I woke up early with two things on my mind: 1. Coffee, and 2. The coast. Portland is known for its amazing coffee and I couldn’t wait to try out Courier Coffee, which was just a few blocks from my hotel, the Vintage Plaza. You may not even notice this coffee shop if you’re just walking by — it is barely marked, save for the word “coffee” in small red font above the doorway. The owners of Courier have a very hands-on, DIY approach to their shop, and serve outstanding coffee served pour-over style in mason jars. The two guys working there were incredibly friendly and helpful when it came to which coffee I should try, and they were spinning some great tunes on their record player. It’s the type of place where you can stool up at the bar and enjoy a cup, while breathing in the intoxicating aroma of muffins baking in the oven, and chat with the baristas about pretty much anything. I would have stayed for a second cup, but I couldn’t wait to hit the road and head to the coast!
The drive to the coast is just over an hour, taking you over hills and through towering evergreens until you reach the 101, which can take you north to Washington or all the way south to San Diego. The first town I came upon was Cannon Beach, a sleepy beach town where many Portlanders head come summertime. But one of the local Free People girls had warned me the day before — the beaches here aren’t like the beaches back east. They’re not the types of beaches packed with people in bathing suits and kids splashing around in the surf. They are vast, empty, windswept beaches and even on a warm summer day there is a brisk chill to the air and a layer of fog that settles over the ocean. Wind and wave battered rocks jut out of the water, startling you as you catch a glimpse of them through the evergreen trees. In Cannon Beach, these rocky formations are known as Haystack Rock and The Needles, and all you can do is stop and stare, taking in their majestic beauty that makes you feel so small.
A little ways south of Cannon Beach off of 101, there’s a hidden beach… park and hike — just about a quarter mile — to where the creek meets the Pacific. Wander through an emerald forest where every shade of green surrounds you…pine, evergreen, lime, forest, mint, grass…breathe in the cool, crisp air. You start to hear the sounds of the ocean calling you, and then it appears through the trees. A peaceful crescent carved out amongst the cliffs, where the only sounds are waves crashing and brisk wind, and the two collide against each other until you don’t know which is which. The water is shocking against bare feet, but a few brave souls in wetsuits paddle out into the waves, their belongings hanging on a piece of driftwood where their dog waits patiently in the sand.
I fell in love with Portland, and Short Sands Beach was a big part of that. I felt such an incredible calm wash over me, and I truly felt so far away from everything. With the only sounds being the wind and the waves, you really have the opportunity to stop and listen to what your soul is telling you…those whispers normally ignored, but oh-so-important to your well being. It was hard to say goodbye after such a short visit, but I know I’ll be back in the future. Check back tomorrow to see where I go next — and be sure to enter our Off the Beaten Path Sweeps!
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