Thursday, March 26, 2009

Oregon Winter Beaches

We frequently go to the beach in the winter. I actually enjoy the beach here more in the winter than in the summer.

First of all, we love the agates. The winter storms pull all the sand off the beaches and areas that were nothing but sand in the summer turn into rocky morains. There is a beach just south of town that we like a lot and the first time I visited last year in the winter, I had to convince myself it was the same beach. There was absolutely NO sand, just tilted basaltic rock strata with the occasional pebble bed. This is a different beach, but I'm guessing that the rocks jutting up through the sand here aren't even visible in the summer.

Agates (made of quartz) are lighter than basalt and most other rocks, so they tend to "float" to the top of these pebble beds. Last year our family Christmas gift to ourselves was a rock tumbler. It takes about a month for agates to tumble and our rock tumbler operated non-stop for about 8 months last year. A few months off for good behavior and it's up and running again now. When we get a batch tumbled, we all gather round the kitchen table and take turns picking our favorites, a process which lasts about an hour each time because there are a couple hundred rocks in each batch. Other favorites besides agates are green and red jasper and petrified wood.

Another reason I like the winter beaches best is that they are mostly deserted, even on stunningly beautiful days like this. Now, even in the summer, our beaches aren't what anyone would call crowded - you might only see a dozen people if you go during the week. But in the winter, you'll only see a handful of people at most in an hour or two.

On stormy days, the waves are awesome. You truly understand what is meant by the term "force of nature" when you stand on the beach and watch the enormous waves crash on the shore. Just listening to them gives me a thrill. I'll try to get some pictures and blog the storms another time but I don't have any great pictures right now. On areas where the waves hit cliffs, the spray will sometimes shoot up 30 feet or more, filling the air with a salty taste a football field away. Although the waves weren't spectacular on this particular day, it was still pretty fabulously beautiful.One of the things I'll miss most when we move is the beaches. I know that sounds funny to say when we're moving to Florida, renowned for its summer beaches, but it's true.

1 comment:

Donna said...

My kids REALLY want to get into rock hunting this year...any suggestions..(besides the beach at Salem) where we could go and dig a few up? The boys want to find some thundereggs...any ideas???