The Hawthornes are excited. We've traveled all the way across the America. We're in Oregon now
and this state has some kick-ass bridges.
Could this be the Cannery Pier Hotel in Astoria, Oregon? Founded in 1811 by John Jacob Astor? The oldest settlement West of the Rockies? Remember Rosie's shooting from a moving car and once again has a strategically placed utility pole front and center.
October 7. Our first view of the Pacific Ocean. At Cannon Beach, Oregon.
I'm very excited. We've made it to the west coast. And there's the Pacific Ocean. I want my sunset over the Pacific Ocean but tonight won't be the night.
I wanted Mr. Hawthorne to pose coyly on one of the rocks, maybe show a little cheesecake action for my calendar, as an Anonymous Commenter suggested, but he wasn't having any of that.
The tidepools and rocks near Haystack Rock are designated as a Marine Garden, a special area in which collecting is prohibited. The Marine Garden is set aside to allow visitors to enjoy and learn about intertidal life.
A Place for Puffins Cannon Beach is the best place on the West Coast to see puffins. Tufted Puffins and many other seabirds nest on Haystack Rock. Just as our homes provide us with safety and shelter, off-shore rocks, such as Haystack Rock, provide seabirds with safe places for nests and protection from land predators. A Seabird's Year In April, puffins start arriving and flying around Haystack Rock looking for good spots to dig a burrow. It takes 100 days for each pair to incubate an egg and raise their single fluffy chick. As the breeding season ends, adult puffins lose the fancy breeding plumage shown here and molt into drabber winter feathering. While some seabirds such as cormorants and gulls remain near shore, puffins go far out to sea for the rest of the year. True Marine Animals Imagine living through winter storms at sea, drinking saltwater for refreshment, and sleeping comfortably on the ocean swells. Like many seabirds, puffins spend most of their lives on the ocean and come to land only to nest. Puffin bodies are adapted to diving deep underwater to chase fish and other prey. The unique adaptations that make them great hunters at sea make them clumsy and vulnerable on land. What happens when you disturb a nesting seabird? Predators, such as gulls, crows, and ravens, quickly move in and eat unguarded eggs and chicks. Eggs and chicks get knocked out of the nest as adult birds suddenly flee. Eggs and chicks get killed by exposure to excessive heat or cold. Some adult birds will abandon their nests. Oregon Geology Devastating waves called "tsunamis" can strike Oregon's coast at any time. These giant waves are caused by great undersea earthquakes. Such earthquakes can occur along the Cascadia Subduction Zone, one of the largest active faults in North America. This fault zone lies 32-70 miles offshore and roughly parallels the coast. Tsunamis are dangerous and destructive. They have struck the Oregon coast repeatedly and will again in the future. Tsunamis can follow within minutes of an earthquake. They move rapidly but quickly run out of water as the sweep inland and uphill. Flooding can occur several miles inland along rivers and streams. Remember, most tsunamis are not solitary giant waves; instead, many large waves may strike the shore over the course of several hours. The earth's surface consists of a series of "plates." These plates are constantly shifting and sliding over, under, or past each other. When a sudden movement occurs between two plates, we experience an earthquake. Cross Section The Juan de Fuca Plate is moving away from the Juan de Fuca Ridge and is being forced under the overriding North American Plate. This geologic process is called subduction.
Rocky Intertidal Zone Spray Zone Limpets, periwinkle snails, black lichen, and beautiful crust, typically found in this environment, are adapted to sun, wind, and low levels of salinity. High Intertidal Zone Water reaches the high intertidal zone only during high tides. The environmental extremes may be less than in the spray zone, but plants and animals are still exposed for long periods of time to sun and rain. Giant acorn barnacle, black oystercatcher, purple shore crab, black turban snail, pockweed, and hairy hermit crabs are found here. Mid Intertidal Zone This zone is subjected to air and fresh water (rain) for a shorter period of time. Sea life in this zone, like the sea star, green anemone, sea palm, California mussel, rough keyhole limpet, leather chiton, gooseneck barnacle, surf grass, and sea cabbage, do not have to withstand the extremes of the upper two zones. Low Intertidal Zone The Pacific giant chiton, the red sea cucumber, the shaggy mouse nudibranch, the sunflower sea star, and the feather boa kelp, among other plants and animals, can only survive short periods out of water. More species are found here than any other zone, because it is only exposed during the lowest tides and the salinity and temperature remain relatively constant.
When the first Euro-American explorers reached the Northwest Coast, they encountered well-established native cultures. These communities built wooden dwellings, maintained rich spiritual and artistic traditions, and participated in a vast network of trade that stretched for thousands of miles: inland to the Great Plains, northward to the Arctic, and southwest as far as the Hawaiian Islands. A nearby coastal village once occupied the mouth of Ecola Creek and the site of present-day Cannon Beach. Its inhabitants, members of the Tillamook tribe, collected and preserved salmon, seaweed, clams, mussels, and other intertidal foods. Seasonally, tribal members traversed beaches and scaled headlands to exchange their goods with others at the great trade fairs of the Columbia River. They returned with items including dentalium shells and eulachon (candlefish or smelt) oil from Puget Sound, pipestone from the Canadian headwaters of the Columbia, and exotic shells from the South Seas.
Summer Winds and Productive Oceans Winter's large waves pull sand off the beaches of Oregon's coast, while summer's smaller waves transport sand to the beaches. This annual cycle is amplified during El Nino, when the eroded sand is transported north in longshore currents to pile up against headlands. Unless the sand is carried south again by summer currents, the beaches become narrower and are subject to greater storm erosion. During the summer, sand is deposited onto beaches and moves south along the shoreline. During the winter, sand is eroded and moves north along the shoreline. Upwelling As summer returns to Oregon's coast, northwesterly winds begin to blow. These winds, combined with the Earth's daily rotation, pull warm, nutrient-poor surface waters away from the coastline while deeper, colder, nutrient-rich water is drawn upward. This upwelling supports a summer explosion of growth that affects all ocean life from barnacles to whales - a phytoplankton bloom. Bird and salmon populations alternately flourish and decline in synchronization with the intensity of the upwelling.
A Land of Fire and Water The jagged sea stacks and towering rocks along the Oregon coast are carved from the mainland by powerful storm waves. But what causes the waves to wear away some areas and leave others to stand sentinel behind? The answer lies in geologic history. 17 million years ago, this region was underwater. Over the course of the next five million years, a series of enormous basalt lava flows issued from vents near the Idaho border and flowed down the ancestral Columbia River to the ocean. 12 to 15 million years ago Plunging into the sort marine sediments, the molten basalt spread out in layers many miles underground and re-erupted through the seafloor as secondary submarine volcanoes. Around 10 million years ago, the molten rock had solidified within volcanic conduits to form cylindrical intrusions; sometimes it cooled to form sheet-like dikes and sills, or irregularly shaped bulbous masses. Uplift and erosion began. Ten million years ago to present, the seafloor uplifted by several thousand feet and became the mountains of the Coast Range. As the ocean pounded at the shores, it eroded away the softer marine sediments leaving the harder basalt behind to form headlands and sea stacks. Towering 235 feet above the beach, surrounded by the sea or sand with the changing tides, Haystack Rock has braced itself against the onslaught of the Pacific Ocean for hundreds of years. This monolith is the eroded remains of a hill that, until a few thousand years ago, was attached to the shoreline - it will be reduced to rubble by storm waves within a few more millennia.
Haystack Rock (and all other rocks, reefs, and islands along the Oregon coast) is part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge. Hawstack Rock's tidepool area is recognized by the State of Oregon as a Marine Garden - one of seven marine gardens protected statewide. Haystack Rock shelters and supports a range of animals - from seabirds to snails. In the spring, breeding pairs of tufted puffins return to the rock from the open ocean. From April through August, puffins nest on the rock and raise their chicks on fish and squid plucked from the ocean. Haystack Rock Marine Garden is one of the most recognized landmarks along the Oregon coast. Tread lightly as you explore this magnificent shoreline remnant - human activity can damage fragile intertidal organisms and frighten nesting birds. Remember, climbing on the rocks and collecting shells and marine life are strictly forbidden.
Silver Point Rock, like many of Oregon's other near-shore monoliths, is a remnant of an ancient shoreline. Silver Point is named for the color of the weathered gray spruce trees that once dominated the landscape. Jockey Cap Rock is named for obvious reasons. The best view of the rock is from the southeast - the cap's visor points southwest. Castle rock is about 1 mile from the shore and 157 feet high - it upward projections resemble the battlements of a castle. The rock hosts over 12,000 common murres. Falcon Point is the westernmost tip of Cape Falcon, which was named by the Spanish explorer Bruno Heceta in 1775. Early mariners often confused this feature with Tillamook Head to the North and hence called it "False Tillamook Head."
Life on the Ledge Tufted Puffins (Fratercula cirrhata) have large orange and yellow bills and regal head tufts, making them one of the most colorful seabirds. They lay a single egg at the end of a 3-6 foot long burrow which they excavate in the soil. Black Oystercatchers (Haematopus bachmani) are large, black marine shorebirds that feed on limpets, mussels, and other shellfish in intertidal areas. These solitary nesters lay three eggs in a shallow rock depression lined with pebbles and shell fragments. Listen for their high-pitched call and look for their long showy red bills and pink legs. Brandt's Cormorants (Phalacrocorax penicillatus) are colonial nesting seabirds that build nests of seaweed and plants on the tops and gentle slopes of rocks and inaccessible headlands. Look for these large dark birds flying to and from their colonies in a "V" formation. Pelagic Cormorants (Phalacrocorax pelagicus) are slim, dark-bodied seabirds with long necks and white flank patches. These cliff-nesting seabirds use seaweed, plant material, and guano to build their nests on small rocky ledges. Common Murres (Uria aalge) are sleek, black and white seabirds with long pointed bills. They dive to depths of 600 feet to catch fish. In spring, murres congregate in dense breeding colonies on coastal rocks. A single, pear-shaped egg is laid on bare rock. The parents take turns incubating by crouching over the egg, which lies between their breast and their webbed feet. Pigeon Guilemots (Cepphus columba) have small compact bodies and sturdy wings allowing them to fly underwater in pursuit of small fish. They nest in rock crevices. Look for their distinctive bright red feet as they swim near the shore.