Nestucca Bay

Looking south at low tide on Winema Beach.

Looking south at low tide on Winema Beach.

We should visit the Oregon coast more often.

Last two times we’ve gone, we’ve enjoyed brilliant sunshine and dry weather. We hadn’t been there since May 2013, so iwe were way overdue for a return visit. This past weekend, we made it back. And once again we were the guests of our longtime friends, Tom and Elsa Guiney, whom we’ve known since college.

Lori and Elsa: A friendship that began as college roommates more than 40 years ago.

Lori and Elsa: A friendship that began as college roommates more than 40 years ago.

They had us over for two nights at their beach getaway just south of Pacific City, and it was a relaxing time. We slept in both days, walked on the beach, shopped at a local thrift store, prepared two delicious dinners, and played cards and a board game. It was Lori’s and my first time playing canasta, a challenging game that I’d like to try again sometime.

Charlotte's senses come alive at the ocean's edge.

Charlotte’s senses come alive at the ocean’s edge.

We had our two dogs, Otto and Charlotte, and they had their one, Maggie — and all three got along just great. We brought ours on the long walk on Winema Beach, which ended at Nestucca Bay, where we saw seals feasting on a crab pot.

As nice as all those things were (oh, did I mention that Lori and Elsa also hit the hot tub?), we topped off the visit with two quintessentially Oregon activities on Sunday morning:

First, we drove just a couple miles north to the Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge and joined the crowds of people who flocked to the site hoping to catch a glimpse of a rare bird rarely seen in the lower 48. Yes, I’m talking about the tundra bean goose — a bird with an unlikely name and an even unlikelier journey from its native habitat in northern Asia and Europe.

You wouldn’t think looking at a plain, mostly brown bird would be such a big deal but I know all four of us kinda felt like we were in the presence of a rock star — the only one of its feathered kind in an emerald field of Canada geese.

The Oregonian’s Kelly House wrote about the wayward goose and the love it was getting from birders. You can also see a photo gallery here.

Tom, Elsa and Lori strike a pose on the banks of the Salmon River near its confluence with the Pacific Ocean.

Tom, Elsa and Lori strike a pose on the banks of the Salmon River near its confluence with the Pacific Ocean.

Second, we turned around and headed south to Cascade Head, a popular hiking spot that’s owned by the Nature Conservancy and also home to rare plants, wildlife and grassland. We didn’t do any hiking,  but we did walk along the Salmon River, which feeds into the Pacific near Cascade Head, and enjoyed the warmth of the sun.

We were there at the coast not even 48 hours. But the visit was soothing for the soul and satisfying for the tummy. Nothing like a picturesque getaway to get you back in touch with the understated beauty of this part of Oregon. Those breaking waves are mesmerizing and the chilly night sky is chock full of stars that you rarely see because of the city lights.

Here’s hoping it won’t be 18 more months before our next visit to the coast.

The Salmon River: Spectacular.

The Salmon River: Spectacular.

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