My Special Place on the Oregon Coast

While planning this whole trip, I had asked hubs what his conference itinerary was like, and it appeared that his Wednesday morning was empty. So, we planned to drive west to the Oregon Coast from Portland. So, on Wednesday morning, S, having to miss her class again for the second day, we drove to Cannon Beach. I had eyed it while I was planning the trip because of Haystack Rock in particular.

During low tide, we could actually go and see the tide pool. I had never been to a tide pool and since I’ve been reading a lot of books on coral reefs and tide pool animals to Z, I thought it would be an amazing experience for him to actually get to see and touch Starfish, and what not.

In the course of planning this visit, I also read up a lot on the Oregon Coast and the safety guidelines on its beaches. Apparently, the Oregon Coast is teeming with what they call sneaker waves, big quiet waves that can catch you off guard and drag you back to the sea. One of the beach safety rules that I read was

“Never ever turn your back on the ocean!”

That was somewhat unnerving, and I made sure I reiterated this to hubs since he was so intent on swimming in the ocean.

“Only with a wetsuit,” I said.

“The ocean waters up north is not like in the south. it has different currents,” I continued, hoping it would dissipate any of his ideas of jumping into the ocean like he did in Hawaii.

He enjoys pulling my leg, and I know this, but at times, I felt like he’s not taking me seriously, so I would reiterate the dangers involved again and again like a mother would to a dare-devil teenage boy.

Then, there were also the jetties. To be honest, I didn’t know what that meant. What I understood from the word jetty, is what I have walked on and seen in islands in Malaysia. When I researched it more, the jetties meant were man made rock jetties held together by some kind of netting, and these jut out to the sea. From what I read, we are to stay away from these jetties because there are swift currents in between the rocks and they’re not that stable. Any big wave can suddenly hit the jetty and bring you down. There was a couple who drowned and were never found.

I do however realize that I grow older, I become more cautious. I used to drive pretty recklessly. My kids say I still do, but they didn’t know me when I was a teenager. I told hubs,

“The older I get, the more fearful I become.”

“It’s not growing older, it’s the risks and consequences of it that hold us back. It’s not just us now. It’s the kids too. ” he replied.2013Apr11 017

True. We have the kids to think of. I guess in a way, having kids is a good way to curb the daredevils in us?

So, with these in mind, we drove to Cannon Beach on Wednesday morning. The weather was rainy and gloomy to say the least. However, I have to say that the one and half hour drive from Portland to Cannon Beach was one of the most relaxing (I wasn’t the one driving!) and enjoyable drive I’ve had on the trip.

As we went onto US 26 headed west, the road became narrower. The rain was falling earnestly, and the sky was gloomy, and I remember thinking,

“Oh no, I hope the beach is sunny at least!”

The kids were mostly sleeping, since we had set out quite early in the morning considering we had come back from Seattle late the night before, and so it was just hubs and me.

Tall pine trees flanked US 26 almost all the way. We ascended higher elevations, passed through meandering streams and rivers, which delighted me immensely! The green just lifted my spirits even though it was gloomy and raining. While the windshield wipers did its rhythmic side-to-side dance, and the rain drops pelted our windshield, I felt like I was sitting comfortably at home, all cozily curled up on a soft couch and watching the rain outside. It felt homely somehow. Even if I worried slightly about how it was going to be at the beach in that weather.2013Apr11 029

As hubs drove, and we both enjoyed the companionable silence, I looked out my window. I marveled at how some of the tree branches seemed to be elegantly coated with bright green moss. There were these carpets of moss too on the ground. I began to wonder what animals lurk in these forests. If I were to get lost in it, I think I would just bawl and die. Forget about trying to find out where the sun rises from. Even though I remember reading something about using those moss to try to figure out your bearings.

“Are there bears in here?” I wondered out loud.

“Mountain lions?”

Hubs didn’t answer. Over the years, we’ve gotten used to me voicing out my thoughts to myself, needing no replies. I kept saying,

“It’s so green. It’s so green!”

2013Apr11 022It was raining, it was gloomy, we were headed towards the beach, the kids were sleeping, and I wanted to so much for the kids to enjoy the beach like one normally would (in sunshine and heat), but neither of us voiced anything close to,

“Maybe we should turn back, because what can we do at the beach in this weather anyway?”

I thought about my planning. We didn’t plan for this weather. I love planning. Hubs does too. But we’re only Allah’s slaves. He is the one who controls everything. We don’t control the weather. We can only plan. But He carries out His plans and decrees. Subhanallah.

I looked at the kids sleeping, and thought to myself,

“Well, we’ll do what we can. Alhamdulillah, at least we’d get to see the beach inshaaAllah!”

In that quiet drive up and down the mountains and along the curves of the paved part of the forest, sleep would have been awesome. Yet, I couldn’t help looking out the window. I love rain. I love the idea of being cooped up inside when it’s either raining or snowing outside. The forest felt so calm and peaceful. We did notice that some areas of it were bare though, as if heavy logging had been done. But we also noticed tree saplings growing on those bare patches of land. Further on, I saw signs saying something like,

“In Oregon, we replant!”

Well, something like that. We also saw trucks carrying long tree trunks. Subhanallah, they do log, yet they replant the trees. Awesome!

Other than my “Of it’s so green!” exclamations every now and again, I did ask hubs about a question a friend of mine had asked me to ask him; investments and savings. Let me say that when I was in college, I had to be forced to go to my Economics class by my classmate. I hated that class with a passion. Another thing I hate with a passion, is politics. Growing up, all I hear with regards to politics is emotional bashing and backbiting. Not my cup of tea. To this day, I have to force myself to keep up with what is going on in the world, just so I don’t become a frog under a coconut shell (a Malay saying that means a person who is so ignorant of the things happening around him). If not for that, I would have happily remained in my own world of all things beautiful.

2013Apr11 031 To be honest, I was secretly hoping the rain would abate by the time we get to Cannon Beach. I mean, seriously, it doesn’t rain at the beach does it? There has to be a scientific sanction on rain at the beach, right?

The one and a half hour drive finally led us to this sign, signifying that we were close to Cannon Beach. And guess what, yes, you can tell from our windshield, it was still raining! Oh boy…

I didn’t know what to expect. This was our first time in Oregon and all I know is that the Oregon coast is a beautiful place. After living in the US for about 16 years now, we’ve never actually been to any of its beaches, except for Hawaii, and even that, it was just hubs and me. We had left the kids behind on that trip because it was too expensive and we only went because he had a conference. We ate Indonesian Ramen noodles cooked in hot water for dinner and lunch, in order to be able to afford the plane tickets and room.

I have to say I was actually surprised when we arrived at Cannon Beach. We didn’t see the beach actually. We drove through a little town, and it seemed like it says that that is Cannon Beach. What?? We passed a sign that says Ecola State Park, but I told hubs to follow the sign that says Cannon Beach. I honestly thought we would be driving by the coast like we did on the Pacific Coast Highway down south in California. And yes, it was still raining.2013Apr11 035

The little town that we drove through was actually quite comely. It gave me the impression of a quaint little seaside town and the architecture even looked quite British in some ways. I loved it. In that rain and after taking turns here and there, making circles, we arrived at the Visitor’s Info. Hubs and I got down. It was still raining.

The kids stirred up, but had no desire to get out of the van in that rain. The lady at the Visitor’s Info took a map and showed my husband where to go if it was nicer weather. She said,

“Do you have kids?”

“Yes, 15, 14, 13 and 5.”

“Oh, there’s not much you can do in this weather right now, but since you’re here, you gotta do what you gotta do! If it was nicer weather I would have told you to go up to the Ecola State Park. They have an overlook there near the carpark and you can get a really nice view of the beach and ocean from there. But in this weather, it’ll be too foggy to see anything.”

Apparently the low tide was at 7 a.m. and we got there around 10, so the tide had come up and the tide pool was no longer accessible. Alhamdulilah ala kulli 7aal. After hubs left, I lingered there and grabbed brochures of interest, and mustered up the nerve to ask what I later realized was a real dumb question,

“Does it rain at the beach?”

The lady looked at me and paused before replying,

“It rains everywhere! The rain doesn’t stop at Hemlock Street!”

She chuckled, and I chuckled along with her and later kicked myself for asking a dumb question. (Well, not really. I figured it was a valid question that revealed my stupidity in that particular topic…*ahem*).

So we followed her directions and found ourselves walking in blustery frigid wind as soon as we got out of the van. We found our way to the beach, but apparently, the flowing stream of water that was flowing towards the sea through the beach was sewer water or that was what it seemed like as it said, “Beware, may contain animal waste.”IMG_0326

I didn’t let the kids cross that stream to the other side for fear of them getting that water on their clothes, which would then make it a hassle to pray. So we stayed on the other side of the beach. We could see Haystack Rock from that side but couldn’t access it. The waves were roaring in that blustery wind. We were all wearing winter jackets on the beach, which felt ironic, but was absolutely necessary. As we looked to the right, we could see fog hanging over the rocky landform jutting out to sea,

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The resort by the beach looked abandoned though I’m sure there were guests because we saw many cars parked at the parking lot. They’re probably either napping the windy and foggy Oregon morning away or busy sitting over steaming coffee, looking out the window at the sea.

and as we looked left, HayStack Rock seemed to be overcast in mist, and its reflection could be seen in a stretch of ocean water on the beach. It was beautiful, but without proper ‘lighting’. If the sun had been out, it would have been better. The kids teased the waves, and I shouted at them not to get their shoes wet since it was so cold.

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Seagulls accompanied us, and it was actually beautiful to see them patroning the beach at ease. You could hear the roar of the waves as they hit the beach and crept up. The tide was definitely coming in. Unfortunately, hanging off my right shoulder, was a bag containing Z’s food. I thought we would  be able to eat at the beach. How ridiculous! It was too cold and windy!

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Despite all that, I really appreciate the experience alhamdulillah. At least we arrived at the beach. The meandering streams of possible animals waste made such a lovely path to the ocean that it was enticing the kids to touch it. I didn’t want them to touch it. Since it was too windy, foggy and cold, there wasn’t much we could do other than take photos (which we quickly grew tired of) and chase the waves and bother the birds, so we decided to go back to the van, drive and see what else we could experience. As usual, hubs asked me,

“So where are we going?”

I didn’t know where we should go, but I thought of Seaside, the other coastal town further north. I had seen that when I was googling Oregon Coast, but I had chosen to go to Cannon Beach because of the tide pool. So, we decided to go to Seaside.

However, Allah granted us another Oregon coast experience subhanallah’ one that I would treasure for the rest of my life. We were driving out and hubs decided to just go wherever the road took him and we ended up in a private neighborhood with a tiny roundabout.

2013Apr11 077We were trying to access the ocean, and that drive around that roundabout took us to the most scenic path to the ocean I’ve ever seen. I only see these in movies! As soon as I saw the wooden bridge and the green grassy dunes, I knew I wanted to get out.

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“You go with the kids, I’ll wait here,” hubs offered.

Subhanallah this places was photographers’ heaven! Too bad I was too excited about being there that I didn’t care too much about taking photos. S was busy doing that, so I figured I’d have access to some great snapshots anyway. She’s been taking some great shots with her IPhone mashaaAllah.

As I walked across the wooden bridge, I could hear the ocean beyond the curvature of the sand dunes right in front of me where Z already was standing.

2013Apr11 078The wind blew the tall, slender, willowy grass, pressing them down against the sand. The wind has probably done this so habitually that the grass seemed to have been permanently plastered on the sand. It’s as if it has been sleeping on one side for too long that it has developed a permanent inclination. Z was running after his older siblings who had dashed out to the sea as fast as they could, and I didn’t want him to get out of my view, which he already was.

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The view that greeted me as I reached the end of that path, while yelling,

“Z! Wait for Mama! Z!!”

was breathtaking….

The panoramic view that I took in was just subhanallah, amazing. To the right was part of the land, gradually rising to a higher elevation into rocky cliffs, with a few rocky blobs perched halfway in the ocean.

2013Apr11 080 To the left was another elevation, and I was guessing that Ecola State Park lookout would have been there right at the top of the foresty cliffs. We could still see Haystack Rock from this part of the beach though. Amazing! IMG_0412So this particular beach was straddled by these two landforms on both sides. I was standing at the top of the sand dunes, looking down over the ocean. I was truly awed subhanallah. I didn’t want to move away from there. I tried to climb up the sand dunes and get to the highest elevation. Z stood with me, looking down at his siblings running around on the beach below. He soon joined them. I felt glued to that spot, just taking in the beautiful scenery.

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I realized then that i was repeatedly saying to myself,

“Subhanallah…subhanallah….subhanallah….”

and I felt a certain tightening in my chest, like a slight ache that later gave way to an outpouring of emotions I didn’t know I had. I took photos, but as I was trying to get everything in in the camera, I realized that it’s a futile effort, at least for me and my camera. The wanna-be photographer in me gave way to dreamer Me, and I just stood there scanning the sight before my eyes from right to left and left to right again and again. It wasn’t long before my gaze turned upwards toward the sky, and I found myself saying audibly,

“Ya Allah, please let us experience this with a little sunshine. Please…”

Behind me were the private residences, looking so peaceful as a backdrop of the swaying grasses on the dunes. To the far back were the mountains with the fog hanging over them like a perpetual curtain, letting no sunlight through.

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The Pacific ocean was beguiling in its hue and just vast expanse.The beach was smooth, flawless, a light tan color, probably hiked and walked on by man and animals.

I don’t know how long I stood there, but after a while, I noticed that it was getting brighter. IMG_0417

It felt like the fog was lifting, and subhanallah, true enough, the sun was coming out, not completely, but at least enough to change the hue of the sky before us from a greyish blue to a cheery blue. It completely changed the scenery! Subhanallah, I felt that ache in my chest again. Allah was letting out that sunshine just enough so we could see the scenery in a slightly different light. Subhanallah. This was more than just beautiful scenery. This was…a deep connection to Allah by marveling at His creations. It was in describable. I made my duas, those particular ones that I have been asking for and saving for the trip for extra ‘high priority’. This trip was somewhat different than other trips because I had approached it with a cheery attitude to some problems we were having here and there (no, not in our marriage, alhamdulillah).

I had said to myself again and again,

“I’ll use this trip for making more of those duas. It’s all good. Allah will come through for me. He always does. He always does. He never ever disappoints.”

And that’s true. Allah NEVER disappoints. Whatever He decrees, is good.

 

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In a flash it suddenly occurred to me that I was enjoying this by myself, while hubby was sitting in the van waiting for us. The kids were enjoying themselves running around on the beach down below. For some reason, the wind here wasn’t as blustery and frigid as it was on the other beach. Subhanallah. I hailed one of the kids who had a phone and told them to call hubs, to tell him to just park somewhere and come here. He had to come. We couldn’t leave without all of us experiencing this place. Especially after Allah has answered my plea and let the sun out.

So, being hubs, he drove and tried to find a parking place.

“I’m here, I’m parked. Where are you?” he asked as I tried to hear what he was saying on the phone.

“We’re on the dunes. Where are you?” I hollered back. It was still windy, and my hijab was plastered on my ears.

“I’m by the river probably leading to the sea. I can’t cross it.”

I stretched my neck to look to the far left and saw water flowing out to the sea, probably from that very river he was talking about. Where ever he was at that river, it would take too much and long for him to go alongside it and reach the beach, so I told him,

“Ok, just come back here, and I’ll sit in the van while you take a look at this place.”

As I saw him coming, I prepared to leave, and felt like I was leaving a very special place. Wistfully, I took one last lingering look at the ocean before I headed for the bridge. IMG_0455

I don’t what this place is called. I don’t know where it exactly is, but I don’t really mind. It was a place where I experienced a heart-rending, heart-melting experience where I felt so small and awed by Allah’s Might and Mercy. It will always hold a special place in my heart and even as I am typing this, my heart is feeling that little achy feeling, that strong yearning for something greater than anything in this world can offer; gazing upon the face of the Allah 3azza wa jall.

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If it is this beautiful on earth, imagine how much more beautiful Jannah is…May we all be reunited in Jannah. Ameen!

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4 thoughts on “My Special Place on the Oregon Coast

  1. subhanAllah Juli. Very nice post and pictures. I have vague memories of the Oregon beach, and thats exactly how I remember it. I was expecting sunny and tropical, instead, it was bleak, cold, windy and very beautiful. I like beaches like that, i feel they are more natural…even though you can’t swim, its very calming. The beaches in Iceland are stunning too…even though they have much the same bleak look. Now your making me wistful for trees and rain and a cold surf…lol…well, just to be out of Cruces! They really do make you wonder if the creation is this beautiful…how much more the Creator…:)

  2. SuhanAllah i wa bi hamdihee subhan Allah il azeem. May Allah grant us all closeness to His creation and in turn closeness to the Creator. A beautiful narration. JazakAllah khair for posting.

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