Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sunday Photo Blogging: Coasting to Disaster

Last week I found myself jonesing for an adventure. Realizing that I had not yet made it out to the Coast since my arrival in Oregon in April, I thought that sounded like a good day-trip. On a whim I Googled “Yachats low tide August 12 2007” and it turned out that Sunday was actually going to be the lowest tide of the year, so the state was going to have naturalists posted at the tidepools at Cape Perpetua to show folks around and answer questions about the critters. Being a huge dork, I thought that sounded like fun.

Of course, low tide was from 8-10 a.m., and Yachats is three and a half hours away, so I was up and out before dawn, which had me on one of my favorite drives – OR 34 from Corvallis to Waldport – just as the sun was coming up and the morning fog was starting to lift. Fantastic.

It wasn’t the best weather one could have hoped for on the Oregon Coast in August, but it was fun poking around the tidepools.

The pools are in the cracks and crevices of a massive lava flow, and the rocks are actually pretty difficult to walk on because they are extremely sharp and craggy, and of course the farther out you go, the more encrusted they are with barnacles, anemones and mussels. You don’t have to go very far before there’s no bare rock left, and I waffled about going further because I didn’t want to smush anything, but I saw the naturalists were just standing on the mussel beds. Those shells are amazingly strong – you can walk right over the top of them, and not only do they not pry loose, they don’t crack or crunch under the weight of an adult!

In this pool you can see some of Oregon’s ubiquitous green anemones (occasionally you see some pink or purple ones) and some purple urchins crawling around.

There were tons of ochre sea stars, mostly purple with a few red and orange ones. Oregon also has a few sunflower stars, but I didn’t see any. There was this one guy with six arms, though.

It’s a pretty harsh environment, but it seems to suit these guys just fine.

After a couple hours out on the rocks, I hiked for about a mile back into the old-growth forest on the other side of US 101 to see this 400 year old, 195-foot tall Sitka Spruce. (It used to be 230 feet tall, but a storm snapped off the top a couple decades ago.) The trunk at the base is 15 feet in circumference.

Since I still had some laundry and other domestic tasks to accomplish before the weekend’s end, I decided to head back with the goal of arriving home in the late afternoon. I had a quick bite to eat in Newport, but then found myself in a nightmarish traffic jam of vacationers heading back to town. It took two hours to go the 23 miles from Newport to Lincoln City, where I turned east to head to Portland.

Having spent the last couple of hours rarely getting above 5 mph, I looked at the open expanse of OR-18 with a sigh of relief and stepped on the gas.

KERRRRRRRRGGGXXXXUGUSSFFGGSSSKKKKXXHHH! went my engine, as the RPM needle spiked into the red and my poor old Mercury labored to get above 30. I put on the blinkers and pulled over to the shoulder, and immediately smoke and steam started pouring out from under the hood, and a thick, dark, bubbly, stinky goo boiled out from the engine and spilled onto the asphalt. “Hmm, that isn’t good,” I said, aloud to no one.

Fortunately I was still in an area with cellphone service, so I was able to reach my parents. The car actually belongs to them (once I get, you know, a *job*, I will investigate the possibility of getting my own), and the AAA account is in their name, which means one of them is supposed to be with the car in order to get it towed, but my mother sweetly cajoled them into rescuing me. That process took about half an hour, and then AAA called me to say a driver would pick me up in 30-45 minutes. Precisely at the 45 minute mark, my phone rang again: it was the driver saying he’d just gotten a page and would be to me in...30-45 minutes. Sigh. Altogether I was only by the side of the road for two hours, which wasn’t so bad, I guess. I passed the time by imagining what my tow-truck driver would look like and indulging in fantasies of falling in love and spending the rest of my life living on the Oregon Coast with my hot, hunky tow-truck driving husband.

It was not to be.

Exploring Oregon’s pristine tidepools? Priceless. Having your car towed to Beaverton? $280.

We abandoned the car at the mechanic’s front door, who just had it in a couple weeks ago for a tune-up. My stepfather spoke to him and reported back to me that, quote, “The problem is with the tranny.” I refrained from commenting.

A week later, the car is still there and we have yet to hear a diagnosis, prognosis, or estimate. My stepfather has been driving me to and from work every day this week, and I remain exceedingly grateful that I found an apartment across the street from a grocery store. My mother is pondering trading it in, so every night before I go to bed I close my eyes, rub my temples and try to establish subliminal mind-contact while I chant, “Prius, Prius, Prius…


Anonymous said...

You are ever hopeful. You think I will get a Prius for you to drive when "our" own car is an '89 Honda? If I get a Prius you can have the Honda...

Love ya,

Jess said...

If I were your mom, I'd get you a Prius. :)

(Okay, so now I have to look out for your mom coming after me!)

Any chance you'd like to come sightseeing with us one day during our October trip? We're thinking Thursday and/or Friday may be a coast day. And if some tranny attacks our car, we'll just ditch it, since it's a rental. ;)

Brechi said...

wow i love your pictures of the tidal pools. ;)

Gino said...

ok, we got the tow truck, but i didnt see the promised ziploc bag and cat poop.

Andy said...

Oh yeah, that. Well, Rocky had a little blood in his poo last week, so we had to take a sample up to the vet. Seeing as I had no car, I put some poo in a ziploc, gave it to my stepfather and he delivered it for me.

Rocky's fine.