Soaking up sunshine on Orcas Island

September and October were really busy months for my travel companion and I. We visited Orcas Island, Pullman, British Columbia, Skamania, and Whidby Island. With all this rain over the past couple of weeks it’s hard to remember that we had a great start to fall in the Northwest. It wasn’t too long ago that we were blessed with sunshine and warm days.

Back in September, I spent two days on Orcas Island. This was my first time on the island. The busy summer season was over but the sunshine was still out and the skies were clear. We stayed at the Deer Harbor Resort. The unit we stayed in had a great harbor view, and a private hot tub on the deck. It was a perfect place to sip a few glasses of wine, and take in the beauty of the San Juans.

We spent a few hours exploring the town Eastsound. It’s very quaint town, and has a beautiful water view.

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We then drove up to the top of Mount Constitution. It’s a long windy road to the top, but the view is amazing. We were pretty lucky to visit on such a clear day.

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We were pressed with time, so we didn’t get to explore the whole island. We drove through Moran State Park and then drove to the ferry to get in line. While waiting for the ferry to come, we had lunch at a local restaurant. Luckily they were showing the Hawks game. I’m  always amazed by the beauty of the San Juan Islands, We really do live in an awesome place.

Neahkahnie Mountain Hike

About a week before my trip to Seaside, a friend posted a picture of her on top of this mountain on Instagram. So I decided that I needed to hike it on my trip. I’m so used to looking up hiking information in Washington. We have an organization called Washington Trails Association that publishes an awesome website with lots of great hiking information. There doesn’t appear to be an Oregon version of that website. I had to look in like three different places to find the information I needed.

The trail guides all say that the hike is 5.1 miles as a loop. I opted to just hike up to the look out and back, which was about three miles total. There are a few different lookouts on the mountain, I chose to hike up to the South Peak.  From Seaside, we drove south on highway 101. The trail head isn’t hard to find, but you have to be looking for it. There is only a small hiker sign pointing to the road you take. The road is on the left hand side (if you are driving south on 101), and it is between mileposts 41 and 42, not quite 2 miles north of Manzinita. Just drive up the road for a little bit until you see the trail head.

Next, start climbing up the mountain. At one point, we came to an four way intersection and we continued strait which took us to the south viewpoint. There is a short scramble up to the top but later we found a better trail to get up there. Either way, I’d suggest to climb to the top of the rocks to get a better viewpoint.

The view is pretty spectacular, especially on a clear day.

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After that, we just hiked down and drove home.

More information:

Portland Hikers Field Guide

Oregonhiking.com

Summitpost.org – South peak information

Fort Stevens State Park

While staying in Seaside for a week, we visited Fort Stevens State Park. When I was little, I used to camp there every other summer. It’s probably been at least 15 years since I last went, and I couldn’t really remember what it was like.

We first drove to the beach to check out Peter Iredale, the shipwreck. It ran ashore in 1906 during a storm.

It was a sunny but windy day on the beach. It was crowded, and perfect for people watching. I enjoyed watching the kite surfers for a while.

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Next, we drove over to the museum. We looked through the main building for a while, and then we walked around the old bunkers. This fort was built during the Civil War and was used during World War II to defend the Columbia River.

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That ended our tour of Fort Stevens State Park. I’d love to go back and camp. There were a ton of bike trails that I’d like to ride.

More information:

Friends of Old Fort Stevens

Oregon State Parks – Fort Stevens

Tillamook Head Hike

Tillamook Head is a buff just south of Seaside. It’s the land visible from the beach as seen in the picture below.

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While staying at Fort Clatsop, Clark hiked over the ridge to see a beached whale that was near the current day Ecola State Park. They bartered with members from the Tillamook tribe for some blubber. At a point along his journey he said this about the view, “…the grandest and most pleasing prospects which my eyes ever surveyed, in front of a boundless Ocean…”.

There is a trail that stretches across the whole Tilamook head. We decided to start from Indian Beach at Ecola State Park. From there, you can follow a 1.5 mile trail along the coast that leads to a view of the lighthouse. The reports that I read warned of muddy trails, and it was pretty muddy at some points. The trail was really pretty with lush green forests. It wasn’t that crowed either, and we only saw one other group. Although it was a week day.

View of Indian Beach

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On the way to the lighthouse viewpoint, you pass a few hiker cabins and some old bunkers.

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View of the lighthouse

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We took the inland trail back, which was much faster and the whole thing was gravel. It was a great short hike for a group. We really enjoyed the views of the beautiful coastline.

More information:

Oregonhiking.com trail guide

Portlandhikers.org guide

Seaside, Oregon

Earlier this summer I spent a week at Seaside, Oregon for a family reunion.  We stayed at the Worldmark condo resort which was right on the beach.  The sun was out, and summer was in full swing there. I have many good memories of Seaside as a child because we used to camp at nearby Fort Stevens State Park.

The town of Seaside definitely has a coastal vibe, similar to southern California.  I spent a lot of time walking or biking the prom, and relaxing on the beach. I also visited the aquarium, rented a surrey, and shopped in downtown. Besides beach lounging and swimming at the hotel pool,  there isn’t a lot to do in Seaside. But really, what else do you want to do on vacation?

Turnaround with the Lewis and Clark statue

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The prom

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Downtown Seaside

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Aquarium

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Some of the family and our surrey

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The beach

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On the last night, we bought some firewood and had a bonfire on the beach. The sunset was gorgeous and it was a beautiful night.

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Stay tuned for some more posts about my hiking adventures and a few other places I visited.