Cold green waves thundering toward evergreen headlands and craggy shorelines. Sea foam rolling up onto sandy beaches, enveloping twisty, gray driftwood. Fog-shrouded sea cliffs stretching for miles along the ocean. Sweeping vistas seen from those high promontories. That’s what we expected from the Oregon coastline, and from its first appearance it didn’t let us down. As soon as there was a pull-off, Chris provided Melinda with a chance for her first photo and it’s been nonstop shooting ever since.
Our travel route cut out the northern half of the Oregon coastline. Spanning a distance of nearly 400 miles, with all the scenic overlooks and photo ops interspersed along the way, we could have easily spent our entire trip just taking in this one special area of Oregon. Instead, we pulled onto the Pacific Coast Highway, a.k.a. Highway 101, near the town of Newport, one of the largest towns on the coast, which still lists fishing as one of its major industries, and from there headed south. We passed by our first Oregon lighthouse at Yaquina Head and got the shot. Then we needed to make the miles, going through nonstop.
Cape Perceptua Scenic Area is the epitome of the rocky and wild Oregon coast and was our first destination. Located just a couple of miles south of the quaint village of Yachats, the 2,700-acre national forest preserve encompasses the highest point on the Oregon coast. We first glimpsed the 800-foot high promontory while still quite a distance away. Another convenient pull-off gave Melinda just the chance she was hoping for. It is frequently wrapped in fog, as the photo illustrates. Then we drove on.
We didn’t care for our reserved campsite within the Cape Perpetua Area, but fortunately had passed a forest service campground just a few miles back. We turned around. To our satisfaction, this campground fit the bill and we pulled into a very private site enclosed with native vegetation. Soon we were walking the campground loop, and conversing with the family that had a vintage 1972 Land Yacht Airstream (Marc and Ann, take note). Airstream travelers bond.
And so ended our first evening on the coast.
We were up and out early the following morning. It was clear and the sun had risen over the headlands. We drove the 2-mile, 800-foot elevation gain to the top of promontory and were rewarded with a clear view. There was also a stone shelter built in the 30s that served as a lookout for enemy ships and planes during WWII. It was a different time back then, and these vestiges symbolize that.
Then we took a trail, one of several interspersed on the Cape. Winding through the campground, and then through another one of those primordial, dense forests, the destination was a 500-year-old Sitka spruce tree. With a trunk having a 15-foot diameter, it was awesome. After a few quiet moments of contemplation, we took a few pictures. Sitka spruces grow only in a very narrow zone, stretching from northern California to Kodiak Island, Alaska; going inland only 4 miles. Its lightweight wood was used to build planes used in WWII.
After breakfast back at camp, we continued our trail hiking. This time it was down to the water. Plenty to see . . . starting with the wildflowers lining the trail.
The waves are powerful out here, compared with the Atlantic seashore. Winter has the strongest surf, we understand, when the waves crash into these rocks sending spray high into the air. We saw just a little of that action, but still it was impressive.
We took trails that had notable points of interest. With names such as Spouting Horn, Devil’s Churn and Cook’s Chasm, the rugged seascape was fittingly illustrated. After all was said and done, we had booked a few miles and worked up another appetite.
Seals and Sea Lions inhabit this coastline. We were in for a treat when we headed a few short miles south to Strawberry Hills Wayside. We had the location to ourselves as we ventured out onto a rocky precipice and looked down to the shoreline. There they were . . . basking on rocks being washed by the ocean waves . . . looking like lumps of gelatinous flesh. Seals are truly unique mammals, especially out of water. Shapeless blobs is a description that comes to mind. Melinda set up her tripod and got out her long lens, attempting to capture the scene. As you can see, they seem to be enjoying themselves, lazing in the warm sunshine. Finally, one of them deigned to raise his/her head . . . the most action we were to witness from them.
Returning to camp, Chris built a good fire and for a change even had some decent wood to burn. Once it began radiating sufficient heat, Melinda came out to join him. We had dinner by the fire and then called it a day . . . a big one at that. Tomorrow we’ll pull out, but only traveling a handful of miles down the coast to our next location. There’s a good reason for the short transfer . . . stay tuned.
From the wild and rugged Oregon coastline,
Chris and Melinda