Cape Disappointment


“Here a sense of unreality thrills the mind as if this were an oracle to speak to the heart; a shrine where generations of men shall come to marvel like children at tremendous forces in play; the sweep of the Columbia, the daily motion of the storm winds of the Pacific, and the fecund powers of nature so evident in the ruthless abundance of living forms. Cape Disappointment!”

Professor A.W. Devoe, 1932, The Enchanted Cape, The Ilwaco Tribune

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse stands sentinel over the mouth of the Columbia where the river pours itself into the Pacific Ocean. Don’t let the water’s quiet looks fool you. Although peaceful at the moment, this is the Columbia Bar AKA The Graveyard of the Pacific. It is one of the most treacherous river crossings in the world, and like many things with aliases, it has a large tally of bodies to its name. Over the past three hundred years, it has taken over 2,000 ships and 700 people down into its depths. It requires two jetties to tame it (slightly) and two lighthouses to keep mariners on course.


This gives you a view of both jetties and the ship heading through the mouth of the river to the ocean. Clicking on the photo will enlarge it.

Today, the Bar was peaceful. I was wandering around trying to get a specific shot, but the sun was low on the horizon and created a glare in every photo. I decided to wait until it went down. Between the glare and a low battery in my camera, there was nothing to do but sit and watch the sun set. Like a river rubbing the sharp edges off a stone, the sea smoothed the rough edges from my mind and spirit and left me in a state of quiet grace. It was the best thirty minutes I’ve spent in a very long time.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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10 Responses to Cape Disappointment

  1. Halcyon says:

    The photos are certainly not disappointing! Such gorgeous scenery!!! I get a feeling of serenity just looking at it. 🙂
    Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  2. Lowell says:

    It’s the first shot, Amy. A winner. Worth framing. So well-composed, wonderful subject matter, excellent exposure, and great colors.

    Hope your Thanksgiving is proving to be the best ever!

  3. Dan says:

    I love those two photos.
    Earlier this week, the Columbia bar was closed, for the first time this fall, to all vessels due to a storm that roared through.

    • Thanks, Dan! I hadn’t heard the bar was closed this week, but I did hear that there were 101 MPH winds on the Astoria Bridge. I don’t think I would have wanted to attempt a crossing in 101 MPH winds.

      • Dan says:

        The photos on the link below aren’t as good as yours, LBP, but the status of the various Washington and Oregon bars can be found on this NOAA web page:
        When the status turns black and says “Closed by COTP”, you’ll know things are rockin’ and rollin’ on the bar. (BTW, “COTP” is the Coast Guard’s Captain of the Port)

  4. tapirgal says:

    Whoah! I didn’t know the wind was that strong on the bridge. Hence the semi in the guardrail and the bridge closed all day. This is an all-around great post. The colors in photo #1 are among my favorites on or near the water.

  5. Dan, thanks for the link! I’m fascinated by winter storms and anything maritime-related, so I’m sure I will enjoy keeping an eye on the conditions out there.

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