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Coastal Contrasts

One has iconic sea stacks

One has 2 lighthouses

One is small and quaint

One has a busy commercial waterfront

What they both have in common though is they’re both part of the “People’s Coast”

Over the last week I had the chance to spend some time in two different coastal towns – Cannon Beach and Newport – and enjoyed my stay in both but was struck by how different each felt

But, first the common denominator – the People’s Coast – the Oregon beaches are designated by law as publicly accessible to you, me, and everyone else – no resort is going to bar me from a long walk on the beach – no siree – The idea was dreamed up about 100 years ago – in 1913 some very forward thinking was at work out here – reaffirmed in 1967 the idea has stood the test of time – way to go Oregonians!

As for contrasts, like many parts of the country, this area has a number of towns and each has matured a little differently over the years – some aged gracefully; others badly need a face lift!

Some had always been beach vacation spots for the city folk coming out of Portland etc; others were former/current – fishing/cannery towns; still others were timber towns. The canneries are long gone; the timber industry has declined – some of these towns turned to tourism to redefine themselves – some succeeded – some didn’t.

All of them sit along some extremely beautiful coastline.

I started out in Cannon Beach that I mentioned in my previous post.

Cannon Beach reminded me of some of the charming coastal towns in which I have had the chance to spend some time over the years – Chatham on Cape Cod; Bar Harbor in Maine; East Hampton on Long Island.

With the distinctive Haystack Rock and Needles marking its shoreline, Cannon Beach is one of Oregon’s quaintest and most picturesque destinations. Nine miles of beach make a perfect setting for strolling along the seaside, watching diverse wildlife in its natural habitat and building a sand castle in the annual sand castle building contest. With strict regulations in place limiting the infiltration of large chain stores or restaurants, Cannon Beach retains its small town charm.

In other words, a town that seemed more laid back than its busy, touristy neighbors – the right mix of a few good restaurants, some galleries and boutiques, but especially the ocean and the beach. And, while there might not be a building code, there sure as hell seems to be a conspiracy – virtually all the buildings and homes are clad in grey , weathered shingle – doesn’t get more quaint than that 🙂

Cannon Beach also had miles of beautiful beach – a place to simply take a nice walk; or, fly kite, even ride a bike, or hit the waves..or explore a tidal pool

And, yes, there are those sea stacks…

The most iconic of which is Haystack…235 feet tall and surrounded by tidal pools….but the Needles are pretty nice too….

And, Cannon Beach also had nearby Ecola State Park – more L&C footsteps here too – Ecola was the site of the Corps of Discovery’s 1806 trek over difficult terrain to see a beached whale. Today, it features several miles of hiking trails through old growth forest, and several beaches. Haystack Rock and the Needles are visible in from many sites in the park – an outstanding spot at sunset!

Newport on the other hand felt a little different- it too has an historic beach and seaside resort area but it’s a very built up town compared to Cannon Beach – no limiting the infiltration of chain stores here!

The area was, however, a very nice spot to explore as long as I stayed away from the commercial area

For instance, Newport has an Outstanding Natural Area

That’s right – outstanding – not just stunning, majestic, spectacular, amazing – the superlatives I have applied to many places in my travels

Nope – this was an outstanding natural area – I know for sure it is – because the sign told me so 🙂

Outstanding Natural Area is a protected area designation in the United States. The designations are managed by the Bureau of Land Management within the National Landscape Conservation System. There are a number of outstanding natural areas and open space reserves in the country, three of which have lighthouses.

It’s home to one of two lighthouses in Newport – Yaquina Head Lighthouse – Oregon’s tallest and second oldest continuously operating lighthouse – very nice indeed!

And, it overlooks Cobble Beach where “cobblestones” make the most amazing sounds – over the millennia chunks of basalt have fallen from the headland and then been tossed, smashed, and generally beat to hell in the surf turning them into gorgeous black round rocks known as cobbles. These comprise the small beach nestled out of the north wind and below the lighthouse on Yaquina Head.

It is not only very cool to hear the crunching sounds of your feet working their way through all these stones – but trust this nomad – it’s an hypnotic sound when waves crash on the beach and then recede through the basalt cobbles – described by another as a watery tinkling, a musical waterfall. You’ve never heard anything like it.

Yup – more outstanding stuff

Now rest assured I did also explore the commercial waterfront – felt like I should have had a hard hat on for the bay side of the street – commercial fish packing warehouses all along the piers – after all Newport is home to one of the largest commercial fishing fleets on the OR coast– and home to a few sleeping seals – resting between meals!!

On the other side of the street are the usual T-shirt spots – but – if you do your homework on this “journey de cuisine” – you’ll explore further on and find Local Ocean Seafood –

where they turn this – the Oregon crustacean –

into a sandwich

Local Ocean – a very nice spot overlooking the bay and bridge and good fresh seafood – outstanding

Had some fun for sure here in Newport – but my time here was short – time to move on – time to head further south – over that very outstanding bridge 🙂

Take care – see you down the road – safe travels

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Love the photos in this post – varied, serene, colorful, inspiring! Footprints, boats, crabs…favorites!

    October 28, 2012
    • Stephen #

      thanks for taking a look and commenting – Cannon Beach was a very special place – another one of those places I could have stayed in for awhile to catch the changes brought by changing tides and weather – had a lot of fun on the beach – so many things to do and see. Newport was very nice too – got short changed as I needed to keep moving – so much to do so little time – would have loved to have photographed Yaquina Light in all kinds of conditions – the waterfront and bridge would have been great in different conditions too. all places to revisit again!

      October 28, 2012

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