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.
A life of love and harp guitars, what more could a man want? Great post Sir Gregory!
Great blog Gregg. I’m glad you folks had a great time!
We certainly had a great time. Nice to hang out with good friends in such beautiful surroundings. Especially after driving through six inches of snow to get to the airport in Dallas. Go figure. Can’t wait to do it again.
But, what’s all this about a 5 mile hike? I remember a short, three and a half hour stroll through some big trees, but 5 miles? I think Jaci is making that up….
A nice recap of the trip, Gregg! It was great to be able to show where some of my early harp guitar tunes came from (not to mention where my first harp guitar came from). Sea Rose Beach, Oregon, Old Growth, and Cape Perpetua all came from the Oregon Coast. I love the place.
And in case she forgot to mention it, Jaci hiked 5 miles!
Lastly, if you look, there’s a face in the picture of the mossy tree. Very Tolkien-esque!
Best to all,
Oregon and it’s coast are beautiful. One of my kids who grew up here in Miami Florida lives in Bend Oregon now and we travel to see him and his family every year. We also visit the state parks and the light houses along the coast. It is nothing like Miami Florida. I am glad you made time to be with friends in such a beautiful place.
It was one glorious weekend… my cheeks still hurt from laughing.
What Gregg left out about the beautiful forest hike was… that it was 5 MILES. Verdant, lush, quiet scenery. Did I mention we hiked 5 MILES? Did I mention that we were all (except Stephen, the Hike Master himself) so sore as to need oil for the joints ala “The Tin Man” for the rest of the day & beyond? The next day was clambering over the rocks on the beach, prospecting for agates & rocks & pearls (see blister pearl in the big mussel shell) hoping the knees would hold us all out of the foamy depths.
Gregg also left out my great Shamrock/fern pictures & the huge yellow skunk flower blossom & the wavy bark shots… too many pictures, so little blog space. But I digress.
We hiked 5 MILES! (I only point this out, since the last time I hiked more than 100 feet was 20 years ago). My joints are still sore! I will pay Stephen back if it’s the last thing I do… unfortunately, I’ll have to catch him first.
phabulously wonderphul. Can’t wait for HGG13.