Monday, August 12, 2013

Gearhart Beach

Gearhart Beach

Let's say that you are broiling in the summer heat in Portland Oregon, in the height of the very wonderful Oregon Summer (last 2 weeks of July, first 2 weeks of August) and you decide that you need an emergency escape to the beach. It is 90 degree's in Portland. You air conditioners have been going continuously for 2 weeks. What is the first thing you should pack?

  1. Bathing suit
  2. Sun Screen
  3. Mid-Weight Fleece.

If you picked #3, you are a Winner !!!

View Gearhart by the sea in a larger map

It pretty much doesn't matter how hot it is in Portland, when you cross over the crest of the Tillamook coast range, you will hit the clouds and the perpetual fog and the temperature will drop. Isn't that what you wanted? You were hot and miserable and you haven't had a chance to wear your colorful and very attractive winter fleeces in weeks !! And if you are really lucky, you will get a chance to break out the gortex and take a nice rainy walk on the beach. Such bliss.

There are a lot of great camp sites on the beach. If you are interested in some camping blogs, try here cause this weekend we are staying in the upscale condo's of Gearhart by the Sea. That entire thing is the title. And don't try to ask Siri where it is, because if you say “Locate Gearhart by the Sea” she will say, “Sorry, Jon, but I can't find things that are close to landmarks”.

Can't find things close to landmarks? Everything is close to some landmark, what the hell does that mean? How does she know my name?

From Condo, Looking East (see Saddle Mt?)
From Condo looking West. (see Ocean?)

Car On Beach !!

Anyway, Gearhart by the Sea is a set of condos across the street from a McMenamin's pub (I know, what isn't?) and is a 5 story building with very nice 1 and 2 (perhaps 3?) bedroom units. These are privately owned units, so they are furnished in different styles. They each have a nice balcony, a kitchen, and ours had a wood burning stove. It was very nice. Check out the website before you rent, however, make sure you have the view you want. My partner has experience with this place so we had a VERY nice view. Such lovely fog.

Tsunami !!

Hint #1 for a successful Beach Vacation: If you bring a couple of your newly adult type offspring with you on one of these trips and you look out the window at the fog and say, “My God, this is exactly what it looks like when there is a giant Tsunami coming to wipe you out” and have said young adults run over and look out at the fog, they will not be amused. I should have sold them when they turned 6 and didn't believe I had their noses.

There are a number of things to do on the Oregon shore. We are staying in the general seaside area because there are plenty of things for people of all ages to do. There are shops and stores and malls and restaurants and boardwalks and arcades. Oh, and there is this ocean thing.... or rather this place where the salty wet stuff hits the shore... with like, finely ground up little pieces of stone all over it. It is SO COOL !! You can walk on it and lay on it and leave foot prints in it and build castles with it !! What a GREAT idea.

First.... Adventure....
My Partner really wanted to go in the water. She claims that she just can't get enough of boogie boarding. She says she gets tired, and perhaps hypothermic, but she has “had enough”. I say “sure”. But oh, she says, the water is really really cold and I don't have to go and she likes to go until she is numb and blue and it is OK if I just watch from the shore. Not completely sure what she is thinking, but there is no way I am going to let my partner go do something that she “can't get enough of” without me there, freezing my ass off with her. It just isn't in my nature. Besides, I look marvelous in Neoprene.

So we suited up and went into the rather low (but still cold) surf and had our adult offspring stand in the sand and take pictures of us. They did a good job as photographers and we old fogies had a fun time in the surf making our lips turn blue. Actually, it wasn't all that cold. I was only starting to get that burning sensation across my chest when we called it quits and walked the quarter mile back up the road to HOT TUB. Oh, yeah, make sure you get a place with a hot tub.



Also, make sure you check out the surf conditions before you head out. People drown every year out on the Oregon Coast because they underestimate the waves, or get caught in a rip tide and go hypothermic before they can get back to the shore. Today was very very moderate, and I still had an unexpected wave break on my head and knock me down in the hard sand. Hint #2: It does help a little when you finally break the surface to shake your fist at the ocean and yell, “You won't beat me, you fucker”. Make sure you partner is clear about what you were yelling at, once she stops laughing.

For an easy adventure for the less freezing water inclined, I recommend a side trip into downtown Seaside. I have driven past this place like 4 times and never knew it was there. The main drag (route 101) just doesn't go through the town (probably because of the big headland right there) so you have to take a turn toward the beach and cross Necanicum (pronounced Necanicum) river to get to the run part of town. What I might be tempted to call the boardwalk, though it is really still the street. There you will find all the little shops and pubs and restaurants and tattoo parlors that you little heart could desire. Some things:
  1. A carousel for the kiddies. Lots of fun stores around it.
  2. Oh, a hat store !! I like hats ! One of our young adults got a very becoming red number there. I like red hats.
  3. A 50's style soda fountain, with over 50 kinds of soda. 10 that they make themselves !! Have a root beer float !!
  4. Ice cream Parlor with handmade ice cream. They only take cash!! That is the green stuff with pictures of old men on it.
  5. A penny arcade. That doesn't take pennies!! Or any cash. All of the games play off of these credit cards that you load up and then play. When you leave, give your not quite empty card to some young mom trying to keep her child amused. A cheap random act of kindness.
  6. Doogers. A fun restaurant with very good seafood. I had the seafood sampler because I couldn't make up my mind. My partner got the fillet wrapped in bacon. Dangit, I should have gotten that.
  7. The oriental store. They have samurai swords. And jade Buddha.
  8. Did I already mention the Arcade? I forgot to mention DDR. Now I know you are thinking “What does Double Data Rate Dynamic memory have to do with a trip to the Oregon Coast? This is very entriguing. Must explore this more. Perhaps he will explain the the mystery of CLK to CTL training and DQ DQS timing”. Well, Sorry, but what I am talking about is Dance Dance Revolution. The exciting and sliming skill and anime based game that is taking the the country by storm.... about 5 years ago. I was lucky enough to watch 2 sets of DDR players On the Pad. The first set were DDR NEO types and there were 4 girls doing the same pad (A front girl, a left girl, a right girl, and a back girl). But after they were done one of our newly minted adults got on the game grid and showed everyone HOW IT WAS DONE. She was something of a DDR Goddess. I don't think I could ever do it, but she did show me why many people think it is so much fun.
  9. There was this one store that my partner really wanted to go to and it was closed. But I am assured that it was wonderful and had lots of wonderful stuff. I saw very pretty knives and jewelry and brass kaleidoscopes. I am sure I could have spent money there if only it had been open. I tried to look up the name of the place, but can you believe that google maps drive by hasn't mapped the roads in seaside yet? So strange.
  10. Peddle cars. Rent one. See God.

Hat Store
My Secret is out

Another cool thing about this beach is that right at Gearhart, you can access the beach in your car (your 4 wheel drive road-legal vehicle) and DRIVE ON THE BEACH !!. LEGALLY !!! How cool is that. People just take a bunch of wood and drive down the beach till they are alone and light a fire and enjoy the evening. Watch the tide. This may be why this is the only stretch of Oregon beach that I have ever seen that has no drift wood on it. I am assuming that all of the drift wood has been cut up and hauled off in the cars that are legally driving on the beach. We ourselves drove onto the beach at Gearhart and then got off again several miles down the way near some golf course and country club. But I guess you can drive north almost to the Columbia River.

Out driving on the beach

The other thing you do on this beach is to walk along it as the tide recedes and look for sand dollars. The stuff store in Seaside sells sand dollars for $1.25 a piece (that Is a 25 cent profit). So just image how much you can make picking up sand dollars for FREE just sitting there in the ocean. We got 10's of them!! There were also lots and lots of dead crabs. We didn't pick those up. Perhaps if dead crabs were called sand diamonds the beach would be cleaner.

A Sand 75 Cent piece.

Oh, someone DOES pick up the dead crabs.

We had a little sun, A little rain, A glorious Orange Sunset, and some good sand walking. Life is good.

On our way home we stopped in Cannon Beach. I have been in Cannon Beach for lunch coming back from a hike or something, but have never taken the time to visit the many art galleries there. We took said time today and were very impressed. My son and I like to go to art museums. We have been to them in Portland, Tokyo, San Francisco, and Charleston. We sort of like the Cannon Beach art galleries better than those other places. The art was fun and pretty and much of it was even affordable. And they could put out only good stuff and not have to include a room from the artists “BLUE” phase where he only painted blue and purple rectangles on metric canvases in the 2 meter range. We were particularly fond of the Dragonfly Gallery.

We did all of this vacationing on week days. So we probably avoided much of the crowd. But you could probably do the same by visiting in November. Do you have really warm waterproof clothing?

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