From the long, flat sandy beaches in the south to the increasingly rugged landscapes in the north, one of my favorite pastimes is wandering the beaches of the Oregon Coast. Given that I am wind, rain and cold averse, I normally think of the Oregon coast as a summer vacation destination. My trips there have generally involved camping in the state parks and hiking the nearby trails with visits to the Newport Aquarium and seafood dinners sprinkled around the edges. The Oregon coast has always been a place to recharge my emotional and spiritual batteries; a place I return to year after year to relax and unwind.
It wasn’t until my 39th birthday that I considered a coast trip in late fall. My partner kept asking what I wanted to do to celebrate my late November birthday. Out of nowhere, a picture came to me of watching a storm blow in from the Pacific while ensconced in the cozy warmth of a beachfront hotel. I knew precisely what I wanted and found it in Manzanita. I booked a corner room in a reasonably priced hotel with an unfettered view of the ocean and a kitchenette. The gas fireplace was an unexpected bonus for which I was decidedly grateful.
The trip itself proved an adventure. We set out from Olympia, Washington on a Friday afternoon and drove through the cold gray of late autumn. We encountered snow and ice in the foothills of the coast range and dropped our speed to a crawl. Our Subaru persevered and brought us safely to Manzanita, which is an adorable little town, I had never before visited, near Cannon Beach. We brought a feast of seafood and good wine and, after a quick check-in, set about preparing the meal in our little kitchenette. The room was located on the second floor and had large windows that afforded us a perfect view of the beach directly west of us as well as a full view of the beach south to the next headland more than a mile away. The storm was magnificent, lashing our windows with first rain, then sleet and then snow. The wind howled and the surf pounded the beach in front of us. In our safe little hotel room, we felt surrounded by the awesome power of nature. The next day we spent knitting, playing board games and guitar while watching storm after storm come ashore and break on the headland to the south. We watched the beach disappear beneath a thin blanket of snow; a sight I’d never imagined possible prior to the trip. The novelty of snow at the beach was one of the greatest gifts of the trip. In the late afternoon, we bundled up in our winter attire and wandered the sleepy streets of town and enjoyed an espresso at a nearby coffee shop while the snow fell steadily throughout the day. I carry the memories of that trip with me into each fall season and feel deeply grateful for the change in perspective regarding possible birthday trip destinations. My 39th birthday ranks high among my favorites. It was a relaxing getaway and I felt refreshed and recharged upon my return home.