We left Bend on April 21 and spent a few days in Corvallis and Eugene, OR. Both are nice university towns but even the best town gets old quickly under continuous rain. Driving the Oregon coast had always been on the list of things to do during our trip, so we headed that way.

Our first stop along the coast was in Florence, OR. We took a long walk on the beach and from there drove north toward Heceta Head and Cape Perpetua. After watching sea lions playing in the waves at Cape Perpetua, we decided to go visit the Lion Cave, an enormous sea grotto that is home to an incredible number of sea lions. The cave is one of the biggest tourist trap of the North Coast, but it was actually quite worth the extravagant $7 per person to get in. We took the elevator (!) from the cliff top down to an observation platform about 50 feet above sea level. There, we watched the sea lions for a couple of hours. These funny creatures apparently have nothing better to do than make a hell of a lot of noise and fight for the best spots inside the cave. There were also magnificent views of Heceta Head from the other end of the cave. We loved it all, tourist trap or not (just go early or late on a weekday to avoid the crowds!). It was almost nightfall when we left the cave. We drove to Yachats where we spent the night.

The next morning, we went back to Heceta Head to visit the lighthouse and the keeper's house. The lighthouse was built in 1894 and sits at the end of the cape. The keeper's house, built in 1893, is now a B&B but can still be visited on week-ends (the chef will give you a tour after having served his guests their famous five course breakfast). We learned about the hard life of lighthouse keepers back in the days when oil lamps were still used. Refilling the oil tanks for the lamp, cleaning the soot, and jacking up the weights that drove the clockwork mechanism in the tower apparently kept the keeper and his crew pretty busy.

In the afternoon, we left for Newport and spent some time at the harbor, watching fishing boats and harbor seals. We then drove to Yaquina Head, just in time to catch a beautiful sunset at the lighthouse. We drove north a bit further before finding a great seaside spot to spend the night at Boiler Bay wayside.

The next day, we visited the Three Capes (Cape Kiwanda, Cape Lookout and Cape Meares). We did a short hike at Cape Lookout to great views at the end of the cape. Once at the cape, we heard this loud venting sound. We looked down and sure enough, a gray whale was passing within 200 ft of the cliffs! In the evening, we continued to Cape Meares State Park, with its very short lighthouse and the Octopus Tree, a massive Sitka spruce that lacks a central trunk but has several side trunks, making it look like a giant octopus. We spent the night by the water again, near Garibaldi.

We spent our last day on the coast between Rockport Wayside and Astoria. We had to be in Portland two days later to pick up Lucie's Dad who was visiting from France for a few days. We found more great sea cliffs at Rockwork Wayside and later spent some time in downtown Astoria.

We then left for Portland, hoping to find a spot for the night just before reaching the city so we could visit Portland the next morning. It didn't quite work out that way. We stopped briefly in Prescott for gas and to fill up our propane bottles. Eric chatted with the owner of the service station who was commenting about these old buses and how reliable they were. There wasn't any wood around to knock on... sure enough, when we tried to start the engine again, nothing! Dead starter. After unsuccessful attempts at fixing the problem on the spot, we managed to kick start the bus after rolling downhill a few feet. The only problem now was that we could not stop any more before reaching a good place to make repairs. So we drove and drove and drove all the way to Portland. Finally, late that night, we ended up stopping on the parking lot of Camping World south of Portland.

We only had one day to work on the starter before Roger (Lucie's Dad) arrived. We spent the entire day head down, pulling the starter off the engine from inside the bus, replacing the solenoid, and reassembling. Fortunately, parts were readily available from the local NAPA store. By night fall, the problem was fixed.

Lucie's Dad arrived as scheduled the next morning. We spent the afternoon walking around Portland. That night, we spent our first (and last) night in a real private RV park! Scary! We drove back to the Coast (around Cannon Beach and Ecola State Park) the next morning. We hiked a few miles north to a small surfers' beach, Indian Beach where we had nice views of the Tillamook Lighthouse, which sits some distance offshore on a 100-foot high sea stack. After a stroll on the sand at Cannon Beach, we drove south and stopped for the night along Highway 101 near Arch Cape, a few miles north of Oswald West State Park. Beautiful views, great sunset, and even better champagne that Lucie's Dad had brought from France.

We visited Oswald State Park the next day. After hiking to the Indian Cove beach, a popular surf locale, we walked to Cape Falcon. There, we had an amazing sight: two gray whales (a cow and its calf), making their way north! We then went to Rockwork Wayside and hiked to the edge of the cliffs. We left the coast at 6PM and made it back to Portland later that evening. Roger left for France the next day.

Northern Oregon Coast

April 25-28 & May 1-2, 2003
Click for high resolution
Sandy beaches of Florence, OR.
 
Click for high resolution
Lighthouse and keeper's house at Heceta Head.
 
Click for high resolution
Cape Perpetua.
 
Click for high resolution
The "Sea Lion Cave" near Cape Perpetua.
 
Click for high resolution
Sea lions resting inside the cave.
 
Click for high resolution
Heceta Head viewed from the cave.
 
Click for high resolution
Heceta Head lighthouse.
 
Click for high resolution
The beautifully build, 100+ year old Fresnel lens of the Heceta lighthouse.
 
Click for high resolution
Commercial fishing harbor in Newport.
 
Click for high resolution
Environmentalists eat fish; fishermen eat...
 
Click for high resolution
Harbor seals in Newport.
 
Click for high resolution
Sunset at Yaquina Head.
 
Click for high resolution
Yaquina Head lighthouse.
 
Click for high resolution
Yaquina Head lighthouse.
 
Click for high resolution
Sea stacks near Yaquina Head.
 
Click for high resolution
The "Octopus Tree" at Cape Meares State Park.
 
Click for high resolution
View from Cape Meares.
 
Click for high resolution
Sunset from our bayside camp near Garibaldi.
 
Click for high resolution
Sea cliffs at Rockport Wayside.
 
Click for high resolution
Pretty wild flower.
 
Click for high resolution
Downtown Astoria.
 
Click for high resolution
Downtown Astoria.
 
Click for high resolution
Cannon Beach.
 
Click for high resolution
Ecola State Park.
 
Click for high resolution
Tillamook Head.
 
Click for high resolution
Indian Beach and the Tillamook Lighthouse.
 
Click for high resolution
Lucie with her Dad at Indian Beach.
 
Click for high resolution
Starfish on Cannon Beach.
 
Click for high resolution
Sunset from one of our night spots.
 
Click for high resolution
Perfect seagull sunset near Oswald State Park.
(high res. images are about 300KB)