Hooray for spontaneity!
On Sunday morning, as we were getting ready to leave for church, I just mentioned that it would be fun to visit the coast that afternoon. So we threw some clothes in a bag and opted to plan the trip on the way there.
And that’s how we ended up dining at Camp 18 along Highway 26.
This place is crazy. It’s one of the few places to eat between Portland and the coast (after you exit the suburbs). I remember my mom telling me about this place back when my parents lived in Portland a few years ago, but words don’t really do it justice. You have to see it.
It’s basically a big log cabin, built in the 1970’s, using timber from the area. There’s a 25-ton (!), 85-foot-long tree serving as the center ceiling beam in the dining room. How they cut that tree down and then managed to build it into the structure of the cabin is a marvel.
This place has everything. Antler chandeliers, a stuffed cougar, 2 fireplaces, intricately carved dancing bears. It’s everything you’ve ever wanted in a log cabin. It reminded me quite a bit of Cracker Barrel, but a bit more unique. I think I had a huge smile on my face the entire time we were there, as we kept discovering new crazy things in the restaurant. I mean, how can you not smile at hand-carved doors (that weigh 500 pounds each, by the way) with an axe for a door handle?
The food wasn’t fancy or anything, but I think Camp 18 is more about the experience than the meal. We had a pretty basic breakfast of waffles, eggs, bacon, sausage, and coffee.
As if the inside of the cabin isn’t enough, outside is pretty fun too. Humbug Creek (yes, that’s its real name) runs right behind the restaurant, and it was full of enormous salmon swimming upstream. You can walk right down to the water and see those bad boys fighting their way against the current.
From there, we headed to Ecola State Park (pick up a park map when you pay your $5 day use fee), between Seaside and Cannon Beach. And that’s where we encountered the wind. Holy cow. I’ve never experienced such winds. It felt like what I imagine getting punched in the face feels like, except it was my hair slapping me and getting stuck in tree branches (yes, that happened).
We started out at the Ecola Point parking area (which is also the tsunami assembly area, in case disaster strikes during your visit to the coast). The view from the lookout was pretty impressive.
We walked around the area a bit and found a great view of the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, a mile off-shore. If you have a few minutes, you should read the full story of this lighthouse’s fascinating history. It was lit for the first time in 1881, after 525 days of labor (during which a group of workers were stranded on the rock during a 16-day-long storm). Most recently, the lighthouse served as the Eternity at Sea Columbarium, where people can have their ashes placed in the lighthouse for a hefty sum. Crazy.
We hopped back in the car and drove up to the Indian Beach parking area (you can take a 2.5 mile hike on part of the park’s Oregon Coast Trail, but the wind deterred us a bit). From there, you can walk down to the beach and watch the waves crash over the rocks off-shore. We found a big log that seemed a safe distance from the crashing waves, but the ocean is pretty unpredictable on the Oregon coast, and this wave crashed up over the log right after I took this photo, causing me to scream, jump off, and run up the beach. Eric got a good laugh out of that one.
We drove a few minutes south to Cannon Beach, which is a little beach town with lots of little touristy shops. We grabbed some hot chocolate (did I mention it was around 50 degrees on the coast?) and walked down to the beach. I’ve only been to a few Oregon coast beaches, but this was, by far, the best one. There was so much beach space! Because the Oregon coast is so mountainous and rugged, “beaches” tend to be very short (and easily overtaken by waves). But this beach was long, flat, and deep enough to really feel like a beach (says the girl who grew up closer to the Atlantic Ocean).
We took a long stroll down to Haystack Rock, passing folks in all types of clothing (shorts, parkas, rain jackets, boots, barefoot). I don’t know if photos really do this thing justice, but this rock is huge. It’s 235-feet tall. And there are a bunch of adorable beach houses nearby to admire this wonder of nature, in case you are planning a little Oregon coast vacay.
Here’s to the coast and that unruly Pacific Ocean!