Oregon Coastal Adventure
July 25 to August 6, 2006
Sunset on the Central Oregon Coast. Tillicum Beach, Siuslaw National Forest Campground
From Astoria and the Columbia River to the sand dunes of Florence we discovered mile after mile of dazzling beaches punctuated by stretches of rocky outcroppings and spectacular headlands. We marveled at the sun nightly as it slipped beneath the waves of the Pacific Ocean.
Mount St. Helens
We visit Portland for a few days to restock at Whole Foods Market and to take an adventure to Mount St. Helens, located 22 miles north. The Spirit Lake Memorial Highway is located off Interstate 5 and travels 52 miles up the Toutle River Valley to the Johnson
Ridge Observatory, named after David Johnston, a Forest Service employee who perished in the eruption of the volcano May 18, 1980. A few hundred yards from his deadly campsite, the Forest Service built an exotic 16,000 square foot ďobservatory,Ē which functions as a visitor center.
From here, the base of the volcano looms just three miles away, with the sharp summit ridge twice as far. The observatory is at an elevation of 4,200 feet, perched atop a 1,000 foot cliff. Below is the deeply eroded pumice plain, where streams have carved
canyons, exposing rocks ranging in hue from yellow to purple. The 1,000 foot tall lava dome built by eruptions from 1980 through 1986 is visible along with the taller new dome that continues to build. With the volcano spewing smoke and small earthquakes causing large clouds of dust in the
visible crater just a short distance away, this is a very intimidating place. The destruction is seen everywhere and in all directions from this summit.
Though itís hard to predict just what the volcano will do, geologists obviously donít think Mount St. Helens will have another eruption like the big one in 1980 any time soon. There are very impressive views of the devastation and current state of the environment at every point of this road. There are five visitor centers along the route and we visit them all, making this a long one day drive.
There are four lighthouses that grace the coast between Tillamook in the north and Florence in the south. These wondrous structures have largely been restored and
furnished in period styles, offering us a glimpse into the important role they played to previous generations. Cape Meares Lighthouse is perched 232 feet above the ocean and is 38 feet tall. This lighthouse was activated in 1890 and decommissioned in 1963. We enjoy climbing the spiral staircase to view the original eight-paneled prismatic lens. Laquina Head Lighthouse was built in 1873 and is 93 feet tall. Its original Fresnel lens is fully automated and still flashes from
162 feet above the sea. Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, Oregonís oldest exsisting wooden framed lighthouse, was built in 1871 and only used for three years. Heceta Head Lighthouse is 56 feet tall. Built in 1894, the light which towers 205 feet above the waves, is still shining and can be seen 20 miles at sea.
Known nationally for its famous cheese, Tillamook is one of our stops on this great adventure. The Tillamook Cheese Visitorís Center attracts more than a million visitors each year for a tour that includes samples of the famous cheese and curd. Unfortunately, we visit on a Sunday and the factory was mostly idle, except for these packers wrapping huge blocks of delicious cheese.
Beautiful Coastal Oregon Pictures for your enjoyment!
We spend a week at William M. Tugman State Park located between Winchester Bay and Lakeside. David purchases a crab fishing license and rents a crab ring attempting to secure dinner. The crabs didnít cooperate as all crabs caught were not of legal keeping size.
He did provide entertainment to the crowd of fishermen on the dock as a crab decided to take a pinch out of his finger drawing blood.