EXPLORING OREGON – A Beach and a Hike in Tillamook County

Surrounded by the coastal rainforest and situated right on Netarts Bay is the small community of Netarts, in Tillamook County. We arrived in Netarts in the middle of the night, and settled in at our charming Airbnb, the Edgewater Cottage. I couldn’t wait for morning to explore this region of the Oregon coast.

Netarts Bay stretches seven miles along the northern coast and, like most coastal towns in Oregon, offers breathtaking views, crabbing, clamming, hiking, boating, and hunting for treasure along the beach. While the entire country suffered from the most extreme heat in history, we were lucky to enjoy temperatures in the 50s and 60s every day at the coast in late July and early August.

The view directly in front of our cottage was breathtaking.

Rising early every morning to explore the beauty of the Oregon coast was a perfect way to beat the crowds. We often had the beach and hiking trails to ourselves, allowing us to take it all in without distractions. On our first morning in Netarts, we explored the bay just steps away from our cottage. Descending steep stairs, we were greeted by a mystical and gauzy beach at low tide. To my surprise, we were not the only early risers. There were numerous couples and families exploring sealife and enjoying the ethereal landscape.

On this first morning, on this beautiful beach, I felt completely at peace in my surroundings. This was the beginning of a love of the Pacific Coast, and I knew that two weeks was not sufficient time to enjoy the natural wonders of this region. It was time to explore one of over 2,900 hiking and biking trails in Oregon.

CAPE LOOKOUT, CAPE TRAIL

Cape Lookout is a 4.7 mile in and out trail with an elevation of close to 800 ft. The trailhead offers plenty of parking, although we had our pick of the entire lot at 6:30 a.m. when we arrived for our hike. There are restrooms conveniently located at the parking lot.

Cape Lookout is a moderate hike that takes a little over two hours to complete. The trail is muddy at certain spots, with moderate inclines. You are hiking along a cliff hundreds of feet above the sea. About a 1/2 mile into the hike, the trail reveals a stunning view of the ocean. We were above the clouds.

This first viewpoint is near the site where a B-17 bomber crashed in 1943. A plaque set in a boulder, in memory of those who lost their lives, is visible right along the trail.

The entire trail surrounds you with lush forest as you navigate through tangled tree roots, rocks, and muddy terrain. Halfway through the hike, the trail is not well maintained and you need to tread carefully through large boulders until you reach several narrow boardwalk paths leading to a cabled off viewpoint with a bench to sit and take in the expansive views of the ocean.

This beautiful trail is also known as a great spot for whale watching during the whale migration to Alaska from March to June.

We finished our hike completely alone, and as we were coming to the end of the trail, a few visitors were beginning their hike. Cape Lookout is a popular trail that does get crowded in late morning and afternoon hours. I suggest starting early for a serene hiking experience that delivers spectacular views.

EXPLORING OREGON – Goonies Never Say Die!

As a diehard Goonie geek, this title seemed perfectly fitting for the start of our Oregon adventure. This is my first time traveling to the west coast of the U.S., and I am already in love on day one of our trip.

We begin our Oregon journey in Astoria. Founded in 1811, Astoria is known for much more than the home of the iconic 1980’s film The Goonies. Astoria sits on the Columbia River near the Pacific, and was named by its founder John Jacob Astor, a fur trader from New York. Astoria grew to become an important port city, attracting Swedish and Chinese immigrants in the late 19th century to work in fishing and cannery jobs.

Through the early 1900’s, Astoria’s economy depended on fishing, fish canneries, and lumber, with the North Pacific Brewing Company significantly contributing to Astoria’s economy as well. Today, logging and fishing are still strong, but Astoria’s growing art community, tourism, and light manufacturing are the main economic means of the city.

As you approach the city you are greeted by a charming view of hillside homes and the impressive Astoria-Melgar bridge. The Astoria-Melgar bridge is the second longest continuous truss bridge in the world and stretches from Astoria to Point Ellice, Washington.

We headed straight to the Goonies house. Imagine living in the house made famous by a popular film. The owners are kind to accommodate Goonie obsessed fans like me by allowing visitors to walk up to the house for a closer look.

I can almost see Mikey, Brand, Data, Mouth, and my favorite, Chunk scheming their pirate treasure adventure.

As a true Goonie fan, I wore a Goonie t-shirt (don’t judge) to properly explore Goonie movie sites. Next on the Goonie tour we visited the county jail, where Jake Fratelli planned his escape with the help of Mama and brother, Francis Fratelli. The movie jail is the old Clatsop County Jail that became the Oregon Film Museum in 2010 at the 25th anniversary of the film. For a $6 entry fee, the museum features exhibits and memorabilia from films made in Oregon. Visitors can also create their own short films in the exhibits featuring sets and green screens. At the end of your visit, you can purchase souvenir items at the museum shop.

Right next to the jail is the Flavel House Museum. This Victorian beauty was featured in the Goonies as the museum where Mikey’s dad worked as a curator. The Flavel house was home to Captain George Flavel, who built his home from 1884 – 1886. Flavel was a beloved man in the community for his kindness, integrity and support of Astoria residents. As a successful entrepreneur and bar pilot, guiding ships navigating through the mighty Columbia River, he was the first millionaire of Astoria. He lived in his stunning home with his wife Mary Christina Boeling, and two daughters, Katie and Nellie. The couple also had a son who had married and lived in his own home.

When you enter this magnificent house, you are welcomed by a majestic hall, with formal rooms on either side designed for entertaining. A music room features a grand piano and other instruments, with exquisite furniture pieces demonstrating the wealth of the family. A parlor, dining room, and library complete the front rooms of the house. The kitchen and a bathroom are at the back. A grand staircase leads you to the second floor with five bedrooms and a bathroom. Twelve foot ceilings, elegant fireplaces, carved wood mantels and doors built by master craftsmen have stood the test of time. The Flavel house was fortunately spared by a devastating fire that destroyed most of Astoria in 1922. Today, the Flavel house, along with the beautifully maintained gardens and carriage house, stands proud as one of Astoria’s treasured historical landmarks.

One of the things we are excited to experience on our Oregon adventure is the food scene. Known as one of the best foodie cities in the U.S., we look forward to our visit to Portland in a few days. Along the coast, we are getting our fill of some of the best fresh and locally sourced seafood in the Pacific Northwest. We decided on lunch at the SEA Crab House, where I began my quest for the best clam chowder in Oregon. Stay tuned for the Great Clam Chowder review! My husband has his own quest for the best raw oysters. Both dishes were delectable, and the panoramic view of the Columbia River was spectacular. The SEA Crab House is owned by Patta and Kim, foodies and Thailand natives. SEA stands for South East Asian, combining a fusion of Thai and Cajun flavor for a unique and delicious culinary experience.

In a true Goonie state of mind, we finished our visit at one of the favorite tourist destinations in Astoria. If shipwrecks excite you, visit the Wreck of the Peter Iredale in Fort Stevens State Park. The Peter Iredale ran ashore in 1906, and it has been there to delight visitors ever since.

The Peter Iredale reigns on this stretch of beach like a ghostly reminder of its deadly voyage. This awesome site is not part of our Goonie tour, but it does feel like a place the Goonies would explore to find One-Eyed Willy and his treasure.

Here’s a fun fact. One-Eyed Willy’s ship was The Inferno. It was 105 feet long and took 2.5 months to construct. The ship was kept a secret from the Goonies cast. The director, Richard Donner, wanted to capture the true reactions of the cast for a spectacular scene. The reaction was indeed completely real when a surprised Josh Brolin shouted “F**k!! upon seeing the ship, consequently ruining the scene.

You may wonder about the scene at the end of the film where the pirate ship is seen sailing among massive rocks jutting out of the ocean. This scene was shot at Cannon Beach, south of Astoria. We visited Haystack Rocks at Cannon Beach, but as majestic as these rocks are, they were not visible because of the intense fog. Although we were a bit disappointed, we had the opportunity of visiting a lovely beach town.

Visiting Astoria brought back memories of watching a magical film with my young daughters. The Goonies represents that sense of adventure innate in the fabric of our family, that childhood innocence that takes us to places unexplored, and fills us with excitement and wonder. I hope that whatever takes you to Astoria brings as much joy to you as it did to me.

A Morning Walk on South of Fifth

After months of sheltering at home due to the global pandemic, this weekend we ventured out to one of the beautiful neighborhoods right in our backyard. South of Fifth, known to the locals as SoFi, is a small and affluent neighborhood in South Beach, Miami Beach. Surrounded by water, modern and historic apartment buildings, iconic restaurants, marinas, and the beach, Sofi is a highly desirable place to live and play in Miami.

This “walkable” neighborhood goes from South Point Park, the southern tip of Miami Beach, north to 5th street from east to west. Once a dying area of Miami Beach, SoFi came to life in the early 1990’s when a German man, Thomas Kramer, envisioned creating a tropical version of New York’s Battery Park City. His vision transformed this once seedy and crime ridden neighborhood into a Miami gem.

You can live in a city for years and still be surprised by its beauty. I often take for granted that I live in a place most people consider paradise. This morning’s walk reminded me of how lucky we are to be able to enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds us. Walking on a serene path along the beach I felt a sense of peace and contentment. The beach, with its powdery white sand and tranquil ocean, was devoid of crowds in the early morning hours–just the way I like it.

Thoughts of the sadness, turmoil, and worldwide devastation that the year 2020 embedded in my heart and mind disappeared, if only for a moment.

At the end of South Pointe Park is South Point Pier. You can fish, enjoy a sunset, watch the cruise ships sail out to sea, catch a glimpse of dolphins, or relax and take in the view.

Standing 55 feet tall is the quirky “obstinate lighthouse” greeting visitors and locals with a choreographed light display. This lighthouse, by artist Tobias Rehberger, is the 18th art installation in the Art in Public Places Project started in 1979 with the Mermaid, by Roy Lichtenstein.

One of my favorite things in any urban hike is meeting interesting people. Although Covid has limited the opportunity to engage in friendly chatter with strangers, we managed to meet a couple and their unique pet. We met Jolly Roger, an adorable and friendly mini pig, who charmed and delighted my husband. Now to convince him that we don’t need an addition to our family! Though I must admit, Jolly Roger was very cute.

In a neighborhood where modern luxury high rises coexist in perfect harmony with historic art deco buildings, with the panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean, Biscayne Bay, Fisher Island, and downtown Miami, it’s easy to see why Sofi attracts locals and foreigners alike.