August 26-29, 2015
Written August 8+
Dear Diary, Friends, and Families,
On Wednesday (8/26) we left Florence early for a long drive up the
coast highway to Cannon Beach. The day started gray, not quite
fog, but definitely not sunny, fairly typical I'm sure. Highway
101 is a wonderful drive, but a bit slow. There are narrow
bridges, twisty curves, and dozens of small towns and
communities. After 20 minutes we were already tired and hungry, so we
stopped in Yachats (love that name) for breakfast and splurged with a
cinnamon roll and crab omelet. Marianne loved the first, I liked
both. We recommend the Drift Inn!
We continued a slow drive, one that would take almost seven hours for
132 miles. Curves, construction, vacation traffic, and village stops
all took time. In Newport, we took time out to look at a few of
the glass workshops that are popular in this area. I liked "Volta" in Lincoln City, but the last thing we need to drag around is breakable kitsch.
had originally planned to stop for a factory tour at Tillamook
cheese. So did half the summer tourists on the road this
day. We could not find parking and determined that was a clue
that crowds would be too much. We tried the neighboring Blue
Heron "French" cheese store, but saw little more than a large,
grocery-store style refrigerator case of cheeses and the other half of
the day's tourists. Really, we had not been inundated with
tourists before these cheese heads and we reached our limit quickly!
hours later, we reached Cannon Beach and almost immediately took a walk
in the neighborhood. Seven hours in the car had stiffened these
old muscles. We walked in both our own bunny-infested
neighborhood and in "downtown", among the bars, restaurants, shops, and
other tourist necessities. Even in this busy end-of-summer week,
the crowds were manageable. (Parking, that bellwether of
crowdedness, was easy enough.)
|Bunnies, feral house pets, were everywhere. Cute, but I imagine they make gardening difficult.
The evening walk on the beach was hazy and the sunset was golden, not red. Nice nevertheless.
Thursday, we cruised along north of Cannon Beach and I think I went
nuts on pictures, so text will have to follow as I find time.
(Besides, many people don't even bother to read!)
photo excursion worked up an appetite and Marianne and I stopped by
Pigs 'n Pancakes for a healthy meal. In fact, it has been tough
sticking with our diets in this environment. I hope there's not
been too much damage by the time we find scales to weigh in on.
The early morning beach in Seaside was just me, birds, and three hardy surfers.
After breakfast, we headed up to Astoria, "the oldest American
settlement west of the Rockies". The town is at the mouth of the
Columbia River and its history is the theme for the Columbia River Maritime
Museum. I like this kind of thing and Marianne allowed me to
wander to my heart's content. Balance for past art galleries.
Astoria stop was at The Flavel House. Captain Flavel was a
successful river and bar pilot who developed local businesses to become
the wealthiest man in the area in the late 1900s. His retirement
home is open to visitors.
The best display was of a Coast Guard rescue in the middle of the infamous Columbia River Bar.
The Museum also had the old Lightship Columbia on display.
The living spaces looked open and generous, while at a stationary
dock. I imagine it was different, tossing like a cork for days on
end in winter storms. Normal duty was two weeks on and one week
off, but one unlucky crew had to stay aboard for six weeks, when storms
made the five mile transfer impossible for the extra weeks.
The light itself was an array of six train headlamps.
On the day of our visit, the Columbia was quiet and peaceful as the
pilot boat made its run out to one of the ocean ships leaving for the
trip across the bar.
Astoria, we went west to Fort Stevens,
the most western place we could
drive to in Oregon. One of two forts that guarded the mouth of
the Columbia, Fort Stevens has the distinction of being one of the only
American mainland bases to ever be hit by enemy artillery. In
early 1942, a Japanese submarine lobbed nine rounds onto the beach
below the batteries. Our visit was perfectly peaceful, both on land and
out in the river bar.
On the way home, we stopped at the Wayfarer Restaurant
for a 3pm meal. The beach-front restaurant has a great reputation
and the service was nice, but the neither-lunch-nor-dinner menu was
limited. Too bad. The view of Haystack Rock was perfect.
The Wayfarer waiter suggested a visit to Hug Beach, a few miles south,
and we took the suggestion. Marianne sat on a beach log, while I
tramped around taking pictures. The beach was a perfect example
of the Oregon Coast at its best.
No sunset, but no energy left to go out loaded with the big camera and tripod, so it was all good.
The rough headlands are topped with trees precariously growing in the overhang.
The Hug Beach falls are very small due to the ongoing drought, even here in wet Oregon. (No kids fell off while I was there.)
beach was named for the road original settlers blasted out around a
point that interrupted the beach sand "highway". The road "hugs"
morning breakfast was back at the Wayfarer Inn and we enjoyed a nice,
two-hour, meal with a wonderful view. We recommend it!!
From there, it was into town for shopping and gallery viewing. We started with Icefire,
a glassworks with a very Oregon commercial approach: no wholesalers, no
galleries, no selling website, just folks walking into the Cannon Beach
workshop. We talked with Jim Kingwell and bought eight of his practice
pieces - "comfortable" drinking glasses. He makes a few of these
every day, just to warm up, before he moves on to his wonderful color
pieces. Nice pieces. Nice stories.
there, it was over to the watercolors of Jeffrey Hull, a
self-identified surfer who found a way to survive on the coast.
His work accurately gave the sense of the local, foggy, coast.
Impressive skills, but I'm afraid watercolor strikes me as "decorator
door, we visited Blue Bond Studio and Gallery, art again not to our
taste, but it at least had the smell of a real workshop!
After a few more anonymous studios and galleries, we did make another purchase: an eternally moving globe
I had been looking at online for months. In person it was even
more interesting. Drop by my office to see it in action.
Next, it was off to dinner at Newmans at 988,
a cute yellow building with wonderful food. This was a bit of a
splurge, but worth it. The duck and halibut were both done
perfectly, although it took two times in the pan for the duck to be
I suppose we should have walked a few miles after such a meal, but we
settled for a few yards of just looking at wide open Cannon
Beach. This will be our memory.
Overall impression of
Cannon Beach? The quintessential Oregon beach town. Pretty
homes, dynamic beach, good shopping, good dining. Worth a return
Saturday morning and it is time to head to Portland, another story.
John and Marianne