Oregon slapped us in the face.
Just slapped us in the face, shook us hard, and said “You think you know Oregon? You know nothing”.
It was probably when Tom commented that the GPS couldn’t possibly be right when it said we were five minutes from the beach because geez we are in the middle of the mountains and then hey! there was the beach with the mountains literally not even stopping but just heading right down into the water that we thought huh.
We don’t know a damn thing about Oregon.
We knew to expect rain forests. We knew that. We had been to Seattle and to British Columbia and we knew Oregon was in the general vicinity and there would probably be lots of rain forests. Pretty much everywhere.
We knew Portland was a kitschy, interesting city with great food and that Oregon had a coastline but we figured pretty much everywhere else was sprawling, dark green, dense, northwest rainforest.
As they said in the movie ‘Independence Day’, “that’s not entirely accurate”.
There are, indeed, hundreds of acres of amazingly beautiful rainforests in Oregon; the Columbia River Gorge is truly one of the most gorgeous places we have ever seen with astonishingly spectacular waterfalls and a river that was gouged out from solid rock.
But the coast was the first place that truly took our breath away. Used to the flat beaches of the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, we were unprepared for beaches that had huge hunks of rock just piled everywhere. Soaring pillars of rock which, when you looked at the nearby mountains, were quite obviously the debris left behind that the mountains shed as they retreated back, washed away by a millennia of waves and wind.
The monolith of rock that is Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach looks like a pretty impressive but lifeless boulder until you get close. Wait until low tide, walk out to the soaring chunk blocking out the setting sun and you will see dozens of tide pools clustered around the rock and its nearby siblings, the Needles.
The tide pools are absolutely crystal clear miniature aquariums, teeming with life. Spectacular orange and purple starfish bigger than your hand cluster on the rock faces and neon green anemone cling to the sand and rocks underwater, wafting in the current your bare feet creates.
Kids root in the sand; unleashed dogs romp everywhere; people smile and nod, seemingly as dazed as you are by the indescribable beauty of this place. You think you have seen it all and it can’t get any more amazing and then the sun starts setting in a blaze of orange and red and hot pink, the sky fills with so many colors it’s like the 4th of July, and you are amazed anew.
So you think wow that’s pretty fabulous Oregon and you can’t possibly see anything else that is quite that amazing but then you take a cruise on the Columbia River with Un-Cruise Adventures and you are complacent because there is the rainforest, yep we knew it, and then you run out rainforest.
You run out of rainforest.
The rainforest ends because southeast Oregon is a barren desert with hardly any rainfall. The fertile soil that grows abundant crops is only kept alive by irrigation.
You are just cruising along enjoying the sumptuous green forest and then bam. Desert. Suddenly green is a color nature has forgotten and it’s all gold and tan and beige. Chunks and pillars of basalt support the much-ballyhooed but eventually accepted theory that this area was not created by glaciers but by unimaginably tremendous floods which poured through the area causing rivers and lakes and astonishing rock formations. The local Nez Perce tribes have been telling this story for generations, the flood story, and it took scientists hundreds of years to believe it.
We think we are pretty much out of amazement at this point but Oregon says oh no you aren’t and provides a sunset over the Columbia River with astonishing colors that not only fill the sky but reflect in the calm river in a kaleidoscope of color that honestly takes your breath away.
And Oregon says ha. Told ya.
You only think you know me.Pin It