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Oregon Coast Lessons Learned the Hard But Comical Way, Part II

Published 10/14/21 at 5:36 AM PDT
By Andre' GW Hagestedt

Oregon Coast Lessons Learned the Hard But Comical Way, Part II

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(Oregon Coast) – Way back when, the Oregon coast seemed like the wild west. And I'm just talking the ‘80s, ‘90s and early 2000's here. Becoming a seasoned beach professional took living through some crazy, even trying moments, especially in a place with the rougher edges it once had compared to now. Lessons were learned the hard way at times, but some sure wound up funny in the end.

This is part II of the Learning Lessons on Oregon Coast The Hard But Amusing Way, Part I, where I described a few events, but especially the first rather difficult lesson that involved not dropping your keys in the sand.

Lesson Number Two: Buy enough gas to head out to the coast. Late one November night in 1994, my friend Ruth and I had been carousing a bit at the bars in Salem, and against all better judgment we decided to zip on over to Lincoln City about 1 a.m. About halfway there, I noticed we were running low on gas, but assured her Lincoln City had 24-hour gas stations.

Oops. It turns out they didn't. At least back in ‘94 during the dead season of November they did not.

We were both in a bit of a panic.

Luckily, I remembered hearing a weird little secret about taxi companies in Newport back then: they would store gas cans for just such a rescue occasion. So I called one in Lincoln City (yes, from a payphone), and lo and behold, they did as well. Whew.

I was sworn to secrecy back then, and though I've written about this before I never mentioned who my savior was that night. It was against the rules for them to do this, but I think now after nearly 30 years I can reveal the secret. I believe it cost us something like 30 or 40 bucks for a ten-gallon can of gas. A pretty penny, to be sure.

These days, luckily, most of the coast has 24-hour gas stations within some 30-mile range or another. The bigger towns do, so watch it if you're out zooming around in the wee hours in remote areas like the National Dunes Rec Area between Florence and Reedsport, or farther down the south in between burghs.

Do rideshares or taxis do this now? I doubt it, but it's a worth a shot if you find yourself stranded. These days, at least there are cell phones.

Lesson Number Three: Watch out for karma. In the late ‘90s, my girlfriend at the time, Kathy, and I went out on one of those whale watch tours in Newport. We overheard one lady tell the crew she was a journalist doing a story on the tour.

Of all the 20 or so people onboard, she was the one who got horribly sea sick within 15 minutes. Kathy and I snickered about this a bit and were rather proud that we felt just fine.

Yes, I even did that stupid “Titanic” impression of standing at the bow with arms outstretched. It hadn't been overdone yet in those years, and it was almost ten years before Michael Scott would turn it into a shameful secret you should keep to yourself.

By about the second hour or so, we too started feeling increasingly ill and queasy. It felt like karma for making fun of the journalist lady.

Lesson Number Four: Follow your intuition. It's the fall of 2004 and I take my little Toyota Camry onto that same beach near Cape Kiwanda where I lost my keys. Some little voice in the back of my head mumbled “maybe this isn't a good idea.” Maybe this place is bad luck for automotive goofiness.

Sure enough, I get totally stuck. If it weren't for a family from Coos Bay who were used to pulling others out of the sand at home, I would've spent the night on this beach. How dopey I felt admitting to them that my job was editor of a coastal publication back then.

Other times I witnessed the hard lessons. Like the period in the mid ‘90s I hung with a punk band called The Stanleys, following them on gigs to the coast. This would inevitably mean plenty of bar hopping after the show, then hangovers be damned, we'd hit the beaches for raucous fun in nature.

There was the time I learned even on day trips, bring along a change of clothing – just in case. We five were bouncing around Driftwood Beach near Waldport, and one of them falls into a creek, completely soaking himself. Apparently, he had to sit in the car in this sopping wet state all the way home.

Often to the strain of my DMV record, I managed to wrack up enough speeding tickets to finally clamp down on my natural energy level, especially when it came to transferring that into my vehicle. I did, however, thoroughly learn all the speed trap spots and was able to warn people over the years about those.

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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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