Oregon - Cannon Beach
Part 1 of 5
I've never taken two vacations in one year in my entire life. So when I tell you about my second vacation this year - to Oregon - I speak with great humility that my current life situation allowed for so much travel.
My great friend Diana and I jumped on a plane to the Pacific Northwest for her birthday and a week of n-a-t-u-r-e. We joked about how most people take vacations to relax on the beach and sightsee, while our vacation consisted of jam-packed days filled with some of the hardest hikes either of us have ever taken. There was lots of sweating and working our bodies to exhaustion by 7 p.m. Throughout the week, we probably spent less than 25% of our time indoors.
And that's exactly how we wanted it.
Oregon has it all: large bodies of water, forests, mountains, waterfalls, volcanoes. We explored each one. Our first stop? The Pacific Coast.
For Diana's birthday, she wanted to explore Cannon Beach. This small, coastal city is home to Haystack Rock, of The Goonies fame. While very tourist-heavy, this is a must-see in Oregon. The HUGE rocks protruding from the water (seriously, the pictures make them look much smaller) felt like something out of a fantasy world.
Another fantasy of mine? The ocean. This was my first time stepping in the Pacific Ocean. It was cold and refreshing and made me feel connected to every other ocean and every other country and every other person who has ever let its waves break upon them.
Where the ocean meets the sand, there were tons of tide pools filled with starfish, anemones, and other sea creatures. To be honest, they kind of grossed me out. But it was amazing to see these critters living and thriving in an environment not seen in Wisconsin.
The beach was also filled with puffins, jelly fish, crabs, and sand dollars. It was a delight. Each animal, us included, was using the ocean and its surroundings to feel safe, happy and at home.
Talk. about. fantastical.
As we hiked through mossy trees and lush, dense foliage, I felt like I could live there forever. The moss was so soft and the trees were so tall and the trail was so welcoming. I think we saw every shade of green ever created or imagined.
But don't think this hike was easy. It was excruciating. We hiked uphill on the Clatsop Loop Trail for miles. We accidentally started on the side of the loop that is almost straight uphill with no switchbacks or places to stop and take a break. It was tough, but the view from the top was worth it.
While exploring up there, we bumped into a friendly Canadian woman named Renee. She was on a solo vacation and the three of us ended up hiking back down the trail together. We told stories of past vacations, enjoyed the hazy Oregon air, and made soft plans to one day meet up at a Canada National Park.
After a long day of exploring, we ended the day with ice cream.
I could have ended the vacation there and been happy. For a first full day, Oregon had already made a huge impression on my heart. It was like a fantasy world, and we had so much more to see...