It’s the annual tradition: Head to the small beach community of Manzanita in northern Tillamook County on President’s Day weekend. Emee’s son’s birthday is around this holiday weekend, so he brings a gaggle of friends to “the beach house” and we act as chaperones. This annual tradition is why I’ve been to this part of the coast a few times around this time of year, whether 2019, 2020, not 2021 due to pandemic, and last year.
This year would be an even longer weekend than in the past, as Portland Public Schools had an “in-service” day on Friday February 17th. This meant we could travel out that Friday and return on Monday. It was an uneventful two-hour ride (thankfully) while I piloted a minivan full of 16-17 year olds. I brought quite a bit of stuff (the laptop, art stuff), as I hoped that the extra day would give me ample time to work on things like writing and drawing. Well, the weekend went by like a blur. The slow-as-molasses internet did not help me get much done on the computer. And I only broke out the art kit for an hour.
What the extra day did give us was more time to explore. I’ve become very familiar with the main drag of Manzanita over the years. It’s a decent beach-town main drag that’s a bit on the affluent side. (The more tacky “East Coast” beach town vibes can be found north of here in Seaside.) But it’s close to a couple other towns on the north Tillamook coast, Nehalem and Wheeler, places I haven’t explored much. Both of them are smaller and sit on the mouth of the Nehalem River vs. the ocean proper.
Wheeler is the smaller, quieter, less cute one of the pair. It’s a place where many of the open storefronts on the main drag (in this case US 101, the main highway of the West Coast.1 ) are filled with antique shops and gifty knick-knacks. We did find a good spot for brunch (Handy Creek Bakery) and dinner (The Salmonberry).
Nehalem is a wee bit bigger, and also a bit cuter. We found a nice gift shop (Wild Coast Goods) that gave off the “we used to be artsy folk who lived in Portland but decided to move to the Coast” vibe, plus a micro-distillery. (The pizzeria where I wolfed down a pie after 80 miles of riding during my “To the Coast” tour in May 2017 was closed, alas.)
I did get in one walk on the beach. I thought I would do it every day, but the weather was just wet enough that looking at the ocean through the big picture windows of the beach house satisfied me enough.
And like that, the trip was over. I hope to get back to the coast somewhere, soon. Hopefully this year I can make another coast tour happen!
1 Interstate 5 is indeed more major, but it’s mostly inland until it reaches LA, whereas 101 hugs the coast for much of its run.
I am just curious how water temperature is? Is it very different from temperature during the summer?
Water temperature in winter is about 45F/7C and summer is 55F/13C. Not warm at any time!
Well, when it is 18C in Spain then locals tend to report that “‘only dogs and Germans are swiming now”… 😉 And 13C is well under that temperature!
The Pacific Coast in the US has the Alaska Current, which keeps the water cold. The Atlantic Coast has the Gulf Stream, which has the opposite effect.