I was sad to leave Washington because I had really fallen in love with it, but I was excited to move on to Oregon because I had heard it was a beautiful state. We would be driving down the entire Oregon Coast in the PCH, which I was pretty excited about.
Our first stop was in Astoria, Oregon. To get into town we had to drive across the Astoria-Megler Bridge. It’s a pretty tall bridge, which was a little intimidating because bridges make me nervous. But we survived.
Astoria is a fishing town. There are lots of ships in the harbor and lots of seafood stores and restaurants. The entire town is on a hill so pretty much every house in town has a view of the water. The houses are absolutely adorable. They are small and brightly colored and I want to live in one. The town itself is a bit rundown though, and unless you’re a fisherman I don’t think there are many career opportunities in Astoria.
We made our way to the Astoria Column, which is at the very top of the hill. It’s a very steep hill. I felt like we were climbing the first hill of a roller coaster while we were driving up it. The column has a good size parking lot and is only five dollars per car. There is a small gift shop where you can buy souvenirs and little wooden airplanes. It is a tradition to climb to the top of the tower and throw a little wooden plane when you get to the top.
We bought our planes for a buck and headed to the column to start the climb up. I am not a fan of heights. I get very anxious when I feel like I might fall to my death. The inside of the column has a spiral metal staircase the goes all the way up to the top. The column is 125 feet tall, so there are quite a few stairs to climb.
As we were climbing up there was another group of people a few flights of stairs ahead of us and one of them was whistling. Not a happy sounding whistle, but the kind of whistle that a psycho murderer would be doing as he was getting ready to kill his victim. It didn’t help that there is a crazy amount of echo inside the column so the creepy whistle was amplified.
At about the halfway point I made the mistake of looking down. My fear of heights combined with the creepy whistling gave me a mini panic attack but I took a moment to compose myself and I kept climbing all the way to the top. The view from the top is beautiful. There is a viewing platform that goes all the way around the column so you can see Astoria from every angle. We threw our planes and watched them soar to the ground, admired the view for a few minutes, then headed back to the safety of solid ground.
Next, we headed across town to see the Shipwreck of Peter Iredale in Fort Steven State Park. It was really cool. We timed it right because the tide was low so we were able to right up close to it. It was really foggy that day, so as we walked across the beach we saw the shipwreck emerge out of the fog, It was really creepy. It made me think of the movie where zombie pirates come out of the fog and kill people.
After checking out the shipwreck we headed toward our next destination, Newport. It was already getting kind of late though so we decided to stop in Seaside Oregon for the night. We got a room at a hotel called Hi Tide. It was amazing! It is right across the street from the beach and has a pool and hot tub. There were cookies in the lobby and salt water taffy in our room. It really was a great hotel and the best part is it was only $60! We had paid way more than that for other hotels that were nowhere near as nice.
The room even had a full kitchen which was amazing. We hadn’t cooked real food in a month so were excited to make something better than canned soup. That night we went to a laundromat to wash our dirty clothes, hit up a grocery store to restock our supplies, and went back to the room to relax and cook some pasta. It was wonderful.
The next morning we explored downtown Seaside. It is an adorable beach town that has one of the nicest down towns I’ve seen. There are lots of souvenir shops and restaurants and a ton of antique stores. There’s a mural of a Seaside Postcard on one of the buildings that I absolutely adored. At the end of the main street you get to the beach which also happens to be the end of the Lewis and Clark Trail.
It was sad to leave Seaside. I might move there some day that’s how much I liked it. But Newport was calling so we continued on down the Oregon Coast. Just north of Newport is the Devil’s Punchbowl. I had heard a lot about this state park and was really excited to see it. Unfortunately, I was kind of disappointed by it.
The majority of the state parks in Oregon that are along the coast aren’t really parks. At least not by my standards. They are simply parking areas that overlook the ocean and have a few picnic tables. I guess that’s a park. But in NY a state park is big and has hiking trails and camping and all that good stuff, so it’s not what I was expecting.
It also didn’t help that we arrived when the tide was low, so there wasn’t much to see. You can only look at the punch bowl from above. You are not allowed to go down on it or near it. It’s completely fenced off. I guess it didn’t used to be, but people were climbing in it which is apparently dangerous. When the tide is high I guess it gets some pretty good wave action in the middle of it. When we were there is was pretty much just a rock with a hole in the middle.
Next we stopped at the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. This is part of the BLM, so our government access pass got us in for free. I love free! There is a visitor center with information about Yaqunia head, as well as a number of hiking trails, but the main attraction is the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. The lighthouse was built in 1873 and is out near the edge of the cliff.
From the overlook on the far side of the lighthouse were able to see grey whales swimming in the ocean! It was awesome! That is a pretty popular spot that they hang out in so large crowds of people tend to gather there.
Another popular section of Yaquina Head is Quarry Cove. This is a popular area to see seals lounging on the beach and on the rocks. We walked down the short trail to the water and looked out onto the rocks in hopes of seeing some seals. At first I thought we had struck out because I didn’t see any, but then, what I had thought was a rock began to move. It was a seal! They are grey and spotted and blend right in with the rocks. I looked a little harder and noticed that there were actually three of them out there. They were so cute. We watched them for a little while before making out way back to the car.
Next we headed to Agate Beach. It was a dreary day, which I guess is kind of the norm for Oregon, so the beach basically empty. This was the first really sandy beach that we had seen on the West Coast. The sand forms hills on the beach and it looked more like we were in the dessert than at the beach until we actually got out to the water. We took our shoes off and walked along the edge of the Pacific Ocean. There were a lot of Jelly fish washed up on the sand and a lot of these weird giant seaweed things. We referred to them as sea penises, but I‘m pretty sure that’s not there technical name.
Our last stop in Newport was to the Historic Bayfront District to see the sea lions at the pier. They are so cute! They’re not very nice though. They are huge and grumpy and whiskery and very territorial. Some of them wouldn’t let others get up on the docks and would growl and bite at them when they tried. The docks they have now are getting a little run down so they are raining money to build bigger, nicer docks for the sea lions.
We watched the sea lions for about a half hour then we walked up and down the main street of the historic district. It’s right on the water and has a bunch of canneries, boat docks, gift shops and seafood restaurants. It’s a cute little street to check out while you’re in Newport.
It was getting late and we had yet to find a hotel for the night. We called around to some hotels in Newport but they were either full or way to expensive. We decided to just drive for a little while and see what we could find. We came to a town called Coos Bay and saw a Vacancy sign at the Southsider Motel. We went in to book a room and the old man who runs the place came creeping out of the back room. He was such a weirdo. He kept looking at us funny and asked us a bunch of weird questions before he would agree to give us a room.
Then he asked us if we wanted one or two beds. It was cheaper to get one bed, so we said one bed. He looked at us in horror and I thought he might have a heart attack right then and there. He spent a couple minutes trying to convince us we needed two beds and we kept telling him one was ok. It was really obvious that he thought we were lesbians and that he did not approve. It was a pretty funny way to end our adventure in Oregon.
Have you been to the Oregon Coast? What were some of your favorite stops?