Portland is widely known for it’s proximity to stunning natural beauty. From various parts of the city, you can see Mt Hood, Mt Adams, and Mt St Helen’s. An hour’s drive south puts you in beautiful rolling hills of the Willamette wine valley. An hour east and you can sink your feet into snow at Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood in the middle of July. And just under two hours west, you have the stunning beauty of the Oregon Coast. So popular is a quick escape from the city, that one of the main attractions to living in Portland has also become one of its largest headaches. Campsites book out months in advance. Cabins? Yurts? You better be up at 6am making your online reservation for 3 months ahead of time unless you’re shit out of luck. Such was the situation three months ago when I was overly frustrated at all the campsite (everywhere) being booked solid. When a weekend in September opened up on the coast, I jumped at it. Nothing was on the calendar yet (three months ago) – so surely it would make for a fun little escape to the Coast. Fast forward to September and I nearly forgot I had made the reservation. So many events had popped up for this weekend, I was almost considering bailing on my own camping trip: my favorite brew fest, a bike ride, a fun-run, a friend’s birthday party… the list kept going. But I’d be damned if I put all that effort into booking this campsite for nothing.
Gear in car, we took off (we being my boyfriend and I) Friday after work. We pulled into the campsite just as the sun was setting – though once we got to the coast, that big orb in the sky was hardly recognizable as giving of light. As we drove into the Cape Lookout State Park Campground, I was suddenly reminded of why I hate State Campgrounds.
For anyone who is thinking of going, here is my quick recommendation of sites to book via the campground map:
Avoid B3-B28. Unless you like communal camping.
Stick to sites on the outer rim as you’ll have *some* additional privacy.
A56-A54, A50-A52 are great sites. Snag ’em.
I didn’t see sites on C or D loop, but I would still recommend outer loop.
State Campgrounds are for families. If you have a family, great. If you’re 30-something wanting a quiet retreat somewhere nice with your partner – not so great. State Parks are also sticklers for having their dogs on leashes – which I understand but the only time Dogan got busted for not being on leash was at 7am when no one else was awake. Seriously Ranger Lady? Not to mention they overcharge for what they are worth (the campground). That’s my State Park soapbox.
As for the Coast – sure, it’s supposedly beautiful. If the clouds and mist would ever clear, I’m sure I’d appreciate it a lot more too. But I have yet to go to the coast on a sunny, beautiful day (notice how I didn’t say warm. I’m trying to be realistic here). I honestly don’t know how people live on the coast. For all the rumors that Portland has bad weather, people aren’t aware of the coastal situation. A sunny 80 degree day in Portland inevitably means 65 degrees, cloudy with possible rain on the coast. Needless to say, we made the most out of it. We became obsessed with getting a decent fire going, we took the dog on a long beach walk and I marveled in how many broken sand dollars had been washed up. We drank wine and took great consideration into our dinner. I read pieces of a book and pondered great thoughts while staring into our struggling flames. Dogan and I would sneak off on a walk, leaving Jacob to attend the fire, and sit on the dune to watch the waves roll in. Campfires would lite up a completely dark sky illuminating the trees in a soft yellowy glow with laughter and conversation so merry I pictured Robin Hood’s merry men encampment in the forest. And we fell asleep to the crashing waves, smelling like campfire, with a slight Pinot Gris buzz. Like I said, we made the most out of it and enjoyed the little things. Ce la vie 2012 camping!
PS. I must get better about posting. November resolution 🙂