NORTHERN OREGON COAST
A neighboring state to Washington is our good friend, Oregon. As a kid I grew up with long summer trips down along the Oregon coast for weeks on end. Now grown and making my own trips, I’m constantly lured back to the forests and cliffs built right up to the sea, and the thick fog that lingers until burnt off by the sun. It always seems like a new, yet familiar, mystery while winding through the turns and corners of this section of HWY 101.
Most trips I don’t have any set goal other than to let go of any burdens and negativity, and instead focus on the positive aspects of what’s in front of me. However, I chose to take both surfboards with me and aim to surf every day while on the coast. I had a gap in my life where I found myself distancing myself from my outdoor activities that have, essentially, shaped who I have become. Since then, I also remind myself of a loose quote I heard a while back that has stuck: “You don’t stop surfing because you grow old; you grow old because you stop surfing.” Insert whatever you love to do, and you take away the grand idea that you will remain young as long as you continue to do what makes you feel young.
With a rare Saturday start to an adventure, we depart Seattle super early to gain a head-start down I-5. The first day was working our way through the ‘heart’ of Oregon; cutting West around Eugene and out to the coast. We arrive at Florence about mid-day and already see the overwhelming amount of ORV’s and flagged vehicles hanging out of trucks and trailers. This area is very well known for its massive amount of dunes and the ability to drive on designated areas along the coast. We head straight to the jetty to find the local surf break, uninterested in this scene. The state park is mainly paved, but the road to the jetty quickly transitions from dirt to sand to large rocks. Having the truck and more than enough clearance, we’re able to crawl our way to the end of the road and find a spot to park. After waiting for the tide to rise, I hit the water a few hours before sunset and share some waves with a Eugene local. The remainder of the evening is spent soaking in the last rays before the sun disappears and cracking the first beer of the trip.
Morning comes fast and I choose to pack just as quickly. I have a mission to reach a section of dunes before they get filled with the weekend-warriors waking from their vacation slumber. Hiking to the top of an area, I am able to enjoy some warm air, cold sand, and a morning breath of salty sea air. There is no better environment to tire a dog out either, and Theo is more than content digging his paws into the sand by running up and down the dunes nonstop.
The remainder of the morning is spent on a short drive to Newport - making a few stops along the way at various state parks and highway pull-offs. This section of the drive is the most unfamiliar to me of the trip, as I haven’t been on it in a long time. It has a balanced blend of softer cliffs mixed with the dense forests that the majority of the Oregon coast is lined with
The first surf check at Newport is at the South Jetty, a spot just South of the city that can have a smaller crowd and mellow break. With nothing exciting happening in the water, I make a decision to cruise through town and check out a couple of the more Northern breaks. The second surf check is at Agate Beach, arguably the most popular break in this area. With a small forecast along the entire Oregon Coast, I decide that this location is my best bet. I suit up, grab the soft top, and have a surprisingly fun session.
From Agate Beach, I work my way North, stopping at a couple popular destinations including Devil’s Punchbowl and Depoe Bay. In anticipation of avoiding touristy areas, I only hang around for a short amount of time before I make my way to Lincoln City. Feeling exhausted, I find an easy campground, stock up on firewood, and spend the evening around a campfire with my journal and a local IPA.
One of my favorite features of my Roof Top Tent is the setup and takedown speed. I’m able to wake up, pack up, and still find time for coffee within 15-20 minutes… and that’s dragging my feet around the camp site. I sneak out of the campground at a good time, and make a beeline for Pacific City to get a surf in before the wind picks up.
Plowing through the loose sand in 4WD, I make my way to the South end of the beach, distancing myself from the entrance. Now, there’s something about this intimate surf check that strikes a very positive vibe in me. Parked 30-feet from the hide tide, listening to and watching the dory boats rip in and out of the bay, I’m about to sit on the back of my truck with Theo off leash; both of us enjoying what’s right in front of us. With a few strides through the sand and a meditative paddle out to the line, I immediately find myself in a grounded mindset in the waves.
While I love taking photos and capturing these moments on trips like these, my camera is kept in my bag for the remainder of this trip. I met up with my parents and sister in Manzanita, and got caught up in the moment for the next few days. While it was completely involuntary, it has been gratifying to know that I intentionally put myself in the moment to experience something we get less and less of as we grow up. But. We hit all the good spots: Smuggler’s Cove, shopping, kiting, and (in our household) the legendary Left Coast for burritos