Of Typhoons and Tides


The day before Typhoon Songda hammered the coast, I went to Oswald West to survey the scene. From atop what I've dubbed the Cliffs of Insanity, the Pacific looked as placid as a pond. Around noon, a wall of clouds rose in the west, and ripples formed on the ocean. The wind picked up; ripples turned to whitecaps. The sun disappeared.

What happened next made national news; the tornado that ravaged Manzanita will be recorded in history books. The Cliffs of Insanity would have provided an ideal perch to witness the twisting power of the storm. Although, clutching trees to keep from being blown from cliffs in hurricane-force gusts would have been daunting.

When the typhoon savaged the coast and the tornado hit land, I was running to the south on wind-drifting sand.

During a pause in the storm, a cloud ceiling cracked open. The peaceful sunlight that poured through was more vivid for all the chaos that had come before it.

A king tide kicked up by the combination of full moon and storm surge was epic. The road to Ecola closed, providing a rare opportunity to enter the park on foot and find a perfect vantage point to watch the typhoon spend the last of its energy in wave after thrashing wave.

In a place where a few days previous I had peered at snails on a tranquil beach, wave-thrown logs bashed cliffs like battering rams. At the ocean's edge, quiet pools trade places with towering tides, and somehow snails survive. Like Jeff Goldblum's character in Jurassic Park said, "Life finds a way." And so the rebuilding in Manzanita begins.

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