A Trip Up the Oregon Coast

I hope everyone had a delightful Thanksgiving! Though we were skiing at this time last year, we had an Indian Summer this year and the snow hasn't quite blanketed the mountain, yet. (I'm holding out hope that it will be soon!)

If you're doing the holiday shopping spree that is Black Friday today, check out Darkroom and Dearly for a special holiday sale! Buy 4 cards, get 4 free! This offer is good on any quantity over four, and will run all weekend through Cyber Monday. Mix and match any kind of card, or build yourself a custom Christmas card set! The possibilities are (almost) endless! :)

In the meantime, here's the conclusion to the epic road trip my family took, first to Crater Lake, then to the Redwood Forest, and now working our way back to Portland...

We were quickly falling into a steady rhythm this trip, despite our lack of planning for the latter half of it: we found ourselves waking early, doing one last touristy-hiking-scenic lookout before driving onward for 4-5 hours, searching for a campsite at a local state park by evening, pitching the tent and enjoying one of our many packaged dehydrated meals for the night. Then we woke up and did it all over again.

Once we left the Redwoods, we decided to drive highway 101 up the Oregon coast back to Portland, since it seemed the more interesting route to take. Having never done this drive before, we had absolutely no idea what there was to see, what tourist attractions there were, what state parks we might be able to camp at, or even a map or guidebook to tell us all these things. All we had was Tanner's iPhone, which (more often than not) didn't have service, anyway. I lamented the fact that I had at least five sets of maps, pamphlets, and hiking guide books specifically tailored for the Oregon coast, and all of them were at home. (Blast!)

So we resorted to my mom's memory of the last time she had visited here (...in 1991), and the random road signs we came across along the way. It was completely unplanned, uncoordinated, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants traveling. For someone as OCD as me, it totally stressed me out. I worried that we were going to miss something cool that we didn't know about, or that we weren't going to be able to find a campsite for the night, or that we wouldn't make it up the coast in time. But somehow, it all seemed to work out.

As we drove, we wrote down all the things that we had heard of - or imagined that we heard of - from coworkers, friends and memories of what there was to see on the Oregon coast. Then we looked them up on our GPS and plotted a point-by-point route up the coast. We estimated where we needed to stop and called friends to get their recommendations for best camping spots. In between, we kept our eyes out for signs that said "scenic view" or "beach" or "attraction." Often our drives were peppered with me yelling at Tanner: "Scenic overlook! TURN HERE! TURN HERE!"

Needless to say, there was a lot of jumping in and out of the car and lots of getting lost on backroads.

We wound our way up the coastline, entering Oregon and slipping through the many coastal towns along the way: Brookings, Bandon, Coos Bay, Florence, Yachats, Newport, Lincoln City, Tillamook...

Here's what we saw along the way.

After several side-of-the-highway jumps from the car to take some amazing beach scenic shots (is anyone else picturing The Goonies in his/her head looking at all these magnificent rocks in the Pacific Ocean? Next we'll be finding pirate ships...) we discovered a tourist spot known as the Sea Lion Caves. Apparently you can take an elevator down to a cave where hundreds of sea lions are known to lounge about. I hear it's pretty cool, but at this time of year there weren't any of them in residence, so I took this photo instead. The view was pretty spectacular, regardless.

By early evening we made it up to Cape Perpetua, where we stumbled across a little state park to camp in Yachats. We were hoping to stay in a yurt, but the park ranger laughed at us a little when we requested it and said yurts were generally booked 9+ months in advance. Whoops. So we found a little campsite, instead, and then hurried up to Cape Perpetua to check out the sunset from on high. The views didn't disappoint. As the sun slowly dipped below to curve of the horizon, the fog rolled in and it felt as though we were floating above a sea of clouds. We were so awed by the lovely sight that we stayed until well past dark.

The trees at our campsite were quite lovely. We fell asleep to the sound of the surf crashing against the rocks. The next day we packed up and kept driving north. We stopped to see Devil's Punchbowl and Boiler Bay, offering us some amazing views of the wild ocean.

Seeing a sign for "Cape Lookout" we decided it might be interesting, so we took a slight detour. It ended up taking us on a 30 minute journey to the western-most edge of Oregon, but the beach that awaited us was a beautiful point to add to our travels. 

As our last stop for the day we ended up in Tillamook, Oregon, where most of the cheese, ice cream and milk for the state is produced. We stopped at their famous factory and had lunch and ice cream before cutting east and heading back to Portland.

We ended our week-long trip in high spirits, with two national parks, two states, four state parks, and 1,000 miles of driving under our belts! Great trip!

Here's the epic map of our whole loop: