Oregon's East Coast Preview

While often overshadowed by its Northern California stretch, the Pacific Coast Highway's 350-mile squiggle through Oregon is an equally good bet for hairpin turns and sublime vistas. The route bristles with coves, crags and looming pines, interspersed with wineries whose proprietors have worn the same pair of sandals for 20 years.

-- United Airlines Hemispheres Magazine

The drive along the Pacific US coast is generally accepted as being one of the most scenic drives in the world. Starting in San Diego and going all the way to Seattle, it makes for quite a road trip and hopefully I will get to do the entire stretch soon. While visiting Portland, I decided to head out to the coast and drive through a small part of this route.

To get there, I took state route 26, also called the Sunset Highway, presumably because it leads to the coast where one can watch the sun set the latest in continental US. The fairly low 55 miles per hour speed limit allows one to take in the beautiful scenery at every turn, and the Saddle Mountain hiking trail makes for a nice stop on the way.

I had a late start, heading out after 11 in the morning, and then spent quite a bit of time conquering the Saddle Mountain, so I did not get to the coast until after 4pm.

My first stop was the town of Seaside. With its large beach, it plays host to many sand volleyball tournaments throughout the year. Other than that, it is a typical small town mainly geared towards tourists that are in the area to check out the coast and do some hunting nearby.

Even though there were a few brave souls in the water, it was way too cold for my liking (about 56 degrees F/15 degrees C) so I grabbed some very late lunch to sample the local specialty - calm chowder. While decent, I would still stick with the New England version - cannot wait for Boston trip next week!

A short drive south of Seaside is another small town of Cannon Beach. By the time I got there, the clouds have rolled in, the wind has picked up, and the scenery really reminded me of the dreary weather I have experienced during my road trip around the South Island in New Zealand.

After grabbing some delicious white mocha at Insomnia Coffee house in Cannon Beach, I continued my journey south along the Pacific Highway.

The more I drove, the more I kept comparing it to the west coast of New Zealand's South Island. Maybe not as winding, but still an exciting drive with a few outlooks and pull-overs here and there.

I was hoping to reach the Three Cape Outlook at the Cape Lookout State Park near the town of Tillamook, but eventually ran out of time and had to turn back to Portland. After driving this short stretch, now I am even more curious about doing the entire Pacific Highway drive!

Who wants to join me?