We’ve traveled more than half the Oregon coast, and we never grow tired of the evergreen forest that extends from the edge of the High Desert in central Oregon west to the Pacific, practically dipping its toes into the surf. Our barrier islands in Florida allow for only a thin strip of sea grape along a shallow dune, and much of that has been cultivated to prevent erosion of the dunes. Oregon is known for its dramatic volcanic headlands overlooking beaches strewn with sea stacks, those stubborn little knots of rock left standing on the beach after the softer rock around them erodes away.
So it was disconcerting to emerge from the Siuslaw National Forest on Oregon’s central coast to see not rock but sand dunes. And not just any dunes. These are massive dunes, some reputed to peak at 500 feet above sea level. According to Wikipedia, this is the largest stretch of coastal dunes (40 miles) in North America—the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.
Because of the rain that started just as we arrived, we weren’t able to get out amongst them, but the view we had from the Oregon Dunes Overlook was startling: forest interrupted by a wide belt of sand, so that we looked out over forest, then dunes, then forest, then—way off in the distance—ocean. Such an anomaly of nature. Who would have thought?