I think the Oregon coast may be the most beautiful place on earth
As I write this, summer is officially almost over. Most people would be bummed, but personally I'm quite excited to be able to relax and not have to constantly worry about sunburn.
But before the rain starts for what will surely feel like forever — just like being back in the U.K.! — Lia and I took a trip I'd been excited to take even before we moved out to Seattle. We were going to drive down Route 101 — the Pacific Coast Highway. One of the most beautiful roads in the world, speed limits be damned.
We weren't going too far down it, mind you, considering it runs all the way through California, which is arguably the best known stretch of it. But given my personal affinity for the geography of the Pacific North West, I was sure it would be disappointing. And it absolutely wasn't. Kitted out in Dad's convertible, and plenty of sunscreen, we set off for Cannon Beach in Oregon, recently ranked by National Geographic as one of the 21 best beaches in the world.
Photos were kind of tricky to take while we were gunning along, but the most impressive part of the drive was easily the bridge that you cross over to get between Washington state and Oregon. A terrifyingly large and elevated floating bridge that was an absolute marvel of engineering.
But when we hit Cannon Beach several hours later, there were plenty of photo opportunities.
Once we'd found parking in the packed beach town, we traipsed down to the beach. I was kind of expecting it to be busy, but despite the town filled to capacity with holiday-makers, the beach was so massive that it felt positively quiet. There were plenty of good dogs, and bold seagulls, for added entertainment value too.
In addition to beautiful temperatures and clean sand, the coastline has rocky mounds running along it, nicknamed haystacks on account of their appearance, for just that extra something special.
The water was bloody freezing though.
It took forever to walk along the beach, with Lia leading the charge toward the big rock. She was quite smitten with it, and there were tour guides up close giving information to small groups of tourists eager to learn more about their formation, and the ecosystems that live on and around them. Like little donut-shaped anemones!
It took even longer to walk back though. We were returning on soft sand, as opposed to the compact sand down by the sea which we'd been able to tread along with ease. The ol' gluten were burning after walking along the soft sand for what felt like forever.
We got ice cream to reward ourselves.
We drove further around the coast to another viewpoint of the beach, just in time for the sun to begin its descent. Our new spot was clearly the one to go to for photos, as the panorama of the beaches, in addition to the insanely vivid colors and the moon rising over the trees, was simply sublime.
In the same park, we drove down the hill to a different beach, Indian Beach, which was clearly smaller and quieter than the popular Cannon one, but the parking lot was filled with surfers and hippies, with plenty of VW camper vans and Subarus.
We couldn't tell if it was mist from the sea or if the one extremely aesthetic campfire on the beach was producing a lot of smoke, but the air was so hazy. As the sun was getting weaker, the whole beach took on a smokey salmon color, which was just beautiful.
Getting harassed by bugs, and confident we at least had a couple of photos to Instagram at this point, we drove off in the direction of our Airbnb — which had neglected to mention that it didn't provide ANY bedding — near to the town of Tillamook. The home of Tillamook ice cream and cheese. Mecca, if you will.
After picking up some sheets from a local superstore, we were in need of some food. Lia worked her Yelp magic, and unsurprisingly at this point in our relationship, found a cat themed bar in the town of Tillamook. Driving through Tillamook, a run down shithole, to put it nicely, it became clear that the only industry was the cheese factory. Everything else had long since... curdled.
Kitty's Food and Spirits is the kind of dive bar you only really hear about. The entire front of house was dead, making us pause for a second to wonder if it was actually closed. But behind the saloon doors at the back was where the magic happened.
It had a table of locals at the front with a name reserving their regular spot near the stage where a pair of men were playing cover songs. A grand total of less than 20 people in the whole bar, a couple playing on the pool table at the back, a couple sitting at the bar disinterestedly watching the small televisions, and a few other colorful characters dotted around the bar.
Anxious to get some food, I approached one of the musicians — the drummer, for what it's worth — while he was taking a break, as he looked like he knew the score. He quickly identified me as being from out of town by my everything, and once he realized how far out of town I was from, he called over his friend Jimmy to guess what part of England I was from.
Jimmy's secret to figuring out a British person's town of origin, it turned out, was asking them where they were from. But Jimmy himself was from Sheffield, and for some reason was splitting his time between his native U.K. and his adopted home in Tillamook, Oregon. AKA actual bumfuck nowhere. But in addition to being a charming pensioner, Jimmy played with the band, and took up his spot on stage to help croon some oldies. He was like camper Rod Stewart, with a twinkle in his eye that outshone his diamond earring stud.
Watching Jimmy sing, as sober as I'd ever been, I was in heaven. I realized it was my new life goal to spend my senior years whiling away my days at Kitty's. Watch this space. But it was bedtime. On to our Airbnb with no bedding!