NEWS YOU CAN USE
Covering 160 miles of Oregon coast
travel: Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita, Nehalem, Wheeler, Rockaway,
Garibaldi, Tillamook, Oceanside, Pacific City, Lincoln City, Depoe
Bay, Newport, Wadport, Yachats & Florence.
Summer Cometh: Are you ready?
Attractions: Up and Away on a Coastal Copter Ride
Oregon) - The Oregon coast will never cease to surprise you if you
give it enough attention; really, if you just let it. Remarkable
discoveries along this exceptionally pristine stretch of shoreline
can be found all the time, often lurking in the tiniest or most
a helicopter ride is probably one of the more obvious delights -
in any locale. But this insanely cool excursion on Oregon's north
Coast has something a little different, with several curious sides
and surprises to it. If you want a glimpse of major
Lewis & Clark landmarks, a peek at some sites from a cult
movie classic as well as an eyeful of other natural wonders, Seaside
Helicopters provides it.
It's an unusual
and powerful day on the coast: with wild, funky weather that flip-flops
between small rain squalls and mostly warm, even muggy, sunny weather.
It feels like August does in the valley, but it's the coast and
it's only mid-April.
It's in this
atmosphere, one of slightly mystical weather, that I embark upon
Gary Turel's mind-boggingly fun ride.
into this business about four years ago, after years of being addicted
to flying on his own. It's like his dream job, he confesses to me
after the ride in the sky. The National Guard veteran exclaims his
ultimate goal would've been to wind up a fighter pilot and eventually
make his way into the astronaut program. But he didn't meet the
rigid criteria for space flight, although he qualified for commercial
panels during the flight
Gary is a comforting
and personable presence in the helicopter as he zips around the
shores of Cannon Beach, the peaks of Tillamook Head and above the
resort town of Seaside at about 100-plus miles an hour. First, you
don the headset with the microphone system, enabling you to speak
with Gary and he to speak to you. I blurt out, "I feel like
an astronaut," and immediately wonder how many times has he
heard that line.
strapped in, and takeoff happens shortly after.
With a bubble
window to the world below, you feel yourself ever so gently lift
upwards, a sensation similar in some ways to easing up in an airplane,
but in a helicopter there's definitely that spine-tingling feeling
of rising faster. It's exhilarating to say the least, with the tilt
of the aircraft pulling you against its quick upward ascension.
For me, I became
used to this new and unique feeling within minutes, and it was soon
no longer that intense thrill. I was too busy. I was armed with
my digital and 35 mm camera, and quickly became engaged in trying
to shoot as many photos as humanly possible.
In no time,
we're up over the back of Tillamook Head - a 1300-foot-high, forested
headland. Gary points out its sheer cliffs from this side, spots
where elk congregate and even the small bald spot on top of the
mountain that is a Lewis & Clark monument. It was here - some
two hundred years ago - that William Clark, Sacagawea and a few
others hiked over the headland to catch sight of a beached whale
in what would become Cannon Beach. Along the hike, at spot now named
after Clark, he peered out over the ocean, on one of the few sunny
days the Corps of Discovery had while camping in Oregon over the
winter of 1805/06.
is approaching the tip of Tillamook Head as Gary points out a rocky
arch sitting offshore called "Goonies Rock," which was
featured in the movie "Goonies." Remember that scene near
the end where the kids took a key and matched it to a rock structure
with a hole in it? That rock is now named after the movie, visible
from Indian Beach. Seeing it from above, however, in the context
of everything around it from this viewpoint, is a bit mind-altering.
It reminds you how tiny and insignificant we humans can be.
Rock in the distance
We never head
far out to sea, not more than a quarter mile or so, for safety reasons.
This means I can't get a close glimpse of the mysterious Tillamook
Rock Lighthouse - which resides a mile offshore from Tillamook Head.
It's visible from both Cannon Beach and Seaside,
albeit a bit better seen from the Cannon
Beach side. This enigmatic feature has grasped the imaginations
of visitors for generations, sitting on a clump of basalt that invites
consistent battering by waves and objects tossed around by the sea.
Its real history is even far more colorful than what most can come
up with conjecture, with many dying during its construction in 19th
century and while getting to and from the boats that re-supplied
it with lighthouse keepers and foodstuffs. It was decommissioned
in the 1950's, and now houses urns of ashes of those who pay to
be interred there.
I'm a little
disappointed I can't get any closer, as this place has always had
me riveted. Gary, however, hovers a ways out over the ocean a little
while for me to snap a few pics of it. It's still highly gratifying.
around to the south from here, allowing me to shoot shots of Cannon
Beach's Haystack Rock, Crescent Beach, Indian Beach and the top
of Ecola State Park. These landmarks are enormous when you're there,
up close. From above, they are diminutive and puny. I know these
places intimately, but here they present numerous new discoveries.
we swing around again, head north over Tillamook Head, and he shows
me that rocky shoreline beneath the headland that can't be seen
any other way. At this point, Seaside is in full view, as are the
shores of southern Washington and hints of Astoria. Then it's back
to the landing pad, with a zoom over the adjacent Seaside Family
Fun Park and its numerous fun-tastic possibilities (www.seasidefamilyfunpark.com,
or 15 minutes have gone by. It's hard to tell. Apparently, most
rides run about 10 minutes or so, beginning at $35 per person, with
options including the Cannon Beach run, a nature/wildlife run, Seaside-from-above
or other combinations.
He's had several
marriage proposals happen during the flights, including one memorable
excursion where the man and his friends had scrawled a huge "will
you marry me?" in the sands of Seaside. She emphatically squealed
"yes," says Gary.
and I chat, and it turns out he was a bit of a celebrity in the
90's. Together with his brother Stan Turel, the pair were the faces
on Oregon TV commercials for their Columbia Tax Services. Yet another
at left, Hagestedt at right
In the last
year, Gary picked up another celebrity - in namesake, anyway. John
Glen works for him as a second pilot: not John Glenn of space fame,
however. Glen is a real trouper and lets his bosses get lots of
mileage out of his name. This started back in the 60's, during his
high school days, as the famous John Glenn was making orbits. Glen
was a delivery driver for a store, and his boss used Glen's name
to jokingly tout his business. The delivery vehicles were even named
"capsule 1" and "capsule 2."
Seaside Helicopters and the Seaside Family Fun Park just south of
Seaside. Gary still makes some runs during the winter and early
spring - mostly on weekends - when those famous beautiful, dry days
hit. Generally, it's considered closed during these months, and
doesn't really start up with an eye on a full schedule until spring
break. However, one secret about the Oregon Coast is that February
tends to have a run of sunny, warm days (much warmer than inland),
so you may get lucky and have a chance to grab a ride then or on
other days the weather seems cooperative to flight. Hwy 101, S.