Exploring Oregon

“Oh wow, a whale!” I heard my wife exclaiming outside the motel room. I wondered where on earth she was and what kind of prank she was pulling as her voice drifted in through a window. I lay in a semi-conscious state in the room, trying to catch a few more winks after our late night journey down the Oregon coast. The kids voices chimed in with hers, back behind our motel room somewhere, exclaiming about their first sitings of whales – “out there”. Startling awake, I realized that they were talking about actual whales, and were calling me to get out there before I missed them – no kidding involved!

A good thing I moved too, because I had never seen anything like that in my entire life. I certainly never expected to be so lucky on this jaunt we mountain people from Montana had taken to the Oregon coast. After I stumbled from the motel room, down the hall and around the building, to my astonishment, there it was. As big as life and to our complete amazement, right
off the rocky shore below the motel we were staying at in Seaside, Oregon, a couple of whales were working their way along within close view of the shore. To local folks and to others that live along the nations shorelines that may not have been any huge deal. But to me, my wife Evie and the kids, Ash and Rob, actually seeing a whale spouting – just blew us away!

We were on a journey – a hut exploration journey – to the coast which I’ll dig into more in another article. Briefly, we first passed through Washington, studying the Mt. Tahoma Hut System over near Mount Rainier. Our second stop was at the Oregon State Park at Beverly Beach to see what they had done with the magic of yurts. Our third stop was back in eastern Oregon, looking at the Wing Ridge Ski Tours hut/wall tent configuration back up in the Wallowa National Forest end of Oregon. Pretty awesome stuff they were putting together and we’ll have to cover those more on down the story-line.

A genuine high point of the journey, Seaside, Oregon provided a bit of magic to the exploration on a scale I had not even remotely anticipated. Our coastal basecamp was an outstanding motel, the Seashore Inn, right there on the shoreline. It was the sort of place that when you went around to the “sea side” of the accommodation you were able to clambor over the rocks and right down to the waters edge. As mentioned before, having grown up in Colorado and Montana, the possibility of actually landing a motel room right on the ocean shore was one of those dreams that hardly ever comes to reality. But, the amazement of finding actual whales working the waters right off shore from that spot – that truly pushed the envelope of my expectations.

Our little family had traveled late into the night, working our way to this Seaside location, and collapsed into the motel room in the wee hours. To our delight, following the discovery of the whales, second thing in the morning the kids discovered that the place had a great indoor pool. They settled in there to play and unwind from the previous days journey. We also found we were within an easy walk of the gift shops, coffee shops and restaurants of Seaside, a truly charming, quiet, “right on the shore” little community, with a full panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean right across the street – Highway 101.

Right around the building corner from our room we had our own piece of Pacific Ocean shoreline for the couple of days we stayed in that wonderful spot. The kids found star fish around the rocks under water, the most amazing little multi-colored sea urchins, and an unending collection of sea shells along the shore once the tide went out. The crowning touch of course were the whales, actual spouting whales swimming right out in the nearby waters.

We stayed in that little corner of paradise for just a couple of days, enjoying the area around Seaside. We explored the nearby coastal treasures, marveling at the formations at Canon Beach, drinking in those amazing views out to the ocean, and marveling at the roar of the waves on the rocks. Unbelievable pieces of a world of the sort folks from the Rocky Mountains never imagined possible.

The third day we gathered up our belongings, pulled the water-logged kids out of the pool, and continued our exploration of the huts and yurts of the Pacific northwest. During a brief stop-over at Beverly Beach we studied the wonderful yurts of the Oregon Parks system, checking out a yurt they had set up for camper rentals. That was definitely an item for future reference on some return trip to the area – a yurt on the Pacific coast – imagine that.

Our travels finally led us to depart the coastal areas and head inland to the far northeast corner of Oregon, back up into the Wallowa area of the state and the Wallowa Mountains. Outside of the little town of Joseph, Roger Averbeck of Wing Ridge Ski Tours led me on an excursion up toward the Eagle Cap Wilderness, showing me his accommodations for winter ski tours. He provides completely furnished and insulated wall tents back up in the timber, just down from pristene mountain faces and bowls, perfect terrain for the hardcore backcountry ski enthusiast.

That journey through Oregon was an excursion to remember from the sea shores to the eastern mountains. We were so thankful that at every basecamp spot along our lengthy trail there were outstanding motel accommodations, all at reasonable prices. In the case of the unbelievable Seaside location, they actually threw in the whale watching phenomenon at no extra cost.