Friday, October 14, 2011

Bandon, Oregon: Home of the World's Greatest Sunset

On Thursday night, Sarah and I finished dinner in Bandon's Old Town district, on the Coquille River estuary.

Our dog Andie needed some exercise, so we drove to the beach on the south side of town.

Our timing was perfect, because the sun had just begun to set behind the sea stacks jutting from the sand and ocean waves.

It also happened to be low tide, so we were able to view Postelsia kelp (which resemble tiny palm trees), ochre sea stars, and black chitons (leathery mullosks) on the lower rocks.

It was also roosting time for hundreds of Brown Pelicans, which are staging all over the coast for their migration to winter breeding grounds in southern California and Mexico.

Could this sunset get any better? How about a rainbow and its reflection in the wet sand? It was not even raining in Bandon, but there must have been some precipitation to the north.

The sunset light was also reflecting on the sand, giving the beach a celestially tie-dyed look.

We have watched many sunsets on the Oregon coast, but this was surely the most eventful of all.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Southern Oregon: Acorn Woodpecker Land and a Foodie's Paradise

Early this week, Sarah and I left for a long-planned trip to Ashland, in southern Oregon. The primary purpose of our trip was to search for Acorn Woodpeckers and other oak-woodland birds for a project of ours.

We had no problem finding the woodpeckers, who left signs of their presence, such as the acorn granary above, at each of our stops.

We found another of our favorite species, the White-headed Woodpecker on Mount Ashland.

If you click on the photo above, you can see it clinging to a boulder.

In addition to birding, we sampled some of the best food and drink produced in Oregon.

On Wednesday, we visited the Dagoba factory store to stock up on bars of my favorite dark chocolate.

The next day we proceeded north to Central Point.

This small agricultural town is home to the best cheese in the world, according to the World Cheese Awards.

We have been fans of the Rogue Creamery's blue cheeses for several years, so we could not pass up the opportunity to visit their store and factory. We bought a slice of an earthy blue cheese, which we enjoyed during a quick car picnic.

We also visited a couple of wineries, including Abacela in the Umpqua River Valley. The valley's sunny summers allow growth of big red varietals that are most often produced in other states. We bought a bottle of syrah that we plan to enjoy on Thanksgiving, if we can wait that long.

We ended our day's travels in Bandon, a beautiful town on the southern coast.

The Bandon area is full of cranberry bogs and we made sure to stop in Old Town to buy the chocolate-covered cranberry sticks that I always associate with the south coast.

We have two more days of traveling ahead of us, but the trip has been a great success.