After leaving my family members, Jason and I and drove up the coast from Newport to Astoria, making a couple quick stops to check out the Devil’s Punchbowl and Rockaway Beach. You may remember Astoria from the 80s flick The Goonies. If not, you may be too ancient or juvenile to remember anything memorable.
The Astoria Column was built in 1926 and rises 125 feet from Coxcomb Hill.
On our first day in Astoria, we visited the Columbia River Maritime Museum and the US Coast Guard lightship Columbia. (Yes, a lightship is exactly what it sounds like, a mobile lighthouse.) The museum recommended allowing two full hours to peruse its collections; we spent over five there and still missed a third of the exhibits. I like to read and process everything at museums so you should avoid going to one with me unless you are an atypically patient person. Learning about the Graveyard of the Pacific, as the mouth of the Columbia River is called, was intriguing. Did you know that over 2,000 ships have gone down in that region? I didn’t either.
In 1906, the Peter Iredale was run ashore by a nasty northwest squall.
We also climbed the 164 steps circling through the Astoria Column to get a peek of the Columbia and Young Rivers and peaks like Mount St. Helens and Mount Rainier. It was bitingly windy at the top of the Column so the temperature degrees kept us from thoroughly enjoying the view degrees.
The Peter Iredale was left to bleach and rust on Clatsop Spit.
Keeping with our maritime-misfortunes theme, we spent the majority of our evening at the wreck of the Peter Iredale, a 285-foot sailing ship that ran ashore about 110 years ago. Her barnacled bones are reachable at low tide and are a fabulous place to take way too many pictures… which we did.
Flavel House was built in 1865 by one of Astoria’s earliest millionaires.
We began our last full day in Oregon with a trip through Flavel House, a Victorian mansion worthy of its “mansion” title with 14-foot ceilings and 11,600 square feet. Be still my bygone heart! We’ve toured a number of historic homes but this was one of the best we’ve visited.
Haystack Rock may be 15 million years old but it feels like the 80s to me.
After Flavel, we spent the afternoon in Cannon Beach, a cute, crowded, uppity seaside town. Although the sand and sunshine seekers swarmed, it was a fun place to spend a few hours. (Really people, you came to Oregon for sun?) We strolled the shore near Haystack Rock of Goonies fame and ambled around Hug Point, a beach with a waterfall and multiple caves. Yup, sounds like a place One-Eyed Willy might still be lurking.
Hug Point features caves, waterfalls, and adventures.
Our Oregon outing was a pleasant mix of relaxation and exploration. That shoreline was windier than I remember but sunnier than I expected. (The last time I was on the Oregon coast, I don’t think I experienced more than a few stolen moments of sunshine.) The seafood sure was tasty but, thanks to gorging, I did OD on it a bit. By the last day of our trip, I couldn’t coax myself into ingesting even one more bite of sea bounty. With how much my family members enjoyed themselves, “magical” was the term they used, Oregon could definitely become a tradition.
Our hotel offered excellent views of the Columbia River and all its watery traffic.
On a random closing note, Oregon must be an impish land because all of the Devil’s stuff is there from his punchbowl to his elbow. I found the number of deviled names strewn about the shore pretty amusing.
For Christmas, Jason and I gave my sister and parents lodgings for four nights in Oregon, one of their favorite places to visit in summer. It may sound generous of us but, actually, it was a self-serving excuse to rent a beach house.
Rivendell? No, Multnomah.
Since we flew into Portland, we spent the afternoon in that city eating treats at Blue Star Donuts and shopping at Powell’s City of Books. The donuts were probably the best I’ve ever had and that bookstore was overwhelming enormous but really cool.
Climbing a sea-tossed trunk caused an unexpected torrent of giggles.
Upon heading out of Portland, we took a 45-minute detour to Multnomah Falls, a gorgeous 627-foot waterfall completely overrun by tourists. Silly sightseers, don’t you know that nature isn’t meant to be experienced in throngs? Of course, it is meant to be experienced by me.
A few hours later, we made it to Yachats, our beach destination. Yachats (pronounced ya-hots) is a tiny town near Cape Perpetua. For its small size, it has a significant number of tasty places to eat but not a significant amount of anything else. Our beach house, as the name implies, was directly above the beach. It was an excellent spot from which to take runs along the shore, relax on the patio with a warm jacket, or survey the waves and whales. We did all repeatedly.
The beach was just a hop and skip away from our rented home; no jump was required to reach it.
On our second day, we explored Thor’s Well at Cape Perpetua, a mesmerizing ocean sinkhole shaped like a toilet bowl (according to Jason). At high tide, we watched water explode out of its opening and then drain quickly, only to burst out again. Frankly, I could have watched its splashy cycle for hours; it was that captivating.
We discovered more than just whales on the Discovery.
We visited the same shoreline that evening to catch the daily tide-pool show. With starfish, green anemones, purple sea urchins, mussels, barnacles, chitons, and other coastline critters exposed, low tide at Cape Perpetua did not disappoint. (For the best tide pools near Thor’s Well, walk in the direction of Yachats.)
We came across about 50 starfish in one tide pool visit.
The following day, we went out on a whale watching excursion from Newport on the Discovery. Poseidon blessed our voyage; the weather stayed clear and the whales were plentiful. We saw some whale tail and met Scarback, a female gray whale that regularly resides in Newport. She got her name from the huge scar on her right dorsal hump, the result of being hit by an exploding harpoon back in mid 80s.
Later, we stopped at Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, a quaint edifice built in 1871 with a reputation for ghostly goings-on. We speculated about the building’s alleged specters but didn’t see any.
Heceta Head Lighthouse is over 120 years old but is still illuminating.
Like chips, one lighthouse is never enough, right? That evening, we hiked up to Heceta Head Lighthouse, which was built in 1892. My sister and I toughed out the penetrating wind for way too long to get some sunset pictures of this stalwart structure atop its picturesque bluff.
Beautiful about covers it.
The next day, the girls and Jason headed to the farmers market while the rest of the group visited Yachats Brewery. Berries, veggies, jewelry, and knickknacks were bought by some while others got pints. Everyone got happy.
Heceta Head’s light is the strongest on the Oregon coast. It can be seen 21 miles from the shore.
In the afternoon, we explored Cape Perpetua’s Whispering Spruce and St. Perpetua Trails. These required a little over a mile of hiking, more than nothing but less than something. The views were incredible and the towering forest trees were stunningly dressed in lacey moss and delicate mist.
When the tide went out that evening, we investigated the tide pools at Cape Perpetua again. We hit the starfish motherlode this time! Not only did we see the typical tide poolers, we also encountered about 50 starfish ranging in color from purple to orange. I believe they were all of the ochre variety. Pretty stellar.
On the Whispering Spruce Trail, massive trees drifted in and out of a foggy realm.
We had just enough daylight left to walk to a 185-foot 500-year-old Sitka spruce tree. I’ve got a squishy spot in my cardiovascular system for quiet giants.
On our last day with my family, we went back to Newport to visit one more lighthouse, Yaquina Head. This structure was built in 1873 and is still operating today in an area known for its foul weather. (Yeah, I’d classify 100-MPH winds as foul.) Her solid construction and five-foot walls hide graceful Victorian details like marble floors and ornate railings. We were able to twirl around all the way to her crown. Toughness, style, and efficiency- that sounds like one fine lady to me.
The Yaquina Head Lighthouse has been guiding ships to safety for over 140 years.
After heading out of Yaquina Head, Jason and I left the rest of the gang to spend a few days by ourselves in Astoria, which I will ramble about next week.
On a closing note, Jason and I really enjoyed the time spent with my family members in Yachats. We played Phase 10 in the evenings and fought over who was buying dinner. (Everyone insisted on paying.) My sister painted all the ladies’ nails “Oceanside” blue. Those days were filled with plenty of saline moments with some of the people I treasure most.
It is a commonly-acknowledged fact that all the cool kids have birthdays during the summer. Since Jason and I hang with all the cool kids and are super cool ourselves, this time of the year is a little hectic for us but we usually manage to celebrate successfully.
Jason, being a particularly amazing sort of husband, always makes my birthdays more fun than a barrel of manatees. This year, he planned three or four consecutive days of birthday bashing. My pre-birthday activities included a hike to the Lower Falls in Bells Canyon, a spot we had never been before. Although this canyon claims hikers’ lives every year, besides one particularly grueling hill and some wickedly-slick and tilted rocks around the waterfall, it seemed fairly typical to us.
Bells Canyon is just beyond Salt Lake Valley’s mass of civilization.
On my actual birthday, I received “Birthday Breakfast by Jason,” which consisted of French toast panini with grilled bananas that Jason burned just enough to set our smoke alarms off a couple times. He also decorated our kitchen and surprised me with flowers. He did not burn the flowers.
Deaths occur regularly at the falls in Bells Canyon due to slippery stones and rock chutes. So, I sacrificed getting a better picture for staying alive.
During the afternoon, we consumed Indian food and gobbled shaved ice at Bahama Buck’s. This was followed by dinner at my sister’s, after a quick but cooling break at Tibble Fork Reservoir.
Tibble Fork Reservoir is a little too popular for my own good. Finding a quiet place in its shade required some meandering.
We decided to keep gatherings with friends kind of low-keyed this year. So, Jason arranged for a laidback evening of waffles, barbecue, and breakouts for my party. We charmed our way out of a Harry-Potter-themed room at Alcatraz Escape Games with a small collection of our chums. I got to cast a spell; it was awesome!
Have you seen these wizards?
School assignments and trips made coordinating Jason’s birthday offerings a bit difficult for me. I actually had to wrap his presents on his birthday! Nooooooooooo! I avoid last-minute devising more than chard-flavored goat milk but my rushed preparations still provided pretty good results. I cooked Jason cinnamon waffles with a cinnamon cream sauce and a dash of the dark side for breakfast using our Darth Vader waffle iron. We saw Spiderman: Homecoming in the afternoon, which turned out to be our favorite Spiderman film yet, and finished the evening with a meal at Bombay House with my family.
I’ve golfed just enough to almost look like I know what I’m doing.
Since I can never get enough of my fine man, the next day I took Jason out to dinner at Log Haven, one of our favorite spots to feast in the summer. You can’t go wrong with fine food, a fine man, and fresh mountain air.
I don’t know if our swings were good enough for Topgolf. Is there a Middlegolf?
I also arranged for a compact group of friends to join us for a get together at Topgolf in honor of Jason. The driving games and grub were supplied by me and the entertainment was supplied by… everyone. It was a raucous and amusing evening.
Happy birthday to us… and all you other cool summer kids.