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The Oregon Coast

September 17, 2010

Driving along US 101 North

In California, we have often traveled up and down the famed PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) from Napa in the North to Big Sur, Los Angeles and beyond in the South, but never ventured too much further. We had always heard that the Oregon Coast is equally if not far more beautiful than the California beaches, and so we decided to plan a road-trip along the coast across the three states – California, Oregon and Washington, to take in the beauty of the Pacific coastline and drive all the way up to our destination Olympic National Park in Washington. This promised to be an exciting and unique road trip! It was definitely a dream trip for K who had always wanted to drive up on Highway 1 and US 101 all the way up North till the border of USA and Canada. It was important to us to not rush on getting to the destination and instead do a relaxing drive and take in all the beauty of the coastline and spend time at the beaches and quaint seaside towns.

Looking back, our itinerary turned out to be –

Day 1 – Set out in the evening. Drive along PCH / Oregon Coast. (Night at Eureka)

Day 2 – Drive along Oregon Coast / all day at the beaches. (Night at Seaside)

Day 3 – Reach Olympic National Park by noon. Setup camp and explore (Kalaloch, Beaches, Hoh Rainforest)

Day 4 – All day in Olympic National Park (Setup camp at Lake Crescent, nearby hikes, Sol Duc Falls)

Day 5 – In Olympic National Park till afternoon. (Hurricane Ridge, Port Angeles) Drive to Portland. Night at Eugene.

Day 6 – Drive back from Eugene to Bay Area.

Day 1 – We set out from California at 5PM PST after a hectic day’s work. Ahh, the feeling of all the workday stress melting away as we distanced ourselves from our urban lives is amazing. Greedily breathing in the fresh air, looking towards the endless horizon,  thinking of the next 5 days being all ours to spend as we wish! Our goal was to reach a nearby seaside town by night, so we drove till the quaint town of Eureka and that was our first pitstop.

Day 2 – Up early and all pumped up with adrenalin to hit the road again! We drove through the impressive Klamath National Forest and Redwood National Parks and with this we crossed over from California to Oregon! One cannot help but gape with wonder at all the tall stately trees which are hundreds and thousands of years old. Inside the redwood forests, lushness and dense greenery and a sense of centuries of time having passed by, is everywhere. Tall cedar trees flank the roads on either side. There are countless short hikes one could take for a quick stroll in the woods. We stopped at a few places to admire the redwoods and craned our necks till they were sore. Tall, majestic, timeless. Redwoods are truly “ambassadors of another time”. We lost count of the number of beaches we saw! Every time we saw an exit for a beach, we took it! This unhurried and unplanned style of travel made it feel like a real vacation. We did not have to get to any place for any thing other than just wanting to be there. We had an entire day to do as we pleased, as long as we got to close enough to Washington. There was no rush to catch a flight, or check in to a hotel or show up for some reserved activity. We afforded ourselves the time to do whatever we felt like doing at that moment, and it felt wonderful!

We spent a lazy afternoon at Harris beach and picnicked with sandwiches for lunch by the sea. One had to only walk down a few steps or take a gently sloping path to some gorgeously beautiful and pristine sandy sunny beaches. The rock outcroppings added unexpected drama to the coastline. California beaches do not have many of these cliffs arising from the sea, but Oregon Coast is filled with these in all shapes and sizes! Being a weekday, we were the only two people around for miles and miles on the beach. It felt like all the world belonged to us! The weather gods were smiling upon us too. The day couldn’t have been more perfect. Warm sun, cool breeze and salty seaspray from the ice-cold pacific. Dipping our toes in the icy water sent chills down our spine and raised goosebumps on our skin, but that didn’t stop us! After a day well spent in the sun and sand, we reached the town of Seaside. Calling ahead to make sure they have accommodations available was reassuring. Seaside is approx a 4 hour drive away from the south entrance to Olympic National Park.

Day 3 – Revitalized with some drive-through coffee, we entered Washington in no time! Woohoo! We passed countless quaint towns with names like Aberdeen and Crescent City all along the coast. US 101  reaches Olympic and does a complete U-turn all around the national park by becoming US 101 East and South respectively. The GPS is indispensable, but the road atlas came in very handy too! Our plan was to get into Olympic National Park by noon and set up camp for the night.  That way we would have half the day to start exploring the park. Watch out for the next post on our adventures inside Olympic amongst the mountains, beaches and rainforests!


From → Oregon Coast, USA

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