West Coast Road Trip: Portland & Cannon Beach
There is truly nothing like the sight of a coastline out of a passenger window while driving through Oregon. Hour after hour. The Oregon coast is like nothing I had ever experienced before. The views were so stunning, they took my breath away every few minutes. The air would catch in my throat and I would feel that sense of calm that comes from feeling small.
In May 2019 my boyfriend, Josh, and I drove down the west coast from our hometown on Vancouver Island, Canada, to Las Vegas, Nevada and back. This is the first blog post of the series detailing our trip.
When I was doing my research before our trip (I am an extreme planner who pretends to be spontaneous) I was disappointed with the information and guidance I could find on this particular trip – done by so many and yet no one could advise me on how much money it would cost to camp for 5 days. So this is my attempt to provide helpful information while reminiscing my travels.
Our trip took 16 days. Many beaches, many gas stations, and even more snacks.
We left bright and early on Easter Sunday and caught the Coho Ferry at 10:30am. The Coho is one of two ways to get to the United States from Vancouver Island. We booked ahead, $11 booking fee, and the ferry, $125 one-way, was very rocky but overall went quite quickly.
We arrived in Port Angeles, which is what I would describe as “beige” and not much more. We drove for four hours non-stop. We took a slight wrong turn on our way to Portland and ended up driving along the coast for the majority of the way. Lesson learned, we should have bought snacks – I am guilty of getting very hungry and grumpy on long drives with no snacks. Listened to an excellent episode of Armchair Expert though.
When we arrived in Portland we checked in to our Airbnb, $100, which was located in the Woodstock neighbourhood. The house was eclectic and funky with an amazing breakfast nook filled with snacks and tea/coffee. The highlight of the house was definitely the unique shower with rock design and multiple shower heads. After we were settled in we wandered through the Woodstock neighbourhood, simply giddy to no longer be driving and marvelling at the fact we were actually on our long-awaited trip.
The little main street we found had a delicious brewery called Double Mountain where we delighted in some tasters and people watching, $18 US. Josh wanted to get a burger as he had not eaten all day. We went to Primal burger for dinner where I had quite possibly the spiciest salad dressing I have ever tasted and Josh enjoyed a venison burger, $31 US.
Our second day started with a trip to Trader Joe’s for some snacks, $5.50 US, featuring my new obsession: the unsweetened dried mango slices. Seriously one of my favourite parts of our trip.
My big priority for Portland was of course beer and Powell’s Books. Powell’s is a bookstore that covers an entire city block. Needless to say we spent a good hour there wandering the stacks with a coffee, $3 US, and pure happiness on our faces.
As we left Portland I was a little sad to watch it fade in the rearview mirror. But I reminded myself that we would go back one day and have more time to explore. We had set our sights on Cannon Beach thanks to many recommendations. And let me tell you the beach lived up to the hype. It was a grey day and so much wind but the waves and the sand were so beautiful and wild. (Gas, $32 US)
It took us 5 hours to drive to Coos Bay for a Taco Bell treat, $12 US, but we stopped many times for the views of the Oregon Coast. (Snacks, $8 US) When we settled into Sunset Bay state park we took a walk on the beach and enjoyed the showers available at the camp site. Sunset Bay was the cheapest and arguably best site, $19 US, we had for our “camping week” along the coast.
We had chosen to camp for the first week, after Portland, in an attempt to save money and enjoy the coastline before we settled in for our “luxury week” in Orange County and Las Vegas. The tent we had packed was a single but we hadn’t realized how small it really was until we spent our first night in it. Lesson learned!
Day three we crossed into California and had our first hike..in Rewood National Park! This forest full of towering trees and dappled light was a huge bucket list place for me. We drove, Gas $35US, to the Ladybird Johnson hike which took around 45 minutes. A slow walk with lots of time for photographs.
After a long day of driving we arrived in Fort Bragg and had dinner at North Coast Brewing, $45US. I ate some of the best nachos of my life and Josh devoured a huge plate of fresh snapper. Beer was delicious as well.
Fort Bragg has a beach suitably called “Glass Beach” covered in sea glass and we spent sunset picking out our favourite pieces. We had our first argument on the beach as Josh tried to rush our experience and I was extremely resistant. We decided to drive for one more hour and unfortunately the next campsite was full. So we drove another 30 minutes to Manchester Beach campsite, $45US, which was quite pricey but had nice amenities. We arrived in the dark and left in the early hours of the morning so we didn’t get a chance to experience the site fully.