot, we both shrieked, "LOOK AT THE SAND DUNES!!" Just behind the store rose a magnificent wall of sand that looked like a transplant from the Sahara Desert! After we were done shopping we drove over and I took some pictures. I had no idea they would turn out so well! You can even see the sand flying off the tops! I'm so happy!

The other insets show our misadventure at the Dunes: a picture of the beach and two images showing the roped off Plover nesting grounds, which stretch miles down the beach. I also included a picture of Steve impersonating the Pillsbury Dough Boy and a couple of me trying to hold my ground in the torrential wind! What fun we had! And if you've read all the way to the end here, I SALUTE YOU! :D Here's hoping you have a lovely rest of your week! :)

Explored on 7/22/20; highest placement #8.
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appo-fam said:

Great picture
2 months ago ( translate )

Nouchetdu38 said:

Nice interesting series!!!!!!!!!!!!!!*****
2 months ago ( translate )

Reyk said:

That's really great
2 months ago

cammino said:

What an impressive desert landscape!
2 months ago ( translate )

Ruth said:

Lovely shot of the dunes Janet. We know all about wind, living where we do near the moors. The local TV weatherman always describes them as being ‘nithering’. I think it’s a word local to Yorkshire as friends I have in other parts of the U.K. have never heard the term. They are particularly bad during the winter when they are laden with snow and hit you sideways.
Thanks for your very entertaining read :)
2 months ago

Keith Burton said:

Well, your narrative was a laugh a minute! It sounds like you had fantastic fun..!! I love the pics of you and Steve............but I think you're a bit cruel to call him the Pilsbury Dough Boy. I think he's more like the Michelin Man :-)))

Anyway............I wish you hadn't told us the truth about your other photos. You've shattered all my illusions of you being intrepid, fearless explorers..!!

Having said that they're actually superb images...............the main one is just sublime. I love the shapes an textures in the dunes and the hints of movement in the sand from the wind.

In the PiPs I especially like the third one..........but they're all splendid.

I'll leave you with a quote: "When you can feel the wind blowing through your hair, it's time to shave your legs" (Author unknown).
2 months ago

uwschu said:

schöne Eindrücke.
Bei dem Sand hätte ich aber etwas Angst um die Kamera
2 months ago ( translate )

Malik Raoulda said:

Absolument magnifique,au début et avant de voir les Pips je croyais que vous étiez au Sahara,tellement la dune est identique..Vos rendus sont d'une beauté remarquable .!
Bonne et agreable soirée.
2 months ago ( translate )

John Lawrence said:

Thank you for posting your wonderful image to:
Splendeurs De La Nature
2 months ago

RHH said:

Great photos, Janet, and a great tale to go with them. If you like dunes you should go to the dunes in Death Valley sometime or to White Sands, NM. Can only imagine the wind and know how hard it is to do anything when it is that windy. Glad you were able to get some photos, though, and that you had a good time.

If you are still down in the Florence area you should stop at Darlingtonia Wayside and see the Cobra Lilies there, though they may be finished by now. We always stop when are going down the coast. There's usually lilies and other wildflowers there as well. The short trail takes just a few minutes unless you are taking photos.

Got home yesterday and mowed the lawn, not my favorite job. Started on the berries today and have the blackberries nearly finished - some to eat, most frozen, a few for cobbler and jam. in between made sourdough crackers, cobbler, soba noodle salad, and ginger beer. That pretty much finishes me for the day.

Have to get the tumbler up and going and some stones in it.
2 months ago

José Manuel Polo said:

Ahí se guarda fácil la distancia de seguridad y se puede usar mascarilla para que evitar que entre arena; tendrías que haberte puesto un gorro... por la arena en el pelo = lavado.
2 months ago ( translate )

William Sutherland said:

Awesome series! Stay well!

Admired in:
2 months ago ( translate )

Kawasirius said:

Belle série sur ces dunes ****
Bonne journée, Janet !
2 months ago ( translate )

neira-Dan said:

superbe série sur les dunes !!
Bonne fin de semaine
2 months ago ( translate )

Ulrich John said:

The beauty of Nature ! Great, Janet !
2 months ago