After another continental breakfast, I checked out of the Microtel and drove south. I made a brief stop at Cannon Beach to photograph their Haystack Rock, which is 235 feet high and proclaimed the world’s third largest coastal monolith. However, later in the day I would photograph another Haystack Rock at Pacific City, and that one is 100 feet higher, but is not proclaimed as the first or second largest coastal monolith. Perhaps they went by volume, or it’s all tourist twaddle.
From there I drove down Highway 101 to Neahkahnie Mountain. Rising 1634 feet above sea level, the mountain features a trail with a 700 foot elevation gain over a 1.5 mile hike and rewards the climber with a spectacular view south over the coastal town of Manzanita.
After traveling along a rough gravel road a mile or two off Highway 101 I reached the trailhead. A group of bicyclist adventurers were there for the ascent, although they had to hoof it rather than pedal it. The main trail wraps around a ways below the summit, but my handy Hiking the Oregon Coast
book told me about a very steep and rocky side trail that went to the summit.
The view from the top was as spectacular as promised, and one of the bicyclists was kind enough to take a photo of me at the summit. I had to descend the way I came up to reach my car, whereas the bicyclists were able to go on down the other side of the mountain where their van would be waiting.
I then drove in to Manzanita to catch a glimpse of it from ground level and thought about grabbing lunch, but several restaurants were closed on Monday in this tourist town. So I drove on down Highway 101 to the Tillamook Cheese Factory. There were scads of people there! I can only imagine the madhouse it must have been over the weekend.
I ordered the “Centennial Grilled Cheese Sandwich” with fresh cheese from the factory and honoring the founding of the area dairy farmer cooperative in 1909, which has grown to 110 farms. The wait was 30 minutes and for most of that there were no free tables in the place. But one finally opened up and I welcomed two other fellows who were also waiting for a table. My sandwich came with a good salad, but they forgot the dressing. No doubt a misguided effort by the waitress to make the lunch a tad healthier.
One of my lunch companions was a fellow from Portland who was the caretaker for the other older gentleman, who had a speech impediment and other handicaps from some past accident. Revealing I was from Oklahoma prompted the man being cared for to reveal he had previously lived in Nebraska and Missouri before his accident. When I mentioned enjoying the Ozark lakes, he said he used to do some slalom water skiing there. So I’m certain he was grievously injured when he fell off a single ski at high speed. Note that if he claimed otherwise, I would naturally ignore his protests. No dirty little facts should get in the way of my beautiful theory.
Bidding my table companions farewell, I headed to the ice cream counter, a primary draw at the factory, for a delicious treat. Then, deciding to further enrich the cooperative, I bought a T-shirt proclaiming my love for the Oregon coast.
It was a short drive on into Tillamook where I turned off Highway 101 onto the Three Capes Scenic Drive, which hugs the coast. The first part west out of Tillamook is the best since it literally runs along the shore, with the ocean a few feet below the edge of the road. Later one reaches Cape Meares, which I visited in 2006 and skipped today since it was cloudy along that stretch of the ocean.
My progress along the Three Capes drive was greatly slowed by paint trucks as they worked on the roadway’s center stripes and shoulder lines. I followed the white striper for so long that I began to worry some paint spray might be coating the rental Saturn, but a later inspection laid that to rest. But it did point out how dirty the car had become, so I ran it through a car wash when I filled up in Lincoln City. Well, to be accurate, someone else filled it up. Oregon doesn’t allow you to fill your own car – you have to let an attendant take care of it, although since 2001 motorcyclists have been allowed to fill their own tanks. Go figure.
After passing Cape Lookout, I decided to drive out onto another sand spit, the Bob Straub State Park at Pacific City, which occupies the Nestucca sand spit. So the beach is a huge expanse of sand bounded on the north by the taller Haystack Rock. The park has trails and I briefly tried one. But while I don’t mind climbing short mountains and hiking 13 miles along the coast, I am utterly defeated by a trail made of sand. It was such a slog that I soon realized there were better ways to spend my time.
Which brings me to winning $8 off the Siletz Indians. My day ended in Lincoln City, where I had a nice halibut dinner with salad at the Dory Cove restaurant. Then I wandered through the Chinook Winds Casino, operated by the aforementioned Indians. I avoid casinos for the most part, but decided to try some “nickel slots” and when I finally received a $20 payout on a 20 cent bet, putting me $8 ahead, I cashed out. And promptly spent 1/4 of my net winnings at the Motel 6 vending machines. Easy come, easy go.
So another day ends with this blog entry and today’s slideshow. Tomorrow I’ll hike some of the trails at Cascade Head.
[Next post: Cascade Head and Newport: Day 5 of the Oregon Trails]