2022-04-05 Pacific City to South Washington

Brown Creeper - Certhia americana
I received an email from an Oregon birder, suggesting I stop north of Pacific City at Clay Myers State Natural Area at Whalen Island, and what a great suggestion it turned out to be! I met the first Brown Creepers of this trip there.
Neahkahnie Viewpoint - Scenery
Neahkahnie Viewpoint is one of those places on the Ore3gon coast that just cries out for you to stop and take a picture.
Orange-Crowned Warbler - Leiothlypis celata
At Clay Myers State Natural Area at Whalen Island, Orange-Crowned Warblers were all in good voice when I met them.

Monday night I plotted a course north that included breakfast in Pacific City, perhaps the smallest of towns I’ve stopped at on this trip. The cafe, called the Village Coffee Shoppe, was so small and intimate; I felt I was in someone’s home, enjoying a meal with family.

Yesterday and last night I worked on the images and story from Yaquina Bay, while it rained and the wind blew. As usual, I took way too many shots, especially of the Surf Scoters. I hoped I’d find a White-Winged Scoter among the hordes of Surf Scoters I’d been seeing. I’d thought I’d met some a few days ago, but a more experienced observer kindly straightened me out. I’ve learned their preferred foraging is more in front of sandy beaches, than the river channels I’ve been frequenting.

Ten days earlier, I received an email from an Oregon birder (Sandy), suggesting I stop north of Pacific City at Clay Myers State Natural Area at Whalen Island, and what a great suggestion it turned out to be! I hiked the trail up-slope from the parking area and among the birds I met were American Robins, Brown Creepers, Orange-Crowned Warblers, Purple Finches, Spotted Towhees, and Yellow-Rumped Warblers. While I was nearly done with my hike, I heard calls of what sounded like Ruffed Grouse, though I wasn’t able to get my eyes on the author of the calls.

The route I planned for the next leg of my trip headed me towards Cape Lookout, and when I turned onto Camp Lookout Road, I made a left turn around a marshy patch and heard the loud singing of a multitude of frogs. These were the first I’ve heard this spring.

I still had more work to do on the images from Yaquina Bay before they could be presented with the story. I felt I needed a break from my boondocking lifestyle, so I booked a night at the Cape Lookout State Park Campground. Before settling in to work on my blogs, I spent a few minutes with the camp birds, and met Red-Winged Blackbirds, Song Sparrows, Orange-Crowned Warblers, and Dark-Eyed Juncos.

When morning rolled around, I emptied my dirty tanks, filled up my clean one, and headed north. I learned of a cafe to the north in Netarts called the Blue Agate Cafe, but when I arrived I found it was closed. There was a “Help Wanted” sign in the window, and it got me wondering if it was another casualty of the pandemic, and folks making more money on unemployment than on the payroll. I have a good friend in my hometown who runs a small restaurant, and I’ve watched his struggles during these trying times.

I made a meal for myself and drove north along the coast to the Cape Meares Lighthouse to check it out. The birds I’ve been meeting of late (the usual suspects) have been Song Sparrows, American Robins, Steller’s Jays, Dark-Eyed Juncos, Yellow-Rumped Warblers, and a ton of loudly singing Orange-Crowned Warblers. I saw little point in collecting more images of these species on this part of the Oregon coast.

The drive north beyond the Cape Meares Lighthouse was barricaded, and I had to double back almost twelve miles to reach Tillamook. The rest of the coast to the north didn’t seem much like the wilder parts of Oregon I’d come through in the past weeks. My time these past weeks in Oregon has been amazing. Those memories should keep a smile on my mug for some time.

I spent Wednesday night camped at the Blue Heron French Cheese Factory in Tillamook. I’d read of the history of their offering a safe place for a one-night stay for travelers. The property sits on the site of what appears to be an old farm. Agriculture is still a dominant industry in the Tillamook Valley. It is famous for the Tillamook Creamery and its cheese production.

There is a Dennys in Tillamook, but Thursday I found a Mom & Pop cafe a few miles north of town called Downie’s Café. It was lovely, complete with a table of old guys who’ve obviously lived in the area a long time. I enjoyed eavesdropping as they combined their knowledge to offer advice to the dishwasher about a problem with her trailer’s power. After most of the crew left, the 90-year-old RV tech in the group and I engaged in a 20 minute conversation. After he went his way, the server, and probable owner of the cafe, told me he was struggling with the loss of his wife only 5 weeks ago. Life can be hard for the elderly. Such a loss can be devastating.

The road that I chose to get me out of the Tillamook valley was called the Miami Foley road. The route took me five or six miles out of my way but gave me a chance to see a different part of the coast region. It’s all good.

The further north I traveled in Oregon, the more I felt the “Urge For Going”. Cannon Beach, wow! It’s beautiful, but loaded with tourists. I had planned to visit Haystack Rock, but as I drew near, it became impossible to find a parking place. I decided to head north, making this my last day in Oregon before crossing over into Washington.

I still have a yarn to spin about the past couple of days on the road. I took a “vacation day” off yesterday to recharge my personal energy banks. Even with this mind-set, I took a few pictures of the Cape Meares Lighthouse and of the Guinea Fowl that roamed the Blue Heron property late yesterday. I’ll include those images with the next blog about Cape Lookout. I stayed on the move and crossed the Columbia River at Astoria, and spent the night camped at Cape Disappointment State Park. I bought Washington’s annual “Discovery Pass”, which I believe will come in handy in the days ahead.

Click map markers to reveal further information