A Respite

from the March Storm Watch follows a power failure in Newport, Ore.

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On March 13, snow covers the parking area near the Hatfield Marine Science Center at Newport.

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Pre-dawn snow covers the pet area at the Hallmark Inn.

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Pre-dawn snow covers the Hallmark Inn parking area on Tuesday, March 13.

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Nora steps into a photo of the historic Yaquina Bay Bridge at Newport.

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Nora causes a sea gull to fly.

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Nora breaks into flight on the Newport Beach.

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Motels hover on cliffs above the beach at Newport.

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Mists frequently hide Yaquina Head from view during Storm Watch.

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Lingering snow covers the cliff above the Newport beach.

Editor’s Note: Part one of this three-part tale about a visit to the stormy Oregon Coast appeared in this section last Wednesday.

So, all normal motel sounds ceased at 8:21 p.m. on the second evening of our March Storm Watch stay at Newport, Ore.’s Hallmark Inn.

No lights buzzing; no television yapping; no heater droning.

And neither Darlene, Nora the Schnauzer nor I muttered a sound as we stood in the dark and watched swallowtail-sized snowflakes flutter past the balcony.

Eventually, by feel, I started the computer on battery power. Alas, no Internet. In the screen’s shadowy light, however, I rummaged through the rain parka’s pockets for my key ring with the LED light.

Then I located the 86-pocket photographer’s vest in the closet. One pocket held the powerful mini-mag flashlight and a bag of spare batteries.

I lit the mini-mag and flashed it at the snowfall through the big west window. Then I opened the front door to the breezeway and met a woman from the front desk.

We jumped.

Nora bounced.

I asked about the weather forecast.

The woman said it would snow all night, with 8-to-15 inches on the Coast Range, between Newport and Portland. She said that if we left, to be careful of road conditions.

We wouldn’t leave, I said. We planned to Storm Watch until Friday.

She offered me a small oil lamp and a book of matches, which I accepted, although the mini-mag converts into a lamp with the lens as a base.

The mini-mag also fit into the neck of an empty Henry’s Private Reserve bottle while I lit the oil lamp. But it went out.

The mini-mag lit the ceiling.

So, I donned the Hard Corps parka and took Nora for her pre-bedtime toilet. Neither darkness nor snow dampened her enthusiasm for the romp.

To curtail her, I insisted that she "go pee" five times before she did. Then, ready for bed, she bounded back to our room.

As I removed my storm gear in the dark room, Darlene rose in bed and asked if I had seen lights anywhere.

I had not.

In bed, I read by the mini-mag for, oh, eight minutes before dozing off and awakening when the lights and heater went on. Darlene’s cell phone said 5:18 a.m. Tuesday, March 13, 2012.

Nora stretched, ready to go out.

We did.

No wind blew.

No snow fell, but six inches of it covered the pet area.

Back at the room the TV worked.

The Internet didn’t.

I dozed in a chair until 7:30 and took our cups to the espresso bar and found it closed.

A desk manager rubbed Nora’s ears, pointed out the coffee thermos for guests, gave me three packs of extra coffee to brew in the room. She said neither her land-line nor the Internet worked. The Internet would be down 1-to-3 days.

Back at the room, Darlene microwaved bagels. I loaded them with cream cheese and poured orange juice.

We dined in soft chairs before the ocean-view window and watched dark storm clouds form.

"We should do something," I mumbled.

Neither of us moved.

We watched the surf.

We read.

Eventually, we showered and dressed.

I stood in a cuff-deep puddle of slush to brush heavy snow from the truck.

We drove slushy streets through Yaquina Bay park’s down tree branches.

We crossed the bay bridge to the Hatfield Marine Center, but it closed on Tuesday and Wednesday. On the way to Fred Meyers we passed a road to Old Town closed by sagging power lines.

After Darlene’s shopping stint, we dined again at the Chalet.

By the time we reached the Hallmark Inn again, the slush in the parking area had drained, and a slanting sun challenged the misty shroud over the surf.

Nora and I hastened to the beach. I took two cameras, and we turned south to the sand dunes and the jetty.

Nora romped toward the cliffs, splashed through a stream, scaled a 20-foot sand bank and flew with flapping ears in a wide circle.

She faded into the tall grass on the dunes. I followed on twisting paths to the North Jetty.

We strolled to a tall gate, climbed down and returned north on the wide beach. As we neared the 72 steps up to the inn, six brown pelicans flew by.

An hour remained before sunset, but window-rattling winds, dark clouds and rain hid the horizon and the sun.

The brief respite from Storm Watch had ended.

Nora and I didn’t mind.

We needed a nap among the normal hotel sounds.

Editor’s Note: Part three of this three-part tale about a visit to the stormy Oregon Coast will appear in this section next Wednesday.

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

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