There and Back Again
This month my mom and I took our new annual trip to Cannon Beach, Oregon and we ventured to some new places this year! One of them ended up being a failure, but hey “life is a journey, not a destination” right?? You have to make the most of what you have, and live in the moment. I had a wonderful vacation and am excited to share my adventures with you; expect beaches, lighthouses, snow and even a shipwreck!
We started off our trip on Friday by driving to Crater Lake from Portland. It’s about a 5 hour drive and we were all geared up and ready for it. Since we weren’t sure of the road conditions through the northern route (because we knew there was still snow at Crater Lake), we decided to go south all the way to Medford, OR and enter Crater Lake from that direction since we knew for sure that was an open route. By the way, at Medford we were probably about 30 minutes from the California border! That’s how far we drove! Practically the entire length of Oregon haha. Anyways, at Medford we finally saw signs for Crater Lake and began the 76 mile trek through Rogue River National Forest to Crater Lake National Park.As we drove closer and closer to Crater Lake we started noticing a change in the climate. Snow was expected of course, but the farther up we drove the steeper the snow became and the lower the temperature dropped…and when we reached the rim of Crater Lake our car’s thermometer read 32 degrees and we were surrounded by snow. It was full-on winter at Crater Lake. As we got out of our car and walked up to the rim and peered out over the cliff, our eyes beheld…FOG. FOG EVERYWHERE. Could not see a damn thing. 5+ hours in the car there, and another 6 ahead of us for the return trip all to see FOG. Oh the joys of mother nature. I guess by the time we reached Crater Lake, about 4:30pm, the fog had settled in and the lake was not visible. At least the drive was beautiful, and I suppose it was impressive to see that much snow, but I still wanted to see Crater Lake. So take note travelers: aim to visit Crater Lake in July or August when winter is no longer a threat OR research more thoroughly the conditions of where you are going. Sa la vie. After I returned home I did better research, and the best time to visit is July and August when there is no snow. The other 10 months of the year , especially December-April, the weather can be more problematic; unless you are looking to ski and drive a snow mobile. But if you can visit Crater Lake, it is a must see. It’s a beautiful and somewhat unique sight. Crater Lake was formed over 7,000 years ago with the collapse of a volcano. The lake’s water derives entirely from rain and snowfall as no rivers flow into the caldera lake.
Though Crater Lake was a complete failure, at least the drive to and from there was gorgeous. Everything is so green and vibrant, and the sound of water flowing and rushing is nearly constant.Since Saturday in Cannon Beach was overcast and drizzly, we decided to drive up to Seaview, Washington and go antique shopping. But I of course had a couple stops of my own agenda, which mom so kindly obliged. On our way up the coast, we drove into Fort Stevens State Park to see the Peter Iredale Shipwreck. It’s pretty amazing that you can just walk right up to the shipwreck and explore it. And since it was a gloomy day at the beach, the crowd was minimal.
The Peter Iredale is the most accessible of the many shipwrecks along the Pacific Northwest coast. The stretch of coast from Tillamook Bay in Oregon and up north to Cape Scott Provincial Park on Vancouver Island is known as the Graveyard of the Pacific for the thousands of wrecked ships beginning with European exploration in the 15th century. This coastal region is prone to unpredictable weather and heavy storms. And combine that with the rugged and rocky coastline and it’s a magnet for unsuccessful voyages and crashes.
In the fall of 1906, the Peter Iredale was bound for Portland from Mexico to pick up a cargo of wheat for England, and most of the voyage went smoothly until the ship neared the coast of Oregon. The crew had managed to safely enter the mouth of the Columbia River but then strong winds and currents forced the ship aground at Clatsop Beach and snapped off three of the masts in the impact. None of the crew were seriously injured and were soon rescued by a team stationed at Point Adams. Immediately the shipwreck became a tourist attract, and, although most of the ship has deteriorated over the years, the Peter Iredale continues to be a popular tourist attraction on the shores of northwestern Oregon.
After exploring the shipwreck, we hopped back onto Highway 101 and continued north to Astoria. In Astoria we took the long bridge, over 4 miles long, into the state of Washington. We drove along Washington’s coast to our destination, Seaview. We grabbed yummy seafood at The Crab Pot, and then ventured into some great antique stores. We were successful and found several cool nautical items we would not find in Missouri. Mom and I both bought old ship lanterns and antique glass fishing floats. While in Seaview, we also found the place where I first saw the Pacific Coast when I was three years old on a family vacation. We drove along the beach just like we had 21 years ago. It’s pretty cool that the state allows vehicles on the beach. A fun experience!
On our drive back down the coast towards Oregon, we detoured at Cape Disappointment State Park on the Long Beach Peninsula in Washington. This state park offers hikes to two lighthouses plus numerous other trails and miles of ocean beach. Our first stop in the park was North Head Lighthouse. It was a 1/4 mile walk to the lighthouse through a beautiful forest canopying the trail that then opened up into a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean. North Head Lighthouse was constructed in 1898 as the primary navigation aid at the mouth of the Columbia River. The Cape Disappointment lighthouse was built in 1856 (and is still the oldest functioning lighthouse on the West Coast), but ships continued to wreck in the “Graveyard of the Pacific” and it was decided a second lighthouse was needed to assist with navigating the perilous river bar.
We ended up not hiking to Cape Disappointment Lighthouse due to the rain and it was a mile long hike. Not that that amount is strenuous but we were ready to get back to Cannon Beach and relax. I will have to save my adventure to Cape Disappointment Lighthouse for another trip.
To conclude our busy Saturday, we had dinner at our local favorite, Sweet Basil’s in Cannon Beach. Then on Sunday, guess what? It was still cloudy. The sun was not ready to come out…so another drizzly morning in the Pacific Northwest. To be expected. So instead of walking on the beach, we hit up the local shops in Cannon Beach. Mom bought some amazing hand-blown glass pieces from Icefire Glassworks, and I assisted in their drawing for a glass artwork.
Next, we dined at The Wayfarer for lunch with a wonderful view of Haystack Rock. By late afternoon the sun started to come out, but we had dinner reservations to attend. We ate an amazing four-course dinner at The Stephanie Inn and it was just next door to our own hotel, The Ocean Lodge. 🙂
On Monday we finally got our walks along the beach in Cannon Beach because the sun decided to show itself! Yay!
The first recorded journey to the area now known as Cannon Beach was documented by William Clark in 1806. Yes, that William Clark of Lewis and Clark fame. The Lewis and Clark Expedidition was residing at Fort Clatsop, about 20 miles north of Cannon Beach. Clark and his team visited the area to find a whale that had washed shore, and he named the local creek in the area “Ekoli” meaning “whale” in Chinook. The creek later became known as Ecola. From an overlook in what is now Ecola State Park, Clark described the region of Cannon Beach as “…the grandest and most pleasing prospects which my eyes ever surveyed, in front of a boundless Ocean…” That viewpoint became known as “Clark’s Point of View” and is marked on a hiking trail from Indian Beach in Ecola State Park. I believe I stood in this area on our trip last year. And it is a grand and pleasing view indeed, Mr. Clark!
Early settlers called the area, Elk Creek, a derivation from Clark’s original name of the local creek. But in 1846, a cannon from the shipwrecked USS Shark washed ashore and thus the name Cannon Beach was born. In 1922, the city officially adopted Cannon Beach as it’s name. The original cannon is on display at the Cannon Beach History Center and a replica is located at the north entrance on Highway 101.
Thanks for reading and hopefully you enjoyed my trip to Oregon with me! Cannon Beach is a truly charming and gorgeous area of the Pacific Northwest and I highly recommend a vacation there!
If you are curious about what I did last year on my vacation in Cannon Beach click here.