Road to the Airport-Seaside, OR to California’s Redwoods
October 29, 2016
Map of oregon coast
After fog and rain for so many days, both at home and on the road, we finally moved into mixed sun and cloud. We drove to the coast of Oregon and arrived in Seaside, OR. We had been there before in the spring as well as in the summer on previous trips. It’s a cozy little town that is geared to visitors. It has never been very busy though, regardless of the season.
If you know me, I tend to prefer to live on the more frugal side of things. Sleeping in a tent in a state park for $20 a night has a satisfying appeal. I decided I wanted to really live it up in Seaside and stay in an ocean front hotel. Usually at this time of year, you can just walk in to a hotel and request a room. The first hotel I tried was doing painting and deep cleaning and didn’t have any rooms left with a view. The second one, the Shilo Inn
had an ocean front room with our AMA discount for $149 a night. It was reasonable for the location, we decided. When we got to the room, not only did it have an unobstructed view of the ocean and beach, but it had a kitchen and fireplace too! I was ecstatic. Sometimes you just have to decide not to cheap out when you have a chance to take advantage of such a special experience. After a meal of fantastic clam chowder and fresh seafood at Norma’s Diner, we slept with the doors open, listening to the waves crash into the beach.
It was so relaxing there, we decided to stay for 2 nights. We walked along the beach and took pictures. When the ocean showers came along, we sat next to the sliding doors by the deck and worked on pictures and reflections. When the rain stopped, we flew kites on the beach. We bought our own lobster and shrimp to cook for dinner our second night. With only a broiler top and a small fry pan we managed to make a great meal with some creative planning.
On our final morning, there was a crowd gathered on the turnaround below our window. Speakers were set up and before we knew it, people were square dancing to a master caller. It was the weekend of the Seaside Sashay. The dancers were all ages and dressed in a variety of styles, but they all knew the steps and were very entertaining to watch. I wish I knew enough to join them. It was so refreshing to see everyone keeping a perfect beat with their feet.
We finally pulled ourselves away from our window and headed down the coast. We had a quick stop in Tillamook at the Cheese Factory. Cheese doesn’t travel well to Thailand, but the pumpkin pie and marionberry ice cream were worth the stop.
Most of the road follows closely along the coastline, which is great for the passenger when you are travelling from north to south. There are long beaches as well as rocky cliffs. We stopped and saw some whales breaching just south of Depoe Bay. They were close enough we could see the puffs of breath and body parts above the water line, but too far away for my camera to really capture them. Some things you just have to take a picture with your mind. We spent the night in our tent in the rain at Carl Washburne State Park. Parts of it were closed, but there were quite a few units and tents staying there.
In the morning, we walked the trail to the beach. The trees were engulfed in moss. There was no one at the beach. We tried to fly the kite, but there wasn’t enough wind. Time at the beach in the morning was a treat we could afford because of our open ended timeline.
There is a working lighthouse at Heceta Head and a nice view looking back up the coast.
It was almost dark before we arrived into Northern California where the Red Woods start. The state park was surprisingly called Prairie Creek State Park. The trees are enormous but they just suck up all the light. Day is dark, and night is blacker. We set up near the washroom so we could see the light from it. It was easy to feel like we were all alone, absorbed by the darkness.
The wind in the night sounded like a train up in the trees, although it was quiet at the tent, except for the falling needles and leaves. The rain started about 6:30 am. We planned to wait until it got light to pack up, thinking the big trees would shelter us. We fell back to sleep. By 8, the ground and our tent were saturated and the wind was howling. The umbrellas helped us a little, but it took 2 days for the tent to dry out. We continued to drive south along the 101 with the wind howling out to the water from the inland side. That area received over 6 inches of rain that day. The Pacific Highway #1 is pretty special south of San Francisco but the northern end is very twisty and hilly with few views of the ocean. I’d take the Oregon road anytime instead.
Our search for Hyperion, the tallest redwood was put on hold and we headed to Napa instead to do some wine tasting. Again we were reminded that you can’t control the weather. You always need a plan B in mind. Napa is a pretty tough plan B to take.