Oregon Coast Day Two

It was shortly before 7 AM on Friday, June 21st of 2019, when we got started with our day. Leaving our hotel, we headed to North Portland, Oregon and arrived at Cathedral Park only a short while after 7.

We spent a little over half an hour enjoying a walk through the park and admiring the outdoor cathedral appearance of the gothic arches supporting the St. John’s Bridge as it traverses the Willamette River. A couple of homeless men with bicycles and small trailers to be towed behind said bikes congregated beneath one of the arches and, if I’d had the presence of mind, I would have liked to capture some images of them where they rested at the base of those columns. I’m not sure that they would have been amenable to being photographed, but I really should have asked.

Photos from Cathedral Park are above.

From there, we headed South on Interstate 5, traveling down to the exit for Corvallis before making our way West. Arriving in Newport, we continued South along Highway 101 until we arrived at our first destination of the day, Cape Perpetua Marine Reserve.

Making my way over the rocky shoreline at the end of the Thor’s Well trail was made far more challenging by my efforts to avoid the crunching sound of assorted bivalves clinging to the exposed surface of the stone due to the low tide. Countless tidepools spotted low points in the rough stone and the views all around were magnificent. I would have liked to be there near high tide so as to capture the fountain effects of Thor’s Well and Spouting Horn–as well as the appearance of the area once it was largely submerged–but we had other places on our itinerary for the day.

Photos of the coast near Thor’s Well are included above

We headed back North along the Oregon Coast Highway, returning to Newport. Our next stop was for lunch. A little while before 1 PM, we arrived at Asiatico Waterfront Fusion Sushi. We opted to dine outdoors on the pier overlooking the Yaquina Bay. The food was superb, the service was no less so, and we had the pleasure of seeing some harbor seals poking their heads curiously out of the water to peek at us while we ate.

After our lunch, we made our way to the other side of the bay and the Oregon Coast Aquarium.

It wasn’t until close to 4 PM when we finally arrived at the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. Our first stop there was somewhere we’d fallen in love with during our previous visit to the area in 2017.

Cobble Beach (as seen in the photos above) is difficult to describe. It’s as much an auditory experience as a visual one. It’s not just the sound of the waves coming and going that does it, but rather the way the smoothly rounded stones of the shore roll over each other as the water from each wave recedes. Sitting or standing there in silence, you’re soothed by a strangely-pitched rumbling sound of rock against rock, as if being inside of a giant tumbling machine. This beach is somewhere I could spend hours without noticing the passage of time. As it stands, we did spend close to an hour right there.

Heading back up the cliffside, the lighthouse at Yaquina Head and the views from there are stunning. The sounds of waves compete with the cacophony of nesting seabirds to produce a peculiar, natural symphony.

Photos of the Yaquina Head lighthouse are below.

Perhaps the most worthwhile thing about our visit was the sheer amount of wildlife we got to witness. It wasn’t just the birds nesting on the rocky promontories all around. There were easily a dozen harbor seals playing in the surf, sunning themselves on the lower rocks, and even one mother nursing a pup…as you’ll see in the photos below.

We continued North along the highway and arrived at Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area at 5:30 PM. I’d been here previously, in both 2014 and 2017, and it never disappoints. The landscape and features of this section of the Oregon coast are always so lovely, and the wide, unobstructed views of the Pacific Ocean are exceptional. Photos from that stop are below.

Continuing North, our final stop for the day was the Tillamook Creamery just after 7 PM. When we’d been there in June of 2017, the facility had been undergoing major renovations, though we’d still been able to enjoy a surprisingly great dinner there at that time.

Upgrades complete, the creamery was even better. A full dining area awaited us inside and the food was perhaps even better than it had been during our visit two years before. After dinner, we treated ourselves to ice cream at the separate ice cream bar. The abundance of flavors made picking anything an almost painful experience, especially knowing just how good any of those flavors were likely to be. None of us had anything to complain about, unless it was that we couldn’t try all of the flavors available.

We enjoyed a self-guided tour of the building, complete with samples of various cheeses on sale…but it was getting late and we had the long drive back to Portland still ahead of us.

Full stomachs and full hearts from a day of beautiful scenery and fun, we began the drive East, taking the Wilson River Highway through the Tillamook State Forest. The surrounding scenery was no less lovely than it had been when we’d taken this same drive two years before and the daylight remained with us until we’d reached Highway 26. The angle of the light as the sun approached the end of its apparent arc through the sky deepened the forest shadows and made it feel like we were surrounded by an endless sea of diverse shades of green.

It was after 10 PM when we returned to our hotel and settled in for the night.

Oregon Coast: Day One

We left our hotel in Portland at 7:20 AM on Monday, June 17th of 2019, and headed West through Beaverton on Highway 26, turning South on the Necanicum Highway so that we could connect with Highway 101 (the Oregon Coast Highway) in Nehalem, OR.

We arrived at our initial destination shortly before 10 AM and began climbing the snaking incline of the Neah-Kah-Nie Mountain trail in order to gain an elevated view of the Pacific coast. Our climb was more abbreviated than any of us would have liked, due to the other stops we wanted to make during that day’s adventure. Someday I hope to return and complete the climb.

Our next stop on the route North was the Cape Falcon trailhead. Just before Noon, we made our way to a sheltered beach where numerous surfers were enjoying the morning’s waves.

Photos from this first part of the day are featured above.

Our next stop was Cannon Beach. We arrived there and made our way to the beautiful, sandy beach around 12:30 PM. We’d been here previously in June of 2017 as well, and I’d been there on another vacation in June of 2014. It’s a lovely little town, but the feature I–and presumably most visitors–came to see was Haystack Rock, protruding only a short distance from the shore.

Photos of Haystack Rock are included above.

We stopped for lunch before venturing further North.

Our next stop was Fort Stevens State Park. Clouds had started rolling in and the day was turning gray. It was shortly after 3 PM when we visited the Jetty Observation Tower at the edge of the park, enjoying the view and witnessing some harbor seals poking up here and there amidst the waves.

We spent a period of time exploring the remains of the wreckage of the Peter Iredale. I hope to return there someday around sunset, as I can’t help but suspect the wreckage would make for a fantastic bit of foreground with the proper sunset over the Pacific behind it.

Photos from that part of our journey are located above.

The final stop of the day was in Astoria, OR where we climbed the stairs within the Astoria Column. The spiral staircase ascending the center of the circular column is an interesting experience, in and of itself. You can feel the vibrations of every footfall from those ascending and descending while you’re on those metal stairs. It’s a long way up–or down.

The views from the platform at the apex are astounding, allowing clear sights of the Columbia River’s mouth where its water mingles with the Pacific Ocean. The hilly neighborhoods of Astoria are laid out before you and you can follow the path of Astoria-Megler Bridge as it traverses the Columbia River and leads Highway 101 into Washington where it continues its own path North almost to the tip of the Olympic Peninsula.

I’ve included some of the photos from that magnificent landmark above.

It was almost 6 PM when we left Astoria and began our return trip to Portland, following the contours of the Columbia River as it meanders along the border between Oregon and Washington. It was close to 8 PM when we returned to our hotel room and settled in for the night.