Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Oregon Coast: Eat, Play, Hug, Bunny

"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.

 Haystack Rock

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
My charcoal sketches (portraits) from Oregon here: 1, 2, 3.



  1. Great post! Those bunnies look domestic! So sleek and shiny. The misty coast photos make me homesick for the west coast of Canada/US where we spent three years.
    Looks like a lovely relaxed time. Somewhat gentler than ours!! :-)

    1. I'm glad you had good fun visiting, even though virtually. I adore PNW... Hope some day, you'll be here again!

  2. That bridge must have been really interesting to see...and the drive must have seemed endless indeed. I'm fascinated by bridges. The bears turned out to be cows? I did spot a cow photo in that part of the text so that's what I assumed.

    The nature is really spectacular. I immensely enjoyed all these photographs. That lighting house looks magnificent.

    Who doesn't love bunnies? These ones look domestic...and very very cute. My brother told me of some parks in Europe where you can see hundreds of bunnies...was it Austria or Germany...I can't remember.

    The food looks insta worthy:) This trip sounds like a lot of fun. You seem to have enjoyed it:)

    1. Bear-cows :) I remember watching a documentary once about an island in Europe where there is a problem with bunnies... These bunnies clearly had domesticated grandfathers. :)

  3. omg bunnies! I was just saying the other day that I miss the bunnies that used to roam randomly around Holland Park here in London... You managed to cram a lot in to a few days, and it looks like it was a lovely trip.

    1. My vacations tend to be exhausting for everyone - I want to see and try everything. :))) I saw bunnies recently on my walk in woods, and they also visit our backyard, but they are tiny compared to their relatives in Cannon Beach.

  4. I miss the West Coast! So many pretty photos.

    I had no idea that there were puffins living out that way. I've seen them in Newfoundland but thought that they lived further north than where you guys are.

    Looks like a great trip.


    1. I read that you can see puffins there from April trough early July, when they raise their pufflings, then they leave, till next Spring. Amazing. We have to visit...

  5. I have a picture of my son on that carousel too. From our last trip last month. I sure am interested in that blue door cottage you stayed in. May have to look in to that next time.
    Love the bear shot! ;)

    1. Joni, it was wild that we could have met there! It was the second time when we did not quite meet... remember the festival in Bremerton?

      I'd love to see your photos from that vacation. What places/parks have you visited? I love Ecola park, but we run out of energy this time...

  6. You know how I love a travelogue and this is just a wonderful post. I remember Krista saying that the weather, flora and fauna were very similar to the UK and looking at your photos it certainly is. The lush greenery and the imposing rock formations remind me of several places in England.
    Love the "bears" and how the rabbits love the camera. I love the photo of your Mum cooking pancakes and that pretty home you stayed

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it - I thought you would, it's Krista' place as well, and I couldn't help but thinking of her. :)
      Yes, people always compare PNW with England. Our climate is a bit milder though - we never have rough winters, snow is extremely rare. We also have tall mountains here, we are surrounded by them. But everything else is really similar from what I hear. When I saw Curtise's blog for the first time, I thought she lives somewhere in Seattle - the light, the greenery, the mildness of her photos, all reminds of our surroundings. And we do have some stylish vintage lovers here! :) It's a pity you guys are so far away...

  7. Thank you, Marlen! It was a beautiful family time - we haven't done it quite like that before... I'm so glad we did!
    I used to live in Detroit, and visited Chicago a couple of times - I know what you mean! Here you feel a part of nature all the time. I love PNW deeply.

  8. Wonderful travellog story, my dear Natalia. I enjoyed reading it so much. Loveli pics and lovely family.
    Tons of love always

  9. wonderful!!!
    that holiday house is very charming - and mom making blinis!!! ("plinsen" here in south eastern germany)
    i was there! 25 years ago with a friend of mine and her canadian boyfriend. we drove from his hometown on the border down south to san francisco - on the 101. we slept in a tent - on campsites or in the bush. took our morning baths in the pacific. i really loved the oregon cost with that huge beaches and the occasional fog!
    thank you for the gorgeous pics!!!! tons of hugses!!!! xxxxxxx

  10. Lovely photos Natalia! Cannon Beach is one of our very favourite holiday spots. We also enjoy exploring the areas to the north and south...but our hearts are in CB! You've given me a nice dose of beach and relaxation just from looking at your pictures! Your cottage looks magical. I think I could move in and never want to leave.

  11. I always enjoy your photos of your family holidays, they are always so jam packed , you are always so busy on holiday. The holiday house looks simply charming and I love both those bunnies and the gardens. Such wonderful memories.

  12. Thank you, Natalia, for this wonderful journey! Spectacular views, beautiful photographs. That almost 100 years old house looks like new, very lovely! And those bunnies are such cuties.

  13. Glorious photo's, I loved them all! the first one is beautiful, with Anya running, 'the bears' were adorable! and very well behaved! I hope our children never tire of a carousel, especially seahorse ones (I've never seen one like that, isn't it lovely?) I love the pic of your lovely Mum cooking, the family shots, everything! and of course those bunnies, they are very well fed bonny bunnies! x x

  14. What wonderfully atmospheric photos from your trip, Natalia. You and Vix are right, there is indeed something reminiscent of the UK about the north west coast of America - actually, those beaches with the huge rock formations remind me very much of South Wales. How lovely to see your happy family shots, and those sweet rabbits! xxx

  15. So fun, dearest Natalia...I've also visited many of the spots along the Oregon coast that you explored with your family!! I love Cannon Beach (Haystack Rock is just SO cool!) and seriously...who wouldn't want to live in a place called "Seaside," am I right?! ;) Thank you for sharing your lovely vacation photos and story with us!! XOXO

  16. Beautiful photos! The ones from the beach are breathtaking.
    Blini look like polish naleśniki but when I googled them I see they are more complex. I'd love to make some blini but even better I'd like to try the ones your mom makes:)
    Hehe,I like these 'bears' much less scary than originals :D

  17. Oh those cute rabbits! I'd love to see them some day :-) The scenery is certainly both beautiful and dramatic! It looks cold but I see you're in sandals, so I can't have been very bad. Lovely family pictures too. Do you have a recipe for those Russian blini? We get lots of "Russian" recipes for blini here, but they always turn out to be adapted! I'd love to try a real one! Thanks for sharing all these lovely photos Natalia!

  18. All of my favorite things...
    Loved this post Natalia !
    Beauitful photos, I felt I was nearby.
    Love seeing the light house, the gorgeous outdoor scenes, the adorable rabbits,
    the photos of you four!
    Is it me or is Anya growing up before my eyes?
    I love Blinis, btw..YUM!
    xx, Elle