Cure for the Stumptown Blues

Posted by Sarah Wolfe / March 9, 2012

When I find myself under the unrelenting mist darkening the windows of my Portland apartment or slogging down the damp streets with feet wet to the socks, I tend to get a little down, way down, low down in Stumptown. We’ve all been there. So I head to the coin star and fill my tank with gas, because there is still one place that my doldrums cannot follow me. Just one leisurely drive and I’m another world away from the realities of day-to-day city life.
Last Saturday my husband Paul and I took off on the short trip from Portland to Depoe Bay. We wound through what I have officially dubbed the “giant tree wall corridor” on 99W. It’s very green and lush but there is almost no visibility beyond the occasional clear cut – and the anticipation becomes nearly intolerable to any normal human creature. Then it happens: the smell of salty ocean air starts to drift in through the vents and we are all smiles.
Famished by this time, we stopped at a little restaurant just off the road called Pier 101. A sign outside declares “No sushi, no yuppie food.” It has a rustic interior with real fishing nets dark wood panel and tables that evoke a sort of belly of the ship vibe without going overboard. Pardon the pun! The service was great and the food was excellent for a couple of very hungry patrons.
After lunch we decided to head forth to Depoe Bay and check into our hotel, the Crown Pacifiq. It was a perfectly adequate and clean room with an ocean view, but on the east side of the highway. Depoe Bay for those of you who have not been there is a little stretch of shops on the east side of the highway: café’s, confectioners, galleries and knick knack stores. The west side of the highway is a gorgeous untamed rocky ocean view walkway from which whales can be spotted. On this particular day the ocean was down right uncivilized with waves roaring and crashing up to the walkway above with an admirable vigor. We took our casual stroll along the boulevard visiting gift and gem shops and acquiring a sizable bag of saltwater taffy before wandering through a public park and down a trail getting us nearer to the angry ocean that is our beloved Pacific. The place where we set down was covered with perfectly rounded obsidian mixed with the occasional agate or bit of sea glass. My husband Paul, a rock hound, was delighted at this discovery. He dug through the round black rocks as I climbed formations and proceeded to explore with my usual amount of trepidation, waves in the distance forming tall curls, crashing and spraying water in all directions. Trying to communicate was futile as the sound easily subdued our pitiful vocal attempts. Paul in his usual lackadaisical form spent an unusually long time exploring a sea cave. Not to worry, he emerged unscathed.
By this time the evening was approaching and the cold had become too much for me. With some effort I extracted Paul from the beach and we returned to the hotel room for some well-needed rest.
In the morning we had our continental breakfast. After a nice walk on Agate Beach we decided to check out devil’s punchbowl for the first time. This little stop on the road between Newport and Depoe Bay is the star of it’s own little show called: “Wow!” Alternate titles include: “Holy Crap!” and “Are you seeing this?” It was the perfect way to cap our little excursion and with heavy hearts begin our journey home.
To those of you sissies who think the coast is only for summer, I challenge you! Go and see for yourself all the sublime beauty and adventure our Oregon coast has to offer you winter, spring, or fall.

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