Posted by: GeekHiker | September 26, 2007

Oregon Trip Day 8: Lighthouses and Picnic Lunches

There’s just something about waking up next to a creek. The quiet noise of water rushing over rocks, tumbling down the canyon with a gentle sound…

It makes you feel calm, peaceful, and really comfortable in your sleeping bag.

It also, I’m sad to say, really, really makes you want to go to the bathroom, no matter how cold it is outside that sleeping bag.

Hey, I never said camping was perfect, did I?

Clambering out of our bags in the nearly empty canyon campground (ah, the joy of off-season travel), JaG and I prepared our oatmeal breakfasts and slowly warmed up. I’m not a big oatmeal fan on a day-to-day basis, but when you’re camping, nothing quite sticks to the bones like it does.

Well, the addition of a good cup of hot chocolate or tea doesn’t hurt either.

After packing the cars we wandered through the campground and up to the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center.

Day 08 - Cape Perpetua

View of Cape Perpetua from the Visitor Center

We spent a while perusing the displays on the natural history (including the ever-popular “reach inside the box and guess what disgusting thing you’re holding”) and human history (the area was a CCC camp in the ‘thirties).

Day 08 - Tree & Crow at Cape Perpetua

Windblown trees near Cape Perpetua; the crow wouldn’t stop cawing until I took his portrait!

I also discovered that JaG is amazing with jigsaw puzzles, and we had to tear ourselves away from finishing the one they had out. Gotta leave something for the kiddies, right?

Needing a morning hike, we left the visitor center for the two mile out-and-back to the Giant Spruce Tree.

Day 08 - Giant Spruce Trail

Along the Giant Spruce Tree trail

The trail starts either at the visitor center or at various points in the campground and wanders up the canyon to what is apparently the largest spruce tree in Oregon.

Day 08 - Giant Spruce

The Giant Spruce Tree

And, luckily, we made it there, commiserated with the tree, and made it back before the group hike got in.

Since it was nearly check-out time by this point, we drove up to the cape itself and took in the views up and down the coast.

Day 08 - View South from Cape Perpetua

View South from Cape Perpetua

Day 08 - Cape Perpetua Panorama

Panorama of the trail, the coast range mountains, and the Oregon Coast looking south

At the end of the cape is a lookout hut built by the CCC back in the thirties.

Day 08 - View from Cape Perpetua Shelter

View south from the Cape Perpetua CCC shelter

Heading back out to the coast, we made a quick stop at the Spouting Horn, a fountain in the rock through which water shoots vertically at high tide.

I attempted, in vain I think, to get a decent picture of it.

Day 08 - Spouting Horn

The Spouting Horn at high tide

Heading down the coast, we made a couple of beach stops along the way to stretch our legs. The Oregon coast in undeniably beautiful; with groves of pine trees on the left and the ocean crashing against the shore on the right, it’s amazing I didn’t drive straight off the road.

Eventually we ended up at our lunchtime destination: Heceta Head Light Station.

Day 08 - Heceta Head Light Station 2

The Heceta Head Light Station, accessed via trail from a parking area at the beach

Before taking the tour, we had lunch: leftover turkey, apples, cheese, crackers, granola bars. It reminded both of us of lunch stops on car trips during childhood. I remember many lunch stops at rest areas, picnic areas and roadside pullouts: Dad pulling in with the tent-trailer in tow, Mom gabbing a bunch of stuff and whipping together what amounted to a quick picnic.

And now I do it too. Cool.

Bellies full, we headed up the hill to the Lighthouse itself and took the quick tour.

Day 08 - Heceta Head Light Station

The Heceta Head Light

The tour takes you up to the watch room, just below the lantern room, where you can look up and admire the beautiful work of the Fresnel Lens.

Day 08 - Heceta Head Fresnel Lens

Looking into the Heceta Head Lens

They really don’t make ‘em like that anymore. The lens, built in France over 100 years ago, is still in use as a navigational aid. It’s so efficient, all it takes is a 1,000 watt bulb to be seen 21 miles from shore; that’s when the light reaches the curve of the earth. (The bulb on the left is the spare; it rotates into place when the primary burns out.)

After perusing the gift shop (a must on any road-trip), we passed the old Keepers Cottage (actually a duplex) that is today a Bed and Breakfast.

Day 08 - Heceta Head Keepers Cottage

The Heceta Head Keepers Cottage

Reminder to self: must win lottery and return to stay…

We continued down the road through various small and medium sized towns along the coast (Florence looked like it was just about the right size) until we reached our destination for the evening: Cape Blanco State Park.

Unlike the previous evening, the campground here sits out on the end of the cape and is, to put it mildly, a bit breezy.

We put up our tents, staked the hell out of them, and made a quick run out to the end of the cape, hoping to see the lighthouse at sunset.

Day 08 - Cape Blanco Light Station 01

Cape Blanco Light at sunset

As you can tell, we were a bit late, which didn’t stop us from braving the strong winds and heading out to the building to take photographs.

Day 08 - Cape Blanco Light Station 02

Cape Blanco with moon rising over the coast range

Heading back through the gusts to camp, we built what is probably the largest fire I’ve ever made for only two people and huddled next to it, grilling our hot dogs. Finally, around 9:00, the wind died off, making the evening much more pleasant.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s s’mores to be had…



  1. Wow, those are awesome pics!! But, where are pics of you and JaG?????

  2. dabegil – thanks for the compliment. No, both JaG and I are quite shy, and managed to avoid being in front of the camera for pretty much the whole trip!

  3. I’m just glad you had a good vacation! I was hoping my vacation would have rejuvinated the soul, instead it has stirred my soul. Oh well, *sigh*

  4. dobegil – Well, rejuvenation is not necessarily a bad thing…

  5. Puzzle? Did someone mention a puzzle?

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