The North Oregon Coast
Trip Start Dec 27, 2009
54Trip End Apr 20, 2010
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Where I stayed
Fort Stevens State Park
We left the Lincoln City area and our first stop was to check out the Pacific City Dory-men. Apparently, this traditional method of launching small fishing boats into the surf from the beach is unique to this area. The plaque tells the whole story but in a nutshell these fishermen use small boats that they launch directly from a beach rather than tying up at a wharf. The boats were originally double ended and were rowed but today have motors mounted at the back. We weren't there to see them launch but we did see a couple of boats returning and the process gives some idea of the challenges. In addition to the dory-men, we watched some 'surf riders' in their kayaks playing in the waves near shore.
This bay was intriguing. It seems to be shallow (a relative term) so that the waves really rolled in. It is somewhat protected by a rock cliff to the north and has a large rock - very large rock known as a 'haystack' - in the middle of the bay that either provides protection or creates challenging eddies - we couldn't tell which! The rock was actually part of the original shoreline and the ocean has eroded the shore to create the bay.
The next stop was the Tillamook Cheese factory where we took the self guided tour, had lunch and stocked up on cheese. The logo for the creamery shows the close connection between the creamery and the coast. The founder was also a sailor. The town of Tillamook (4400 pop.) lies at the head of a valley behind the hills and mountains of the coast. It is somewhat protected from the winds of the Pacific, has fertile soil and lots of rainfall. There was a continual line of small dairy farms throughout the valley - but no evidence of the large commercial operations we had seen in California. I think I noted that the Tillamook Creamery is/was farmer owned.
As we drove along the highway I noticed the large quilt blocks mounted on the ends of some barns and vaguely remember reading about this project where the local quilt museum worked with the dairy industry to tell the history of dairying in the valley
The last couple of RV parks have been great discoveries from one of our 1/2 price discount clubs. They were a short distance off the track but gave us a more pleasant impression of the area than the ones along the highway. However, there were none in this northern corner of the state so tonight we checked out one of the state parks. Fort Stevens guarded the mouth of the Columbia river from the time of the War of 1812 until the end of WW II. It was the only place on continental USA that was fired on by the Japanese during WW II - from a submarine offshore, out of range and ignored by the Americans on watch. Apparently they soon lost interest when they didn't provoke return fire and headed off to other parts based on the Japanese operational log later discovered.
We didn't take time to tour the fort itself as it was closed when we arrived but we did explore the park
Then out to the end of the spit along the estuary of the Columbia. The spit is moving as a result of the jetty that the Corps of Engineers built to help direct the currents of the Columbia to keep the mouth of thr river from silting up. One sign indicated that it has moved a mile south of where it was located in 1802 when Lewis and Clark were in the area. We could see the very turbulent waters where the river and the ocean meet from the beach behind the south jetty. We followed an old rail-bed out to the beach through the marsh behind the jetty. One of the locals told us that this area is totally under water during the winter as a result of the storms from the north. When the winds switch to the south the water drains out allowing access. A little scary when the waves from the ocean splashed over the jetty as a result of the brisk southwest wind that was blowing.
On our way back to the camp ground we checked out the Battery Russell, a remnant of WW II. All that remains are the concrete walls and when we were there there was a group of pre-teens playing 'capture the flag' as part of an evening group activity.
The campground was excellent, and we tucked in under the tall trees for a quiet night of sleep. The bike and walking trails here are intriguing. Loved this park.