Occasional squalls at Cannon Beach have visitors seeking shelter

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Nora pauses to check out the prospects on a recent foray on Cannon Beach.

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An octopus eyes visitors at the Seaside Aquarium.

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Nora the Schnauzer licks her face in the breeze at Cannon Beach.

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Nora the Schnauzer finds friends on Cannon Beach.

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Nora plays toss-and-chase with a piece of crab on the beach.

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Nora heads down-beach in search of adventure at Cannon Beach in Oregon.

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Nora checks out the view from a high perch on the beach.

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The wind whips Nora's ears.

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Some exhibits at the Seaside Aquarium are truly hands-on.

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Nora the Schnauzer seeks out interesting riffraff among the rocks as the tide falls.

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Tanks at the Seaside Aquarium hold a variety of fish and sealife.

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The Seaside Aquarium consists of one main room, with an outside area for seals.

Editor's Note: Part 2 of this rainy foray to the Oregon Coast will appear in this spot next Wednesday.

CANNON BEACH, Ore. - A gray sky, a cold wind and a misty curtain failed to quell Nora the Schnauzer's enthusiasm for the wide expanse of sand.

I unsnapped her leash, and she flew with gravity-defying bounds in a great circle.

Dogs love the beach, of course, and they can't help showing it.

Taking a dog to the beach also makes a person feel good. Anyway, Nora has fun.

Darlene and I also enjoy the ocean, the surf, the beach and the shopping. Well, one of us shops while the other naps in the truck with Nora.

We cut the engine at the Tolovana Park beach access near Mo's Restaurant at 3:37 p.m. on a chilly Sunday. We had started it in Walla Walla at 7:36 a.m.

With Nora jumping up and down, eager to join the sparse crowd on the beach, I donned a sweater, a rain parka and stuffed Nora's red sweater into my pocket.

I snapped the leash to her collar, assured Darlene we would return momentarily to dine at Mo's, and we set off to explore.

Brrrr!

I pulled the parka's hood over my head and zipped its front to my chin against the wind. Nora pulled me northward toward the massive Haystack Rock.

The deep, falling tide sloshed around the big rock. That meant no tide pools to ponder.

So we turned southward, and I set Nora loose.

As I said, she almost burst with excitement when she charged around in widening circles, her toes digging up sandy plumes.

She paused to meet a dog and two people. Then, in the Small-World Category, she met a man and his daughter from Walla Walla who knew her name.

As we trundled to the truck, dark clouds spit cold rain drops. I moved the truck 40 yards nearer to Mo's. Darlene and I hurried inside while Nora curled up on her blanket. Perhaps to pout?

The rain grew furious and stayed furious as we dined, as I drove three miles south to the inn and as I unloaded the stuff.

It rained all night, a wind-roaring downpour that continued when Monday's gray dawn broke.

At the dawn, nevertheless, I dashed into clothes, boots and rain gear. I drove Nora two miles to Arcadia Beach so she could romp.

Alas, no romping. When I parked at the empty access area, she hesitated. Marble-sized rain drops plopped from the trees and drenched her enthusiasm.

Assuming she had to go, I pulled her sweater from my pocket. She didn't like that idea much, either. I cajoled her out, down the steps to the beach and she went. Soaked, we retreated to the inn.

After breakfast there, and a long dawdle, Darlene reluctantly suggested a visit to the Seaside Outlet Mall. Then we drove downtown, parked, left Nora in the truck and walked a block in the downpour to the Seaside Aquarium.

In the one-room's semi-darkness beneath a low ceiling, we joined a crowd determined to escape the deluge and ogled large-eyed fish, red octopi (octopuses?) and other bored, glass-bound sea creatures.

On the way out, I leaned toward watching the seals in a tank at the aquarium entrance, but a barrier of teenagers made such an elbowing effort seem undignified.

Then we headed back to the inn, with another stop at Mo's on the way.

A stranger told me that spring-time visitors on the Oregon Coast always gamble with the weather.

"The occasional squalls leave plenty of activities doable," he said. "Hardly anything remains doable with high winds and constant, all-day-long rains."

Yoicks! I thought. The man's a soothsayer or a philosopher.

Darlene and Nora agreed, so we spent that afternoon and evening at the wild Oregon Coast napping by a warm fire. So to speak.

Contact Don Davis at dondavis@wwub.com. More of Don's photos can be found online at www.tripper.smugmug.com.

Most Walla Walla visitors to the Oregon Coast take Interstate 84 from Pendleton to Portland and Highway 26 from Portland to the Seaside-Cannon Beach area. We take the less-traveled Washington Highway 730 to Umatilla, Highway 14 to Vancouver, I-5 to Highway 26 and due West to Highway 101 and south to Cannon Beach. We return the same way.

According to my calculations, we drive about 320 miles to the Cannon Beach area.

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