Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas 2015 in Photos

The build up to Christmas Day started with a spectacular sunrise on the 23rd.

On the 24th, snow was low on Spirit Mountain above us.

With just a little left on the path from the night before...

I asked for my Christmas present a little early that morning. Johnny wanted a photo of me with it before it was unwrapped for people to guess what it is. (Hint: I was on my way out to the barn and it is *not* a snow shovel.)

We had mixed reports on whether the Hwy 22 five foot sinkhole had been repaired or not. That is the route we take to go to Tillamook on Christmas Day to have dinner with friends. So we decided to drive that far to find out. If the road was still closed, we would have to go the long way around through Lincoln City.

Happily, the road was repaired. Temporary guard thingies protected cars from a very long drop to the creek.

Just beyond the road repair area was Gunaldo Falls. It is invisible in the summer with only a trickle of water. Leaves on the trees block the view anyway. But now it was full and visible.

As long as we were out and about, we drove up Agency Creek Rd. to see the new pavement now that that road is finally reopened. Close to the end of the pavement (six miles from our farm) we ran into snow on the road... and in the air.

I wanted to go back quickly before it got too thick but Johnny, as always, had to build a little snowman first. I took a photo through the van window.

That night there was a lovely full moon with a colorful halo around it but my camera did not pick up the colors. My New Year's resolution is to read my camera's info guide and figure out what all these settings are for.

Christmas morning dawned clear and cold. Snow was very low on the mountains above the horse pasture.

The horse pasture was white with frost, not snow. The horses were muddy from their rolls in the field earlier so the only one I will show a photo of is Nightingale because she is too dark (and too far away) to show the mud.

After chores we left for the coast. Since this was the highest tide of the year, we stopped first at McPhillips Park to walk "our" mile (Mile 262) and take photos of the highest point the water came to. It turned out that was very high indeed. The access road was completely blocked with wood and kelp and debris. (Info on adopting a mile of Oregon beach is at the CoastWatch site: )

That was the only day we have walked that beach without vehicles on it. The only other access point is around a rock outcropping to the north... which was now surrounded by ocean.

The ocean was also up to and climbing the dunes to the south of the access road. We had to climb part way up to avoid becoming part of the debris being rolled around in the surf.

 The sand on the north side of the Cape Kiwanda dune had been washed off rocks and relocated.

Three Black Turnstones were finding bits of things to eat among the rocks.

After returning to McPhillips Park and our car, we ate lunches we had packed (well, one of us had left his lunch on the counter at home but I always have lots of extra snacks in my pack so he didn't starve). Then drove north to our friends' the Woodhouses. They took us on a tour of the many landslides and areas that had been flooded, plus showed us lots of birds, including more Common Mergansers than I have ever seen before in one group (John Woodhouse judged 60) and more raptors in one field than we see on our entire raptor route. But my favorite scene was a Great Blue Heron perched atop a moored fishing boat.

It had been a lovely, sunny Christmas Day with snow on the mountains east of Tillamook over still partially flooded fields, but dark clouds were moving in... It was time to head for the Shiloh Inn and our Christmas dinner.

 By the time we left for home (after a delicious meal that none of us had to cook or clean up after) it was growing dark and foggy. Today, two days after that incredible sunny Christmas Day, the rain has returned. How lucky we all were to have a dry and sunny Christmas in this wet and dark December.

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