07/30/11 This post almost didn't happen as the trip was local and almost routine... But I always say the more I travel the more I appreciate Oregon. As I found myself constantly thinking of the experience I realized that it was worth a writeup afterall, even in retrospect.
The occasion was M's birthday - these days with the business we don't get a chance to get away much so while I wanted to do something cool it had to be relatively nearby. After some deliberation, I chose a destination - Heceta Head Light House B&B about 3 hours drive down the coast. Lighthouses have always been of interest to me (cool engineering-wise and architecturally, and scenic by definition). On top of that the B&B is widely believed to be haunted and offers a seven-course gourmet breakfast in the morning. What more can one ask.
On the way down we took the boring but relatively quick route, leaving Portland via I-5 around noon and arriving in time for check in just past 3 pm. The goal is not to think about work for 24 hours and so the laptops stayed at home. Lack of cell service, spectacular views, perfect weather and the sound of surf below all combined to flip the mental switch and let us just be in the evening-long moment. Very much needed, this.
This place really does disconnect you from time and daily life. Not as much as it did back when it was first built (the guided tour of the lighthouse goes into the history and it's quite fascinating), but it works even now. The sun takes a long time to set and it's cool to watch the lightouse from the B&B's front porch as the light becomes more and more visible in the growing darkness.
At night we leave the window open to let the ocean breeze and the sound of the surf in. During the night we didn't get to see any ghosts, sadly, although the door did open for us all on its own a couple times as we were about to leave the room. It was a bit startling the first time but convenient - if that's the work of ghosts they are very thoughtful! :)
The seven-course breakfast in the morning is amazing and fully lives up to expectations. It was M's first B&B experience but we participated reasonably well in the social aspect of the meal, though I remember the food much better than the conversation. Afterwards a tour of the lighthouse - the lens and the mechanism are very cool. It used to be lit by a kerosene lamp and powered by weights, like a grandfather clock. The weights had to be hauled up the stairs every 4 hours but the kerosene could be filled for the day. Eventually everything was switched to electricity and is now on 24-7. The lens consists of dozens of individual prisms and it's impressive to contemplate that this is 19th century technology still at work.
On the way back we first headed south to check out the dunes. A very different environment from anything else in the state. A lot of work to scramble up and down the towering piles of sand on foot but various vehicles seem to make quick work of it. Apparently sandboarding is a thing - much like snowboarding except on sand. Didn't try it but looks fun. This is a place we'll come back to as a separate trip. And eventually we'll do a car that would be at home here - oops, that's a work thought but it's been 24 hours already :)
After the dunes it's time to go north, with a brief stop in Newport to check out the aquarium and grab a bite on the bay. The aquarium is relatively small but has a few neat exhibits. I didn't get a picture of the octopus which is one of the cool critters here, but did get a snapshot of the anaconda.
This trip has reminded me how much of Oregon I still haven't seen. We've got volcanos, ocean, sand dunes, forests, rivers, waterfalls, desert, lava fields - all within a few hours drive. Should make it a point to experience more of it.