Drive south from Tofino and you come to the wonderfully named town of Ucluelet. There are some great trails near the town that take you around the coastline and one of them goes past a lighthouse. The Amphitrite Lighthouse is a great looking lighthouse. In the days of modern navigation techniques, the concept of lighthouses seems a little out of date but they still serve a purpose and they do provide a nice focal point to a view of a rocky coastline. The lighthouse was one of the first things to see on the trail we took and I should probably post some of the other views in another post at some point. In the meantime, here is the light to keep you going.
Located in Federal Way, the Pacific Bonsai Museum is not the easiest place to find. It shows up in my GPS but, when you arrive at the turning, the signage is either too small for me to spot or nonexistent. I turned in to the entrance, more as an act of faith. Once on the access road, there were signs but then you drive for a long time before you get to the place. You do start to wonder whether it is a spoof.
Once there, though, it is worth it. Entrance is free which was a surprise, particularly given how good the trees were. Everything is outdoor with the trees displayed in groupings around the space. Backdrops provide some visual separation and information boards explain their individual histories as well as telling a little about the styles of Bonsai and the history of the art form.
Individual plants are intermingled with compositions that involve many plants, sometimes over fifty different plants being incorporated into one display. The sizing of some of these is carefully tailored to give an increased sense of depth. The bases are also chosen to emphasize different elements of the plants. As with any activity, when you find out a little bit more about it, you discover just how much complexity is involved. Old trees are not as important as those that appear to be old apparently.
The place is very impressive and, if you are in Federal Way, definitely give it a look.
The stormy waves coming ashore in Yachats were providing some great splashes as they broke on the shore. They would crash into the rocks and send spray high into the air. If you were further along the shore and looked back at the people closer to the rocks, they would occasionally be silhouetted against the plume of spray. The cool thing about shooting this with a long lens is that it looks as if they are almost being overwhelmed by the waves. Get a bit closer and they are clearly a long way from the water and in no danger of getting wet (except for a bit of the mist if you are downwind of the impact point).
The stretch of coastline in Oregon that we visited had plenty to do. We had to scratch a few of the things we had thought about in order to do other things given the time available. One of the things we didn’t get close to was Thor’s Well. This is a hole in the rocks along the shore where the water can rush up from underneath. You can get close to the hole but you have to be careful as this is the sort of thing that can overwhelm you if you are not careful.
We only got to watch this from the overlook along the highway. The surf was running in quite strongly while we were there and the tides combined with it to provide a fair bit of action at the well. Even so, from this distance, you didn’t get much of a sense of the power of the water. If we go back, I will take the trail down there to get a closer look.
After dinner one night in Yachats, I decided to go out and see what I could make of the waves crashing on the shore at night. A number of lights were trained on the shoreline from the local properties so it wasn’t too dark out there. Even so, it certainly wasn’t very light. Time to test the low light capabilities of the cameras. The fact I was going to get slow shutter speeds didn’t bother me particularly as I was interested to see the effects that I could get showing the motion of the waves.
Light levels were indeed better than I had anticipated and I was able to get a lot of shots that came out okay. There was a good element of luck involved too. Waves are horribly unpredictable. If you see something good, you can almost guarantee it won’t do it again and, even if it does, it will be ages before the next set of waves comes in and, even then, the big wave will break differently. Also, some of the shapes they make turn out to look good in the shot and others are just indistinct messes. Nothing to do but hang around for a long time and try and lot of different shots and see which ones work. This randomness is a little frustrating as you feel you should be able to do something to improve but, in this case, it is a case of being there.
Our trip down the coast included some driving down the Pacific Coast Highway. This is undoubtedly a gorgeous place to be. Each turn in the coast brings with it another lovely view of rugged cliffs and crashing waves. Add some sun and it really is wonderful. There is little point in saying much more. Instead, here are a few shots to show just how great it is.
Terns are a pretty regular sight when hanging out by the sea. They are prodigious fishers with a seemingly unending appetite. They drift across the water looking down for the next snack. Then they spot something and tuck back the wings as they hit the water hard. I am amazed how often they will dive. They either miss a lot or they can fly when very full. Normally, they don’t appear to be the biggest birds around. While I was out with Roger at Linda Mar, a tern was flying round just below us. This was by far the largest tern I have seen. It was a really big bird. I am not a bird expert so this may not be unusual but we both commented on it. A photo won’t give much impression of size sadly. However, I assure you this thing was big. Maybe he has been eating extra portions of fish!
At the end of Baker Beach there are some rocks. One guy had set himself up here to do a bit of fishing. He knew exactly where the waves would crash over and where they would miss – unlike some of the other people clambering across the rocks. The image of him alone with the sea seemed rather compelling to me – certainly more so than the view in the opposite direction of a naked guy on the beach applying sunblock!
A sunny Sunday is a great time to go to the coast. We took a drive along the Pacific from Santa Cruz to Half Moon Bay. We had bought some food before leaving Santa Cruz so picked a spot along the way to stop and eat our lunch. Sitting and watching the ocean while eating is very tranquil. While we were there, I thought I saw someone swimming. Then I saw another one and realized that it was a group of dolphins making their way along the shore. No sooner had they gone but, coming the other way, I spotted a pair of whales, presumably a mother and calf. Neither the dolphins nor the whales were terribly conspicuous since they are almost always underwater and hard to get a shot of when they break surface before they disappear again but here is what I did get.
My sister has pretty amazing eyesight. Her ability to spot things before the rest of us has shown itself on many occasions. I have often been wondering if she is just making things up only to finally see what she saw. To all my pilot friends, I would recommend her as a second pair of eyes anytime.
We were taking a trip along the Pacific coast while they were over visiting recently and she said she had seen a whale. This is by no means unusual along this stretch of coast but, even so, I was a little unsure if it really was a whale. Turns out it wasn’t a whale. It was at least five of them. They were a little way offshore but there they were. Plenty of spouts of spray from blowholes and the occasional sighting of bodies as they came to the surface. It was a shame that they were so far out but at least they got some whales for their visit.