Curiosities on Oregon’s Central Coast

Though I placed a very different order with the universe, my summer calendar has been filled with tedious, mildly dramatic events instead of invigorating adventures. While recalibrating from zombie to human has required scaling back the more extraverted of my commitments and activities, it’s also had an upside: lots of low-key moments with very wonderful others.

Now, the experiences that were both mellow and a departure from the work-home-work-home landscape may have thrilled me a bit more by dint of their rarity.

And the ones that came with a fair amount of visual interest were possibly extra-rejuvenating.

But really—I couldn’t assign wellness values to each interaction; cumulatively, they all provided a lift. I will say that 24 hours on an underappreciated part of Oregon’s coast did seem to shift a lot of internal ballast. Perhaps it was startled into moving when it encountered large-scale Jang Seung carvings in Lincoln City instead of Seoul?

Artist Yoosuk Bang’s Jang Seungs carvings lived a jet setter’s life before their rather unexpected installation in front of Lincoln City’s Palace Inn

Or lightened by blue sky, broad expanses of empty sand, and the soothing rhythm of the waves?

It may be a gorgeous summer weekend, but Lincoln City’s underappreciated oceanfront has far more barnacles than beachcombers

Holding onto tension in such a setting is futile, especially when given random reminders to seek harmony. [Though technically the message came once-removed via Mr Vix.]

When the beach yields a yin-yangesque reminder to find balance, surely one should listen?

Clearly we were to continue following our no-plan plan!

Having tapped out our interest in wandering the beach, we turned to the streets, streets which happily led us to the city’s farmers market. More judgmental types might have been fazed by the abundance of deep-fried and sugary items, but as someone left underwhelmed by swiss chard when strawberry doughnuts beckon, I was in heaven.

Feeling both festive and vaguely ill from the aforementioned deep-fried items, the next move was up in the air. With no interest in Lincoln City’s casino and outlet mall—two reasons many avoid the area, for which I thank them—we hopped in the car and headed north. North turned out to be an excellent choice, as we stumbled onto one of Oregon’s most unusual headlands: Cape Kiwanda.

Expecting to see the charcoal-hued cliffs sported by most of the state’s coastline, I was a bit thrown by the warm rust and ochre tones I spotted across the beach. Why, except for the whole ocean element I could be hiking in Palm Springs!

Cape Kiwanda’s sandstone headland, with its beautifully colored cliffs, stands out amongst the coast’s more common basalt landmarks

Fortunately the terribly Oregonian “hey man, we’re just chilling and doing a photo shoot of outdoor wear but you’re welcome to be underfoot” thing helped tether me to geographic reality.

Despite geological oddities and a nearby fashion shoot (complete with stylist and makeup artist), an intrepid young bystander keeps her eyes on the ocean

Even if the rows of indentations along portions of the cliff walls suggested a reality that existed long, long before mine…

Wandering along Pacific City’s beach toward Cape Kiwanda brings one to honeycomb-like hollows

and the accepted practice of mixing dory boats + surfers + swimmers made me fear I might see a placid setting turn into a triage set-up should a boat clip an adorable waterbug during its incredibly fast transition from ocean to beach.

Consider yourself warned: near Cape Kiwanda, surfers and swimmers best keep an eye out for dory boats that swoop to a standstill

Luckily for my nerves we were headed to the calmer pastures of Tillamook County, where an impressive cow population along with a steady tourist influx allows dairy farmers to churn money along with butter.

Tillamook’s long-standing position as an Oregon dairy center goes back 100+ years. Today, dairy tourists have two main temples: the Blue Heron French Cheese Company (brie, booze, and lots of glass-packaged gourmet items) and the Tillamook Cheese Factory (ice cream, cheese, and swarms of families).

Despite an unfortunate genetic mis-wiring that leaves me unable to stuff gobs of dairy into my system, I do my best to support local businesses when visiting. And those working in the dairy industry tend to be so friendly, damn them. I felt a civic duty to stop at both companies, and Mr Vix was easily persuaded—though I think it was more a case of “you had me at ‘free samples'” than anything more soul-stirring.

I’d like to point out that stopping at the Factory isn’t just about gluttony, however: it’s also about EDUCATION.

Between the ability to watch factory workers and the relatively lively interpretive exhibit, a detour there is a social studies lesson come to life. Naturally the vintage marketing materials drew me like a curd to whey.

While the Tillamook Cheese Factory is a tourist mecca, its exhibitions (and practically free ice cream) are worth a pit stop

Now of course the central coast has oodles of natural beauty I didn’t document, along with any number of ways to get up close and personal with marine life, history, and/or delicious eats/drinks. Which I’d say is reason enough to go….

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10 Responses

  1. It’s so pretty there!

    • Ms B—

      I knoooooooow! And very Wuthering Heights dramatic when it storms. Remind me why I’m not moving there?

  2. Fantastic coastline! Can you swim in the water or is it too cold?

    There’s hardly a thing more invigorating than a doughnut! When I lived in London I would treat myself to the chocolate variety on Monday mornings, on my way to work!

    • Kaffe/Tine—

      Let’s just say one has to be pretty hardy to swim there without a wetsuit. I’m wimpier now than in my 20s, when any visit meant I went in! Now I tend to only go after hiking or an unusually hot day there—and can really only stay in for 30 minutes at a time before my lips turn blue. And I have to SWIM to keep from hypothermia, ha!

  3. Wonderful beach pictures, and I do love that little stone.
    Hope you are feeling recharged.

    • Pauline—

      Thanks! I know we both love our water views….And yes, I’m feeling much more zippy these days. Fingers crossed it stays that way–the weather is too nice not to be out and about as much as possible.

  4. Saved as a favorite, I love your blog!

  5. Thanks for posting this.. It’s been a pleasure to read 🙂

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