My first visit to the Oregon coast, a couple of years ago, was during the winter; I came with my boyfriend, who is a native of Corvallis, a town that’s about an hour from the ocean, and who spent his childhood years vacationing in Yachats, Florence and Manzanita, the small towns that dot the coast. We took a day and a night out from our city time in Portland, Vancouver and Seattle and I feel in love with the Pacific yet again. Since I was born and spent my early years in Sydney, I have always love the Pacific Ocean, but this was another side of the vast sea—all shades of grey and mist and barely there rain and real rain and peeks of sunshine. (Sydney tends to be all contrasty sun and sea, gorgeous sunsets and drama-drama, in the best possible, but totally different way.)
Above: Starre Vartan visiting the Oregon Coast while wearing an ethical Gudrun Sjoden Miranda sweater and By Natalie Frigo glass and recycled metals necklace
Needless to say, for a romantic writer/creative-type, I love the curtains of grey, the layered light of the Oregon Coast, the non-rain rain, and I recently returned, now that I’m living just 40 minutes away in the middle of the woods in the Cascade Range.
First stop was Devil’s Punchbowl, a state natural area that’s meditative and interesting to watch, since the sea water gushes in and out of this epically large natural ‘bowl’ that “was probably created by the collapse of the roof over two sea caves, then shaped by wave action.” The area is popular for surfers and whales, so keep an eye out for people and cetaceans.
I wanted to stop for some coffee and a warm-up, so we found the well-rated Pirate Coffee Company just up the coast from the Devil’s Punchbowl (and any drive around here is worth doing, since they views along the coast highway are neverendingly gorgeous).
A well-made cappuccino and some coffee cake and we were ready to go play on the beaches!
We headed down to Beverly Beach and checked out about a half-mile of beachfront; it was lovely, quiet and misty. All around I discovered these rocks with depressions in them. Turns out they are made by piddock clams that start small and then grow about 5 millimeters a year; the slowly-but-surely wear away fingertip-sized holes in the rocks that then wash ashore.
Next we headed south, along the Oregon Coast Highway. We stopped at Moolack Beach next; you can really see the long, shallow beachfront here, and the density of the mist, which obscures the line between thy sky and the sea. Since I was wearing my rubber boots, I could walk out into the water and let it rush around my feet – fun!
I came across the beautiful dead gull, which had obviously been picked at by fellow birds. A little bit creepy, but the color contrast between the bird’s blood-red interior and the shades of grey at the beach was impossible to ignore. Not all gorgeous things are “pretty.”
All sorts of natural beauty jumped right out at me from the sand, like these gentle grasses enmeshed with the grains. What a lovely striped pattern.
The bright green of fresh seaweed was a friendly reminder that beneath the grey waves was a forest of underwater plants!
When we needed a rest, and just wanted to stare at the water for awhile, I constructed this rock bench, since the sand was a bit damp (and I don’t love having a damp butt). The rocks were dry, and it looks kind of lovely too.
Next, we headed over to Newport, a cute maritime town (yes, it still supports real fishermen and women), where there were these giant fishing-themed murals to marvel over. I was hungry though, so we headed over to the Rogue Ales Bayfront Public House, which is a real locals bar and a spot for tourists to enjoy.
Rogue has long been one of my favorite breweries, and I’ve loved their creative flavors and gorgeous woodcut-designed bottles for years; I remember my first Rogue was across the country at The Blue Tusk, one of New York State’s finest beer bars (also home to my college-era part-time job). It was an honor and privilege to get to drink some Rogue at the source!
I tried a couple ‘samplers’ including the flavorful (but not spicy!) Chipotle Ale and the Rogue Farms OREgasmic Ale, which was a delicious IPA; I ended up devouring a pint of it. Their food was also delicious and hearty, made with fresh, local ingredients.
Simon (my partner, above) wanted to stop at the colorful Newport Candy Shoppe before we left town and headed home to Wren; we stopped in at and got some fudge (his favorite) and salt water taffy (mine) for the drive. As evidenced above, you can have a fun and memorable time on the Oregon Coast, even if it’s just for a rainy, grey afternoon!
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