Monday, May 25, 2009


Consider the view from a bench. You’re on vacation, or just a day trip away from home. You get out of your car, walk across the parking log, down the paved walk to an overlook. There you see the bench, sitting empty, perched two hundred feet above the crashing surf of the Pacific. Walk over and take a seat. The show is about to begin.

You’ll find benches the world around. They are placed in strategic locations to offer you the simple gift of rest, a moment to pause, reflect, look and listen. Benches are less about doing and more about being. Public benches are one of the gifts of a truly democratic society, welcoming rich and poor, young and old, singles and couples, harried and hurried to come and sit awhile.

In this newest feature of Cannon Beach Log, you’ll find at least once a month a spotlight on a single bench, a beach bench. The village where I live is filled with a creative variety of benches. I love to take time in town to sit in these benches. Sometimes I’m alone on a lunch break. Sometimes I’m with another person on a walk. “Let’s sit awhile on that bench over there.” We sit together looking out upon the viewscape, seeing what we can see.

The bench featured in this first “Beach Bench” entry sits at Ecola State Park overlook. Ecola State Park was a gift given to the public in 1932 back during the dark days of the Great Depression. This visionary gift was given by several families of Cannon Beach, including the Minot, Glisan and Flanders families. Today, Ecola State Park includes 337 acres, a thin stretch of nearly six miles of pristine forested headlands connecting Cannon Beach to Seaside, Oregon.

Take a look back from this bench. On January 7, 1806, William Clark, of Lewis & Clark Corp of Discovery fame, trekked across the headland known as Tillamook Head, right through what is now Ecola State Park, to trade with the local native tribe for blubber from a whale that had washed ashore in what is now Cannon Beach. The local tribal name for “whale” is “ecola”.

Sit here awhile and enjoy one of the finest views the state of Oregon has to offer, a view looking south and west. South, you can see the coastal range of mountains marching down to the sea, standing guard like sentries over the Ecola Creek watershed. There in the distance is our little village of Cannon Beach, a thin ribbon of humanity, just three blocks wide by three miles long, around 1500 year round residents, and one of the most popular destination resorts in all of Oregon and home of hundreds of beach benches waiting for you to come home and rest and renew your soul.

Note: Photo by Thomas Robinson, winner of 1st Place in the international photo competition on, April 17, 2004.

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