Sunday, September 2, 2012

Fun Times on the Oregon Coast

When I set off on this new adventure, I promised to at least sporadically document it in this space. I’ve been leading trips for two months now, so I suppose I’m overdue to get started.

I’ve led three trips along the Oregon Coast so far, with plenty of adventures along the way. Here are a few highlights, in no particular order:

The Astoria Column sits on a hill above Astoria. It was built to allow Astorians to watch for incoming cargo ships back in the day. When a ship was sighted, the unloading crew would be alerted. Other fun facts about Astoria:

  • Named for the Astor family, who built a hotel there many year ago. The New York Astors, who made their money in real estate.
  • Filming site of the classic film, the Goonies
  • Home of two microbreweries – Fort George and Astoria Brewing – and also a Rogue Ales Public House

The view from the top of the column is rather impressive. You have panoramic views of the countryside, of the mouth of the Columbia River, of the four-mile-long bridge to Washington, of Youngs River and Youngs Bay, and probably some other things…


The Oregon Welcome Center in Astoria can give you a map to all of the sites where major movies have ben filmed in town – Goonies, Kindergarten Cop, Free Willy, … and they sell Goonies posters and pint glasses. I’ve also seen other signs of Oregon’s Goonie Pride stenciled onto various objects. I saw this on a lamp base near the Devil’s Punchbowl, roughly 100 miles south of Astoria:


They have some awesome warning signs along the waterfront streetcar in Astoria. Rail tracks that run parallel to a bike path can spell danger for the cyclists:


Astoria isn’t the only town with interesting warning signs. The good folks at Ecola State Park near Cannon Beach warn visitors of the following dangers:

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Of course, some visitors are incorrigible and engage in these dangerous activities anyways:

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A few of the hotels on our trips feature Pancake Machines. I’m sure that Zach Little would pee his pants with excitement.


The awesome members of Team Japanese Blow Bath. No explanation.


In the background, you can see the beach and the sea stacks at Indian Beach within Ecola State Park. I’ve seen surfers in the water every time I have visited this park – as few as 2 or 3 or as many as 20+. One of these days, I should rent a board and bring or rent a wetsuit… the water in mid/late summer can allegedly get into the low- to mid-60s.

Cannon Beach is an iconic Oregon landmark. I didn’t get any amazing shots of their famous haystack rock, but a post about the Oregon Coast seems incomplete without including the ones that I did take:


We see many scenic stretches of coastline on this trip, and I don’t always have a chance to stop and take a photo. But here are a selection from various points along the way, including but not limited to Indian Beach, Manzanita/Neakahnie, Otter Crest, and somewhere near Cape Meares.


There is a spot along the US-101 where you can usually see a large number of harbor seals lounging on the rocks below. This unmarked viewpoint doesn’t have any parking, but there is enough room to pull your bicycle over to the side of the road. This spot is just north of the Whale Cove Inn, between Depoe Bay and Newport.


I took a bunch of pictures on top of Cape Meares, while playing with the Contrast and Saturation settings on my phone. I’d like to blow some of these up and use them to decorate my bedroom, if the resolution is high enough. I’ve been wanting “light filtering through fog in a forest” photos for almost two years, but from a place I’d traveled. Hopefully some these will work.


Cape Meares is also home of the famous Octopus Tree:


Our Oregon Coast Classic trips often include a hike up Cascade Head, which is between Neskowin and Lincoln City.

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Stepping away from all these nature pictures, what trip through Tillamook County would be complete without a stop at the famous Tillamook Creamery?

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Bicycle Adventures Tour Guides take a lot of pride in the lunches that we prepare for our guests mid-ride. Here is a sampling of Lunch Porn.

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We also eat at a bunch of really terrific restaurants on the Oregon Coast Classic trip, so here is a bit of Dinner Porn:

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And to complete the trifecta, I give you a small helping of Breakfast Porn… or in some cases, Coffee Porn:

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Yes, that breakfast picture is avocado on toast. One of our guests really *loves* avocados and would try to eat them at almost every meal. The dish above was not on the menu, but the restaurant was willing to customize and order “avocado on toast.”

As a little bonus, here is a bit of Wine & Cheese Porn. BA usually include a daily post-ride Beer Cooler and one Wine & Cheese Social. Again, guides pride ourselves in setting up a beautiful spread, and in picking the best local microbrew and wine selections to match our guests’ tastes.

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Staying on the alcohol theme, Oregon is home to some fantastic microbreweries. Off the top of my head, we’ve visited the Fort George Brewery, the Pelican Pub, the Rogue Brewery / World Headquarters, the Astoria Brewing Co & Wet Dog Alehouse, … and probably a few others. It is important for a Tour Guide to know their beer, so I do my homework!!

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We ride or hike past a few different lighthouses on the Oregon Coast trips. The lighthouse near Cannon Beach and Seaside is on a rocky outcropping that is just over a mile offshore. I’ve heard two different stories about how that lighthouse is now used – one source said it is now a mausoleum and you can be interred there, and the other source said that you can volunteer as a caretaker or “lighthousesitter” for a 1-2 week shift. Further down the coast, you can climb to the top of the Yaquina Head Lighthouse just north of Newport. They also have a few historical placards and tour guides in period costumes who explain what life was like there around the turn of the century. The head lighthousekeeper had a decent salary and also a rather nice house where you could raise a family, so it was a very sought-after position. The first assistant also got a decent house while the second assistant had more of a shack. Second assistants tended to be bachelors who got bored with the lack of bars & alcohol and didn’t stay in the position terribly long, but those who did stick around could work their way up the ladder. The lighthouses were often self-sufficient settlements, with farmland and livestock. A boat would bring fresh supplies every few weeks. The walk in to town from Yaquina Head was about five miles, so they didn’t go terribly often. The lighthouses originally burned lard (pig fat) but switched over to kerosene around the turn of the century. Management knew how much lard or kerosene the lighthouse should be burning, and the keeper could get in trouble if they used too much or too little. They were allowed to use each day’s leftovers in the bottom of the pan for personal use, but couldn’t tap into the storage tanks.


One more memorable moment from this batch of tours: one day I was at Neskowin Wayside Park awaiting our cyclists and I started chatting with a German lady about the coast and about our bike tours. She turned out to be a freelance radio reporter who was working on a story about traveling the Oregon Coast. She asked for a catalog and asked to interview me about the trips. We happened to have two German guests on that trip who were quite fun & gregarious, so she interviewed them, too, auf Deutsch!


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