Oregon’s beaches are not like those in the Caribbean. They are incredibly scenic and usually with coastal range backdrops. But they’re not places to vacation if you want to swim. They’re windy and the water is just too cold. Every year there are stories of mostly young people who misjudge rip currents and sneaker waves and drown. These beaches are for wading, picnics, beach combing, sometimes sunning, and feeling wary about the ubiquitous tsunami warning signs.
At the town of Warrenton, Fort Stevens State Park has many activities including a historic, super military site and museum. Because the Park’s beaches are on a triangle of land jutting north to the mouth of the Columbia River and its treacherous Bar, they’re usually not crowded. In fact, when we’ve been there no one was around. Because there are no trees or mountains adjacent and no services, they seem wilder and more pristine than those further south. Here, beach walkers can enjoy the simple freedom of ocean and sky.
Gearhart Beach is equally empty, but its backdrop is a quiet, affluent town of mostly longtime, summer residents who are most likely the ones you’ll find on this beautiful beach.
Seaside is a very popular, congested vacation beach adjacent to a carnival-like town with every amenity. Think of a Left Coast Atlantic City. It even has a promenade. You can fly a kite, eat saltwater taffy, ride a carousel, etc.
Just a bit further south is my favorite, Cannon Beach. But that’s because….,well, here’s the story.
Cannon has a Sandcastle Festival, this year from June 8 to 10. The festivities include a dinner, a bonfire, a concert, etc. But the main event is the sand castle building contest on Saturday afternoon. I didn’t know about this when new to the area and on Cannon Beach with 2 very young grandsons. Digging in the sand, we heard an announcement about the end of the in-progress contest.
“Can we build a castle?” Alexander asked.
“Run over and find out.”
Nicolas did and the answer was yes, so the 3 of us used pails and shovels to excavate what looked like a futuristic moon colony. While Alexander and I scooped out roads for LEMs, Nicolas ran around collecting bird feathers to stick in every geodesic dome.
The judging began and two grandmotherly ladies came over to examine, very seriously, our humble layout. After they took notes, one asked, “What do you call it?”
“Feather City!” Nicolas announced.
The ladies smiled.
Awards were soon being given for things like best traditional and best team effort. By the time the announcer was down to the final award, we had not been mentioned. Understandable, I thought, since we were a late entry and our effort was hastily done and childlike, unlike the monster castles created by large, experienced teams.
“And the award for Best Overall goes to…Feather City!” cried the announcer.
So OK, I have to admit that I’m a bit prejudiced when I say that Cannon is the best North Oregon Beach.