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Brian's Photo Blog — Article 701
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From Astoria to Lincoln City
Saturday 2 December 2017   —   Category: Outings
This is part three of a four article series. In the first part I introduced and sum­ma­rized a two-​day trip along the North Coast of Oregon my wife and I made in January 2017 as part of my Mc­Men­a­mins Passport adventure. The second article covered our time in astounding Astoria, the first stop of the trip.

In today’s article I will share with you about what we saw and experienced on our drive south on U.S. Route 101 from Astoria to Lincoln City, over a period of about 24 hours. The next and final article will detail our time at two different Mc­Men­a­mins locations.
Departing from the Astoria Column we drove southwest about 16 miles to the small coastal town of Gearhart, where we spent the night at the McMenamins Gearhart Hotel. Before having supper in the hotel restaurant and then settling into our room, we took advantage of the re­main­ing hour of daylight by driving on the beach in my 2009 Toyota Tacoma.

I love driving my truck on the beach, both in Oregon and in California. I did not know at the time that the Gearhart area is the best place to drive on the beach on the entire North Coast.
 
From the 10th Street ramp in Gearhart we headed north up the beach; vehicles are forbidden south of the ramp. After ten and a half miles we came to the haunting remains of the Peter Iredale — one of the many victims of the Grave­yard of the Pacific — which is still vis­i­ble after 110 years on Clatsop Spit, part of Fort Stevens State Park.

As you can see from this photo it was the perfect time for pictures, with the setting sun, the golden light and the long sha­dows. I took quite a few shots from a number of angles.
 
Continuing north another three and a half miles, we came to the end of the beach at the Columbia River South Jetty, at the north end of Clatsop Spit, where my truck posed for another beauty shot — similar to a 2014 photo I took 175 miles to the south.

Fourteen miles of driving north and a bit east on the beach and we were almost back in Astoria! Actually, we were three and a half miles north of the Astoria Column, which was about nine and a half miles east-southeast.
 
We had barely made it to the South Jetty in time, arriving only five minutes before the sun and sea met and kissed. I was going to mount my camera on a tripod, but I quickly ran out of time so I had to shoot handheld, which was not a problem. Within a few minutes I took 24 photos of the setting sun. I think this one with the bird turned out best.

As soon as the sun was swallowed by the sea we set out on our fourteen mile drive south back to Gearhart. Exactly an hour later we were served a scrumptious supper at the McMenamins Sand Trap Pub. Unfortunately, those tasty details will have to wait until my next article.

 
After breakfast we drove south just un­der three miles to downtown Seaside. Walking by a statue of Meriwether Lew­is and William Clark, we continued on down to the seashore.

I would suppose that Lewis and Clark were OK with the frigid January morn­ing air. After all, they were frontiersmen and had walked a long, long ways to get to Seaside. Besides, they were made of bronze. In contrast, my non-​fron­tiers­wom­an, non-​bronzed wife Catherine was feeling the bite of the cold. As for me, I had my layer of blubber to keep me warm.
 
We ambled for about a mile to the south end of the beach, where we found tons of dark gray rocks, which looked fairly black when wet. It was there that I got some shots of juvenile and adult western gulls hanging out on the rocks in the low winter-​morning sunshine.

In total, our two-​mile walk on the beach at Seaside lasted just over an hour. Time was ticking and we still had a long ways to go and numerous stops to make. On­ward and southward!
 
Cannon Beach is on the other side of Tillamook Head from Seaside, a short eight-​mile drive south. Contrary to Sea­side’s claim, this was the farthest south William Clark explored. Cannon Beach is famous for their annual sandcastle contest as well as the iconic 235-​foot Haystack Rock.
 
Before turning our attention to lunch, we walked on the beach for about 45 min­utes. For a while I watch some gulls com­ing and going around Ecola Creek before it empties into the Pacific Ocean. I am quite pleased with some of the ac­tion shots I got.

The obligatory picture of Haystack Rock was a challenge because I was shooting into the sun, which created a strong backlight. As is often the case when the lighting is difficult, I found the photo looked its best when processed as black and white instead of the original color.
 
For lunch we went to the small and high­ly rated Lazy Susan Cafe. From their small selection of beer I chose an Alas­kan Amber to accompany a Hot Seafood Salad. According to the menu, it con­sist­ed of “sautéed scallops, bay shrimp, pep­per bacon and sweet red peppers layered on mixed greens, topped with Parmesan cheese and dressed with a Chardonnay vin­ai­grette.” It was delicious, with gen­er­ous portions of the three meats. Click on the photo to pause the image swap­ping. Click again to resume.
 
After driving just a few miles south from Lazy Susan we stopped at Arcadia Beach and walked around for a bit. Not only can you see the Jockey Cap sea stack at Arcadia and the one at Silver Point, you can also see the more famous Haystack rock at Cannon Beach which I men­tioned above.
 
Besides the wide open landscapes I also focused on smaller objects close at hand. During our short 15 minute stay I took pictures of mussels, goose barnacles, a dead crab, and the aggregating anemones shown here.
 
Driving eight miles further south we came to the Wayfinding Point along the 101 just south of Cape Falcon, on the slopes of Neahkahnie Mountain.

There was an awesome view looking south by east along the north Tillamook County coastline. Where the coast bends to the right are the communities of Ne­ah­kah­nie Beach and Manzanita.
 
Pressing on, we drove another 45 min­utes to Tillamook, where we took Or­e­gon Route 131 west 9 miles to Ocean­side, a couple of miles south of Cape Meares Lighthouse.

A short 300 yard walk north on Ocean­side Beach brought us to the south en­trance of Maxwell Point Tunnel. On the other side of this short, 100 foot passage is, amazingly enough, Tunnel Beach.
 
Even more amazing to my nerdish heart, in recent years some have been calling it Star Trek Beach. Because I both love the coast and love Star Trek, this is where I want my ashes scattered. Of course, a pricey space burial would be really out of this world!
 
Instead of continuing south on Highway 101, from Netarts, just south of Oceanside, we took backroads along Netarts Bay through Cape Lookout State Park to Sandlake and then on to Tierra Del Mar. The 19 miles we drove are part of the 40 mile Three Capes Scenic Route. I wasn’t planning on stopping at Tierra Del Mar, as I never knew it even existed. But a magnificent sunset sky stopped me in my tracks. Here is a 15 photo panorama I put together. Be sure to click on it to see a larger, more impressive version.

As the sun continued to sink towards the ocean, we proceeded 6 more miles south through Pacific City to rejoin Highway 101. A short 3.5 miles later I was once again arrested by a stunning sunset, this time at the Winema Wayfinding Point on the 101 next to Winema Lake, about halfway between Pacific City and Neskowin. Here is a 9 photo panorama, looking generally southwest. Once again, be sure to click on it to see the larger version.

Traveling south another 13 miles, we ar­rived at Lincoln City. The sky was com­plete­ly cloudy and dark gray; dusk was falling and there wasn’t much to see.

So we headed indoors to the Mc­Men­a­mins Lighthouse Brewpub. All of those details, as well as the story of our time at the McMenamins in Gearhart, will be the subject of my next article.

During our 118 mile journey from As­tor­ia to Lincoln City I took a total of 272 photos. The best 60, including a map of the route we took and the places we stopped, are now on display in the new Oregon Coast North 2017 album.
 
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 701
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Brian's Photo Blog — Article 701
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