Crazed Oregon Coast Travelogue: Week of Whales, Wonders, Part 1
Published 05/28/2015 at 1:11 AM PDT
(Oregon Coast) – The following is from a travelogue I wrote back in 2007, at the beginnings of this publication. It's worth repeating, to show off the kinds of discoveries you can make. But also, more importantly, it's a memorial to some of the people mentioned here and to several of the now-legendary businesses no longer with us. A few folks, like Morris, have moved on to other ventures. Others, like Valerie – who played the chicken prank on me – have passed on.
It all starts the Friday night before the big beach cleanup in March of 2007. Part 2 will be published the following day.
It’s Saturday, 1:30 a.m. I’m finally rolling into the coast in the wee hours of the night. No wind or rain. In fact, it’s been a pleasantly clear trip the whole way through the coast range. In Depoe Bay, a fog is enveloping the area, causing the ocean to become blurred and the large yellow lamps just west of the wall and bridge taking on these larger dimensions, as they are fuzzied and distorted by the fog. They become these mysterious, bright yellow ovals of haze with indistinct borders.
Sat 11 a.m. The Great Oregon Beach Cleanup is in full swing, and dozens of little SOLV robots are running around Nye Beach with their little green bags, scouring the beaches of goofy stuff. I take a quick jaunt down to the beach, with my part time dog in tow (Charly, this adorable chocolate lab-looking beastie). She bounds about the beach with great excitement, frothing at the mouth with such enthusiasm that she looks perhaps rabid to the untrained observer. She’s having a ball, and it warms my heart to see her so happy.
Some cute alt-culture chick wandering about the beach wants desperately to pet her, but Charly has her own doggie agenda as she races from one edge of 100 yards to another. I even tell the girl the dog’s name, but Charly only momentarily pays attention to her, then darts off.
For breakfast, I down an exceptional sandwich at Village Market & Deli, just above Nye Beach.
When the evening rolls around, the wind and rain kick in and we have your basic coastal storm to contend with. It’s annoying to drive in, but fabulous nonetheless. Sure it’s late March, but who can resist the allure of such weather?
About this time, my girlfriend and I head down to Yachats, driving in the full grown soupy slop. We have a mind-bendingly wonderful dinner at the Landmark, with their always unforgettable pasta (made from co-owner Marilyn’s real Italian, family recipe.)
Sun. 12 p.m. It’s Whale Watching Spoken Here time, and unbeknownst to us locals, the weather decided to turn nice. It’s a brilliant, sunny day – even warm at times.
I drift down to Nye Beach again, and check out the volunteers who are trying to point out the whales to tourists. Interestingly, I finally get to meet Morris Grover, the head of Oregon coast’s Whale Watching Spoken Here program, whom I’ve conversed with on and off for about ten years via phone and email.
You know you’ve entered weird nerdy territory when your heroes are coastal science experts like Morris or some of the big name geologists I’ve recently became acquainted with. Meeting them and Morris was a bit like meeting some of my fave rock stars in the last 15 years, back when I was a music writer. Yes, I’m a serious nerd. This is what gives me glee these days.
Shortly after, it’s time to head north to Manzanita. A two-hour ride brings me that 100 miles or so, with nothing but blue skies and sunshine accompanying me the whole way. Lincoln City is hopping mad with motorists and tourists. Pacific City’s Cape Kiwanda is aglow with the glaring sun. Bay City and Tillamook Bay light up especially lovely as I pass this crescent-shaped geographical landmark. I am ecstatic as I get into Rockaway, because I know my beloved Wheeler and Manzanita are just around the corner.
After an especially scrumptious pasta dinner at Cannon Beach Fultano’s, I gorge myself further on that most stunning of all ice creams: Zinger’s Homemade Ice Cream in Seaside. It’s been months since I’ve been able to indulge in this bit of frozen, gourmet heaven, and it’s a religious experience. The strawberry has tasty chunks of real strawberries floating around in it. It’s so good it's spiritual.
Sunset in Seaside is particularly intense today, with shapes of logs at the “cove” providing plenty of fascinating subject matter for photographs. Driving southward again, those intense colors still remain at Cape Falcon.
Later, I get completely schnockered at Warren House in Cannon Beach, in my opinion, the coolest bar in the state.
I’ve driven more than 140 miles at this point.
On top of it, the weather pundits have claimed today was supposed to be lovely and bright as well, but no go. It’s overcast and chilly, and it only gets worse over the day, resulting in bouts of rain.
The north coast is moody the whole day, with squalls filing in one after the other, amidst occasional spots of dark, billowing clouds that periodically give way to a few moments of sunlight. It’s exhilarating and part of the reason many of us live on the coast. It’s even addicting. Some of us live for these brooding, magnificent moments.
The area south of Cannon Beach, for example, has an ominous atmosphere about it. From one of the overlooks outside town, the mountains and headlands of Arch Cape and Cape Falcon are draped in silky mists, underneath a sky that can’t decide if it’s in a serious mood or upbeat.
See part 2 Crazed Oregon Coast Travelogue Part 2: Funky Finds, Weird Rocks which covers Monday through Wednesday.
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