We had to set an alarm in order to get started. We walked across the road to a neat place called the Elephant Delicatessen, which is sort of like the Portland, non-Italian version of Pusateri’s. When we checkd out and booked a Lyft (since our cab was so expensive and the Red Line would take a while). Our Lyft driver was a real character. He talked a lot on the drive to the airport, and asked a lot of questions. It was an experience.
At the airport I had perhaps the most pleasant rental car experience of my life. The moment the guy realized where we were going, he got extremely enthusiastic. He had just been down the coast. She showed us some family pictures and picked out some attractions for us. It was pleasant and easy and I actually kind of enjoyed it. I wish I had gotten his name as I would write a review for them talking about how wonderful he was. Usually I sort of dread the actual act of renting a car, signing things and paying and saying no to the up-sells. This was more like visiting a travel agent back in the day.
After we left the airport, Jenn did some shopping and we headed out on the road. We had essentially three choices for the start of our trip:
- Drive to some waterfalls east of the city, then drive back through the city to Newport
- Drive up to Cannon Beach and then head down to Newport
- Head to the coach at Tillamook and then head down to Newport.
We opted to drive up to Cannon Beach, slightly out of our way but not as out of our way as the waterfalls. First, Jenn did some shopping, and then we headed out of town.
So that’s how this trip really began, by driving up to Cannon Beach, through countryside that initially varied between farms and foothills. One the enduring themes of this trip would be the ever-varying countryside, that was hard to predict around the next turn, and the vast amount of farm and ranch land that I assumed would mostly be trees or barrens.
Cannon Beach, Oregon
In Cannon Beach we parked in the voluminous public parking and walked down to the beach. We took off our shoes and descended the stairs, to see Haystack Rock.
This thing is massive. After this picture was taken, we walked to it, which took some time. As you might be able to tell by the size of the people in the background, this is a big rock. With absolutely tons of birds flying around it. As we’d soon learn, there are a lot of big rocks on the Oregon and California coasts. A lot.
The walk to the rock and back through town took some time. So we got some lunch at a pricey but tasty seafood spot and then Jenn got a coffee. Cannon Beach is a really pretty town – among the most attractive we went through – and we can see the appeal. If we had been there the day before, or Saturday, it would have been an absolute zoo. Given the relatively massive drop in temperatures and the fact that it was a Monday, it was still quite busy.
So I came up with a list of potential stuff to do for this trip. And what I was about to find out is that this windy road would not allow for all the stuff I wanted to do. So the first of many things to fall by the wayside was Hug Point State Recreation Area.
The next major thing to fall by the wayside was Rockaway Beach. No, not that one, another one. It featured at least one big rock. As I said before, it turns out, there are just so many big rocks, if we stopped for each one, we’d still be in Oregon somewhere.
We eventually found our way to Tillamook, a dairy town somewhat inland from its namesake bay. We had travelled through some interesting fishing and beach towns before we got there. We were headed for De Garde Brewing, a brewery that had been highly recommended, but we learned that they are only open four days a week. (The same thing is true of a number of rural Quebec breweries. Maybe it’s a thing outside of the city.) So we quickly moved on.
The Three Capes Scenic Route
I had read about a route called “The Three Capes” off of US 101 (the main highway of the west coast, that runs from Tumwater, WA to LA). 101 doesn’t always follow the coast and so, sometimes, there are scenic routes. “Three Capes” is one of those routes.
We drove towards Cape Meares but I thought we missed the turn. Turns out, the road around the entire cape is actually closed and so you have to drive through Netarts and Oceanside, two very pretty small seaside communities. And we found our way to the cape, where we saw the lighthouse and a tree shaped like an octopus (sort of). This was our first truly proper introduction to the fog and haze, that would dog us at our scenic viewpoints all trip. One of the truly bizarre things about this part of the world is how it can be totally sunny a mile or less inland, but foggy on the coast.
At this point, we were running out of time for the day, and we weren’t really near our destination. So we drove past Cape Lookout (the only time we had to actually drive through the fog), missed Cape Kiwanda entirely, and skipped Cape Foulweather. (We also drove through some interesting towns, such as the beach town of Pacific City.) We didn’t think we had time for the Devil’s Punchbowl either, but we discovered that it was actually really close to Newport so we could see it the next day.
We drove into Newport and were both really surprised at how dismal it looked compared to the other towns we’d been through, especially Cannon Beach. I had read that Newport was the largest town on the Oregon coast. One thing I had missed is “town,” as it is not the largest city. (Semantics matter, apparently.) Our experience of Newport was not amazing, but it’s partly because we didn’t go to the beach and we didn’t go to the “historic bayfront,” which is where the really touristy stuff is.
We approached our motel and were both shocked with how bad it looked. We couldn’t believe we had booked it. As I was turning around in the lot, I scraped the side of the rental car, to boot. And then, when we got in the office, it stunk. We were quite worried. And then entered our room and it was newly renovated and huge. I guess they book all their business online.
I had a plan for Newport, the location of Rogue. It was located across the river from us, so I figured we’d cross the bridge, grab some food and beers, and go back across later. I didn’t account for how big the bridge was, or how it wasn’t lit.
We walked across that. Twice. My mild fear of heights doesn’t bother me most of the time but, um, I didn’t enjoy this. A lot had to do with the metal railing for part of the walk, and the height of the railing, which was just not high enough to my liking. I had zero issue driving across it or bigger bridges during the coming days but walking I did not enjoy.
We discovered that Rogue closed at 8. We got there at 7:30. Fortunately, they were really nice and fed us and gave us beers. And we had a nice view of the bay (and, presumably, the “historic bayfront” on the other side).
We tried calling some cabs but the only two cab companies in town gave us wait times of 20 and 60 minutes respectively. It was still light out so we walked back across the bridge.
We found our way to another “brewery” closer to our hotel, Bier One. I say “brewery” because they don’t appear to have started production yet. (Well, they’re a nano brewery, I guess, but they had nothing of their own on tap when we were there.)
Then we went back to the hotel and went to bed.