PHOTO OF THE WEEK: CANNON BEACH, OREGON

Cannon Beach is king of the coast in Oregon. Stretching for several miles along the crashing and heaving Pacific, it’s cool and windy even in summer. I was lucky to have a cloudless day when I visited, though I’ve been told storms here can be truly spectacular. The vastness of the beach, then the infinite ocean beyond, and of the sky, stopped me cold.

Cannon Beach

Strolling along the water, with the ocean at low tide, gave me a sense of how small we really are. The howling wind coupled with the bright sun forces my head down as I walk. And then, of course, there’s Haystack Rock. Looking over the whole beach and seemingly beyond, Haystack is a 235-foot solitary giant. One of the largest monolithic rocks in the world, it seems bulky from afar, but walking up to and around it is quite the experience.

Cannon Beach

Alongside Haystack Rock are its accompanying “needles.” Dwarfed by their neighbor, they themselves add to the drama of the setting. Atop the structures and everywhere overhead are countless seabirds, like gulls, albatrosses, and even seasonal puffins. The whirlwind combination of the greens and blues with the sounds of the mighty ocean make for a special experience. An hour-long walk didn’t do the place justice.

Cannon Beach

Nearby is the town of Cannon Beach itself, charming in its own right and the perfect place for a seafood lunch before exploring the coast, and, this being Oregon, for a strong coffee afterward. Clustered bookstores, little art galleries, and gift shops are fun to look around. Not far is Ecola State Park and its beaches and cliffs, equally wonderful to complete this day easy day trip. From Portland, it’s a straight shot on US-26. Cannon Beach is a unique piece of coast, and well-worth the detour, any time of year.