Saturday, July 20, 2013

Road Trip! Bandon OR

Recently a friend and I rode-tripped it down to Bandon, Oregon, and what a visual treat it was. It seems as you head south from Portland, the ginormous Douglas fir that dominate the northern parts of western Oregon give way to open spaces, creating wide expanses and incredible vistas reminiscent of California's central coast (think Big Sur). Rocky cliffs and crashing waves abound – but I'm getting ahead of myself.

It was a fun-and-photo-filled four days. Read on for trip highlights.

Crab cocktail at Griffs on the Bay

On the way down, we stopped at Griff's on the Bay in Winchester Bay. Here, we enjoyed a tasty, no-frills lunch of crab cocktail, garlic bread and beer. The crab was good, but the star of the meal was the ice-cold hefeweizen served in a deliciously frosty mug. 

After our simple-yet-satisfying meal, we hit the road and soon arrived at the Bandon Inn, a pleasant place located on a bluff overlooking the Pacific. It was quiet and clean, and many of the rooms (if not all) have ocean views. They serve a light pension-style breakfast, plus fresh cookies later in the day. Another good thing is that there's a short trail leading directly from the inn down to Bandon's main street, making it easy to pop into town.

Bandon, Oregon

Once in town, we were greeted by two signs pleading us to enjoy Bandon  one on each end of the main road. My friend and I really got a kick out of them. They sounded a little tentative, as if we might NOT be enjoying Bandon. We felt the signs could benefit from a slight edit – perhaps adding an exclamation point to create a more confident-sounding sign for such a lovely location. 

OK, enough about the signs...

After scoping out the local restaurants, we decided on the Alloro Wine Bar, and actually ate here twice during our stay.  I can safely say that this is the town's "foodie" restaurant. We had excellent scallops, and hit on some new wines we liked. As for dessert, well, the photo speaks for itself.

Dessert at Alloro Wine Bar

So, besides eating and drinking, there was much scenery to be seen. At Bullards Beach State Park, we hiked a trail along the cliffs that had breathtaking views. It was quite windy that day (note the whitecaps), but we were undeterred for obvious reasons. 

Bullards Beach  vista

Bullards Beach  another vista

Bullards Beach – yet another vista

Bullards Beach – one more vista

Another jaunt took us to Cape Blanco, where we toured the lighthouse. Now, there are lots of lighthouses along the Oregon coast. But apparently, what's special about this one is that the Fresnel lens is still in tact. So, for all you optics geeks, this lighthouse is worth a visit. The lens is truly fascinating, especially up close.

Cape Blanco lighthouse

Cape Blanco Fresnel lens

We also checked out the nearby historic Hughes House, a fine example of Victorian architecture. It actually had a bright and airy feel (as opposed to other historic Victorians I've visited, which felt overdecorated and downright creepy.)  

Historic Hughes House

More spectacular ocean views were to be had at Cape Perpetua. It's hard to describe this location without slipping into cliches such as "breathtaking," "majestic,"and "captivating." But hey, they apply.

Cape Perpetua

We knew we couldn't return home without seeing the famous Oregon Dunes, and lucked into an easy way to experience them without having to exert ourselves. At the Tahkenitch Day Use Area, a wooden walkway leads to a viewpoint where you can admire these unique formations without having to tromp across giant mounds of shifting dry sand. We were actually feeling a bit guilty about skipping the hike - that is until the twenty-something ranger we chatted with confessed that she, too, had never actually hiked the dunes. 

Oregon Dunes at Tahkenitch Day Use Area

Basically, the southern Oregon Coast is the scenic equivalent of a "Greatest Hits" album.  Photo ops abound in this part of the state. Expansive vistas of the Pacific and craggy cliffs are almost always in sight. And like many hikers, I feel that you should "earn" your scenery – but probably the most guilty pleasure of Bandon and the surrounding area is that you can enjoy world-class views by simply getting out of your car. 

All photos property of Laurie Harquail