Category Archives: pacific northwest

taking the long way

If the last couple of months illustrate anything it’s that I’ve been “taking the long way” around. The reason my site has been silent since late May is that I’ve been traveling nearly non-stop for the past two months. The bad news is that I’ve had no time to document all of my adventures. The good news is that August is looking much more mellow and I’ll be able to catch up and share details about some amazing places with you. In the meantime, I wanted to provide a little preview about what’s to come!

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The Oregon Coast in winter is full of drama and I feel like I’ve had a front row seat these past few months. Though not by design I’ve been fortunate to spend three wonderful weekends in Gearhart, a quiet little town on the northern Oregon coast. Twice for weekends with my girlfriends and a third to help my friend Ted celebrate his birthday. We saw and felt rain, sun, intense winds, high surf, low tides, plenty of wine, and incredible food. Each Sunday, as I drove back to Portland, my soul felt rested and full. That is the gift of the Oregon Coast.

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Here’s my recipe for a perfect weekend in Gearhart:

Arrive at the coast in the mid to late afternoon, checking the tide tables so your first walk on the beach can coincide with the timing of low tide as the day’s light is fading.

Drink cocktails by the fire, cook an amazing dinner with friends, and then talk and laugh until your head hits the pillow.

Wake-up early for a sunrise walk on the beach. You might be able to catch razor clam diggers hard at work during low tide. Gearhart possess some of the best razor clam digging on the coast, whose season runs from October to July.

Pick up the morning paper and read it while you’re drinking the best coffee and pastries in town at the Pacific Way Bakery and Cafe.

Fill the afternoon with bike rides, naps, reading, and more walks on the beach… depending on the ever changing winter coast weather. We would wait until the sun began peaking out or the winds died down before quickly taking advantage and heading out. However, if the weather refuses to cooperate, heading into nearby Seaside to buy salt water taffy or taste a pronto pup (the best version of a corn dog) is always a good alternative.

Include one of Oregon’s delicacies – fresh Dungeness crab – in your dinner plans for your last night. So if you make your way to Seaside then be sure to pick up fresh-caught crab at Bell Buoy. The timing for dinner is critical since it shouldn’t conflict with an evening walk on the beach at low tide, especially if there’s a chance to see the sun set over the Pacific Ocean at the same time. That shouldn’t be missed!

If you’re a beach comber like me then your weekend won’t be complete until you find the one perfect sand dollar to remind you of your weekend. Gearhart is the best place I’ve found to come away with the ultimate beach souvenir.

late winter light

There are those days, you know the ones, where the light is just magical. Though easy to find in the summer months, they are elusive in late winter. On this particular day the light kept changing, but was always stunning given the painterly effects it created. It made this reflection in the backyard creek come alive.

oregon coast

I know I’m not the only one who feels this way, but there’s something about the ocean – the waves, the sand, the wide-open views, the dramatic weather, the daily treasure hunt at low tide.

I’ve seen my share of oceans and coasts and definitely have my favorites – puerto vallara, singing beach and martha’s vineyard just to name a few.

But there’s something about the Oregon Coast that penetrates my soul – kind of like a first love. I guess that’s what this coast is for me – the one I fell in love with first. I spent weekends, spring breaks and whole summers at the Oregon coast, but since moving back I’ve only visited once or twice. Tragic really and something I plan to remedy.

I started with Gearhart, a small town on the northern Oregon coast, where I spent a recent weekend with a bunch of friends at a beautiful historic home perched next to the dunes. I could have stayed for another week or month, but even those few days made me fall in love all over again.

timberline lodge

I used to head up to Timberline every winter Saturday morning when I was little to take ski lessons on the slopes of Mt. Hood. By the middle of the afternoon I’d sneak into the lodge, drink hot cocoa by the fire and hang out with the big ‘ol St. Bernards that roamed the halls. Those days are long behind me, but I can still head up the mountain and curl up by the fire with a cup of hot cocoa (this time spiked with a little peppermint schnapps) and enjoy the wintry wonderland perfectly framed through the big glass windows.

the drive up the mountain
the lodge
ram’s head bar – home of their famous hot cocoa & peppermint schnapps
st. bernard puppies


So apparently this was the last Natefest – the annual weekend away that encircles Nate’s birthday which he organizes for close friends.

Natefest has a long and illustrious past dating back a couple decades and since moving back to Portland I’ve been honored to be invited. But this – the year Nate turned 40 – was supposedly his last. I say supposedly because there’s a glimmer of hope that the tradition will continue next year… especially after the high we all felt following a magical weekend at Silcox Hut on Mt. Hood.

Fittingly, Silcox Hut also enjoys a long and illustrious past. It was built in the 1930s at the same time as the famed Timberline Lodge (used for exterior shots in The Shining and one of the nation’s great lodges). Silcox Hut was initially built as a small day lodge that housed the mechanics for the magic mile chairlift (the second chairlift ever built in the United States). In the 1980s Silcox Hut was rehabilitated and converted into a lodge that could accommodate small groups overnight – replete with comfy bunks, modern plumbing, yummy food, and a snowcat ride from Timberline. It’s Oregon’s highest hotel at 7000 feet.