Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Someday I'll get to Vernonia...

Ever since we moved to Oregon in late December, 2010, Adam has been telling me that I will like Vernonia.  It's a small town in the Oregon Coast Range, only 30 miles from my house.  As much as I like exploring the area, it's surprising I haven't been there yet.  So, last week, after the snow followed by days of rain had swollen all the local creeks, I thought it would be a perfect time to explore up towards Vernonia.  The Nehalem River would be running high and might provide some excitement.

While I do see the benefits of single-minded devotion to one's goal, I find it far too easy to get distracted. Especially here in western Oregon, where visual distractions abound.  So, not yet 2 miles from home, I stopped to take another photo in my series I'm calling "late apples".  For whatever reason, there are a lot of apple trees here this winter with apples stubbornly hanging on long after the leaves have dropped.  They are beautiful when the light is right.

The road up toward Vernonia is beautiful, wooded, twisty, and follows the West fork of Dairy Creek.  So every time I got a glimpse of the water, I was assessing the photo opportunity.  Plus, I just love mountain streams and still haven't gotten over the novelty of having them so close.  So, of course, I stopped... more than once.  The water was definitely running high, it sounded fantastic and the day was warming up, but the photos were not wonderful at this point.

Crawling over a large, wet, mossy log, I spotted this cute little guy...

The absolutely cool thing about exploring is that you never know what's going to be around the next bend in the road.  When I spotted this old railroad trestle through the trees, I jammed on the brakes.  Luckily there was enough room to pull off the road and walk safely.  Too often around here, taking photos means hanging part of your anatomy out into the road, and the people who know their way around these mountain roads really drive fast.  Luckily I had room to work, the road was quiet, and I could just concentrate on the excitement I was feeling.  Next time, I'm going to try to work my way down the slope to the creek and see how it looks from there.  But really, if I had ended my little trip right there, I would have been happy just to have discovered this special place.

A little ways up the road I found the entry to Stub Stewart State Park.  I had heard of this place, but it doesn't show up on Google Maps so I wasn't expecting to find it today.  It's a great park with a road that winds higher and higher up into the hills.  It has a campground, cabins, hiking trails, and the Banks-Vernonia paved trail crosses through the park.  I found lots of great trees, so I was happy shooting there for quite a while.

By this time, the afternoon was getting late, and I needed to get home.  I was still miles from Vernonia.  I hadn't even made it up to the watershed...  I was on the Dairy Creek side of the ridge, and I was hoping to see the Nehalem River on the other side.  That will have to wait for another day...  but someday soon I will get to Vernonia.

But I did see two more scenes along Hwy 47 on the way home that just HAD TO BE CAPTURED.  As a photographer, I'm always seeing the world in terms of light and composition.  When things are just right, you have to grab the photo while you can.  You can tell yourself you will come back later, but the light will be different.  In this case, the water level dropped significantly by the next day, so these places look very different now.

I know this is a lot of photos, and if you made it here to the end, you must love the natural landscape like I do.  I've lived in Oregon for a year, and this is my first blog post from here.  This particular day I spent exploring is so typical of what I find here, so I think this is a good place to start.

Stay open to beauty, my friend.

No comments:

Post a Comment