We left Salem and headed west toward the Oregon coast on narrow, winding two lane roads for most of the two hour drive. We drove through the Siuslaw National Forest including 5 one lane bridges.
We arrived at our campground in Pacific City (pop 1,035) and found a nice site for a four night stay. We couldn’t see or hear the waves but we were within walking distance of the beach and the campground provided a nice walking trail to the beach.
We saw signs throughout the campground warning of bear activity but never saw any, just several adorable bunnies.
They must be used to people because they were totally unafraid of us taking pictures but we respected the fact they were not pets and didn’t get too close.
With the hope that the weather would improve the next day we stayed home for the first day and I did laundry. The better weather advertised by the Weather Channel never materialized and as you can see by the pictures the weather was cloudy, windy and chilly during our entire stay with heavy cloud and fog cover. With only two days left to explore, we had to ignore the weather, bundle up and set off exploring this part of the Oregon coast.
We had a long list of things to see so we headed north up the coast. Sometimes the road took us right along the coast and sometimes we were more inland. Not to whine, sometimes we would stop at an ocean overlook and I would just imagine how beautiful this would look on a bright, sunny day.
We did lots of hiking and geocaching both days. We loved seeing the huge rocks in the ocean, so typical of the Pacific Coast. We especially liked the rocks with windows and arches eroded from the waves and wind.
You can see that even though the population in these coastal cities is small, they appear congested as people want to build houses close to the water. Who wouldn’t with those amazing views!
We drove past the Tillamook Cheese Factory where they give tours to more than 1.3 million people a year but didn’t take the time to stop. We did purchase some Tillamook ice cream at the local Safeway which was really really good.
Highlights of our two drives were:
- The Octopus Tree which measures 46 feet in diameter and has no central trunk. Instead the limbs extend horizontally from the base as much as 16 feet before turning upward. It is 105 feet tall and is estimated to be 250 to 300 years old. The cause for the octopus shape is still being debated. Was it caused by natural forces or by Native Americans. What do you think?
- This Big Spruce, a Sitka spruce, was designated the state champion in 2008 for being the largest of the species in Oregon. It is 144 feet tall, 48 feet in circumference, fifteen and a half feet in diameter and is estimated to be an amazing 750 to 800 years old!
- The Cape Meares Lighthouse which was lit in 1890 and at 38 feet is the shortest lighthouse on the Oregon coast. The light beam is an alternating red and white light as it turns which distinguishes it from other lighthouses.
- While at the lighthouse we saw a mother whale and her calf playing in the water for quite awhile, a real highlight for us! The above picture is an animated collage of the two whales.
- Munson Falls, which at 319 feet is the highest on the Oregon coast.
Over the two days we loved our hikes through the forest with the tree limbs covered in moss giving the area a very eerie feeling.
As we drove along the Three Capes Scenic Loop we found geocaches overlooking the ocean along with views of kayakers on waterways where sand spits separated the ocean from the bays.
Of particular note is the Tillamook Bay, an “estuary of national significance”, one of only twenty in the country. Five rivers flow into the bay which then mixes with the salty waters of the Pacific.
Bill was happy to find a geocache at the entrance to a Boy Scout Camp called Camp Meriwether and Camp Clark.
Another geocache took us to the marker for Captain Robert Gray, the first American to circumnavigate the globe.
The area is known for fresh delicious seafood and Bill had a delicious halibut lunch at a small food truck along the water.
As you can see cars are allowed to drive on the beach. At one county park we found the dunes crowded with ATV vehicles.
Despite the weather we enjoyed our time along the section of the Oregon coast.
Next stop: Seaside, Oregon for hopefully sunny weather