A July 2001 trip
to Oregon Coast by Re Carroll
Quote: Rocky coastline and angry ocean can be a recipe for disaster. That's where lighthouses come in. For over one hundred years, these life saving bastions have been helping mariners safely navigate along the Oregon coast.
Along our route, all but one of the lighthouses were accessible by foot. The only one we couldn't get to was Tillamook Rock, situated off shore between Cannon Beach and Seaside. It was built in 1881 and the construction was frought with perils. No longer active, it is now privately owned.
In Astoria, we toured the Lightship Columbia. Lightships were used when it was too expensive, dangerous or downright impossible to build a conventional lighthouse. They were anchored offshore and equipped with powerful beacons to warn other ships of potentially hazardous conditions.
If you're a big lighthouse fan, you can buy a souvenir book and have it stamped at each lighthouse that you vist. The cost of the book is about .00 and each stamp is a few dollars, usually by donation.
Restaurant | "Whale's Tale"
Whale's Tale is a casual restaurant with mismatched tables and chairs and a rustic atmosphere. Service is efficient but if you want to linger awhile after your meal, there are books and magazines on a bookshelf to browse through. There are also kids' books which will keep the little ones occupied until the meal arrives.
We found it more fun to look at the decor - original art work (some good, some ??), fishing equipment and a bathroom decorated to resemble the inside of a ship all added to the overall charm of this place.
The menu is quite varied - seafood, naturally but also burgers, sandwiches, salads and fabulous desserts. If you want a sandwich, unless you're really hungry, I'd recommend a half deli sandwich and soup. The sandwich is served on thick slices of home baked wheat bread and is loaded with your choice of filling. I had turkey and cheddar with a bowl of the best golden mushroom soup I've ever tasted - I'm sure it was loaded with sour cream. If you're not a soup fan, you can have fried red potatoes as an accompaniment to the sandwich instead. If you're a chowder head, this is the place for thick, creamy, white clam chowder loaded with clams. Price for 1/2 sandwich and soup is $4.50. Most of the larger entrees are in the $8.00 range, including pastas, fish and chips, steamed clams or mussels - the list is endless.
If you like desserts, you'll have a hard time saying no to their selection of after dinner goodies. The house special is called mousse in a bag and it is worth every one of the millions of calories it must contain. Milk chocolate mousse topped with white chocolate mousse and all enclosed in a chocolate shell - delicious! It is definitely meant to be shared because it's very rich. If that is too much chocolate, try New York cheesecake, blueberry torte or a shortbread square with a peach filling.
The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner. I don't think they take reservations but it's worth the wait if there is a line up.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 28, 2001
Whale's Tale Restaurant
452 Southwest Bay Boulevard
Newport, OR 97365
It's easy to get to by walking along the downhill paved path from the parking lot. Along the way, there are look out spots where you'll get great views of large rock formations that are home to various sea birds. The waves really pound this whole area so you can see why the lighthouse was so necessary.
Another difference with Cape Meares is that the glass lens or beacon is red and if you climb to the top you definitely can see the world through rose colored glass. Since the lighthouse is so short, it's equivalent to only a few flights of stairs so it's a pretty easy climb. There isn't a lot of room on the enclosed observation deck but it's worth the visit since there is a volunteer in residence to talk about the history of the lighthouse.
On the main floor, a cute little gift shop offers all kinds of souvenirs, post cards, memorabilia, clothing, etc.
The lighthouse, as well as the park, is open year round. There are some nice walking trails nearby.
Cape Meares Lighthouse
Cape Meares State Park
Oregon Coast, Oregon
Attraction | "Yaquina Bay and Yaquina Head"
Yaquina Bay looks like a cozy little cottage with sand colored shutters on all the windows. Inside, it's filled with period furnishings from its too brief past life. The light is perched atop the house and you can climb to the top as part of a tour. There is a 20 minute video presentation, an interpretive center and a gift shop downstairs.
It's located just off Hwy. 101, near the Yaquina Bridge. The lighthouse is open from noon to 4:00 p.m., Monday to Thursday. It is also available for private functions such as weddings.
The "newer" lighthouse, Yaquina Head, stands at the tip of a rocky cliff and looks more like what you'd expect a lighthouse to be. At 93 feet, it's the tallest lighthouse on the coast. It is located in a park like setting and there is a $3.00 day use fee.
It's an easy walk from the parking lot to the lighthouse and when we were there, the area was partly shrouded in mist which added to the atmosphere. Bring a sweater because even on a sunny August day, the strong winds from the ocean really cool things down.
Yaquina Head is now automated and it's also open for tours daily. Nearby the parking lot, is a large area full of man-made tidal pools that are accessible by walking downhill on a paved path. Try and get here when the tide is out and you can spot small crabs and other sealife in the pools.
Yaquina Bay Lighthouse
Off Rte 101
Oregon Coast, Oregon
Attraction | "Heceta Head"
Tours are conducted hourly and that's the only way you can go inside the lighthouse.
This is quite a popular place and it's hard to get a picture without lots of people around. It's located just off Hwy. 101, above the parking lot at Devil's Elbow State Park where there is a long sandy crescent shaped beach, picnic tables, public bathrooms and lots of hiking trails through the woods. There is a day use fee of $3.00 at the Park.
Until the coast highway was built in the 1930s, this place was pretty hard to access. Nowadays, the walk from the parking lot uphill to the lighthouse takes about 10 minutes but isn't a strenuous climb. It's quite pleasant as you walk through the woods and you have wonderful views of the beach below and the suspension bridge along the highway.
Part way from the parking lot, you'll pass the original lighthouse keeper's cottage which has now been turned into a B&B that is an extremely popular place to stay. Just past the B&B, there is a separate store selling lighthouse memorabilia and other souvenirs. Also, at the lighthouse, you can buy buttons and fridge magnets for a small donation that goes toward the lighthouse's upkeep.
If you only have time for one lighthouse, this is the one to visit.
Heceta Head Lighthouse
92072 Hwy. 101 South
Abbotsford, British Columbia