It was planned as a relaxing get-together weekend with friends Stephen & Nancy Bennett and Joe & Linda Morgan, but turned out having additional significance as a sort of “Stephen’s Muse Sightseeing Travelogue.” So this will in fact be an actual harp guitar blog!
View from the living room balcony of our beach house. This and most photos by Linda Morgan
For four nights last weekend we shared a big rental beach house in Yachats, Oregon (the “c” is silent), the town that includes Sea Rose Beach, inspiration for the beloved classic Bennett tune. It turns out that the place is named for the proliferation of “sea roses” which are these beautiful pink anemones (none of us knew this; did you?!).
A “sea rose,” the namesake of Sea Rose Beach.
Above is a beautiful large one. In the tide pools which were constantly and dramatically ebbing and flowing (and I, dodging) we saw hundreds of these along with a green species just under the surface of the water.
This and the above taken not with scuba gear and special equipment but with my iPhone whilst clambering about the uneven rocks.
There were also mussels galore, barnacles by the billions (which turn out to be near razor sharp when you stumble and catch yourself on a wall of ‘em!), and the occasional striking purple or orange starfish.
Note the closed and closing anemones above the water line. I was able to “pet” these and a starfish.
One of the days we spent hours tidepooling and beachcombing for interesting rocks, shells and agates. I didn’t spot a single agate (Nancy found most of these for us).
We took multiple drives up and down the coast, with plenty of beautiful stops along the way.
We were too late to take the elevator down to the famous (if touristy) “Sea Lion Caves,” but found a good hundred of ’em vociferously partying on their beach below.
Most spectacular was a long hike through dappled light old growth forest at Cape Perpetua in the Siuslaw National Forest. SB fans will recognize both of those as harp guitar song titles (“Old Growth” being a rare bottleneck harp guitar piece). It’s easy to see why he was inspired; I’ve never seen anything quite like it – equal parts soul-nourishing, natural science and Middle Earth – simply incredible and impossible to share through photographs.
Joe is barely hobbit-sized compared to the ancient spruces, cedars and alders.
A display and docent in the Visitors Center had alerted us to the cornucopia of weird and wonderful lichens, liverworts, moss and fungi we would encounter.
“Shelf fungus” could occasionally be seen growing on the sides of trees. A particularly beautiful example, about 6-7″ wide.
Every shade of green was represented, and much of the forest was covered with the many varieties of moss – some apparently sentient.
Natural wonders are all well and good, but we were anxious to visit the area’s most important landmark (for us): the original home of Augie and Gonky (now owned by Stephen’s Uncle Don). This is where Stephen visited twice as a youngster where he remembers seeing leaning in the corner the 1909 Dyer harp guitar that belonged to his great-grandfather Edgar Pierce (Gonky). Most readers know that many years later (in 1988, with SB now a professional guitarist) Uncle Don gave the instrument to Stephen. See March, 2009’s Harp Guitar of the Month for the story of this iconic harp guitar including an audio story from Stephen.
A memento from 1988 is still on display…
The porch behind us is the very spot where Stephen sat and wrote his tune “Oregon.”
It then occurred to us that if Stephen had not inherited that Dyer, none of us might have ever met – no harp guitar career for SB, none of that vast repertoire of fabulous music, no Harp Guitar Gathering or Harpguitars.net! So I am hereby christening the little house on the coast an “Official Registered Harp Guitar Historical Site.”
We had just enough time before our Portland flights to stop by the new home of Mike Doolin and Nancy Conescu (or “the House of Doolinescu”).
A quick hello and tour of “Nancy’s hobby,” their fabulous 3-story Arts & Crafts dream home, and Mike was off to master a new album, while Bennetts and Morgans bailed lickety-split to the airport.
Nancy then arrived to continue the tour, including the remodeled 2-story garage which serves as Mike’s new workshop.
Hmmm….the guy who retired from lutherie sure has an awful lot of prime wood just begging to be turned into guitars. And isn’t that an actual harp guitar top just laying there idle…?
As for the remainder of the weekend? As they say:
What happens in Yachats stays in Yachats.