Along For The Ride: An Oregonian Impression (Part 2)
An Oregonian Impression - Part 2
You’re on the Oregon coast with your teenage son, you don’t have an itinerary, and neither of you have been there before.
What do you do?
You explore, of course!
Lunch at Pacific City
Following a memorable visit to Barview-Jetty, where Cole and I experienced the Oregon beach for the very first, we traveled a few hours south, to Pacific City, where we enjoyed burgers at the Pelican Brewing Company. This was a bit of a splurge, as money was extremely tight, but I wanted to make sure Cole had a great experience.
Pelican Brewing Company is situated right on the beach with views of enormous rock formations along the coast. In fact, one of the large rocks looks very similar to Haystack Rock, located further north on Cannon Beach, but it’s distinguishable by a small arch that protrudes from the side.
The burgers were acceptable. It’s one of those establishments where one pays a premium for the view and for the atmosphere.
Tillamook Air Museum
On our way through Tillamook, best known for its cheese on the west coast, we passed a monstrous airplane hangar with “AIR MUSEUM” emblazoned on the roof with big black letters. Since Cole is an avid aviation enthusiast, we very decided to check it out.
The Tillamook Air Museum lives in an old WWII hangar that was built to house airships, and the sheer size of this building is jaw-dropping. The entrance contains a charming cafe and a gift shop where one could purchase tickets.
Inside the cavernous structure, it could be described as a work-in-progress. There was a diverse selection of aircraft and displays, from fighter jets to small planes. Outside, there was a large, awkwardly-shaped cargo plane called a “Mini-Guppy” that one could explore.
For a fairly rural air museum, it was impressive, and a very promising project. It is certainly worth your time and money if you enjoy aviation!
While we enjoyed tourist activities during the day, our afternoons and evenings were dedicated to overland adventure, and seeking out places to camp in the nearby wilderness.
Oregon doesn’t offer much in terms of free camping along the Pacific shore. However, the coast is lined with state forests only a short distance inland. These forests are heavily logged, but they contain a large network of winding roads that offer some unique campsites if you delve deep enough.
One high-elevation campsite was located at the side of the road, just outside the treeline, within the passing clouds. This was an improvised site, as we had been driving for hours trying to find that “perfect spot” without much luck. The clouds and mist made it extraordinarily dramatic!
Another memorable campsite was a grassy clearing above the treeline at the top of a mountain with amazing views to the east and the west. Distant clouds from the Pacific Ocean could be seen rolling inland and pouring over the mountains. This site was a true gem, and proof that perseverance pays off when it comes to overland exploration.
Cape Lookout Hike
As I travel via Jeep, I regularly remind myself to park it, and to set off on a hike. Even the most capable passenger vehicles can’t take you to the wonderful places that are only accessible by foot.
On the Oregon coast, there is a state park called Cape Lookout - not to be confused with Cape Lookout National Seashore in North Carolina. Early in the morning, Cole and I set off to explore the 2.5 mile Cape Trail, which is a well-maintained hiking trail that extends along the top of a heavily-forested peninsula.
It was extremely atmospheric, as we hiked through a foggy rainforest, laden with ferns, moss, rocky cliffs, and towering conifers. The whole setting could’ve been on a postcard, and it was an apt representation of the beautiful Oregon coast.
We were the first to arrive, but on our way out, closer to midday, we passed droves of people, and returned to a parking lot that was jam-packed!
Breakfast on the Beach
The next morning, we were heading north, on our way to Astoria, when I was looking for public parks and picnic areas where I could make Cole a delicious breakfast.
We stopped at Sunset Beach, which featured a paved parking lot and some picnic tables. There was also a sign that indicated that the beach was accessible by vehicle!
Of course, in typical Pacific Northwest fashion, the shore was misty with intermittent rain. However that didn’t stop us from taking the Jeep onto the beach, and finding a place to stop and cook breakfast on the vast expanse of sand.
This was a simple thing; scrambled eggs on a cloud-covered beach with my son. Nothing fancy, yet such a profound memory. I can’t speak for him, but this moment was not only the highlight of his visit, but one of the best moments of my life.
Never Say Die
We wrapped up his visit with a trip to Astoria, which holds a special place in my heart.
I grew up watching the movie, The Goonies. It’s about a band of kids, living in Astoria, who go on adventure to find a pirate’s treasure and to save their town from an evil country club.
There, Cole and I walked along the waterfront, enjoyed some pizza, and toured the small jailhouse featured at the beginning of the movie; now the Oregon Film Museum. I think the museum is geared toward younger people, but the nostalgia was through the roof for me, so I think I enjoyed it more than Cole!
The Goonies inspired me. This sounds silly, but I think it had a profound influence on the direction of my life. I’ve always wanted to be a Goonie, and perhaps that’s exactly what I’ve become!