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Oregon Coast




MOXY WOMEN Travels - The Oregon Coast

By:  Jean Harper

 

The Oregon Coast is magnificent!  Traveling down Hwy 101, the coastline rises and falls with magnificent views around every corner. Rocky Islands, fertile estuaries, and forests sustain a unique community of birds and other animals.  You can hear faint sounds of the sea lions’ roar and the seabirds’ call as you stand looking down from a cliff. A short distance from the coast, you will find the Oregon wine region with over 300 wineries.  There is raw majestic beauty at every turn in this beautiful State, and I find myself longing to return for more.

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Day One:  Arrival in Portland.  The thing that I love most about Portland is that you can walk or ride a streetcar to the best parts of the city.  Streetcars run frequently and may be boarded at several convenient locations around the city. Portland's short blocks and street-level attractions make the city a pedestrian's delight. Voted one of "America's Best Walking Towns" by Walking Magazine, the downtown area is full of architectural landmarks, both old and new. Wherever you go in Portland, you’re never far from an art house cinema, performance space, or gallery. You're never more than five minutes from a pub or gourmet coffee house, and always just a short hop and a skip away from a farmers’ market, park, or garden. It’s easy to find your way around Portland’s vibrant arts and cultural scene.

The Pearl District is a former industrial shell now housing a continually emerging collection of art galleries, loft apartments, boutiques, restaurants and performance spaces. A little further west is the more established area of Nob Hill, or "Northwest," with its boutiques, cafes, and various theater offerings.  There is a wide selection of restaurants from which to choose.  We were in the mood for some Dungeness crab and were surprised at how difficult it was to find a restaurant that served them.

We spent one night at the Portland Marriott downtown waterfront hotel which is best known for its stunning views of Mt. Hood and the Willamette River.  Just across from the hotel was a beautiful waterfront park which adjoined a stretch of restaurants and shops.  We sat on a bench and watched while multiple teams of rowers launched their dragon boats and headed out into the river.  It was a memorable sight.

Below: View of Willamette River from Marriot Hotel

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Day Two: Off to Seaside on the Coast.
  The drive to Seaside from Portland is less than 80 miles and an easy 1 and ½ hour drive.  Seaside is Oregon’s first seashore resort area, and it remains one of the coast’s most popular destinations. Seaside has a rich historical past. As the end of the Lewis and Clark trail, it is a national landmark. It is commemorated with a statue of Lewis and Clark. Below the statue, the words “the end of the trail” mark the end point of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

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 Seaside Entrance (a)bove                                                   Seaside Beach (above)

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Lewis and Clark Statue (left)

From Seaside, we turned south on Hwy 101 with the next stop in Cannon Beach.  Cannon Beach, a popular vacation resort, extends four miles along the Pacific Ocean. The notable landmark is Haystack Rock seen below.  The multiple sea stacks along the shore make for a memorable walk along the wide beaches.

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Haystack Rock (above)

From Cannon Beach, we drove through Manzanita and Nehalem. I fell in love with the adorable little town of Nehalem.  We pulled over to visit the shops and take some photographs. There were rows of hanging baskets filled with flowers and quaint shops on both sides of the streets.  The small business district was bubbling with charisma and is a must-stop along the way. (See below)

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Nehalem Shops and Flowers (above and below)

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Breezes Boutique- Nehalem (above)

Rockaway Beach has a 7 mile stretch of beach which, again, is marked with rock formations along its shores and many lovely paths to access the beach.  The Tsunami signs along the coast were a first for us and served as a reminder of the power of Mother Nature on this raw and beautiful coastline.

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Rockaway Beach (above)

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 Oregon Coast
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Oregon Coast
 

From Rockaway Beach, we turned inland on Hwy 101 and came upon the town of Tillamook. Tillamook is known for the Tillamook Cheese Factory, a farmer-owned cooperative that was formed back in 1909. It grew out of a common desire by a group of farmers to ensure that the cheese produced there was of the highest quality.  There was a pleasant “cheesy” smell in the air, but we decided not to pull in to the Tillamook factory due to all the tourist traffic.  Instead, we pulled in just south of it at the Blue Heron French Cheese Company and went in for a browse.  We were warmly greeted and offered an assortment of cheese for tasting. The atmosphere was buzzing with smiling faces and a medley of cheeses, deli meats, local Oregon wines, and various culinary goods.  A short gastronomic enchantment and we were off to the coast once more.

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Blue Heron French Cheese Company- Tillamook, Oregon (above)

Back on the coast line, we approached Neskowin and our next stop was in Lincoln City.  Lincoln City is nestled amid seven miles of sandy beaches and a 680 acre scenic lake on the central Oregon Coast.  By the time we arrived there, we were ready for our final resting place for the day, Depoe Bay, just a few miles south.  We noted that there were many restaurants and a movie theatre in Lincoln City, in case we needed a change of pace from the raw, majestic beauty of the coastline.  This would not be the case though, not even for a second. 

As I write this travel log, I can still smell the salty sea air, feel the cool breeze, and vividly recall how this landscape aroused my senses and filled my soul with peace. Standing on the cliffs and looking down over a landscape that was formed by volcanoes over many centuries was a humbling experience.

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Oregon Coastline

By the end of Day Two on our trek, we had traveled less than 200 miles and had already experienced incredible views of this rugged, breathtaking coastline.  Our final resting spot at the Channel House in Depoe Bay was the perfect end to this unbelievable day.

Day Three: Depoe Bay.  It doesn’t get any better than the Channel House in Depoe Bay.  Each morning began with a beautiful complimentary breakfast consisting of fresh baked pastries, cereals, boiled eggs and fresh juices.  The panoramic view of the wild Pacific Ocean could be seen from the dining room and every room at the Channel House. The rooms are all suitably named: “Whale Watch Suite,” “Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Crow’s Nest,” “Channel Watch,” and “Captain’s Quarters,” just to name a few.  Our room, the “Salt Air Suite,” was sheer perfection and our home for six wonderful nights.

Stepping out from the living room of our suite and onto an enormous deck, we enjoyed a full view of the ever-changing Pacific Ocean.  If we looked to the right, we could view the Depoe Bay Bridge and downtown Depoe Bay. On some days, the sea appeared sunny and bright and, on other days, calm and passive.  One day, we witnessed the tempestuous side of the sea and this small taste made me want to return just to witness a powerful storm from this spot.  Our deck offered us the opportunity to watch the sunsets and view the evening stars from our own private Jacuzzi.  The room was complete with a pair of binoculars for whale watching, right from the deck.  And we did just that; we enjoyed several grey whale sightings from our deck.  We would later learn that these are local whales that have each been individually named by a marine biologist. 

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View from deck- Channel House
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Sunset from the deck at Channel House

A stop in Depoe Bay is a must and a stay at the Channel House is essential.  Book your reservation in advance to make sure that you get the opportunity to experience this unforgettable place. 

For more information go to:  http://www.channelhouse.com/index.html

Day Four: Depoe Bay.  Depoe Bay is the whale watching capital of Oregon. Girded by impressive basalt cliffs that were formed millions of years ago by natural forces, Depoe Bay is the world’s smallest fishing harbor. The 5+ acre port has acted as a safe harbor for vessels for many years; getting into the port, however, has often involved great strategy and chance.

The stone entrance is less than 50 feet wide and more than 100 feet long. Boats attempting to navigate the channel’s volatile waters are often referred to as “shooting the hole.” We watched as many boats entered and exited this channel.  Some blew their impressive horns to announce their departure while others just barreled through at full speed as if there was no competition for this narrow passage.

 

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"Shooting the hole- Depoe Bay Bridge (above)
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Depoe Bay- Whale Watching Capital of Oregon
Whale Watching Center

For years, Depoe Bay served as a safe harbor for commercial fishing boats taking refuge from coastal storms. Today, it acts as a home port and stopping point for charter vessels and private launches as well as a point of fascination for thousands of visitors who stand on the bridge and walkways to observe incoming vessels.  As we stood and observed, we were amazed at the sheer volume of fish that were brought in throughout the day; it was a testament to this wild and unpolluted part of the American coast.  I could live here, I thought, and I will certainly return for at least one more visit in my lifetime.

Morning catch from the fishing boats- Depoe Harbor (below)

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 Our visit to Depoe Bay gave us an opportunity to enjoy our pick for the best restaurant along the Oregon Coast, Tidal Raves Seafood Grill, which sits on Highway 101 just a couple of blocks from the Channel House.  The dining room is perched at the edge of the Pacific Ocean and offers an incredible view and fabulous food.  I had the green curry shrimp on my first visit and had no choice but to go back and indulge in it once more on our last night in Depoe Bay.  You must also visit Gracie’s Sea Hag as it is a landmark in town.  Periodically, you will hear live music coming from the bar at the Sea Hag.  Enter the bar and you will see bartenders playing various, specially tuned bottles, using a wooden stick.  The bottles, filled at different levels with their original contents, are incredibly in tune when the stick strikes them. The melody solicits a fun atmosphere and patrons stand up and perform the “chicken dance” to the rhythm of the music that is created.  It is quite an experience, one that is guaranteed to make you laugh.

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 Gracie's Sea Hag Restaurant Sign- Depoe Bay

A trip to the Oregon Coast would not be complete without taking a whale watching tour.  We had heard about a local marine biologist, Carrie Newell, who offers rides on her Zodiac boat; during the ride, she not only takes you whale watching but also give you a lesson about the whales’ diet and the use of their baleen. When Carrie spots a whale, she gets just as excited as her guests do and quickly points out that she has named each of the local whales, such as the most famous “Scarback,” believed to be hit by a flaming harpoon many years ago. In addition, Carrie provides her guests with a review of the local bird population.  After learning more about Carrie, I quickly realized that there is a full story about her and her research, one that is worth sharing.  We will offer you this detailed story next month.  Stay tuned for that.

Photos- Below- Carrie Newell- Marine Biologist on board her Whale Research Zodiac boat

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"Buddy"- Harbor Seal Resident- Depoe Bay Harbor

Days Six thru Nine:  From Depoe Bay to Florence is only 62 miles but affords stunning views.  The remainder of the story is best told in pictures.  I have included some photos below that will best give you an overview of this part of the trip.  A must see is the Sea Lion Caves in Florence.  Formation of the caves began about 25 million years ago.  Soaring to the height of a 12-story building, the caves now stretch to the length of a football field.  To reach the depth of the caves you must take an elevator down.  No flash photography is allowed while visiting the caves.  Sea lions gather in this natural amphitheater, breed, and have their young on rock ledges just outside the cave. I admit that I was a little spooked going down through a mountain in an elevator; however the experience is worth the short-lived anxiety to get to the bottom and witness this natural habitat.

Coastal views and photo of one of many coastal lighthouses (below)

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Seals in Whale Cove just south of Depoe Bay (above)
 
Oregon Coastline 

 

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Newport- Harbor and Newport's "Whale Tale"  Restaurant (above) 

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Mo's Famous Chowder- Restaurant- Newport
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Pigeon Guillemots- resting on the rock with other species of birds.
Guillemots have red fet and legs and their bill is lined in red.
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The Lookout at Cape Foulweather- gift shop top of cliff (above)
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Close-up of gift shop- Cape Foulweather- the Lookout
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Coastline
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Coastline
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Dunes- near Florence, Oregon
Just a short distance from the coast and only 73 miles from Depoe Bay, you will find the beautiful hills of Dundee in the Willamette Valley.  Oregon has over 300 wineries today and a visit to this area is highly recommended.
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Willamette Valley- Wine Region
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Beautiful carved doors at the entrance to Rex Hill winery

On the last day of our trip, as we left Depoe Bay and headed back to Portland, we stopped for lunch at the Kernville Steak and Seafood House.  We had dinner here a couple of nights ago.  This restaurant is located right on a waterway which leads to the ocean.  The back wall of the dining room is surrounded by full glass windows which offer a full view of the river.  As we sat there, we observed deer playing on the shore and high above, and in square view, perched an Osprey nest with a pair of adult Osprey and one baby Osprey clearly visible.  One of the adults dove into the water in clear view of us and we watched as she caught lunch for the family waiting in the nest above.  The food was great at Kernville Steak House.  Do not pass up the opportunity to stop here for lunch or dinner.

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Kernville Steak and Seafood House and waterview from the dining room out to the river (above)

We spent our last night in Oregon near the airport in Portland.  Our last found treasure was Salty's restaurant located right on the Columbia River and about a 10 minute drive from our hotel near the airport.  The restaurant has a fabulous view of the river and great food.  At last, I would find some Dungeness crab and end my vacation perfectly with a glass of Oregon's Pinot Gris and a lasting view of this fabulous State.  I will return to Oregon again someday and finish the coast by making it all the way south to Gold Beach and on to the beginning of the California coast.

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Salty's Restaurant on the Columbia River- Portland and waterview from the dining room (above) 

Final Notes:  The Channel House is building a new facility in Whale Cove which promises to be even more luxurious than the original. 

Another choice for accommodations in Depoe Bay is Starfish Point.  At Starfish Point, you have a beautiful private beach as well as luxury accommodations. www.starfishpoint.com

A choice that is easier on the budget is the Surfrider Resort, which is located on a bluff two miles north of Depoe Bay at Fogerty Creek.  The Surfrider also offers beautiful views of the ocean.  http://www.surfriderresort.com/



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