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What It's Like to Commute Over 100 Miles of Oregon Coast, Part II

Published 09/18/21 at 11:16 PM PDT
By Andre' GW Hagestedt

What It's Like to Commute Over 100 Miles of Oregon Coast, Part II

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(Oregon Coast) – As editor and owner of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, and editor of another publication previous to that, I have been an actual beach bum. Professionally so. People pay me to go to the beaches. (Above: the mists of Tillamook Bay)

This resulted in years of wild and scenic commutes along some 120 miles of Oregon coast, often from Manzanita down to Newport, two towns I lived part time in for a few years. Some of the captivating sights along this slow drive were documented in part one of this, Wild to Magical Moments on 120 Miles of Oregon Coast Commuting, describing the drives northward from Newport. In part two, this explores the meandering but never-tiresome drive coming from the north.

These were mostly nocturnal runs, long after dark, where the beaches and vistas took on whole new and different looks, just as engaging as during the day.

If my trips meant heading south, they sometimes started with a quick walk on the beach at Seaside. The beaches here are always fairly lit because of one kind of ambient light or another, usually from the line of hotels on the shoreline. It didn't make the beach feel very private – as walking on Oregon coast sands after dark usually does - but often I could find a stretch of beach where no one else wandered. I always had to psych myself up for my journey south by getting in a little sand and sea contact with my skin.

Sometimes I would start out with a quick walk on a secret beach at the southern end of Cannon Beach – the same one where I almost always stop at before I head inland back to Portland. It's like my own private ritual or something: my last moment of beach worship before returning to my life as a land lubber.

Southern, semi-secret beach at Cannon Beach

But mostly, I'd start out from Manzanita at night, which often meant a brief stroll on that beach. On the way south, I'd also encounter the thrill of the weird ghosts at Tillamook Bay, but they weren't as easy to ogle if you're going south than if you're heading north.

The beach of course disappeared for about an hour, and then would reappear in an explosive fashion at Tierra Del Mar, a sight I never tired of.

These dense forests at night never lost their beauty in the darkness. Sure, they weren't as colorful as during a bright, sunlit day. But there was a different beauty about them, akin to a black and white photograph, in some ways. If nothing else, you could extrapolate the shades of green from the dark monotone of greens visible to the naked eye.

Depoe Bay in a storm at night

During the winter, these drives got especially exciting with trees battered by winds and rain that began to hang threateningly over the highway. This was a good way to stay awake.

Lincoln City

Heading south, it was past Cascade Head, through Lincoln City, and eventually over the bridge at Depoe Bay, which consistently rumbled in a muted manner beyond the confines of my car windows, sometimes augmented by wild storm action that caused sprays of ocean to wash over the streets of the village and then over me. Many times did this cause me to pull over and gawk for a while.

Nye Beach at night

Getting into Newport and Nye Beach was always the same thrill as the northward trek to Manzanita: I could see and hear the ocean, as if it too welcomed me – waiting for me and me alone. It wasn't hard to imagine the beach was keeping its eye out for just my return, as egocentric as this thought was.

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees nearly 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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