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About halfway down the Oregon coast, the beaches become fewer in number, the headlands become higher, and the offshore rocks more frequent. The highway clings to the headlands and crosses inlets and rivers on a series of bridges built in the 1920s and 30s. Driving along, we’re barely aware of how difficult it was to get this road in place, with its narrow spots, twists, and turns.

Offshore rocks and shoreline phenomena all have names. Otter rock, Seal rocks, Sea lion rocks. We passed rocks that look like whales, or the fin of a monster shark lurking just below the surface. We stopped at the Devil’s Churn, the Spouting Horn, Thor’s Well, and the Devil’s Punchbowl. There are many others.

We began at Smelt Sands, where strong waves and high tide created a huge plume.

Blowhole at Smelt Sands

The Devil’s Churn was more difficult to see. It’s a narrow inlet where the water swirls and crashes.

The Devil’s Churn

The Spouting Horn is a blowhole that puts up a cloud of spray when the tide is coming in. We visited at a good time.

The Spouting Horn

The Devil’s Punchbowl is a collapsed cave. Water rushes in and out, echoing with each rush of the waves.

The Devil’s Punchbowl

Last, and possibly most intriguing of the formations we saw was Thor’s Well. This is a hole that fills with the tide, then sinks, making it look like the ocean is draining away. It’s not large, and is unmarked, along the shore near the Spouting Horn. We looked for a while and finally found it, watching the water sink straight down, then fill with the next wave. It’s in the back of the video near the water line, you need to look carefully to see it. Watch the water sink down into the hole, and refill from the next wave. THE VIDEO LOOKS SIDEWAYS BUT PLAYS PROPERLY. Click to have a look.

Thor’s Well

Last but not least, there’s nothing like a nice, big splash.

A big crash on the rocks.