Road Trip: Oregon Coast

The world is a book, and those who do not travel only read one page.” – St. Augustine.

I saw that quote on a blank journal in a shop in the UK last year. That quote has always struck a chord with me: how can we begin to understand and broaden our horizons of the world if we do not travel to as many different places as possible?

A friend invited me on a Labour Day long weekend road trip to the Oregon Coast with a group of her friends. Despite all my initial fears (what if I get carsick?) I accepted. Heck, you only live once…and I made sure to buy a ton of Gravol.

The final plan was to stay at the tiny town of Yachats, roughly an eight hour trip. Early on, one person suggested we rent a house (rather than hotel rooms): it would be one of the best ideas.

Taking two cars, we crossed the border around 9:30 p.m. to avoid lineups. By 12:30 a.m. we were past Seattle and no one could continue. We found a gas station, filled up, and slept for a few hours in the parking lot. (Fits perfectly under my do-this-only-while-you-are-young stage). 4.5 hours later, of which I managed to only sleep 3, the people in the other car rapped on our window. Time to go!

We arrived in Portland just in time for breakfast. Upon one guy’s recommendation, we went to Waffle Window. We would order at a drive-through like window and then head inside if we wanted a seat. I was worried about portions, but it turned out to be the perfect sized breakfast for me!

3 B's (Bacon, Basil and Brie) @ Waffle Window, Portland.

3 B’s (Bacon, Basil and Brie) @ Waffle Window, Portland.

After breakfast and some shopping (we were in Portland after all), we continued south and then headed west towards the Coast. Our next major stop: Depoe Bay.

According to Wikipedia, Depoe Bay is home to the world’s smallest natural navigable habour and has a population just under 1,400. It boggled my mind to see a place where the entire population almost equaled the number of students at my high school.

Depoe Bay

Depoe Bay. According to Wikipedia, it is the world’s smallest natural navigable habour.

Furthermore, Depoe Bay was the first coastal stop on our roadtrip. As soon as I got out of the car, I was hit by the sound of the waves. While at home I’m used to the hypnotic gentle lapping of water rolling onto the beach, the Oregon coast offered the roar of waves crashing onto the rocks. I could barely tear myself away from gawking out to the ocean. After we took a ton of pictures, one of the guys saw an advertisement up for Whale Watching tours. I declined (I get seasick) and wandered around the small town instead. The group came back and over dinner they were abuzz with tales of rough seas, chilly winds, and the sheer volume of whales seen.

After dinner we walked out of the restaurant (still at Depoe Bay) and came across this gorgeous sight:

Sunset @ Depoe BayWe all stayed, snapping pictures until every last ray had sunk beneath the horizon. It suddenly hit me, how long it had been since I had the time to just sit down and enjoy a sunrise or a sunset. We finally arrived at the house sometime after 9:30 p.m. I have no clue how it took 24 hours to reach our destination, but I was glad to be “home”. It was so dark I couldn’t see anything past our narrow gravel lane, but now the roar of the waves felt only inches away. We grabbed our stuff, stumbled into the house, divided up the rooms and crashed.

The next morning I woke up to the most amazing sight.

This was our view from the patio.

This was our view from the patio.

Waves were continually crashing onto the rocks. Unlike at home where my city was “shielded” by a big island, I realized we were right along the Pacific Ocean, which made sense as to why I kept on seeing signs advertising Tsunami Zones and a tsunami evacuation guide in our house guidebook.

After quick breakfast (many thanks to one of the guys that was our impromptu chef) and a seagull that was surely lured to our house from the smell of bacon, we were off again for a full days’ worth of activities. First stop was going on a professionally driven tour of the sand dunes in nearby Florence. It is a bit pricier, but I would highly recommend taking the hour-long sandrail tour with a professional driver. Warning: it is not a ride for the faint of heart, stomach or bladder. I can only describe it as a roller coaster ride without any tracks. Thanks to my potential motion sickness I was given a front row seat, but I ended up being perfectly fine. The ride also included a “free” microdermabrasion, aka all the sand that was whipping past our face (and some got into our mouths).

Sand dunes in Florence (Sandland Adventures).

Sand dunes in Florence (Sandland Adventures).

The hour flew by. We visited a bunch of other sites up and down the Oregon Coast. A few short hikes were also incorporated, most notably the Hobbit Hike. At first we couldn’t find the trail-head, but after asking for directions from some very nice people, we were directed to walk a mile to the end of the beach. It was some of the whitest, finest, sands I had ever seen in my life. I also realized it was incredibly difficult to walk in such great piles of fine sand: the lifeguards of Baywatch would have had a tough time running through this stuff.

Hobbit Beach

Gorgeous white soft sand at the Hobbit Hike trail-head.

What struck me the most was the extremity of the Oregon Coast. There never seemed to be any middle ground to the geography I saw. Either the coastline was a perfect sandy beach that went on for miles, or a rocky cliff much like the house in Yachats. In many cases, there was perfect sand in between the volcanic rocky coastline (as below):

Coastline at Thor's Well and Cook's Chasm.

Coastline at Thor’s Well and Cook’s Chasm.

The soothing roar (if it can be described as such) was everywhere. No two waves were exactly alike, and every so often the waves would wash a log into the chasm and turn it into a battering ram. We saw all the famous sites in the local area (Cook’s Chasm, Thor’s Well, Devil’s Churn) and got a little soaked in the process. We stayed at the rocky coastline at Devil’s Churn to watch the second sunset in as many days before traveling back to Yachats.

If I had thought Depoe Bay was a small place, Yachats boasted a population of just under 700. That night we managed to find the famous Luna’s (they catch all their own seafood) and were treated to local musical entertainment.

The last day of our trip was bittersweet. I think we all wished it could have been longer, but certain people had to report for work on Tuesday (re: me). We made our way back up the Oregon coast, soaking in as much of the sites as possible. We had lunch at the famous Tillamook Cheese Factory, but sadly we had no time to partake in tours or even stand in line to sample the ice cream.

We raced up the coast until we reached the famous Canon Beach. Once again it was miles upon miles of gorgeous white, fine, spotless sand and the famous Haystack Rock. I took off my shoes/socks and dug my toes into the fine sand…and that is a huge deal for me!

Haystack Rock and the Needles...and I'm not sure what I was trying to do.

Haystack Rock and the Needles…and I’m not sure what I was trying to do.

This trip contained a lot of firsts for me. First time at the Oregon Coast, first time in a long time I took off my shoes and walked barefoot in the sand, and first time I had gone on a road trip with anyone other than my parents.

May this not be the last time I remember that quote.


2 thoughts on “Road Trip: Oregon Coast

  1. i loooove this! and i love seeing the oregon coast through your perspective. now that i’ve lived here (well portland) for 5 years, i think i’ve forgotten how magical it was for me too when i first laid eyes on the rocky coast and hear those roaring waves!

    absolutely adore the quote “The world is a book, and those who do not travel only read one page” and so glad you had such a fun time with so many firsts!

    • Thanks for your comment chelsea! I agree with you, I’ve had visiting relatives that took so many pictures of the clouds in the sky while I’ve seen the same thing for so many days of my life.

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