Oregon Coast Beach Connection - lodging, dining, news, events and more oregon coast beach connection news

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?

Oregon Attractions: Up and Away on a Coastal Copter Ride

By Andre' Hagestedt

(Seaside, 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 unassuming places.

Seaside Helicopters

Taking 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.

Gary bought 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 flight.

Control 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.

Then, you're 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.

Over the ocean

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.

Most incredible 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.

Goonie's 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.

Gary swings 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.

For weekly updated info on lodging availability, see the Travel News section

From there, 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, 503-738-2076).

Above Seaside

Perhaps ten 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.

Later, 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 surprise today.

Turel 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."

You'll find 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. Seaside. www.seaside-helicopters.com. (503) 440-4123.


Oregon Beaches Aglow with Freaky Critters Glowing phytoplankton is spotted up and down the coast

Oregon Coastal Village Wows with Mystic Vibe, Ghost Forest Neskowin is different in many ways, including its geologic features

Oregon Travel Oddities: Sparks Above, As Below Proof that summer can yield the wildest, weirdest moments

Coast Abuzz Over Photos of Green Flash, Glowing Sand Coastal residents caught photos of glowing sands and the green flash

Hiking It and Roughing It on Oregon’s Coast A look at trails and rugged campgrounds

Sampling Wines and Wine Bars on the Oregon Coast Wine shops and wine bars are a growing part of coastal tourism




STARFISH POINT is located on the Central Oregon Coast - in Newport - and offers only the finest in luxury condominium lodging. At Starfish Point, every unit is focused on the beauty of the sea and the beach.
All of the units boast two bedrooms, two bathrooms, designer kitchens, wireless broadband Internet, fireplaces, Jacuzzi’s and private decks - surrounding you in soothing relaxation. We have a friendly staff dedicated to high quality and superb customer service. 140 NW 48th Street, Newport. (541) 265-3751. (800) 870-7795. www.starfishpoint.com

calendar of events  | lewis & clark guide
beach news | weather
editor's adventure blog
columnists: guy ditorrice (general) | peg miller (shopping)
coastal pubcrawl | Important Links
coastal science | kooky coast
In Awe of AstoriaASTORIA
Where the Columbia meets the Pacific, Land of Lewis & Clark and loads of atmosphere & history
Serenity in SeasideSEASIDE
The Promenade, Tillamook Head, family fun & broad, sandy beaches
Cavort in Cannon BeachCANNON BEACH
A mysterious lighthouse, upscale yet earthy, a huge monolith, fine eateries & an art mecca
Annihilating  Beauty of Nehalem BayNEHALEM BAY
Manzanita's beaches, Nehalem and Wheeler's quirky beauty; laid back Rockaway
Time Trip Around Tillamook BayTILLAMOOK BAY
Garibaldi, Barview, Bay City, Tillamook & an oceanfront ghost town
Triple the Pleasure in 3 CapesTHREE CAPES LOOP
The hidden secret of the coast: Cape Meares, a lighthouse, Oceanside, Netarts and Pacific City
Miles & miles of unbroken beaches, Cascade Head, Neskowin and many manmade attractions
Divine Depoe BayDEPOE BAY
A spouting horn downtown, freaky hidden cliffs and whales, whales, whales
Nature in NewportNEWPORT
Time-tripping Nye Beach, a bustling bayfront, marine science-central and two lighthouses
Staggering Seal RockWALDPORT / SEAL ROCK
Pristine, even secretive sands and wild geologic landmarks
Aargh, there's no alliteration with Yachats - but it IS unbelievableYACHATS
Constantly dramatic wave action, a mix of the rugged & upscale
Unsurpassable Upper LaneUPPER LANE COUNTY
25 miles of deserted beaches & oodles of wonders
Fine Times in FlorenceFLORENCE
A lighthouse, ancient bayfront and miles and miles of fluffy dunes




THE TIDES BY THE SEA, Seaside. For over 80 years, The Tides has been a favorite of Seaside visitors. History meets modern luxury here. 51 oceanfront condos, individually owned and decorated. Find suites for couples, small apartments with fireplaces and kitchenettes, one or two bedroom family units with fireplaces, kitchens and dining rooms. There are wonderful oceanview cottages that sleep anywhere from two to eight people, with two bedrooms, some with lofts, fireplaces and kitchens.
Meanwhile, the heated outdoor pool, enormous grounds with picnic tables and location at the quiet southern end of Seaside make for some memorable means of play and repose. 2316 Beach Drive. 800-548-2846. www.thetidesbythesea.com


Weiss' Paradise Suites & Vacation Rentals - Seaside

Unique Luxury Accommodations in Seaside. 1BR Suites, 1BR & 2BR Duplex Units and 3BR Houses, units for 2-8 people. Rent our entire property for 20-26. All units close to beach, river and Broadway St.
Suites are designed for two adults; vacation rental units for families. All units have kitchen and many have fireplace, deck and jetted tub. Enjoy comfy robes & slippers, luxury bath amenities, quality linens and more. See us on The Travel Channel's "Great Escapes" show in August 2006. 741 S. Downing St., Seaside. 800-738-6691. www.SeasideSuites.com


Lincoln City Vacation Homes There’s something for everyone among this selection of wondrous homes: smaller homes with a view to a large house that sleeps 15. All the homes are either oceanfront or just a few steps away from the sand – all with a low bank access and fantastic views. Most are in the Nelscott area; one is close to the casino. You’ll find a variety of goodies, depending on the home: fireplaces, multiple bedrooms, dishwashers, Jacuzzis, washer/dryers, hot tubs, cable TV, VCR, barbecues; there’s a loft in one, and another sprawling home has two apartments. Pets are allowed in some homes – ask ahead. Each comes with complete kitchens so you’ll have a home away from home. Most have the seventh night free. Prices range from winter $85 to summer $230 per night. www.getaway2thecoast.com. 541-994-8778.