Flying visit to the Oregon Coast

Prompted by one too many Instagram photos of Thor’s Well and the unexpected availability of a campsite at Rock Creek Campground, B and I took a quick trip down to Yachats, on the Oregon coast, this past weekend. While Thor’s Well itself was under-well-ming (sorry not sorry), the trip as a whole was marvelous!

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We stopped in Corvallis for caffeine and a snack on the way down. I’d never been to Corvallis, and had basically nothing on my mental index card for it. Turns out, it’s got a cute little downtown with at least one marvelous musical instruments store, at least one good coffeeshop, and a nice linear waterfront park with sculptures and a fountain for kids to splash in and a mixed-use path. Oh, and some great murals:

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High tide peaked at around 8 pm on Saturday, so we had time to go to the campground in the Siuslaw National Forest and set up our tent for the night before going to see the Well. I’d highly recommend the Rock Creek Campground if you’re ever looking for something in the area. It was small and lovely, tucked among the trees and up against the eponymous creek, with frankly the cleanest and least odiferous toilets I’ve ever had the pleasure to run across at a campground. Two thumbs up!

On our way from the campsite to Thor’s Well, we randomly decided to stop at a viewpoint, where a little set of stairs ran down to the oceanside rocks. We took some photos from the top, and then I headed down the stairs while B fiddled with the color balance and stuff on the photo he’d just taken. He must have been very startled when I came running back up about 30 seconds later, squealing like a kid and calling, “I just saw a whale I just saw a whale there’s a whale whale whale whale!!!!”, and all but pulled him facefirst down the trail in my haste to get him to come see. I had never seen a whale in the wild before, and since I was very into whales when I was a kid, I have to admit that I teared up a bit. It was so cool! And it/they were so close to the shore!

So… Thor’s Well is a thing. A kinda cool thing. The water wells up through a wide hole in the rough basalt rock that forms large swaths of the coast down Yachats way. It was picturesque, I guess, but I didn’t think really merited the ring of about fifteen people around it with cameras of varying degrees of Seriousness. Ah, the joys of social media.

My lack of enthusiasm may have been because B and I had passed by the Spouting Horn on our way to Thor’s Well (it’s a few hundred meters further up the coast). Now thatwas cool! It’s a horizontal, V-shaped slot in the basalt, which at its apex is further hollowed out underneath the top layer of rock (I think – couldn’t see at high tide), and so every time a wave comes up the V, there’s a two-stage spout – with two distinct angles of spouting – accompanied by two different fwooming sounds. The first part of the spout shoots back out towards the ocean, while the second shoots straight up in the air, sometimes higher than the heads of hapless bystanders. I particularly enjoyed a small tide pool just past the edge of the rock, full of sea anemones just hanging out, doing their anemone thing while their home shook and thundered around them.

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We didn’t say until full high tide, because we wanted to have time to enjoy dinner and drinks in Yachats, and most things shut down in town at 10 pm. So we went into town, and had some very tasty fish and chips and shrimp and chips at the Luna Sea Fish House, listening to a pretty good singer/guitar player (who sang a Beatles song that I’ve had stuck in my head constantly since). Then we walked over to Yachats Brewing, and got a couple of flights.

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Yachats Brewing is heavy on the saisons, and B was actually able to assemble a four-beer flight entirely of YB barrel-aged saisons. None of them were really to my taste, but they certainly were interesting. I was feeling more on the dark beer side (for once; I was chilly from the ocean breeze), and had a kind of catch-all flight with a (guest) wildflower mead, two stouts, and a plain ol’ IPA. The mead was interesting, but too Ricola-y for me; to my amusement, B loved it. My favorite of the bunch was an imperial stout called – of course – Thor’s Well.

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We sat in a little glassed-in front porch of sorts, with a beautiful painted mural behind us and the firey-then-darkening sky ahead of us (beyond the parking lot and the road and some houses… okay, we couldn’t see much of the sunset at all, but what little we couldsee was beautiful). Then it was back to the quiet campsite for a remarkably comfortable night’s sleep on my brand-new super-duper car camping sleeping pad (a Therm-a-rest Mondo King, if you’re in the market for a new pad)!

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The next morning we had breakfast at Green Salmon Café – which puts Yachats’ hippie/artsy heart on fullest display – wandered down past the frolicking seal statue and through the small crafts/farmers market and looked out at the sea a bit more, and then headed back to Portland. As we headed north on 101, another flurry of whale spouts bade us farewell.

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