OUTDOORS - Foggy stroll ends Oregon Coast trip

Strolls along foggy Yaquina Bay's North Jetty, and a stop by Cape Foulweather's gift shop, put an end to an excursion to the Oregon Coast.

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The Yaquina Bay Bridge looms in the early morning fog.

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A sea lion keeps track of the action at the entrance to Yaquina Bay.

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Nora the Schnauzer is dwarfed by rocks on the North Jetty, many of which weigh 30-40 tons.

NEWPORT -- As usual, a gloomy fog lay over the beach at dawn during our recent Oregon Coast visit.

Moisture beads clung to my rain jacket and the lenses of my glasses, which I wiped twice, as I strolled along behind Nora the Schnauzer toward the North Jetty at the entrance to Yaquina Bay.

Or Newport Bay.

Whichever.

It's the bay with two names, according to Google.

So, Nora gamboled all over the place, often a shadow in the foggy distance with complaining gulls and crows sailing lazily from her path to settle again 20 yards away.

At the North Jetty, built with earth and mammoth rocks weighing up to 40 tons dropped into the sea, she scooted up to the top.

As I followed, I took photos of the rocky wall with the fog-subdued Yaquina Bay Bridge and the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse in the background.

The jetty exists to protect sea-going vessels leaving and returning to Yaquina Bay, not to provide recreation for tourists. A storm, especially at high tide, could make the jetty dangerous.

Yet, for a week on calm, foggy mornings, we explored the jetty on our early morning jaunts.

Once we met a woman and a black dog, and once we met a man and a woman.

Most often we saw shadowy crows, gulls and pelicans.

I enjoyed the solitude enhanced by the fog and the rhythmic, deep-throated fog horn in the distance, along with the surf's steady surge and with grumpy calls of crows and gulls.

Nora enjoyed the simple freedom to dash from seaweed clump to driftwood lump, although she did often stand still and follow a passing boat, pelican or gull with her gaze.

And she looked at my hand when I pointed and said, "Look! A sea lion."

From the jetty I counted 12 sea lions that surged to the surface, until I began counting them twice. Then I decided two of them could be seals.

Once, a sea lion, for sure, surfaced about 30 yards out from the jetty and snorted at me. Or Nora.

I did manage photos of some sea lions, of several fishing boats and a Coast Guard cutter passing in the fog, and of fishermen on a small boat tossing out nets a few yards from us.

Along the jetty we walked 200 yards or so to a wall of four boulders the size of log cabins and squeezed between two of them.

We continued for another 100-plus yards to a rougher rock surface.

Then we turned back, and I snapped photos of a great blue heron among the rocks and as it sailed down onto the beach. I snapped a seagull that floated away from a rock when Nora approached. I snapped brown pelicans with seagulls at surf's edge below.

Back at the motel, I felt damp to the bone and Nora's hair curled tightly over her body. Darlene had warm muffins for us and hot coffee for me.

Fog still lay on the beach when Darlene directed us to the gift shop at Cape Foulweather one more time before we headed home the next morning.

On the way, we broke into an unexpected bright sunlight.

Then, from the 500-foot overlook near the gift shop, we had a clear view of the fog bank that still spread across the Newport beaches and the North Jetty.

It reminded me of those fog-bound winter days in the Walla Walla Valley, when you drive up Weston Mountain and see a thick, white foggy cloud spread over the valley.

That's nice, of course.

Yet, it's not quite the same as a wandering in a fog by the sea to the tunes of rolling waves, bird calls and a fog horn.

Contact Don Davis at dondavis@wwub.com.

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