Sunday, August 8, 2010

Let There Be Lighthouses

My brother, my friend Hayley, and I just got back from Oregon last night after an epic road trip that took almost sixteen hours and ended with bumper-to-bumper traffic through Los Angeles. It wasn't the best way to end a great trip, but I won't let it ruin any memories for me, which will be posted in installments on here, for your reading pleasure.

The Oregon coast is so beautiful and relaxing. My parents' house is in the city of Waldport, population 2050. (No Starbucks!) The house is ten minutes from the ocean and does not have any TVs. There are only beds and a couch, which creates a clutter-free, simple, peaceful setting. When you open the windows you feel the cool ocean breeze and hear the waves crashing. There's been incredible serenity to every trip I've taken up there. It's a setting that encourages lavender bubble baths, long Scrabble games, and hours of know, like real vacation. My trips are usually packed with destinations and expectations--there's so much sight-seeing, so many museums, and hours of hoofing it all over cities....and as much as I enjoy it, it's exhausting. Last week, I experienced an actual vacation, without agendas or alarm clocks. And it was awesome.

The central coast has its pristine white-sand beaches, but there are a lot of cliffs and rocky and forested parts as well. There are regular little turn-outs off the 101 to encourage picture taking and inspire awe of the beautiful scenery and historic landmarks.

Because of the jagged and rocky coastline, there have been many lighthouses built on the coast over the years. We were able to visit two:

Yaquina (pronounced Ya-KWIN-uh) is the tallest of Oregon's lighthouses and was built in the 1870's (and is still a working lighthouse!). Hayley and I waited in line to walk up the cast-iron spiral staircase to the top to see the lens of the light. The lighthouse is beautifully preserved and the views of the coast from the cliffs on which the lighthouse stands are so pretty, although it was not too clear when we visited. We just hung out and let the moist air whip through our hair and enjoyed listening to the waves crash on the rocks below us.

My calves were burning after all these stairs....

The stair master.

Lens of the lighthouse.

The second lighthouse we visited is my favorite. Heceta Head Lighthouse has the strongest light on the Oregon coast--it blasts 21 miles out to sea! Legend has it that this is also a haunted lighthouse. It's located in a gorgeous state park and requires a little hike to visit.

Hiking in TOMS (and with a hidden latte)...because I can.

The easy hike to the lighthouse is about a half mile, and with each step the views of the southern coast were prettier and prettier...

Forest near the sea's cliffs. (I thought I saw a vampire, but no...)

View of the beach where we started as we ascended the cliff where the lighthouse was.

There she is!

Okay, so we're covering most of the lighthouse in this pic. But it's there!

On our way down the cliff, we took a less traveled trail down to some tidepools and rocks, and ended up almost being swallowed by the incoming tide. (Oh, the perilous sea...)

More to come of our Oregon adventures...

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