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?
Lost Week Traveling NW Oregon
– Sometimes when you’re researching the coast, and it’s
your job to travel up and down 180 miles of Oregon shoreline, it’s
full of wild, wild moments. On this particular jaunt, it was five
days of uncooperative seal pups, surreal nightscapes on the coast,
scrumptious gourmet food, and nutty traffic incidents while shuttling
all around the northwest corner of the state.
Sure, the driving
can be tedious, but not as often as you think.
heading down I-5 towards Salem, on my way to the Oregon coast, I
slam into a giant plastic bag, and it mysteriously disappears. I
wonder to myself what happened here, but decide, no, it’s
not possible this thing was stuck to me.
An hour or so
later I’m in Lincoln City, and pull away from my parking spot
after a quick business visit. Sure enough, Mr. Giant Bag was stuck
to the front of my car, and had fallen off at the parking spot.
On this day,
a Thursday, Lincoln City is bright, sunny and crammed with cars.
Traffic is like a Portland rush hour in many spots. In their attempt
to get away from it all, everyone came out here and brought the
world with them.
outdoors in Nye Beach
dinner is a combo of things. It begins with stunning oriental-style
crab puffs at new restaurant Taste of Newport (with an amazing spicy
cream cheese an crab so subtle and delicious its delirium-inducing).
Then, I down one of those fab chilidogs at Nye Beach Scoop, where
bundles of goodies, including tasty black beans, are piled onto
each other. I dine outdoors much of the time tonight, in the beautiful
little brick patio shared by Nye Beach Scoop and Blu Cork Wine Bar.
rolls around, I go looking for the famed glowing sands that have
made such a splash on the Oregon coast in recent weeks. I head down
to Nye Beach, beneath its cliffs, and discover a raging wind pounding
at around 45 miles per hour. Even the wet sand is getting kicked
up, and it’s actually a little painful on my ankles as the
sand whips my lower calves. It’s all given a further sense
of the awe inspiring by the addition of a half full moon, which
beams its weak bluish light with starkness and precision, creating
hazy shapes that seem two dimensional in these conditions.
All this, of
course, means no chance of spotting the glowing critters –
if they were indeed even there.
of TV's at Sand Bar, Newport
So, I drown
my sorrows of a lack of scientific discovery in the nearby wateringhole,
The Sand Bar. I find myself drawn to the three TV screens at once,
all playing something different. I laugh to myself that this reminds
me of that crazy scene in “Man Who Fell To Earth” where
the alien, played by David Bowie, is watching 20 different TV channels
I met some lovely
thing named Gabby, who asked for my number (although I really doubt
she’ll ever call me).
The next day,
a Friday, after spending all day working on the laptop, I eventually
get out around 9 p.m., to scarf down one of those remarkable bison
burgers at Blu Cork. This is one gem to not miss if you’re
ever in Newport, where the bison meat is mixed with bleu cheese,
augmented by roasted red peppers, spinach and two inventive and
tasty mustards that are made in-house.
Then the adventures
begin again. I embark for Portland about 10 p.m. Around 10:30, I’m
just outside of Lincoln City when I spot what looks like a body
by the side of the road. I pull over as soon as I can, where, luckily,
there’s a phone booth. I call 911, and zip back around to
check on this. Sure enough, two cars had pulled over and had grabbed
the man and pulled him to safety on the other side of the road.
I asked if he
had been hit or if he was just drunk, and they told me he was “sauced
out of his mind.” Apparently, they told me, he had fallen
and cut his face on the gravel, but he decided to just lie there
and pass out. As if on cue, he then started bleating loudly and
drunkenly into the air, slurring nonsense. Thanks to no real tragedy,
this little adventure turned out to be just rather hilarious.
The next day,
on Saturday, it was a mixture of laughs and the heart wrenching
at a memorial for a friend in Portland who was recently murdered
(we’ll miss you, Timmy Gripp). And then it was time to zip
back to the north coast for my friend Rachel’s wedding.
under the stars at Nehalem Bay Winery
I’m finally near Cannon Beach, where it’s dark and the
fog creeps in periodically. As I enter Oswald State Park, just north
of Manzanita, Neahkahnie Mountain is unusually dramatic, with murky
mists covering the top of the mountain. It’s spectacular.
I arrive at
the wedding reception around 10 p.m., happening at the Nehalem Bay
Winery. This is one place that’s infamous for its fun times
and wedding opportunities. Playing on stage, outdoors, is the fabulous
local favorites Floating Glass Balls, who perform a truly interesting,
bluegrass-tinged cover of Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No
Cry.” Truly delightful is the atmosphere here, with the yummy
food, plentiful wine and the pleasures of an outdoor reception just
a few miles from the beach.
I snap a rather
endearing photo of my friends Abby and Dave dancing to the band,
with Alison and Trevor cavorting in the foreground.
|Oyster Shooters and crowd at San Dune
As the reception
winds down, Abby, Dave and I head for the fun times at the San Dune
Pub, where a local band called Oyster Shooters are indeed doing
a lot of straight shooting, musically speaking, that is. I’m
not a fan of cover bands, but these guys nailed a Blood, Sweat &
Tears song with surgical accuracy and much verve.
The band was
one baaad mutha, the crowd was bouncy, and the experience was exceptionally
entertaining in a variety of ways. I even ran into an old friend
I hadn’t really seen in 15 years.
all wandered back to Dave and Trevor’s house up Highway 53,
where we laughed at their dog Max as he dug into a jar of peanut
butter, getting his tongue tied up in the process of trying to down
the sticky stuff.
day, a Sunday, I high-tailed it for Seaside to chat with Tiffany
at the Seaside Aquarium, where I had the chance to watch her chase
the last of the seals back to their nighttime pen. This was more
of an escapade than I imagined it would be.
It's also where
it gets so cute it’s painful.
diminutive baby seals weren’t quite big enough to make the
ramp with the water drained at this level, as they let all the water
out of their public tank for cleaning each night. So Tiffany had
to help them up the ramp by picking them up. Except, it seems, she
had to coax them to the ramp first.
The little cuties
were nothing short of uncooperative. Tiffany spent considerable
time trying to wave them in the right direction, but to no avail.
Meanwhile, the adult seals would come bounding back towards the
day pen, and she’d step up in front of them and bark their
names loudly, like “Ivar!!!” Or she would yell, “Hey,
we’ve had this conversation!” She finally took a hose
to the little ones, and one by one, they were nudged towards the
ramp, where she would hoist them up.
|Taste of Tuscany, Seaside
Later, I downed
dinner at an intense and new delight for Seaside, Taste of Tuscany.
Right on 101, this upscale wonder adds a warm – and much needed
- spice to Seaside’s culinary landscape. It’s a delight
all its own in various ways, with Italian grub served with an innovative
and personal touch, reminding me of the stunning Italian stuff I
had in Europe years ago.
Aside from all
these goodies, they’re planning more changes and expansions
in the coming months, including a wine bar.
realize how much I love this time of year when I notice it's just
past ten at night and the sky is still illuminated by the remnants
of a sunset. There are still layers of colors lurking on the horizon
even at this hour.
I'm parked at
the Tolovana parking lot in southern Cannon Beach, and the atmosphere
of the Oregon coast is insane here. It's beyond ethereal, with this
wild glow across the edge of the sky. I catch a picture of it with
the sidewalk in the foreground.
|Driftwood creature of Manzanita
After some drinky-poo’s
and camaraderie at Cannon Beach nightlife hotspot Warren House Pub,
I make a quick jaunt to Manzanita’s mysterious nocturnal beaches.
There, I always seem to encounter something new and wonderful. Indeed,
this time there’s a freaky structure made from driftwood,
which at night, resembles a monster or a giraffe emerging from the
sand. Its elongated, knobby body is jutting out of the beach with
a curved and pointy tip that could be the face of something demonic,
or just a surreal version of some earthly bit of wildlife, perhaps
It is mesmerizing
and sparks the imagination.
seas of Manzanita, with creature in the foreground
The next day,
it’s breakfast in Manzanita. I dine in my car by the surf,
parked just above the beach.
The ocean is
in a remarkable state. It’s an unusually deep shade of blue
and extremely quiet and calm. The waves are only white near the
shore, but further out there are no whitecaps visible. Paradoxically,
the wind is rather heavy, and those waves that are evident are frothed
up quite a bit. Interesting. Unusual.
fantastic artistic creature made from driftwood is still watching
over the beach, and still looks like something wild and almost alive.
The next few
hours are spent wandering between Wheeler, Manzanita, Arch Cape,
Cannon Beach and Seaside, running one errand or another and catching
ends in Rockaway, with a contemplative walk on the beach, where
the sunset is splashing intense colors all over the sky. Neahkahnie
lurks in the far distance, a black shadow against the vast array
of shades of red and orange. Meanwhile, a giant cloud sits above
it all, looking as if it’s trying to absorb all the energy.
the beach, to the south, a nearly full moon is trying to peek over
the mountain peaks to the east. It looks especially surreal just
above a church and the glow of a street lamp in front of it.