Oregon, days five to eight
Day Five: Reedsport to Cape Perpetua
Oregon has dunes. Steep, perfect, trackless dunes. Womp rat, moisture farmer, Jawa dunes.
The sand blows sideways off the top, like steam from your tea.
This is the John Dellenback Dunes Trail. You could in theory hike to the ocean across the dunes, it’s four kilometres, but climbing even a handful exhausted us.
After the dunes, we visited Big Dog Donuts and Deli in Florence, where Shannon says she had the best Reuben sandwich of her life.
We ate our doughnuts on the boardwalk in Florence, and Anna was excited to buy my old childhood favourite, Big League Chew, in a candy shop.
We arrived in Cape Perpetua at high tide, in time to catch the Devil’s Churn.
Our campsite was in a nearby glen, down a short path.
We meant to take a picture of our tent with an immense tree looming over it, but forgot until after packing up, so here is Anna pretending to be the tent.
For dinner, we returned to Florence to a seafood restaurant whose specialty was turning away people without a reservation. (We had one.)
Dinner was crab-encrusted halibut and deep-fried green beans. From the dining room—and the restroom—you could see the Siuslaw River Bridge, one of Oregon’s many stylish crossings.
Day Six: Cape Perpetua to Nehalem Bay
We explored Cape Perpetua for most of the day.
The Captain Cook trail changes its character with the tide. At low tide, you find tidepools and barnacle-covered rocks in the sand.
As we wandered away from the beach access, I worried about being stranded by the tide, but we found another path back to the road.
Back at the campsite, we took a trail to a 550-year old spruce.
The overlook at Cape Perpetua is said to have the best view along the coast. Had we visited yesterday, when it was clear, we could shared that with you. Instead:
We wanted to see high tide again, so while we waited, we went to the nearby town of Yachats and searched for groceries in a store that sold quail’s eggs by the dozen.
At high tide, we returned to the Captain Cook trail, which now leads to ship-breaking waves on the rocks.
At the end of the trail, a hole in a rock creates a “spouting horn,” a blowhole powered by waves.
Some goofball tourists tried to play games with perspective.
Along this same beach is Thor’s Well, a deep hole in the rocks. Seawater drains into it, then surges out in a gush when the next waves arrive. (See a gorgeous professional photo here.)
Below, look for the woman in green protecting her phone over her head. We had met her earlier when she chatted with Anna. Now she was standing on the edge of Thor’s Well.
Happily (and surprisingly), the green woman survived to chat with Anna again. Wetter.
Enough deadly nature. Here’s a berry.
Now back to the road! Heading north along the coast.
Tillamook Cheese Factory is a bafflingly popular tourist attraction that lets you peer down on an active cheese factory with cheese-slinging robots and live workers. Plus, there’s ice cream. We arrived an hour before closing and the place was deserted, but from the queue ropes and mall-like floor space, you can tell it must be a zoo on weekends.
We finally remembered the lettuce from Day 3 and washed it in the parking lot like barbarians. Lettuce-eating barbarians.
Tonight’s campground was Nehalem Bay State Park, which turned out to be a city of children. The campground was enormous, 300 sites packed with families, each site a simple driveway with no privacy. Kids were everywhere, unhooked from their parents, hundreds of them riding bikes, making plans, telling each other how it was back at their house.
We slipped away to the ocean in the dark. No wreckers’ rocks here, just long flat sand, an empty beach at night.
When we came back, everyone was asleep.
Day Seven: Nehalem Bay to Astoria
Yesterday, the land broke apart the waves. Today, the ocean carves the land.
The cliffs at Hug Point State Park have been shaped into caves, channels and hoodoos.
One cliff had a long curving ridge, a highway over the beach.
Wait. Computer, zoom out.
All the Oregon beaches were covered with by-the-wind sailors, purple hydrozoans that normally float on the open ocean, catching the wind with their sails.
We rewatched The Goonies before leaving for Oregon, so we were well prepared for the next destination.
Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach.
Ecola State Park has a sweeping view.
For the last night of the trip, we treated ourselves to the Cannery Pier Hotel in Astoria. Our room overlooked the Columbia River and the bridge to Washington State.
All sorts of fishing boats and cargo ships passed our room, as did this curiosity: the SS Pacific Tracker, a research vessel.
The hotel offered a chauffeured tour of Astoria in a 1958 Chevrolet Biscayne:
Our driver took us past the Goonies house, to Anna’s delight.
Back to the hotel. Goodnight ships!
Day Eight: Astoria to Victoria
The last day of our trip!
A few morning photos from the room.
We had a long drive ahead of us — the full length of Washington State — but before leaving town, we stretched our legs climbing the Astoria Column.
They sell balsa gliders to throw from the top, and the little planes will sail past the road in the photo above. Anna would have done this all day. (I cannot find balsa gliders for $1 anywhere else in the world. I should have bought a crate.)
Our last Oregon stop was the sea lion docks. The beasts bark and squabble constantly over their sunning spots, like siblings in the back seat. They feint with open jaws: “I could bite you!” “I could bite you!”
Half the experience is the sound:
We drove through western Washington’s small towns and clearcuts, stopping at Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park.
We had planned at eat in Port Angeles at a restaurant with skiball, hand-spun milkshakes, and a life-size gorilla statue, but a small taped sign announced it was unexpectedly closed for the day. I suppose one must always leave something for a future vacation.
The ferry for Victoria sailed at 9:30 p.m., and everyone is required to go up to the main deck. Anna was ready and brought her pillow.
Back in Canada, we were the first car off the ferry, everyone tucked into bed by midnight.
And that’s the trip. Portland sculptures and food pods, Herman the Sturgeon, car failure at Mount Hood, the lake in the high desert, a yurt in the storm, the lava river cave, a hailstorm at Crater Lake, waterfalls along the Umpqua river, postcard bridges, dunes, spouting horns, crashing waves, an ancient spruce, sea caves, sea stacks, sea lions, and many audio books along the way.
Thank you for reading.