Our first glimpse of the beautiful haystack rock at Cannon Beach
We spent the four days over Labor Day weekend (Friday August 31st to Monday September 3rd) on the Northern part of the Oregon Coast. Neither of us had ever visited that area, but I had heard numerous wonderful things and we wanted to check it out for ourselves. Since it was only about a four-hour drive away, we thought it would be the perfect getaway to take advantage of Labor Day weekend.
Day 1 (Friday, August 31st)
We left early on Friday morning around 9:00. It was sunny and warm out, which always puts a smile on my face, but especially so on vacation days.
Our first stop along the way was at a restaurant called Country Cousins in the city of Centralia, Washington. I had eaten here previously when I was 15 with my Grandpa Calkins and sister, but the memory I had of the food was much better than what I tasted that day. It wasn't anything close to what I had remembered and we won't be stopping to eat there ever again.
We left feeling unsatisfied, and continued the drive south, stopping in Astoria, Oregon for a few hours. We visited the Columbia
River Maritime Museum, the Lightship Columbia, and the Flavel House Museum.
The Columbia River Maritime museum (http://www.crmm.org/) was much larger than I had expected with many interesting and interactive exhibits and lots of old boats on display, but probably would have been more enjoyable with a guided tour.
The Lightship Columbia is a National Historic Landmark and is docked directly behind the museum. We had fun walking around the boat that once guided ships to safety at the mouth of the Columbia River. We also enjoyed the views of the old riverboat across the way.
The Flavel House was built in the Queen Anne Victorian style in 1885. The interior of the home was gorgeous and immaculately cared for with period furnishings throughout. Entry of the house included a quick introduction tour on the first floor that provided some of the background information on the history of the house. We then explored the rest of the large house ourselves.
We left the city of Astoria and headed to the Fort Clatsop National Memorial (http://www.nps.gov/lewi/planyourvisit/fortclatsop.htm). This fort was originally used during the winter of 1805-1806 by the Corps of Discovery (a.k.a. Lewis and Clark). The original fort
eventually decayed and fell to ruins. A replica of the fort was built in 1955, but a fire damaged that fort in October of 2005. The current fort was recently built and opened in 2006. I was impressed with authenticity of the site; it was obvious that the volunteers who rebuilt the structure in 2006 paid close attention to every single detail.
As we left Fort Clatsop and headed south down the coast, the weather began to change as the sun disappeared behind the clouds. Approaching the city of Seaside on Highway 101, we noticed that the amount of cars on the road began to increase dramatically. Being that it was Friday afternoon of a holiday weekend, we weren't too surprised as lots of people head to the Oregon coast each summer weekend for a quick getaway.
We finally reached the quaint town of Cannon Beach around 4 PM. We drove through the main street of town until we found our small but cute motel, the Blue Gull Inn (http://www.innathaystackrock.com/). Our room was fairly small but it included a kitchen, which was very important to us, as we didn't want to have to eat out for every meal.
Flavel House Museum
The main entrance to the beautiful Victorian Home
The best part about our room though was the close access it had to the beach. As you walked out the back door, we were just a few hundred feet away from the beach, which was very convenient.
After dropping off our bags, we headed to the local grocery store in town, but turned around just as quickly as we had arrived. The price of the food was astounding; about three times as much as your average grocery store prices! Instead, we drove north back up to the city of Seaside and stopped in at the Safeway. The prices were still expensive here, but nothing like the place back in Cannon Beach!
We drove back to our motel, cooked a quick dinner, and then walked to the beach.
I was totally amazed with my first glimpse of Cannon Beach; it was so much more beautiful than what I had ever expected. The sand was extremely soft and reminded me of the sand in Hawaii. The size of the beach was huge and appeared to go on forever with people and dogs walking all over the place. As we walked towards Haystack Rock, the sun began to peer
through the clouds, and it was truly a spectacular sight. I took dozens of photos and was completely blown away by the setting. I didn't want to leave, so we spent a lot of time just sitting on the beach logs enjoying the incredible views.
Day 2 (Saturday, September 1st)
On Saturday, we woke early and ate breakfast at our motel. We left and headed North to Ecola State Park (http://www.oregonstateparks.org/park_188.php). As we drove up the entrance road, we saw many cars leaving the park, so we figured it must be a popular place to visit. Due to the small number of parking spots at the park, there is generally always a line of cars awaiting entry, which we also found ourselves in. We ended up waiting only 15 minutes, which wasn't too long.
In the parking lot, I quickly realized why it was such a popular beach; the views were insanely gorgeous and the beach itself was secluded, in terms of access, since there is only one road leading to the beach.
We had to walk down a short path from the parking
lot in order to reach the beach. There were happy dogs running around everywhere and lots of families having picnics. We walked for quite a ways along the beach until we reached the tide pools, which we poked around in for a bit.
I didn't want to leave this beautiful, serene beach and thought of how much fun Sadie and Sam would have had running around if they had been with us!
We then drove to the viewpoint at Ecola Point, which is also located at Ecola State Park. The views from here were stunning and reminded me very much of Hawaii with the intensely blue water. Of course, I once again took many photos!
From there, we headed East from the coast to Saddleback Mountain State Natural Area (http://www.oregonstateparks.org/park_197.php) for a hike. We arrived later in the afternoon around 2 PM and headed up the mountain.
It took us about two hours to climb the 2.5 miles to the top; we took many breaks but gained 1633 feet in elevation The last one-third of the hike was quite difficult. The ascent to the top viewpoint was at a very steep incline and it was not
easy to maintain traction, as the dirt was extremely dry and slippery. As we struggled to climb up that last ascent, we realized that we were not fully prepared for this hike, and at times, it felt more dangerous than climbing Preikestolen in Norway.
The trail had anchored wire ropes close to the ground and we hunched over in order to hang onto the ropes as we climbed up. However, all of the hard work was definitely worth it as the view from the top was amazing since it was completely clear out that day; we could see all the way to the ocean.
After hiking (falling & slipping included!) back down the mountain, we drove back to our motel and spent more time at Cannon Beach. I simply loved running my toes in the soft sand and watching the waves crash in; it was so peaceful and I tried to soak in as much of the experience as I possibly could.
We later ate dinner at a place called The Lumberyard (http://www.thelumberyardgrill.com/). Unlike other trips, I didn't complete much research on restaurants prior to leaving (bad decision!). The restaurant was fairly standard; nothing fancy, nor was
the food memorable or impressive. There was however, a ton of families at the restaurant and it seemed to be a good place to take kids, but we won't ever go back.
As we left the restaurant and headed back to the motel, the clouds began to roll in. I hoped that it wasn't a sign of things to come for Sunday...
Day 3 (Sunday, September 2nd)
We ate a quick breakfast at the motel and headed south to Tillamook in order to visit the Tillamook Cheese factory, which is the unspoken obligatory stop in this part of Oregon. Upon arrival, we were shocked to see the massive number of cars in the parking lot; there had to have been hundreds of people at the factory. We were quite disappointed after walking in the factory. It was extremely touristy and the factory itself was closed because it was Sunday, so we weren't able to see any of the live production, which I had been looking forward to.
We stopped to eat some ice cream (delicious!) in the cafeteria. The entire thing
seemed liked a well-run operation with very little on the informative side and the emphasis being placed on selling their products and memorabilia.
We then continued heading south and stopped in Lincoln City. It's another one of the larger resort towns on the Oregon Coast that is overrun with tourists and lacks the charm and small town feel of places like Cannon Beach. We stopped for a moment at a crowded beach, took some pictures, and then headed out.
At this point, we were beginning to feel hungry, so I looked in the Moon Handbooks "Oregon Coast" for some nearby recommendations. I read about a place called Otis Cafe that was highly recommended and located about five miles north of Lincoln City. As we pulled up to the restaurant, I was quite surprised to see how small it was. However, it was packed and more people were waiting outside, so it definitely looked promising.
We sat down to eat about ten minutes later and were SHOCKED by the cheap prices on the menu; $4, $5, and $6 for giant plates of food. I ordered the German potatoes (potatoes with onions, cheese, and bacon) and Mike had the
biscuits and gravy, both of which were delicious and enough to feed eight people. We also bought some pumpkin bread to go, which was absolutely divine! The Otis Cafe is one of those hole in the wall places that serves great food for 1980's prices!
After leaving, we began the Three Capes Scenic Loop drive, which is a 35-mile byway off of Highway US 101 between Tillamook and Pacific City. We stopped at each of the three main viewpoints; Cape Meares, Cape Lookout, and Cape Kiwanda. Cafe Kiwanda and Cape Lookout were filled with a ton of people, so Mike had difficulty finding a place to park. The weather began to change at this point, so I was unable to take beautiful beach pictures as I had the two days prior.
At some point around this time, I also began to break out in hives (or some sort of rash). It was slightly itchy at first, but the more I scratched the worse it became until eventually it was completely unbearable and I was totally miserable. Since this occurred, I have broken out in hives again, and we were finally able to attribute it to a sun allergy
I have; too much sun is a bad thing for me!
We got back to the motel, ate a quick dinner, and watched some movies that night while I attempted my best to refrain from scratching myself.
Day 4 (Monday, September 3rd)
On the last day of our trip, we sadly and reluctantly left Cannon Beach and said good-bye to the Oregon Coast. We drove north back through Astoria and then over the Columbia River via the Astoria-Megler Bridge to southwest Washington.
Our first stop was in an area called Willapa Bay (http://www.visit.willapabay.org/), which is known for it's excellent oysters that grow in the shallow inlet. Along Willapa Bay is a tiny town called Oysterville, which has remained virtually unchanged since the 1880s. The entire town has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. We had lots of fun walking around the quaint town and looking at all of the buildings, although the only interior we were able to go inside was the church. You would have no idea that a town like this exists in Washington State; it seems as though
it belongs somewhere on the east coast of the United States.
From Willapa Bay, we turned around, eventually stopping at Long Beach. The beach claims to be the longest in the world at 28 continuous miles. The cloudy day may have altered my opinion (and possibly impaired my judgment), but we weren't that impressed with the beach. In my opinion, it was no more spectacular that any other beach I've been to.
We also stopped at Cape Disappointment State Park, which is known for it's great views of the ocean. We walked down a small trail that began near the parking lot and eventually led to a lighthouse.
From here, we drove northeast across the central portion of the peninsula going through the towns of Raymond, Aberdeen, and finally Olympia. It was a long and tiring drive.
We eventually stopped to eat in Tacoma at a place called Johnny's at Fife. The food was terrible! To give you an indication of the crappy food; the mashed potatoes were instant, which is definitely not my idea of a quality restaurant.
We finally arrived back home in the early evening and collapsed; we had a long and
busy four-day weekend.
We thoroughly enjoyed every moment of our trip, but especially the time we had in Cannon Beach. It's simply a wonderful small town with gorgeous views in an amazing setting. It's one of the few places in the world that I could picture myself going back to time and time again without becoming bored. There are so many things to do in the area surrounding the beach, and in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. It will probably always remain on my top ten list of favorite places!
Included below and on the next two pages are additional photos from our trip.
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