"Look! Bears, bears! I swear I saw bears!" cried Anya in excitement.
"Really?! No way they were bears. They probably just were fuzzy cows."
We were coming up with reasonable explanations.
"No, they were bears! I swear!"
Grandpa did not swear, but he also thought they were bears.
So we had to turn our car and come back - I would not forgive myself for missing the unique opportunity to photograph bears in nature... so we did, we photographed those "bears". And so our adventure began.
To get from Tacoma, Washington to the Oregon coast, we had to cross the Columbia River - the largest river in the Pacific Northwest which rises in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia (Canada) and runs trough Washington State, becoming the biggest part of the border between Washington and Oregon, flowing into the Pacific Ocean. It's the forth largest river in the USA by volume, with 14 dams in mainstream (Grand Coulee Dam being the largest electric-power producing facility in the US) and many more in the whole watershed. I'm saying all this, so you understand how big the Columbia River is. It's large. You can probably imagine how huge is the bridge over it. Astoria-Megler Bridge that we took was completed in 1966 and at that time was the longest continuous-truss bridge in the world, being 4.1 miles, or 6.6 km long. Driving on it felt surreal - a never-ending bridge, almost.
Astoria-Megler Bridge, connecting Washington and Oregon.
Soon after we crossed the bridge, our 3 hour journey brought us to the destination point - an adorable Blue Door cottage where we were about to stay for 4 days - a short walk to a gorgeous secluded ocean shore, 5 minutes drive to funky Seaside and 20 minutes to quaint Cannon Beach. But first things first, and as soon as we found the cottage, we dropped the car and went for our first walk to say hello to the ocean...
The Haystack Rock seen from the north (from Gearhart, OR).
The first day, we just wanted to rest and enjoy our temporary home, lovely inside and out (one of the earlier homes in this tiny adorable ocean side community which was incorporated in 1918, the year one of my grandmothers was born... so this house is about Babushka Tonya's age).
The next morning, we fortified ourselves with Anya's Belgian waffles, which she made using a mix, and Mom's Russian pancakes (blini), then we took off to explore the coast. The views along the Route 101 are breathtaking - they don't call it Pacific Coast Scenic Byway for nothing. The road is 363 miles long (or 584 km) and we only explored a small part of it in this trip and our previous couple of trips to the Oregon coast. The nature here is gorgeous, offering some of the most spectacular views that I've ever seen. You just can't help but making a lot of stops to enjoy this amazing beauty and take many, many pictures...
The Haystack Rock seen from the south.
Terrible Tilly, or Tillamook Rock Light, now deactivated,
when built in 1881 was the most expensive West Coast lighthouse ever built.
One of favorite places to visit is located just 5 miles south of Cannon Beach and has the most amusing name - Hug Point. So, as you of course can predict, lots of "hugses" going on there, rain or shine. Apparently, the late XIX century stagecoaches had to "hug" this point even at the low tide - they used the beach as a highway back then.
Hug Point State Recreation Site.
After some good hugses, we head back north to visit the most elegant little tourist town you've ever seen - Cannon Beach, and its most prominent natural feature - Haystack Rock. The locals say that it is the third tallest such structure in the world, though there is no official recognition. It is 235 feet tall (or 72 m), truly beautiful, and you can reach it at the low tide. Every April, puffins make their home on the Haystack. Puffins live at sea, far from the coast, form long lasting relationships with a partner and once a year come to the coast to lay a single egg. Both parents take care of the egg, and once a baby puffin is hatched, puffins soon leave the nest. Until next April. Fascinating, isn't it? There were a few sculptures of puffins in the village, though we haven't seen the real thing, it was still too early for them to nest in the end of March.
Calla lilies are in abundance in Cannon Beach.
Sculpture of puffins in Cannon Beach.
Cannon Beach is also well known for its population of wild bunnies which are the largest, prettiest and the most colorful wild bunnies I've seen. They are not afraid of people and let you photograph them as much as you please. They are well fed too, aren't they?
On other days of our mini-break, we visited Seaside, another super popular tourist destination which was built in the 1870s as a fancy resort. If Gearhart where we stayed is a relaxed secluded little gem, and Cannon Beach with its most amazing architecture feels like a sophisticated artistic village, then Seaside has a completely different vibe going on - it bursts with people and seashore activities and strives to accommodate pretty much every possible taste in restaurants, shopping and entertainment. The historic Promenade was built in 1920 and is not to be missed, as well as feeding seals in a local aquarium - such a fun interaction with these cute mammals. In Seaside you stroll, play, eat, shop and relax - it's vacation time!
Dining (and instagramming) at one of many Seaside restaurants.
The Promenade and the statue of Lewis and Clark who established a salt camp here in 1805.
Most photos are by Justin, some are mine. March 2015, Oregon.
My mini photo session at the Blue Door cottage here,