We drove out on a Friday, which just happened to coincide with the first snow in the coast range, the hills/mountains dividing the coast from the Willamette Valley and the Interstate 5 corridor. The northern route, from Portland which heads to Tillamook, is a higher elevation and had snow on the ground, so we went south to Salem and headed west to Lincoln City, then north to Pacific City. We avoided any snow threats, but as you can see the clouds were pretty damn ominous at the coast. This is looking out at the ocean over Pelican Pub and Brewery.
Wait, I can hear you saying, isn't Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach? Yep, it sure is. And in Pacific City. And there is, apparently, another one further south in Bandon, Oregon. (Yeah, I didn't know that until I looked it up either.) These rocks are called sea stacks or offshore monoliths. They were created of basalt from volcanic eruptions in the Grande Ronde mountains 10-17 million years ago (thank you Wikipedia) and were once connected to the land, but years of erosion from the ocean now leave them standing as offshore sentinels.
Pacific City's Haystack Rock is actually taller than Cannon Beach's - and the second-tallest in the world - but doesn't get near the press as it's brethren to the north. Why? Our theory is because the Cannon Beach one is close enough to walk to at low tide, while this one is not. Or maybe it just had a better PR team.
This is looking north towards Cape Kiwanda. Just to the right of this picture are some towering dunes which would be very cool to explore were it not rainy and 40 degrees.
But you know what? It was Mother of All Storms weekend and this was a storm...it's impossible not to find some beauty. This picture below was taken just a little before sunset.
This is Misaki and I standing on the porch of Pelican Pub and Brewery the next day. It was still cold and windy, but the rain had let up. During the summer the pub has tables out here, right next to the beach, and dogs are allowed as long as they stay in the sand. When we went previously Misaki broke the rules and hid under the table on the concrete pad next to the stand, but she's so perfect no one cared.
We found some unexpected wildlife near our hotel. I saw all these black shapes over in an RV park and though they were rocks. Until they moved.
Rabbits. Tons of them. And not the normal wild bunnies you see out here, but big, built bunnies that look like pets.
I asked the front desk at the hotel what the story was with all the rabbits. They seemed not exactly tame, but not as fearful as wild rabbits normally are. She laughed, which made me think they get this question a lot. Apparently there was a rabbit breeder in the area many years back who wanted to get out of the business and didn't know what else to do, so she released the bunnies to the wild.
Surprisingly to us, they have thrived. Usually released domestic animals don't do so hot with predators, but she said the population has gone up and down over the years and they have just always stuck around. Apparently they can be seen all over town as well.
And hey, we found the Easter Bunny!
Speaking of the hotel, we stayed at the Inn at Cape Kiwanda, which is right across the street from the brewery. Check out that link. It's interesting because the Inn, the brewery, and a few other businesses in that immediate area work together to build packages for tourists. I'm not sure if all are owned by the same people or if this is simply a mutually beneficial partnership, but it makes planning easy.
The room was nice and we'd stay there again. It was clean and well managed, and our only complaint was neighbors down the hall being loud around midnight. Then again, we stayed at an inn across the street from a brewery on a Friday night...
Obviously dogs are allowed for $20 extra per night. That fee got Misaki a blanket so she could chill on the couch - which she doesn't get to do at home - and a bag of local dog biscuits, which she liked.
Only being in the town for one night and having Misaki with us limited our food options, but we still had some good meals.
Stimulus Cafe - See the hotel pic above? This is the business in the lower right corner of the building. We had a few espresso drinks from there - eggnog latte, mocha, and caramel macchiato - and each one of them was a tad too sweet. I want to like them because they use Stumptown beans, but the sugaryness was just too much.
Pelican Pub and Brewery - The pub takes orders over the phone and does take out, so given the weather and the proximity we ordered dinner Friday night and breakfast Saturday morning from here.
Dinner (menu link) was fish and chips, made with cod, that came with beer battered fries, coleslaw, and tartar sauce. I'm not usually one for tartar sauce, but this one had a great dill flavor. The fish was solid, not too greasy, but those fries were damn excellent. We'd order this again. We also ordered the risotto cakes, which came with a red pepper coulis, sauteed chard, and topped with a mushroom and fennel salad. The cakes, which sounded like an arancini, really didn't have much flavor and were a tad too oily for me.
For breakfast (menu link) we split an order of the crab cake eggs Benedict, served with hash browns. This was hands down the best thing we've had from Pelican (well, apart from Mother of All Storms, at least for me). The crab cakes were hearty and well done, the eggs cooked perfectly, the Hollandaise creamy goodness, and the hash browns crunched perfectly.
Greatful Bread Bakery - On the way out of town we stopped here to check out a bakery many people had good things to say about. I picked out a pesto baguette, an apricot and sour cream scone, and a cinnamon twist. All of them were okay and we'd go back if we were staying in Pacific City again, but it's not a destination type of bakery for us. The scone I personally didn't think worked very well, but that's probably just me.
We reached the coast really early on Friday, way too early to check in, so we drove up 101 to Tillamook to check out the Tillamook Cheese Factory.
Dogs are not allowed inside - which made cheese lover Misaki a tad sad - but she was a good girl in crate for a few minutes while we grabbed some nibbles.
We bought a bag of cheese curds (squeaky cheese) mostly for her, but we like them too. Also picked up some fudge (dreamsicle - interesting) and some smoked white cheddar, which is excellent. Since it was lunch time we grabbed some ice cream - vacation calories don't count, remember? I ordered a scoop of the new pumpkin and one of Grandma's Cake Batter. Neither of them, in our opinion, are keepers (last summer they had a Birthday Cake flavor that was much better). Wifey ordered a scoop of French vanilla with a scoop of orange sherbet. That was predictably fantastic - it's sad the orange sherbet is a Cheese Factory exclusive, because it would always be in our freezer.
On the way home on Saturday we headed into Lincoln City, but stopped first at a random viewpoint just south of Pacific City. Misaki hopped up on the stone wall to check out the view.
We basically hit Lincoln City for three things: coffee, caramel corn and a bathroom.
Mojo Coffee - Here I just ordered a large mocha, which comes with four shots. Really? They understand that if I want a larger size that doesn't mean I want it sweeter and need more espresso without having to order extra shots? (This is sarcasm - I totally agree with this practice.) Starbucks, take note. I enjoyed it and I'd go back (they also use Stumptown beans).
Candyland - One thing we must always get when we go to the beach is caramel corn. It just seems right. This trip we stopped at Candyland, some place I hadn't been for years. It's right in the old "downtown" part of Lincoln City on Highway 101. The caramel corn was okay - it had this odd flavor we still can't place (and oddly dissipated over time). But hey, caramel corn is still caramel corn. We might go back here, we might not. The woman behind the counter could see Misaki and Wifey in the car from inside the shop and asked me about the dog, what breed she was, etc. Then she offered to dog sit if we needed it. I'm not sure if she was serious or not, but, um, thanks?
We stopped at the beach access at the mouth of the D River (I guess they don't like saying "Devil's") for a bathroom break. Misaki took a liking to the beach grass.
And then it was time to head home. At the last minute, just east of Rickreall, Oregon on Highway 22, we decided to take a quick side trip to Cubanisimo Vineyards for wine tasting. A while back another winery had recommended their rosé, so we were in the area and figured what the heck.
Our tasting that day was for six wines, which costs $5 (or nothing if you buy a bottle). As it turned out we liked five of the six, something that has never happened at any other winery we have visited. Usually we like at most one or two, but at Cubanismo we even like the pinot noir, something else we don't usually go for (despite Oregon being so well known for them). It was just before Thanksgiving so they had already started their specials for the very popular wine weekend, and since we liked so many of the bottles we went with the 2010 Rosado de Pinot Noir, the 2008 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir (a blend), and the 2008 Estate Pinot Noir. That last one will go very, very well with a nice steak, but all of them were excellent. I urge you to check out the photos of the vineyard and if you are in the area to check them out. The grounds are beautiful and their people very down to earth and knowledgeable.
We came home with three bottles of wine, a case of beer, baked goods, and a ton of great pictures. What else could you ask for from a weekend away? We definitely want to go back to Pacific City and next time may rent a house and stay longer.