Post-Vaccination Vacation: Mai Tai Tom’s Oregon Trail TaleCHAPTER SEVEN: SEEING THE LIGHT ON THE Oregon COAST
Day Eight: A Devil Of A Stop, Perpetua Problem, Thor She Doesn’t Blow, Picturesque Perambulation, Haunted, Light At The End Of The Trail, Restaurant Shut Out, A&W, Bah Humbug, Dennis Weaver Time, You’re A Wreck, Sticky Situation Without The Toffee, Gone With The Wind, Spinners & Meeting Our Waterloo
On our final day and night in Oregon, the morning started with a knock on the door. It was room service delivering us quiche, potatoes, blueberry bread, oatmeal, yogurt and fruit. Did I tell you how much I loved this hotel? Of course, at this moment, I had no idea that less than eight hours from now I’d be in a “life or death” Duel with a truck (mini-foreshadowing). To walk off some of those delicious calories, we decided to take a morning stroll along the 804 trail outside the hotel. We made sure to be careful.
To say it was brisk would be a massive understatement, but it was so beautiful that the cold weather became just an afterthought.
The intermittent flower power of this area stood out, as well.
After taking a seat overlooking this sensational seascape …
… it was time to depart the equally spectacular Overleaf Lodge and Spa.
As we finished the walk, I wondered if there was a witch who lived beyond this gate.Kim and Mary were not far behind, and we had made arrangements to meet at the nearby Devil’s Churn, which is not a butter factory. Devil’s Churn, we had read, is where “you can watch the crashing waves and the dramatic churning action of the ocean inside the wave carved inlet that is called Devil’s Churn.” Unfortunately, as you see on the right, when the tide is out, there’s really no churning going on to witness.
Next stop was going to be a scenic lookout from Cape Perpetua. Kim and Mary had gone ahead, while I missed the turnout, and instead arrived at Cook’s Chasm. Luckily, Kim took a couple of photos so we could see what we missed due to our directionally challenged driver.
Known as the “drainpipe of the Pacific,” Thor’s Well (“Gate To Hell”) is at its best during high tide, too. Water can shoot as high as 20 feet in the air, and if you’re not careful, you could be swept away by the huge waves. We started the short walk down to the viewpoint.
It is from down below the viewpoint one must be careful not to get to close to the giant waves.
As you can see, we were in no such danger, as the tide was out. The same with Spouting Horn, which is an “ocean geyser” where “incoming waves funnel sea water and air into the cave, building pressure until the water explodes in a geyser-like fountain.” Oh well, next time we’ll check the tide charts beforehand.
At least the views from the walk back up to the highway were nice.
The Cook’s Chasm Bridge is the replacement for the original that was constructed in the early 1930s. The new bridge was built in 2003.
Heading down the coast, we stopped for a couple of photos at Brays Point, where we got a birds-eye view.
This photo shows the clouds hanging over Heceta Head where we would be heading next.
Well, at least after one more scenic ocean rock.
Our car pulled into the parking area at the Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint at about the same time as Kim and Mary. Supposedly this is one of the best places in Oregon to spot whales. No whales today.
We looked up and saw a large houseThe hike up to the lighthouse is an easy 1/2 mile trek through salal (“an evergreen plant with glossy, waxy foliage”) meadows and spruce groves.
We looked out to Devil’s Elbow, which got its name due to its “devilish currents that confounded early mariners.”
There are a number of places to stop and take pictures, which we did.
Haceta Head is named after Don Bruno de Heceta. In 1775 he undertook a “secret voyage for the Queen of Spain to sail up the west coast.” Scurvy scuttled at the entire journey, but during the voyage Heceta took note of this area that now bears his name. About a 1/2 mile up from the parking lot, we realized that the “large house” was the Heceta Head B&B, the former Assistant Lightkeepers House (Heceta Light). Constructed in 1894 it is now a historical landmark. Oh, and a ghost lives there, too.
According to Haunted Rooms America, “The ghost believed to be living in the keeper’s house is that of a woman named Rue. She is described as having silver hair and she is always seen wearing a long, dark dress. According to legends, she is the wife of a past lightkeeper, or the mother of a girl who fell on the cliffs and died.
“It is said that Rue does not like her home being disturbed by others. When volunteers were painting the house, fire alarms kept going off. One of the workers even had to get up to make sure that there was no fire. Once he made sure that there was no fire, he went back to bed, but the alarm went off again. This time he removed the battery, but oddly enough the alarm kept going off.”
The Register Guard adds this tidbit of ghost lore. “Probably the most startling encounter with Rue was reported by the Siuslaw News in 1975. Workman Jim Anderson was cleaning a window in the house’s attic and noticed an odd reflection in the glass. He swung around and saw an apparition of an elderly woman wearing a late-Victorian-style gown, according to the report. Anderson fled the house and didn’t return for several days. When he returned to work on the house’s exterior — he refused to go in the attic — he accidentally broke an attic widow. He repaired it from the outside and left the broken glass on the attic floor.
That night, the house caretakers were awakened by scraping sounds in the attic. They said it sounded like someone sweeping broken glass, although they hadn’t learned yet about the broken window. The next morning they found the glass swept into a neat pile, according to the report. Anderson said one guest recalled that she and her husband were relaxing in the parlor one afternoon when she saw a gray figure float across the hallway near the base of the stairs to the second-floor bedrooms.”
I’m sure Anderson would forever Rue the day he broke that window. Hey wait, how did this photo get in here?! We scurried up the trail toward the lighthouse.
In 1892, two years before the Keepers House was built, just like a Motel Six, Heceta Lighthouse kept the light on to help ships navigate the area around Heceta Head.
Due to Covid protocol, we were not allowed to climb the 56-foot lighthouse at the end of the bluff.
Unlike all the other lighthouses in Oregon (and ones I’ve seen in California) that use lenses made in France, Heceta Head’s lens comes from England. It’s rated as the “strongest light on the Oregon coast.” This view is from a trail that rises near the lighthouse.
The historic bridge that spans Highway 101 here is called the Cape Creek Bridge. For a minute, looking at this bridge made me think of the Pont du Gard on our 2016 France trip.
That’s because it was designed and built in 1932 to resemble a Roman aqueduct. It’s also on the Register of Historic Places.
At different vantage points from Devil’s Elbow Beach (lots of devils in this part of Oregon) on up to the lighthouse, we also caught glimpses of and Parrot Rock and Conical Rock adjacent to Heceta Head.
There are also a few spots along the trail to stop and take in the the views.
However, it was time to get back on the road and leave this beautiful place.I had thought a stop at Sea Lion Caves, which we found out is “America’s Largest Sea Cave,” would be a unique experience. Sadly on this day, it also included America’s Longest Line To See a A Sea Lion Cave, so we roared away.As we headed into Florence I thought some pasta might do the trick, but then I remembered this was the “other” Florence. The four of us were all hungry, but it seemed every other person on the Oregon coast was also hungry on a gorgeous afternoon. Restaurants were packed. So what do you do in this situation? Go to a famous chain that I had not dined at in more than 40 years … A&W, baby! When I was a DJ in the Antelope Valley the late 70s, I couldn’t wait to get off my morning drive shift and head to A&W for a Mama or Papa Burger, and the incredible root beer floats.
There was no Mama Burger, but the Original Bacon Cheeseburger was tremendous, and that float … just like I remembered.
Meanwhile, Kim and Mary picked up lunch at Safeway. I think they should have stuck around for the A&W food.
Heading down the coast we ran into some sand dunes (once again, not literally), and other random sights.