Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Oregon Trail: part deux

So there we were.. stuffing our faces with syrupy waffles and slurping down our hot chocolate in a hotel breakfast area over looking a shipping lane coming inland from a bay. Today was the day that we were going to get to the real meat & potatoes of the Oregon coastline.. ya know, the rocky cliffs, the breathtaking views of waves meeting their dramatic, yet graceful, demise on the ragged, rocky coastal beaches.. The stuff they usually show in the background of '40's movies when the guy seals the deal with the gal with a brutish kiss while the foam of the surf flies up the side of the cliffs they are perched upon. Yep.. Needless to say, we were pretty amped up. For, you see, the whole point of our trip was the drive.. Not Seattle. Seattle was just the conveniently located near the end of our journey and happened to have airport large enough to get us back to Chicago in a plane larger than tic tac box.
So.. as I was saying, there we were ready to hop in the Buick. Hahaha! I never thought I'd be excited to be riding in Buick, at least not until I was above the age of 65. I was always a Pontiac gal and when GM gave it the ax and kept Buick, I sort of felt the need to have bad blood with Buick. But the Buick was just perfect for what we needed it for. Air conditioned seats work wonders on the swamp butt you get from riding in a car for 8 hours or so a day.

Haceta Head Lighthouse
We got on the 101 and headed north. We had stopped where we did because it was located just a skip from the Haceta Head Lighthouse that I'd seen online. Although that morning sky was a tad bit groggy with haze, it still made for a fabulous first sight that day. The lighthouse and the lighthouse keepers house sat perched on the next cliff over from where we parked the car giving me a great vantage point for pictures. The house is now a bed and breakfast boasting the best views on the Oregon coast but they ask a pretty penny for them so we opted for the Best Western instead. 
As we moved northward, the 101 zipped slightly inland allowing us to catch glimpses of sleepy logging villages and tourist hot spots of a bygone era. By inland I mean a couple miles east of the coast so I could still see bits of the ocean through clearings in the trees.
The views of the coastline were simply breathtaking.. I know that sounds like a ball of cheese, but that is one of the few words I can use to describe it accurately.
There were spots along the route that were so high up in elevation that we could see 4 towns ahead of us down the coast. Of course, every time we went up in elevation, we had to come back down. Tsunami hazard signs peppered the roadside outside of every town we came to as well as strategically placed evacuation route signs. Coming from the great flatlands of good old Illinois, seeing those blue signs was pretty surreal.
Yaquina Head Lighthouse, Newport, OR

In Newport, OR we stopped at 2 story antique mall and browsed hoping to find something truly "northwest" to take home that wasn't a fridge magnet. No such luck, mostly arts and crafts so we moved along. Just outside of town we saw a sign for the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. It was perfecto. In the photos I took of it, the sky showed up so accurately blue that it looks like I photoshopped them to look more vibrant. I did NOT. The Oregon sky is just that blue. We toured the lighthouse and walked around the park. It was so much fun :)
We stopped for lunch at a joint called Mo's in Lincoln City, Oregon. I say lunch but really it was more of a "linner" (lunch + dinner) since it happened to occur around 4pm.
Never the less, Mo's did not disappoint. I'd done some online research prior to the trip and Mo's sounded like a must. It was started by a chain-smoking woman named Mo in the '60s. She served up the best damn clam chowder this side of New England. Paul Newman and Henry Fonda frequented the original restaurant in Newport while filming the movie Sometimes a Great Notion in 1971. Being the Paul Newman obsessed gal that I am, we were stopping there. It was some damn good chowder.. Good enough that Chris didn't even put crackers in it and he ALWAYS puts crackers in soup. He said it was hearty enough that he didn't need to.

By this time, the sun was well on it was to setting. We drove as far as we could in Oregon while the sun was still putting off a glow. Finally, as the last embers of day were fading we pulled off a Hugging Point- a small, beautiful beach when the tide happens to be out. We ran out on the beach and played around as the tide started to come back in and the daylight left us. Oregon was the trip and this was us saying goodbye to it. We planned on driving through the night to get to Seattle (dumbest decision EVER). After Oregon, the rest of the trip sort of drifted downhill until we got on our flight home. Seattle wasn't our cup of tea. 
Our last few hours in Oregon were spent in the Buick not able to see anything out the windows due to nightfall. So far in our lives, Oregon ranks pretty high up on our list of places. We will go back when we have kids. Its kind of like the hidden gem of the U.S. You never hear of anybody taking a vacation there so you don't really know what to expect but when you get there and see for yourself the beauty you wonder how people could go their whole lives without visiting it.
Enjoy the pictures below. The beauty in person outshines those pictures but at least we'll have a reference point for our memories.

If you haven't yet visited the Oregon coast in your lifetime, I suggest you make haste and do so..
Like now...
You can thank me later :)


  1. Oregon is my home!! My sis and I used to drive out to the coast together every Sunday... She really is such a beauty! { the coast I mean, and my sis of course ;) }
    Glad you enjoyed your time here!!
    Amber Dawn

  2. You, my friend, are one lucky gal :) Don't get me wrong, Illinois has its beauty too but your home state is just ridiculously awesome


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