Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Nehalem Bay

Nehalem Bay

Spent the weekend out on the Oregon coast enjoying the scenery and the, rather intense, weather. I have got to figure out a way of doing car camping that doesn't involve carrying my own weight in gear. But I just can't bring myself to the lack of luxury of a hiking trip when I can just throw anything I want into the back of the car.
The purpose of this trip was to be set up for being at the Nehalem Bay public boat ramp on Sunday morning at 10:00 to take a kayak tour with Kayak Tillamook. The reasonable way would have been to get up at 6:00 on Sunday morning and jump in the car. Eat a leisurely breakfast in Tillamook and then make the 20 minute drive up the coast to Nehalem river (and bay).
But Chip and I were having none of that, and we arrived with camping gear at Nehalem Bay State Beach around 5:00 in the evening on Saturday. We had driven down route 6 to the shore (a GREAT drive) and had hit a few little rain storms on the way in, but no big deal. But as the sun was setting, there were some proverbial dark clouds on the horizon. So Chip and I set up our tents (he a nice little REI half dome, me a rather huge $20 monstrosity from Dicks) and then we proceeded to rig a tarp over the picnic table in case of rain. The tarp I had wasn't quite big enough, but it was what I had and I thought it would work just fine for the usual misting that we get in Oregon.
So, our dinner was cooking on the coleman on the picnic table and the campsite was tied down and stable, so I got out my axes and started to split some wood and lay a fire for a nice evening campfire. As I was setting the tinder down a few drops of rain started to fall. You know how you can tell that those few drops are going to lead to something bigger real soon? Perhaps it is the size of the first drops, perhaps your subconscious hears the approaching torrent hitting the trees in the distance, but either way, I knew it was coming and I quickly put the firewood and stuff up under the shelter and then move my ass over to the safe side of the table.
And down it came. It was quickly raining so hard that Chip and I were standing in front of the stove holding up the tarp with our hands and protecting our dinner. Wind and Rain and Dark.
Chip when off to do something and he flashed the car headlights at me. Man they were bright. I looked over to yell at him but he wasn't in the truck, he was over by his tent and BOOOOOOM, crap, it was lightning. And really close. Less than a 2 second lag.
Luckily Chip and I have a good attitude about this sort of thing. We were both laughing about as hard as we could, and also starting to shiver. But the pork chops were done and looking good and so we popped open some beers, loaded up our plates, and hid in the truck to eat our dinner. Such fun. We even started up the engine to put some heat on us. I was wearing 5 toe aqua shoes and my feet were sopping wet and a bit cold.
And rain came down. And then the hail came down. Much louder inside the truck. We ate our dinner and after a bit the weather backed off. We went outside, and the tarp and tents were ringed in white ice, and there was an inch of water in our firepit and our firewood had floated away.
So we went to bed.
In my tent I had this queen sized aerobed (autoinflating with the 120Volt power supply I had brought with me). I also had my Ukulele, so I played a couple of songs. Including “California Dreamin”.
It rainined off and on throughout the night. We were up around 2:00 to chase off some Racoons and re-secure our food (foolish mistake) and saw a beautiful few of Orion and Jupiter. This was a view opportunity for the Orionide meteor shower. I didn't see any. Chip said he did but I don't believe him.

Up early the next morning. Break camp and off to our Kayak tour. Appologies for not having pictures of Nehalem Beach State Park. It is a gem of a park with some great access to the beach. But we hadn't come for that and really didn't explore it properly. Next time for sure.

Josh, our Kayak Tillamook guide, met us at the boat ramp and got us into some nice kayaks and shoved us out into the bay. I was loving it from the very start.

The tide was going out, and the very first thing we float past was this huge nurse log. In the water with its own cool eco system. We were floating by kinda fast, and I was shooting pictures of Cormorants, so I will get more of it on the way back.


First thing, we jinked to the left as we floated toward the ocean and went up a little tidal creek. It was only a few hundred yards long, and not very deep (as the tide was getting LOW) but it was pretty cool. There are a lot of old huge stumps and logs up these things. Josh said that back when Wheeler (the nearby town) was a big lumber town. The logs would come floating down the Nahelem river and would form this huge log jam, and they would set them loose with dynamite.


On exiting the creek, Josh asked us whether we wanted to work now or later, because we needed to get upstream sometime. We elected to work now. So we paddled up current to a little slough that took us off a very shallow area (we were running aground a bit) toward the ocean. You know how you can tell the water is shallow? The seagulls are walking instead of swimming. Another good indication is when your guide puts his paddle down and places his hands on the bottom and lifts his kayak up and over a mud bar.

Live Bird Walking

Don't Go That Way Josh !!

And this is where we found the Eagles.


We exited the slough back into the main channel and hooked a left up stream back to our start. But, the tide had changed and now we had an easy time back up the bay.
Lots of pillions in the water. Remnants of the hey day of fishing, canning, lumbering, and Locomotion.

Oh, and this cool Kingfisher.





It was a pretty cool tour. Josh was very informative, and he took advantage of the fact that were only 3 customers and that all of us had experience (oh my, Lynne had a nice boat) and so he took us further than an other tour could have gone. What fun.

And here is that Nurse Log: