The vast ocean lay in front of me, a massive blanket with no end in sight. Overhead, streaks of cirrus clouds graced the pale blue sky like the wings of an enormous Trumpeter Swan. Beneath my feet lay a layer of black basaltic stones, their surfaces worn smooth by the relentless waves.
As the calls of seagulls fills the air and the roaring of the ocean resounds in my ears, I can’t help but feel a great surge of emotion coursing throughout my body — coursing as if the wild waves themselves were fervently rushing through my veins.
The drive to the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area lasted slightly less than three hours. After spending quite some time in a stuffy car, the ocean breeze feels fresh and liberating. Stretching my aching legs, I walk down the rickety wooden staircase. At the bottom, a majestic scene is spread in front of me.
The ocean that is stretched before me is beautiful. A magnificent blend of blue and green. Gulls and other birds soar high above on updrafts, occasionally swooping low and gliding across the surface of the waves. Rays of sunshine, reflecting off the seawater, give the ocean a dazzling appearance. The white, foaming waves murmur as they wash away stray strands of seaweed and pieces of driftwood from the stony beach while depositing new ones in their place.
As I make my way towards the waves I notice that the beach is not covered in sand. Rather, fourteen million years ago, the Columbia River basalt lava flows formed Yaquina Head, and stones — having fallen from the hillside and morphed by the sea — have gathered on the coastal land. After millennia of this phenomenon occurring, the beach is completely comprised of round, black, basaltic stones. Truly, a cobble beach.
A small distance in front of the stone-laden beach are several large cracks and crevices in between many large pieces of rock, battered — but not yet broken — by the fierce waves. Tide pools. Peering over the rugged edges of the rocks, I spy the amethyst sea urchins, the emerald anemones, and the amber arms of a half-hidden starfish. A tiny world of their own teeming with life and color.
The grandness of the ocean, the uniqueness of the beach, and the splendid tide pools caused a great wave of pride and wonder to swell inside me. Pride that this beautiful place — this natural area — is a part of my home state and part of me, and wonder and amazement at the sheer artistry of the natural world.
A piece of plastic, something which looks slightly like a piece of a broken plastic bottle, disfigures the serene landscape. The distant cry of a seagull reaches my ears. “It sounds like mournful laughter,” I think. The plastic and the cry of the seagull bring me back to my senses. Back to the real world. A world both threatened and protected by us.
“How beautiful this world is,” I think, “We should cherish this world, preserve it so that generations to come can also appreciate its majesty. This world should live and thrive. Not just for the moment, but until the end of time. This is one trip I will never forget.”
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