When we left Atlanta in early October for a vacation to Oregon we were still experiencing 90+ degree days. Ugh! With the high temps comes the humidity and it gives a whole new meaning to the name “Hotlanta”. Stepping outside the Portland airport into mid 50’s was such a sweet relief – nothing else mattered at that point (not even waiting in line for our rental car).
Driving to the Oregon coast from Portland is a most pleasurable drive, not just for the scenery but for the unbelievably polite drivers. Having driven in Atlanta for over 40 years I have apparently (according to my family) developed a form of “road outrage” when my emotional temperature equals the hot temps outside the car. It is brutal at best and this driver has learned to avoid I-285 at all cost. Oregon drivers actually drive the speed limit – shocking! But I realized it probably had to do with the beautiful scenery and who could be stressed with those views? Didn’t feel road rage even once…
We chose to stay in Cannon Beach and our first impression was better than expected. It is such a great little town with lots of restaurants and many boutiques, not to mention you’re right by the beach and the infamous Haystack Rock that juts out of the Pacific Ocean much more majestic than it’s name. We check into the Waves Motel – we have 3 full days to explore the area and I can already see it’s not nearly enough time.
We arrived late afternoon, checked out our surroundings, freshened up and headed out to explore this quaint little beach town. For dinner we chose to eat at Sweet Basil’s Cafe – home of the best crab cakes I have ever eaten. It’s a good thing we were walking back to the hotel since we also indulged in their wonderful desserts.
We start out with a great breakfast at the Lazy Susan Cafe in Cannon Beach. Go early because they fill up fast. We then hit the road and begin traveling north on Hwy. 101 to explore a few towns. Our first stop is Seaside – a nice little town. We overheard someone asking about the difference between Cannon Beach and Seaside. Their reply was that Seaside was more geared to families with children due to the Funland Seaside Arcade. Personally I would have preferred Cannon Beach – with or without children. It’s a close enough drive to visit for the day. After a cup of coffee at Beach Day Coffee, we head on down the road.
At one of the boutiques in Cannon Beach, a young sales person suggested some places to visit. One of those was Fort Stevens State Park and we decided to drive there when we saw the sign for it. Here we were able to see the mighty Columbia River – this is where the river flows into the Pacific Ocean. From here in the distance we could see the Astoria-Megler bridge (a four mile bridge which takes you from Oregon into Washington).
Astoria, Oregon – This town was founded in 1811 as a fur-trading post by John Jacob Astor. It was the larger of the towns we visited, and a good place for some fish and chips. Although it was a bit overcast and chilly it did not prevent us from standing in line at the BowPicker. For $5.00 you get 2 large pieces of beer battered and fried Albacore Tuna and large fries. We walked across the street, found a bench by the water and savored every bite.
Our next stop (after crossing the 4-mile Astoria-Megler Bridge) would be Cape Disappointment (not disappointing at all, unless it’s 1788 and your name is John Meares and you are unable to find the Columbia River, and you’re disappointed). We loved driving through this National State Park, stopping many times for photo ops, visiting the Lewis and Clark replica campsite (got there about 4:00 and they let us in free since it was close to closing time) and enjoying the cool crisp weather.
Our day ended with dinner at The Bistro back in Cannon Beach.
Driving south on 101 to explore more beautiful scenes from Oregon…
- Photo op at Haystack Rock
- Breakfast at Pig ‘n Pancake (for us this was like Ihop on steroids)
- Stop at every viewpoint while driving along 101
- Coffee in Manzanita
- Tillamook – quick stop for cheese and lemon cucumber (what??)
- Drive to Cape LOOKOUT State Park
- Picnic by the beach
- Hike the North Trail (mostly)
- Drive back to Cannon Beach
- Watch the sunset…
This is our last day and we chose to spend it close to Cannon Beach. After a healthy breakfast at the Surfbird Cafe, we drive to Ecola State Park, only minutes away. How many state parks can a state have? Actually Oregon seems like one giant state park – every mile ahead as beautiful as the one you just left. The drive to Ecola State Park was through a residential area, and I could only imagine the kind of views from each home. We actually sited some elk in the front yard of one resident. I wonder if they eat up their flowers like our deer? It was quite a site to behold and lots of people stopped for photos. I’m thinking the people inside the home were probably taking pictures of us taking pictures of the elk.
The view of the coast from the park was breath taking. The water seemed to sparkle and the mist across the water was magical. We just sat and took in the sight of this amazing landscape.
The view of the coast from the park was breath taking.
Once we drove back into Cannon Beach a stop at the Pacific Coast Brewing Co. seemed in order. I highly recommend the Blueberry Wheat Ale and sitting outside by the fire. We ended our day and our trip on the west coast by watching the sunset at Haystack Rock.
Oregon – I’ll be back…