A week in Oregon: the Coast and Sand Dunes
Driving to the coast was bittersweet; I was excited to go to the beach and say hi to the Pacific again, but I also knew it meant that my trip was coming to a close. Even though we drove almost 4 hours on each of my last two days, I enjoyed every single minute of it! Since we had been with friends or at Airbnbs for most of the trip, the three of us hadn't gotten many chances to enjoy each others' company alone, so I really cherished our last two nights. Something about camping makes everything more personal and meaningful; we spent hours chatting by our proud fire, indulging in the kind of deep conversations that you can only have with your best friends.
On our way from Crater Lake, we stopped by the Umpqua River, where we met some fishers and gawked at how beautiful a scene we stumbled into.
Yena declared herself "River Girl" and Liza performed a baptism for her new epithet.
I was worried that I'd be "desensitized" to how beautiful the Pacific coast could look, since I live in San Francisco, but the Oregon Coast was no less impressive. I think I was possibly more excited to see the coast because it felt like home..There was something novel about driving up 101 even in its familiar winding cliffside roads and breathtaking glimpses of cobalt and teal to my left.
Honeyman State Park & Oregon's Sand Dunes
For our first night on the coach, we camped in Honeyman State Park. We had arrived just before dark, just in time to set up our tent and grab food for the evening. My favorite part about this night was that we learned how to start a campfire, with assistance from a (somewhat) friendly neighboring camper - I feel like I should get a Girl Scouts badge!
The next morning, we got a lovely breakfast at Nature's Corner Cafe to fuel the day's main activity: sandboarding down the sand dunes! We headed over to Sand Master Park to rent sandboards, which were inexpensive at $16 for an entire day. However, I do recommend that you share a board between friends if you're feeling budget-conscious; it's quite tiring to trudge back up the sand dunes and you will do just fine sharing a board.
We went back to Honeyman to access their sand dunes, which are supposedly much bigger than some other places in the vicinity. It was much more difficult than I expected; it's similar yet different enough from snowboarding that it's pretty hard to get it right. I think I went a total of 4 times, only once making it down the dune without falling! In our heat and exhaustion, we ended up spending the rest of the afternoon lounging and swimming in a lake in Honeyman before packing up our things and heading to Cannon Beach.
Tillamook Cheese Factory
Yes, it deserves its own header. On our way to Cannon Beach, we stopped at Tillamook for some good local cheese and ice cream. The factory was well-prepared for tourists - it was essentially a huge food court featuring all of its products! I ended up buying some fudge for my co-workers, which was a HUGE hit.
When we arrived at Cannon Beach, we checked into our campsite, Sea Ranch RV Park, which, other than the ridiculously low shower heads and somewhat creepy white rabbits lingering around, was perfectly adequate. It was a short walk to the beach, where we saw the iconic Haystack Rock (think: the Goonies). This was my last night with Yena and Liza, and so a sunset walk on the beach felt like the perfect way to spend the last evening.
After a beer and appetizer at the only restaurant open past 10 pm in the small beach town, we went back to our campsite and impressed ourselves with our delicious camping dinner. I got the fire started successfully, and we made biscuits (from Pillsbury dough) and warmed up Progresso clam chowder on the open flame. It may not sound very glamorous, but I can promise you that it tasted even better than the clam chowder we had at the restaurant.
The next morning, we had breakfast at The Wayfarer so we could enjoy as much beach time as possible before heading back to Portland for my flight home.
I wish we could have stayed longer on the coast or exploring different parks, but a week was a perfect amount of time to feel rejuvenated without worrying about all the things I was needed to attend to in my "normal life."
On my flight back to San Francisco, I was thinking about how different this was from my solo trip to Patagonia - in terms of the "ease" of travel, how set the itinerary was, and the people I was surrounded by (best friends vs. complete strangers). And even though there's something special about relishing a moment in solitude, which I experienced frequently in Patagonia, all of the memories I made on this trip wouldn't have been possible, or nearly as incredible, without the people I shared them with. I landed in San Francisco with a renewed gratitude for the many places I've been lucky enough to go, and the people who were there with me!
Anyway, I'm happy to share more details from my Oregon trip - definitely drop me a note if you're interested! And if you have any other recommendations for Oregon, please share! I do plan on making some weekend trips up there (given the reasonable 7-8 hour drive)!