Beach time

Women head into the water to surf. Pacific City's Haystack Rock sits almost a mile offshore.
Women head into the water to surf. Pacific City’s Haystack Rock sits almost a mile offshore.

Confession: I live about 40 minutes’ drive from the Pacific Ocean and I hardly ever go there! That’s a crime, isn’t it? Yes, yes it is.

In 2016 I’ve been to the beach two times. I went to Astoria for my birthday in January, and later in the Spring, I went out with a group of friends. All the photos have been sitting here on my computer, patiently waiting to be posted, and now it’s time. This was a weekend in early May.

D is a serious cyclist and most of his friends are cyclists and their idea of fun is to rides their bikes a thousand miles to the beach and then party. Luckily, I was assigned car support duty. It’s a good thing because I have personally been upon a bicycle twice in the past twenty years.

Someone had rented a couple of houses across the street from each other in a cute beach community filled with houses that appear to only exist for that purpose. They were decorated as though a family lived there, with bathrooms stocked and children’s photos on the walls, and kitchen utensils available. But it was not quite lived in, and I guessed the places had been “staged” to feel like a family home. I find it interesting how I reacted to that idea, in this time of Air BnB popularity. While many people obviously love the idea of staying in someone’s home while they’re out, it’s actually an uncomfortable idea for me, and I feel the need not to touch anything, or disturb anything in their absence. I feel as though the owners have done a huge favor by letting me stay there (payment notwithstanding), and I can only repay them by not using any bathroom products and as few towels as possible. I remain uncomfortable the whole time. Whereas in a hotel! It’s purely built for transients. No one claims ownership. Every single thing in the room is MINE as long as I’m there, and I feel complete luxury. I use way too many towels, and all the shampoo, and I rearrange the furniture, click the remote control, fill up the closets and drawers with my clothes, and collect all the brochures and placards and pile them in a drawer somewhere to get them out of my way. If there’s a kitchen, I use anything I want and leave dirty dishes in the sink. Luxury.

Everyone chose a room in one of the houses and we dumped our gear and then went to play on the beach. Pacific City, Oregon is west and a little south of Portland, so still at the northern part of the state. It’s a small community that appears to survive on tourism, since that was the theme of nearly all the shops. I’m a fan of that sometimes, because it provides classy dinner options and great coffeehouses in rural communities that could never provide that without out-of-town tourists. In particular, this beach town hosts Pelican Bay Brewery, and a comfortable and friendly brew pub with burgers and fries and great craft beers on tap.

Our group climbed a sand dune at Cape Kiwanda and were treated with coastline views.
Our group climbed a sand dune at Cape Kiwanda and were treated with coastline views.
I found this sign somewhat disconcerting.
I found this sign somewhat disconcerting.


The weather was cool and and wet most of the time, but the second day the skies cleared up and we all decided to hike to a lookout point on Cape Kiwanda. The hike is literally straight up the side of a huge sand dune, so that was a bit tricky. But the views at the top were worth the long steep slog, and shoes filled with sand.

Whales are a big tourist draw, particularly during the height of migration season in December and January. In late May there were stragglers making their way from Mexico to Alaska for the warm weather. It didn’t take long before we began spotting their spouts just offshore. Gray Whales make this trip in about 3 weeks. The photos I took don’t do it justice, but it really is fun to stand on shore and see sea creatures as large as a bus exhaling a blast of water into the sky as they surface for air.

When we returned, we ate tons of food and played games together at the big family table and told stories. When the weekend was over nearly everyone rode home in a car, but one crazy person rode their bike back to the city again. That’s close to 100 miles each way. 200 miles in a weekend. Now there’s a person who is in good physical condition.

The white-and-gray speckled body of a Gray Whale is visible as she surfaces.
The white-and-gray speckled body of a Gray Whale is visible as she surfaces.
These whales are said to spout water and vapor up to 12 feet into the air.
These whales are said to spout water and vapor up to 12 feet into the air.
There's another one!
There’s another one!
Haystack Rock from Cape Kiwanda
Haystack Rock from Cape Kiwanda
Lovely Oregon coast
Lovely Oregon coast

8 thoughts on “Beach time

  1. I feel the same way about staying in peoples homes. Prefer a hotel every time. I’ve never heard of that beach but it looks like a more quiet one. I can’t ride a bike anymore and would never be able to do it long distance. That’s why we have cars. 🙂 Glad you had a good time.

    1. I think this is a quieter beach than others. It’s a pretty small town, and there are a couple of summer festivals, but other than that I’ll bet it’s rather peaceful out there.

      Nice to hear you understand my feelings about staying in family homes. While I love that friends and family often offer up their homes for me to stay in (and of course I’ll always offer my own if they are visiting) I’ll take a hotel instead.

    1. Wow! You were some runner then! I’ve never run that kind of distance, but I would happily run for an hour or two when I was in my running days. I’ve been struggling with a bad knee and haven’t run for a few years. I miss it. I trust my feet more than any wheeled contraption.

  2. Hard to beat the Oregon Coast for beauty, Crystal. I don’t get there as often as I want either. I always enjoy the whales, no matter how many times I’ve seem them. Thanks for sharing your experience. –Curt

    1. Whales are so exciting! I wonder what it is about them. Maybe that they’re huge, and so removed from us, being in the deep water. And also that they come to the surface to breathe, which I can relate to, and it also lets us see them. Happy to share my stories, even if they’re a bit outdated.

      1. Seeing them up close in a kayak or small boat is about as close to as an ‘awesome’ experience as I’ve had. As for outdated stories, there is no such thing. All that means is you have a good backlog of blog material, Crystal. 🙂 –Curt

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s