Stop. Rewind. Do it again. I wish we had a time machine.
Unfortunately, to my amazement and disappointment, there’s no such thing. (Weird)
All that’s left to remind us of our road trip are thousands of pictures, a broken hot water tank in the travel trailer and a leaking gas tank on the truck that’s making a bit of a mess on our driveway right now.
I would love to pretend that everything went without a hitch, but that would make life pretty darn boring. There were nights where we laughed out loud around the campfire listening to the kid's stories after being apart for 4 weeks and then there were times when stress levels went into high gear. Running extremely low on gas with not a gas station in sight can do that to a person. And this happened twice...
The trip started off with a 6 hour drive to Wenatchee, WA. I can’t really say much more than that about Wenatchee. We drove in, set up our trailer and left the next morning to head onto Olympia, WA.
On the way to Olympia, we stopped in Liberty, WA, a ghost town. Thank goodness we didn’t try to make it there to get gas. We had a little debate about the whole ghost town status as there are still several residents in Liberty, a permanent flea market, a small fire hall and some houses with manicured lawns. There is no gas station though or schools for that matter. I guess it’s truly a ghost town.
Olympia is cool to spend a day exploring. But it was definitely more a layover until the ‘real’ trip started for us.
2 days later we packed up and finally headed to the Oregon Coast. Everyone was excited to leave behind the smokey skies from the fires in the Okanagan Valley of BC and Washington State and get to the sunny coast.
Our small gang erupted in cheers when Google Maps proudly announced ‘Welcome to Oregon’ as we crossed the Astoria-Megler Bridge.
Everyone has said it a million times, Oregon Coast is gorgeous. There is no doubt it is. It’s stunning. It’s also geared towards tourists. Which I have a love-hate relationship with because I’m not a huge fan of crowds. Nonetheless, some sights that are very ‘touristy’ are so for a reason and are definitely worth seeing.
The Astoria Shipwreck was one place that is definitely worth stopping at, plus it was our first stop at one of Oregon’s beaches. Probably also one of the busier beaches we visited. You can roll in, take some pictures in front of the shipwreck, play in the ocean and roll out. 30 minutes max. Guaranteed. Then you’re making your way to your next destinations, in our case, this was Cannon Beach for two nights!
We didn’t leave our home with a set schedule, all we had done was book our RV sites along the way and made a rough list of things we wanted to see and do.
Fort Stevens wasn’t on our list but it’s a fascinating place. With just minutes to spare we made the tour that takes you into the underground bunkers with tour guides who could tell you stories about the place for days.
After the tour at Fort Stevens, it was time to get to our campsite at Cannon Beach RV Resort.
I have to say, Cannon Beach is tourist galore! Haystack Rock was phenomenal to see and busy. Head in early if you like to avoid crowds. It makes for way better pictures too.
A far more interesting beach to visit is at Hug Point State Park, which we visited the following day. Here you will find an old road that literally ‘hugs’ the side of a cliff. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, many of the beaches on the Oregon Coast were used as highways to access all the towns along the coast. In the Late 19th century stagecoaches that used the beach as a highway had to 'hug' this particular point to get around it even at low tide. It was a crazy sight to see and at low tide, you’ll also find many little caves in the cliff faces that both kids and adults will love exploring.
We easily spent a few hours at this beach and then made our way to Indian Beach in Ecola State Park which is known for having the most amazing views of the Oregon Coast.
Yes, we knew beforehand that we wouldn’t see that much in the way of scenery due to the fog, but the park was still worth visiting!
The rest of the day was spent on our bicycles in Cannon Beach. The main street of Cannon Beach was packed with people! It was literally swarming. All the shopping is geared towards tourists and littered with inflated prices. Anyone looking for Birkenstock's for $160 US? Regular $120 CAD? Cannon Beach is the place to go.
Nevertheless, it’s a great way to spend a few hours and walk around the town. Plus, If you’re up for it head back on a Wednesday night and you’ll find a ghost town with one bar/restaurant open past 9 pm.
After two days in Cannon Beach, we were on to our next stop, Waldport/Newport KOA Campground. By this time we knew the fog wasn’t leaving us.
If you’re up for it, stop at the Tillamook Cheese Factory. Again, 30 min max. Guaranteed. And grab some ice cream. The cheese is good, but I’m a Dutch girl and nothing has topped Dutch cheese so far, plus, we already had a block of cheese in the trailer. The Tillamook Air Museum is also worth stopping at. The history of this place is pretty amazing and the kids will love it.
Newport is definitely one for the books. It’s still a real fishing town! Nothing like Cannon Beach, which seems to have been built up to attract tourists. In Newport you’ll find locals and visitors crabbing off the docks, the smell of fish will never leave you and watching the sea lions on the docs is quite entertaining.
Getting up early and avoiding the crowds is how we roll. I’m sure my stepkids loved us for it... In downtown Newport, we avoided all the crows in the morning until we headed to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse.
Want to see the inside of the lighthouse? Book ahead! All tours were full that day. We went there on a whim and booked nothing ahead of time. The only reason we had really gone there was to see the park and visit Cobble Beach.
On the other hand,
You can also cross your fingers, enter the visitor's center and make a sly comment to the park ranger ‘so I hear that all tours are full for the day’ - his response to me? “Actually, we just had a cancellation of 4!”.
Book your tour people! The history of these lighthouses is very interesting. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be a wife of a lighthouse keeper back in those days.
We made our way to Thor’s Well, which is just a short 20-minute drive from where we were staying. All that day we were running around from downtown Newport to the lighthouse and back to Thor’s well and therefore running a little late. I’m sure that we missed the spectacle by just half an hour or so.
On our way to our last destination on the Oregon Coast, we realized that there would be one day of sunshine! After 3 days in the smoke and 4 days in the fog, we were ready for some sunshine.
The Sea Lions Cave is a once in a lifetime thing and, to us, not totally worth the money. Probably best to skip during the summer months as most sea lions are sun bathing and not as many are in the cave. At least, this was the case for us. The cave on its own is pretty sweet though. Plus, if you want to see sea lions, you can do it for free in Newport.
Sandboarding! The one thing the kids were looking forward to before we left. Just like snowboarding right? Yeah, NO. Well, a little. I have an epic video of myself trying to get down the dune in 1:30 minutes while the kids did it in 10 seconds. Eventually, you’ll get the hang of it, I promise.
The fastest we’ve set up our trailer must have been in Bullards Beach State Park. Hands down also the best campsite we stayed at. This was also the only day we had sunshine on the coast. As soon as the trailer was set up we grabbed our bicycles and headed to the beach. The waves were gnarly looking and my hubby was super sketched having the kids too close to the ocean. Rightfully so. I, in the meantime, just couldn’t believe how amazing it was to look down the coastline for miles!
THE ROUGH BREAKDOWN
Wenatchee, WA - 1 night
Olympia, WA - 2 nights
Cannon Beach, OR - 2 nights
Waldport/Newport, OR - 2 nights
Bullards Beach, OR - 2 nights
WHERE TO EAT
There are really only 2 places I will recommend to eat. Mainly because we mostly packed lunches and ate dinner at our trailer and other places were just not that awesome.
If you’re in Newport then go to Sharks Seafood Bar and Steamer. Ask to sit at the bar! This family run restaurant serves great food, but even better has amazing owners who will keep you entertained. A true mom and pop shop. And yes, it’s tiny.
Another favorite was Tony’s Crab Shack in Bandon, where we once again narrowly missed the lunchtime rush, they have some pretty good chowder!
WHAT WE WOULD’VE DONE DIFFERENTLY
If that time machine actually existed, we would book it down to the coast right away and camp in Astoria. Skipping Wenatchee and Olympia. The hillside in Astoria is littered with cute little homes overlooking the Astoria-Megler Bridge and we totally regret not spending more time there.
Cannon Beach is worth stopping at for a morning or an afternoon. That’s all you need to see the Haystack Rock and explore downtown.
Newport is a must see. Also, if you want to buy some local freshly caught fish, bring your cooler and ice! Someone also told us to ask when the fish was caught not when the boat came back. As you can imagine, fishing boats can be gone for a few days. Needles to say, we didn’t have a cooler and ice with us so didn’t end up buying anything on the docks.
Also, plan your day around the tides for Thor’s well and STICK to it. Fork over the money for crabbing, visit more state parks and go on more hikes.
Lastly, I’m also pretty bummed out that we didn’t get to see the redwood forest, which was too far south for us this time. Alas, we had to make our way to Crater Lake, Central Oregon and loop it back home. Which is something for another post!