When people ask where I’m from, it’s always a two-part question.
“Seal Rock,” I tell them. They won’t know where that is. People who have lived their whole lives in Oregon, who have frequented the Oregon Coast, won’t know where that is.
Inevitably, I will end up adding, “Directly south of Newport.” Only then does realization dawn.
Seal Rock, Oregon is a blip, first visible eight clicks down on Google Maps’ zoom. Before that, you would see Lincoln City, Newport, Yachats, and Waldport. Seal Rock is a lesser known pebble on the Oregon Coast, and it’s a place that I, along with about 1200 other people, call home.
Seal Rock is located along a nondescript, three mile stretch of Highway 101. To most people, it’s simply where Waldport and Newport meet, but there’s a community there, hidden away in a lone sushi restaurant, a tiny post office, a drive through coffee stand, and a few trinket and antique shops.
But what we’re known for is our namesake: the Seal Rocks, a ledge of deep black rocks that jag in and out of the Pacific Ocean right on our front lawns. It runs down the beach for about two and a half miles before colliding with the singular Elephant Rock, an enormous mossy rock that’s impossible to climb in flip-flops. The sand is often soggy, and the ocean is always freezing, but the beach (if it can really be called that) provides a permanent home to many sea creatures the likes of which tourists traps like Newport and Waldport could never accumulate.
The rocks are packed with mussels and barnacles. Giant green anemone curl up when you poke them with a stick. Starfish (bright orange and dark purples mostly) line the tide pools in clusters.
Seal Rock is a quiet human town and a loud sea creature haven. When the tide is down, the sand washes away and the beach turns to a large, slippery, flat rock upon which the seagulls feed on crabs and pill bugs. On the Fourth of July, the fireworks from Newport, miles down the beach, echo like a shot up and down the coast, amplified by the rocky cliffs.
While we are known only as “that place south of Newport” to those who are even aware of our existence, we are contented with knowing that this little corner of Oregon really only belongs to us.