We arrived in the town of Seaside, Oregon’s first seashore resort. A brief tour of the town revealed shops and art galleries as well as carnival rides, arcades, bumper cars, paddle boats, a carousel and an oceanfront promenade. It’s also a great location from which to explore the other seaside towns of northwest Oregon. The area where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean and where Lewis and Clark ended their journey of discovery.
Another beach we enjoyed was the lovely, wide beach in the town of Cannon Beach. Although this beach does get a crowd in the summer, as Portlanders come here to get away from the city.
Cannon Beach is the trendy sister to Seaside. This “picture-perfect village by the sea” has lots of fancy boutiques and restaurants, art galleries and public art.
But what we really came to see, besides the beach, was Haystack Rock, one of Oregon’s most famous landmarks. It’s a 235 foot tall monolith that juts out of the water and is protected under Fish and Wildlife regulations as a Marine Garden and seabird nesting refuge.
Common murre, pigeon guillemot, seagulls and cormorants nest there. And then there are the tufted puffins. They burrow into the side of the rocks to build their nests and stay there for a few months between Spring and Summer. These are adorable birds. So high up off the ground and deep within the side of the rock their nests are safe from land and flying predators. Perfect.
There were volunteers on the beach with scopes to help everyone get a closer look at the birds. And of course they provided a wealth of information.
Cannon Beach also has some interesting tidepools. But this time we were focused on the birds. In addition to the ones nesting on Haystack Rock, oystercatchers nested by the shore. The male and female take turns sitting on the nest, but one is always there to protect their young. There are also bald eagles occasionally flying over Haystack Rock preying on the common murres and their young. We saw more and more bald eagles as we moved north along the coast.
One evening, we visited Cannon Beach to watch the sunset. Turned out sunset was not very bright, but the hour just after sunset was beautiful. Hector says that that hour is called the blue hour. And it was.
Another day we drove north to meet our friends Nina and Paul in Astoria. Astoria is the salty older sister to the towns of Seaside and Cannon Beach and the oldest settlement West of the Rockies. With a deepwater port, Victorian houses, museums, a bridge that connects Oregon to Washington and more. Astoria did not seem quite as touristy as her sisters and was very, very cool.
And I will always know Astoria as the place where I had my first beer flight. At Fort George Brewery, a place recommended by Nina and Paul. Delicious.
After our beers, we went in search of the perfect fish and chips, located in a land locked boat turned food stand appropriately named Bowpicker Fish and Chips, but it was closed.
But Hector was also on a mission to eat in a waterfront “shack”, so we drove over to Rogue Ales Public House on Pier 39, a marina across a wooden bridge that we’d discovered earlier. This place had good beer and decent food and also allowed dogs on their deck, which is pretty common in Oregon.
Another day we drove north again to the Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Parks. Actually several parks with lots to see.
Shipwreck? Check. The wreck of the “Peter Iredale” at Fort Stevens State Park is another iconic spot, with huge pieces of iron and the skeleton of a ship fully exposed in the sand during low tide.
Secluded river beach? Check. Columbia River Beach at Fort Stevens State Park. Dark sand, beautiful driftwood and views of the Columbia River bar and Cape Disappointment.
History? Check. The Lewis and Clark river and the replica of the winter encampment where Lewis and Clark settled for the three months after they reached the Pacific at Fort Clatsop State Park.
More amazing places and views? Check. The South Jetty, built by the Army Corps of Engineers at Fort Stevens State Park. With an observation tower that has more views of Cape Disappointment.
A drive south from Seaside took us to the Tillamook Air Museum. It is not much of an airplane collection but the main attraction is the enormous building it is housed in. A cavernous WWII blimp hangar made of wood. Cool.
We had lunch on the docks in the fishing village of Garibaldi and watched as “the Blade” skillfully turned giant fresh caught fish into fillets for the fishermen.The National and State Historical Parks also include Cape Disappointment State Park, more on that in the next post.
There were lots of great sand sculptures, and some not so great ones made by various amateur groups.
But the “masters” (these are groups who’ve won the contest previously) were pretty incredible. You be the judge.