Monday, September 03, 2012

Oregon Coast: From Bandon to Cannon Beach

Full disclosure:  I lived in Oregon for 3 and a half years.  If I could afford a summer vacation home, it would be here!

Welcome to the most stunning coastline in the world!  Anyone who has visited the Oregon coast will agree that it is well worth the trip.  This trip started at the California/Oregon border and headed north for over 300 miles. 

Word of warning.  The Oregon coast stays cool in the summer time -- 50s and 60s.  Be sure to dress accordingly.  Also, it is often misty or rainy so be prepared!

The first major stop was in Bandon, Oregon.  I think it is among the prettiest on the coast. It is about 2 hours north of the border.  There is a nice rest stop to the north of the beach.  You have to get off the coastal highway just a bit.  Follow the signs.   

This is Bandon Beach.  I "colorized" it a bit.  You can see a couple people center right to get perspective of the rocks.

Be sure to go to Bandon proper, not just the beach.  It is full of little shops and restaurants that will charm you.  Definitely go to the boardwalk.  You will be greeted by some of the most beautiful woodwork you will ever see.  Definitely public art worth the taxes!  There is also a floating dock you can walk out on.  Anyone under 12 must wear a life jacket on it ... the life jackets are hanging on a display at the foot of the dock.  Their motto: "Kids don't float."

This is one of the wooden carvings on display on Bandon's boardwalk. They all have to do with the marine life in the area. 

Our next stop was Gold Beach, Oregon. It is about an hour and a half north of Bandon.  Gold Beach is probably best known for the Rogue River mailboat trip, which we took about ten years ago and enjoyed thoroughly.  The fishermen in the bay used to fight sea lions for the salmon they caught at the mouth of the river, but the government has set up an intervention now that prevents sea lions from preying there.  You can get some good seafood at local eateries.

Oregon's coastline is replete with beautiful bridges, such as this one that crosses the Rogue River.  The photo was taken from the inlet on the Pacific Ocean looking towards the river.The mailboats leave from this area.

As you cross the bridge across the Rogue, this is the sight that will greet you -- verdant Oregon hills!

Three hours north of Gold Beach you will find the laid back city of Florence.  Just before getting to Florence, look for Honeyman State Park.  Stop here for a couple hours to navigate the Oregon Dunes, if you're in shape!  People there are now "sandboarding" ... they've built devices similar to skateboards/snowboards that slide down the sand.  You can also find a concession at which to rent dune buggies to visit another area of the dunes.  At the bottom of this particular dune was a beautiful lake where visitors canoe and kayak.  There is a popular campground across the lake, and a nice nature walk that starts in the visitors' parking lot.

Taken from the bottom of the dunes.  There was no way I was going to be able to walk to the top!

Florence, too, has many shops and restaurants to visit along its waterfront.  Mo's, one of best clam chowder restaurants we've ever visited, has its southernmost franchise there.  You can definitely spend several hours just wandering the shops.

Florence is located along the Siuslaw River.  Another one of the Oregon coast's beautiful bridges crosses the river.  

Ten miles north of Florence you can find Sea Lion Caves.  If you pay the admission, you can descend down an elevator to a cave where these creatures can be found year round.  Warning:  the smell can overcome anyone with a sensitive nose!  The gift shop is large and you can find lots of inexpensive goodies there.  Beware:  the popcorn smell is very persuasive!

Start looking for a parking spot as soon as you near the cave!  There are spots in front of the attraction, but your best bet is the use the lot across the street.  Be careful crossing ... it's on a curve.

While at Sea Lion Caves, take a look to your north and see the beautiful Heceta Head lighthouse.  It was being worked on when this photo was taken.

Less than a mile from the Sea Lion Caves, you can go down into the Devil's Elbow!  It is a great beach at which to take photos.  You can walk under one of the scenic bridges, too.

Oregon beaches are very diverse.  Some are very sandy and very walkable. Others have large stones in place of sand.  Some have both.  It's fun to stop at all the rest stops along the way and see what lies in store.

One artist sees the beauty of this coastal bridge.

This beach was located near Cape Perpetua, close to Yachats, Oregon (Ya-hots).  Signs indicated it was part of Captain Cook's exploration of the Pacific coast.  This area had rock formations with various "sinister" names, such as Devil's Churn and Spouting Horn.

Be sure to keep a safe distance from the edge of the rocks ... not only to stay away from slippery slopes and rogue waves, but also from the freezing cold spray!  

In just a little over an hour, you will reach one of the busiest ports along the coast -- Newport.  This bridge spans Yaquina Bay.  There is a marine science center on the south end as well as the Oregon Aquarium.  

If you plan to go to waterfront Newport, get there before noon.  It is a popular shopping and eating spot. There is plenty of parking, but you may have to go searching for it and walking a ways.  You will find another Mo's (actually two) along the waterfront.  You will find lots of cheap little souvenir shops next to ones with beautiful one-of-a-kind art pieces.  Just walking along the waterfront is a great experience.  Watch workers clean fish and fight off the pelicans and sea lions that populate the area.  

This bridge is actually featured in the movie Overboard with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell.

The crabs hauled up are enormous!

Here the crowd checks out a barking sea lion next to the dock.

Newport has miles of sandy beaches, making it a popular spot for beach goers.  Agate Beach is at the north end of this stretch of land, and you can see the Yaquina Head lighthouse in the distance.

You will have to pay admission to the park to see the Yaquina Head lighthouse as it is located in a park.  However if you have a GOLDEN PARK PASS, you can get in for free.  There is more than the lighthouse to visit, although it is probably the most popular attraction in the park.  

This shot doesn't show the long line of people waiting to walk up to the top!

Just north of Newport is Otter Rock, where the Devil's Punch Bowl is located.  When the tide comes in, the water rushes through the arches and causes a huge spray!  You can actually walk down to the beach and go inside this formation if the tide is low.  CAUTION:  The rocks are slippery!  There is another Mo's located nearby, in case you get hungry.

If you look closely at the photo, you can see people inside the Devil's Punch Bowl.

About 12 miles north of Newport, you will find Depoe Bay, the world's smallest navigable harbor. Highway 101 in Depoe Bay is dotted with little shops and restaurants.  But Depoe Bay is probably best known as a whale-watching station.  Rarely does a day go by that there are no whale sightings, although certain months are better than others.  They have a whale-watching station there where you can get information about the types of whales in the area, and when the last sighting was (I missed one by 15 minutes).

 Sneak a peak at the world's smallest navigable harbor!

Just past Depoe Bay, you will cross the "D" River, which is the world's shortest river!  Just on the other side of the river is Lincoln City, where you will find another Mo's!  Lincoln City and its companion city, Seaside, are very touristy.  Lots to do there if you like shopping, arcades, beach volleyball, etc.  

Fifty miles north of Depoe Bay you will find Tillamook, which is slightly inland, but still on Highway 101.  You MUST stop at the Tillamook Cheese Factory!  I believe it's the law.  There is more than cheese there, but the cheese (best known - mild cheddar) is the star.  There are free samples, and a tour of the factory if you'd like.  I, myself, like to buy the "squeaky" cheese as it is know.  It's just cheese curds, but when you bite down on it, you'll hear a squeak!  It's also a great place to buy ice cream.  

Towards the end of our trip, you will find a rest stop that looks out over one of the most beautiful spots along the coast, Manzanita.

Fans of Goonies will definitely want to stop at Cannon Beach.  The famous Haystack Rock played a prominent role at the end of the movie.  Sorry fans, there really is no cave inside.  The rocks that poke up nearby are called "The Needles" ... therefore the needles and the haystack.  Cannon Beach is a bit on the touristy side, also, but probably less "bustling" than Lincoln City or Seaside.  Taking a walk down from the public parking to the beach itself, you will find several pieces of public art.  North of the beach is a nice shopping area.  

Haystack Rock always has hundreds of birds on and around it, including puffins (which look like a cross between a sea gull and a penguin).  

A few miles north of Cannon Beach is Highway 26, which will will take you inland to Portland, Oregon.  And THAT is a whole other post.

California's Seventeen Mile Drive

Between Monterey and Carmel, you will find the Seventeen Mile Drive.  It is a toll road (very reasonable) that goes through some of the most beautiful coastal areas of northern California.  It passes through private residential areas, wooded coastal hills, flowered-filled coastline, and the exclusive Pebble Beach Golf Club.  Enter the park from the north.  At the gate, they will give you a map that marks about 20 spots to stop and sightsee.

At the northern end, near the Inn at Spanish Bay, you will find a long wooden walkway.

Enjoy the variety of wildflowers.  Most are native, but some were added for erosion control.

If you want to see marine life galore, take a pair of binoculars (although not actually necessary).  You will find sea lions (there's one clinging to a rock on the right side), harbor seals, otters, cormorants,  and ground squirrels.  And if you look above, you will see a wide variety of bird life.

On the drive, you can see for miles down the coastline.  Be sure to have your camera with you.  This particular shot became the cover of my memory book.

Recognize this tree?  It's called "The Lone Cypress" and has been standing on this spot for several centuries.  It's probably the most photographed tree in California.  You may remember it in an ad for California tourism a few years ago when Schwartzenegger was governor.

At the end of the drive you can stop and visit the exclusive Pebble Beach Golf Course.  Here, the lobby overlooks the famous 18th hole.  You can actually take a walk down to the water.  It costs nothing to look!

Once you are finished (and it will take you several hours if you stop along the way), you will be in Carmel.  Stop in at the famous Hog's Breath Inn, found in the Eastwood building.  You can eat outdoors or inside.  The food was great!