In years past, I have had the opportunity to visit Oregon on business, but never for pleasure. My business visits began at the Portland airport, included stops in the Portland industrial district, and ended at the Portland airport. If I was lucky, I might get a chance to have dinner downtown or dinner on the Columbia River. The weather in Oregon was always cold and drizzly when I would be there, and quite frankly, there was nothing exciting about any of those trips that would make me want to ever spend a vacation there. However, I saw some photos posted online over the years that showed the real beauty of Oregon once you get out of the industrial area of Portland. So I talked Faith into a visit to Oregon and off we went.
To say that my Oregon business trips were completely different than our vacation would be an understatement. We flew into Portland and drove to the Oregon Coast where we spent 5 days in Yachats (pronouced YA-hots) as a central point in touring the coast. Yachats is the Gem of the Oregon Coast. The weather forecast predicted mostly cloudy days with off and on showers for the first part of our week, typical Oregon weather. We were not disappointed as that is exactly the weather we got when we arrived. But after that first day, the weather was mostly gorgeous. Click an image to view larger.
We rented a house from Yachats Village Rentals right on the Oregon coast with million dollar views of the Pacific ocean. The Pearl has a small room off to the side with large bay windows that opened up the view to the west, as well as huge windows in the family room and master bedroom that offered equally expansive views of the Pacific. The room seemed to be specifically designed to watch the ocean, do a seawatch for birds, whales, sea lions, and watch storms roll in from the Pacific. We did all of that from this little room and enjoyed every minute of it. We did see many seabirds, several sea lions and a couple of California Grey Whales right from the house. There were no storms to speak of while we were there, but it was interesting to watch the clouds form and come in off the water.
The house sits on top of volcanic rock, and the beach behind the house, or what would pass as a beach, is nothing but exposed volcanic rock. You could walk out on the rocks and explore the tide pools, but the real beauty was watching the waves come in at high tide. Over the centuries, the waves had carved a small chasm that was just 50 feet from the house. The energy from the waves would push the water into the chasm where it would explode into towering splashes of seawater. When the most powerful waves would hit the volcanic rock, the entire house would shake. These were minor waves that you might expect on any nearly calm day on any beach. I can only imagine the view, power and explosiveness of the sea when a big winter storm rolls in from the Pacific. I imagine the view from this little room and the close proximity of the crashing waves is simply a sight to behold.
We took day trips from Yachats north to Waldsport, Newport and several Oregon State Parks on 2 days and took a day trip south to Florence and the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. I wanted to explore so much more of the Oregon Coast, but the distances to other photogenic places was just more than I wanted to drive. Who wants to fly all the way to Oregon, drive 3.5 hours to the coast, then spend the next 4 days driving? I wanted to take my time at the different little cities, state parks and recreation areas for photography, and I also wanted to enjoy and relax at our little house in Yachats.
Every place we stopped in Oregon to eat served some of the best food either one of us has ever tasted. On the coast, there was delicious clam chowder, succulent Dungeness crab, fresh salmon and other seafood available at nearly every restaurant. We had our fill of crab, salmon and fish tacos (for me). Even the restaurant we selected in Portland, Salty’s On The River, served a delicious meal. Faith especially like the fact that there was a coffee/cappuccino/espresso hut on nearly every corner of everywhere we went. If she had a craving for a coffee, she needed only wait a couple of miles before another drive-up hut was on the side of the road. I guess the residents in Oregon really love their coffee!
On our way back to Portland, we spent some time in Oregon’s fertile Willamette Valley enjoying the beautiful views and farmland. The valley is home to many wineries that, quite honestly, make some outstanding wine. The Willamette Valley also is home to many tulip farms, vegetable farms, hazelnut orchards and Faith’s favorite, Lavender farms. I’ve never seen someone get so excited at the opportunity to pick your own Lavender!
After arriving back in Portland, we spent our last day touring the Columbia River Gorge. The Gorge is a spectacular place offering beautiful views of the Columbia River, breath-taking waterfalls and lush forests. There are over 50 accessible waterfalls on the Oregon side of the river. We stopped at Wahkeena Falls and decided to spend some time shooting Wahkeena Creek, then taking the .2 mile hike to the falls. Wahkeena is an Indian word meaning “most beautiful” and it is a most appropriate name for the area.
At the start of the trail, there is a sign that indicates the falls are .2 miles and that Perdition Trail is .5 miles. I misread the sign and thought that it was .5 miles (or an additional .3 miles from the Wahkeena Falls) to the next waterfall. As you might know, perdition has a few rather stark definitions (hell, utter destruction or ruin). So thinking that we only had .3 miles to go, we started hiking. It is actually .9 miles to the next falls (Fairy Falls). That doesn’t sound like much until you realize that it is also a very steep and strenuous climb. I like to describe it as straight up. So we climbed…and climbed…and climbed for over an hour, walking through mud, stepping over loose rocks, crossing the creek twice (carrying a camera and tripod) until we finally reached Fairy Falls. Whew! The name Perdition Trail fits perfectly! But let me tell you, it was absolutely worth it. The climb is not for the faint of heart or those that are out of shape, but the view of Fairy Falls is definitely worth the effort.
We wrapped up our day and our vacation with a short walk to Multnomah Falls, the most famous waterfall in the gorge. It is also spectacular two-tiered 620 foot waterfall, but after the trip to Fairy Falls, we were too tired to fully enjoy its beauty. So we decided to have dinner in the Multnomah Lodge at the base of the falls (highly recommended). It was yet another excellent meal in Oregon as was every meal we had.
Faith and I will be back to Oregon at some point in the future. I’d like to spend more time on the Oregon Coast working the sea stacks into a sunset, spending more time in the verdant Willamette Valley for fall colors or spring flowers and also to explore the 47 other waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge that we didn’t have time to see. Maybe we’ll rent an RV for part of the trip. And of course, we will definitely want to spend more time at the Pearl. That little house is certainly aptly named.