Sunday, October 15, 2017

Hanging with Amy 2017: Part III - Driving the Oregon Coast to Thor's Well

When Amy came out to see us back in 2014, she'd put Thor's Well, something I'd nver heard of, on her list of things she wanted to see in the northwest. Unfortunately we weren't able to drive that far south on any of her previous trips since we always had little ones in tow, so this trip we decided to make it happen the day after her conference was over. The tide looked like it'd be best in the evening, so we took the long way there by driving straight down the coast.

I hadn't realized our last gas would be just outside of Portland, so we were getting a little worried after driving a couple hours before seeing this old timey gas station. By the time we got there my car said it had 0 miles left in the tank (turns out it's prone to doing that when there's still about half a tank left, so the situation wasn't quite as dire as we thought, but we were still happy to refuel sooner than later).

Cannon Beach from Ecola State Park

Our first stop was the Cannon Beach overlook at Ecola State Park.
We're so cute!
Oscar and I have come here before, but erosion has closed the small trail we were able to take back then. This is as close as we could get to viewing the nearby lighthouse. Can you see it???

This time I was finally able to get up close and personal with Haystack Rock and actually drive down into the cute little town of Cannon Beach. It looks so different from what you see at the lookout.

We were able to get our feet wet at the beach with the sun shining down on us. It made for good pictures, but it was so blindingly bright!

Our thoughts during these pics - "How long can I keep looking this direction? Aaaaagh! It burns! It burns! Stop the torture!"

Some more beautiful coastal shots as we came up on another gorgeous lookout that I love.

Hwy 101 takes you in and out of Tsunami Hazard zones. These signs are everywhere.

From there we continued our way south towards Boiler Bay. It's named for the remains of a ship's boiler that sank in the bay and is still visible at low tide, but we assumed it was from all this fog making it look like it's boiling.

Next we drove down to Depoe Bay where I'd seen the spouting horn with Oscar's parents back in 2013. There wasn't much spouting going on since it was still low tide when we arrived, but to our great delight there were gray whales. I also liked this neat crest of clouds blanketing the city as we pulled up.
They were pretty distant, but we definitely saw some tales and spouting. Amy didn't want to leave. I asked if she wanted to see whale bones in the whale watching station 20 feet away, but she just replied "these whales have bones."

After dragging Amy away from the whales, we stopped at the Devil's Punchbowl. This fills up with water at high tide, but it was low enough then that people were walking around down there. We couldn't figure out how you would get there and didn't have the time to find out. The signs said this is also a good place for whale watching, but we didn't see as many there. I definitely saw one, but anything else was so distant that I couldn't be sure it wasn't just a rock.
More lovely views as we drove towards our final coastal destination for the day - Cape Perpetua.
We stopped at the Devil's Churn, which wasn't churning much at the moment. Again, you really need to be there at high tide to see where all these names come from.
And finally we made it to our intended destination - Thor's Well. There is zero signage telling you it's there. In this picture it's that furthest point out in the middle. You can see the water rising up in it if you look closely, but most people coming down the walkway only go out to the bridge and the spouting horn, like Oscar and I did when we were here in 2010.

I recognized the bridge from being here before, but we hadn't known to look for the well or we definitely would have.
There were some neat tide pools on our way out. Fortunately two guys were looking at the well when we first arrived, so we guess the well must be out where they'd been standing. The tide was still on the lower end when we arrived, but it picked up significantly as we stayed. We were pretty mesmerized by the waves and the instant sucking action of the well. I was also intrigued by the zillions of barnacles covering every inch of it. Even if the water didn't drown you, being thrown against those barnacles over and over would be pure torture. I once lightly brushed against some on the boat we took during our cruise excursion last year, and they were incredibly painful. I felt sharp stings in those cuts for several days afterwards.
We were able to get up close to the well when we first arrived, but we would have been pretty wet standing in this spot 30 minutes later. We wouldn't have been dragged in the well, but our shoes and socks would have been soaked through.

Some of my videos aren't uploading properly, like these two. If the links below don't work, you can view them here and here.

It was fascinating to watch the tide roll in. We didn't want to leave. We stuck around until about 7:15pm enjoying the scenic beauty and crashing waves. Unfortunately high tide wasn't until 8:47pm, so even if we could have stayed that long, it would have been too dark to see much.

I braved some slippery rocks to take pictures from a different vantage point, and I'm glad I did. This GIF is awesome, and I got a cool video with over 90 seconds of sweet Well action. Skip to 45 seconds to see the biggest swell. Video can be viewed here if it's not playing properly below.
Amy got the big splash too, but from a different angle.
Here are some cool pics showing the well go from overflowing to empty.

Finally we decided to walk back and got to see a little bit of spouting coming from the spouting horn before we absolutely had to get going. We had a long drive in the dark to get to our Salem hotel. As it was we didn't arrive until around 9:30pm.
 Farewell beautiful Cape Perpetua!