Day 3: Ecola and Cannon Beach

We woke up in Vinny, the Uninsulated, a bit chilled but dry. The rain was a constant reminder that we made the right decision in not tent camping during the trip. Once Vinny gets insulation and a heat source it will be much more pleasant. Regardless, we were happy to be able to make coffee inside and plan out our day. Breakfast was delicious Tillamook marionberry yogurt.

Our loose plan was to explore more of Ecola State Park; find a brewery; and take some time to slow down a little.

Ecola State Park is much much more than a $5 spot to drive out and snap pics of sea stacks. Turns out that it has some serious hiking trails, the beautiful Indian Beach, cougars, and even sharks! In the interest of getting the most bang for our time (a common theme of this whirlwind tour of everywhere, as you will see) we chose Indian Beach as the spot for mobile basecamp. This meant another slow but beautiful trip down the freshly paved road through Ecola. We snaked through the Sitka Spruce and Western Hemlock until we finally descended onto Indian Beach.


I love a good beach as much as the next guy but Indian Beach is much more than a pretty spot to take pictures. The beach’s makeup including sea stacks, cliffs, and large boulder piles lead to a diverse tidal zone.

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We made it to the beach as the tide was going out which allowed us to see a diverse array 22792314_10109211856128293_2300970124385076768_oof invertebrates. As a child I remember going to beaches in Florida and being absolutely obsessed with anemones and shellfish. I am very happy to report that that childhood sense of wonder has not been beaten out of me! Without disturbing the wildlife, we were able to observe sand fleas, anemones, tiny crabs, barnacles, and a variety of other sea life along the rocks and pools.

Side note: Investing in a fully waterproof case proved invaluable on this trip, not just for the rainy weather, but also in capturing underwater pictures such as these!

These photos were taken with an iPhone 7 protected by a Lifeproof case. Highly recommend.

 

 

We had the beach to ourselves for the most part and spent a few hours soaking up the views, hiking up and down the coast, and exploring the tidal pools.

Before leaving our little haven we made coffee using these yet-to-be-released single use pour over brewing gadgets that are simple to use and taste great. I cannot wait to tell you more about these later.

 

The morning’s excitement stirred up quite a hunger. We read great things about Public Coast in Cannon Beach so we headed down. Unfortunately we didn’t know that they were closed for brewing on Wednesday.

Luckily, Pelican Brewing was open, so we stopped in for lunch. We had the fish and chips along with some smoked salmon dip. The vibe of the place was pretty touristy, yet the food was great and there were a few other things we wanted to try. The beer was OK but a little on the watery side. Definitely not what I expect from a PNW brewery, but then again, us Michiganders are pretty spoiled by our local craft brews.

After lunch we walked to the main natural attraction of Cannon Beach: Haystack Rock. This impressive sea stack/mound can be walked to during low tide. It plays host to many intertidal animals and serves as a nesting ground for many different waterfowl.

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I’m sure that Cannon Beach is bustling with tourists during the busy season. However, our visit was mid-fall in the middle of the week and it was quiet and quaint. We popped in and out of art shops, bookstores, and spent some time at the Cannon Beach Chocolate Cafe (Chelsea’s favorite find–try the dark hot chocolate). We will certainly be making a return trip to Cannon Beach and Ecola State Park.

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Our trip back to camp for the night was filled with pitstops to visit small beaches, cliffs, and wildlife. Every few miles a new adventure beckoned, and we filled the rest of our day with as many short hikes and vista views as possible. Our original intent was put some miles down and make it further south along the coast, but there was just so much we wanted to see and we couldn’t resist stopping every few minutes. We’re already looking forward to our return trip.

Oregon’s northern coast is magical.

-J&C

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Day 2 Portland to the Coast

If you know us you know that we do not live in or near a city by choice. That doesn’t mean that we don’t appreciate the amenities that cities provide. Prior to heading out in Vinny we spent some time in and around Portland availing ourselves of the city’s offerings.

First we had breakfast at J&M Cafe downtown. I tried scrapple, a pork-cornmeal sausage, which was uniquely delicious and Chelsea had two of the biggest pieces of bacon that I have ever seen. This of course was before we experienced the middle of our country and again renewed our vow to eat less meat and possibly move back toward being full-time vegetarians. (More on this in a future post.) The breakfast was wonderful and the service was perfectly Portland.

After breakfast we set up Vinny for what we will call Vinny 1.0 Initial Essentials. (Remember that he will be getting multiple build-out posts in the future) We set up the bed; organized the gear; and secured all of the personal items. The goal of this maiden voyage was to see how we would use the van and try to set up a possible floor plan.

We rounded out the morning at my favorite city spot: REI. Usually these trips are pretty conservative but this time Chelsea told me to get the things that I have been wanting for a while and well, we both went a little nuts. No biggie, it’s our honeymoon right? So we spent money on adventure facilitators that will bring us joy well into our marriage.


As morning quickly turned into noontime we headed to Justin and Valerie’s place for lunch. They moved out here last year from Michigan and were able to give us great insights on Portland and where to go on the coast. They live near Mississippi Avenue so we walked to lunch. As an aside, Mississippi Avenue and their neighborhood are both super cool places and we will certainly be going back to spend some time there. Stormbreaker Brewing has daily BBQ and Mac-n-Cheese specials. You read that right. It doesn’t mean that the day we were there mac was a special, it means that each and every day they have a special mac and a special BBQ: amazing! We shared both and they were quality eats. The beer was pretty dang good too. They offered outside seating under a carport and it rained. In all honesty this is exactly what we wanted from Portland.

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Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

Justin and Valerie were super hospitable and let us hang around there place for a few hours while we waited for USPS to deliver the remaining outdoor gear but the day was slipping away and we wanted to get to the coast before nightfall so we had to leave before the package arrived. It eventually came and we picked it up on our way back east.

Pointed West we embarked on the adventure part of the Honeymoon. We took 26 (Sunset Highway) out to the Pacific Coast Highway. The van kept up with traffic through the mountains heading out of town without issue.

Portland’s temperate climate provides a great growing environment for many different flora but we were not prepared for the untouched beauty of the old growth forests as we entered the coastal mountain range and Tillamook Forest. We were both taken aback by the dense overhead canopy and its ability to make you enter a world of perpetual dusk even in the middle of the day. It was brilliant which was only made better by the on and off cloudbursts.

The night was quickly approaching but we simply couldn’t head straight to the campsite without seeing some of those famous Oregon sea stacks. Ecola Point, located in Ecola State Park, was nearest to the 26/101 turnoff. We meandered through northern Cannon Beach and took the beautifully paved, yet narrow, road out to the point. Chelsea had been dreaming about Oregon coast views and sea stacks since as long as I can remember. and the look on her face when she finally got to see them in person was truly priceless.

We lingered at Ecola Point until the sun was near to the horizon then we motored south toe Nehalem Bay State Park. This park offered access to the beach, power, delightfully-warm showers and, as you will see in Day 3’s post, surprising wildlife!

Our utensils were packed away in the yet-to-be-delivered supply box awaiting us back in Portland. Luckily we had this giant spoon from our Ikea trip.


This was our first night in the van and sleep came very easily. We were cozy inside as the winds off the Pacific howled outside. Rain was heavy and intermittent throughout the night and the waves could be heard through Vinny’s walls.

Keep reading, we did A LOT on day 3…

-J&C

 

Day 1: MQT > PDX

So let’s start at Day -1: We go married on Saturday October 7, 2017. It rained like crazy so we were forced to get married inside. It was an intimate ceremony with a small group of family and friends at the Ore Dock Brewing Company in Marquette. We wrote our vows; it was a true culmination of the life that we have created together complete with the standard love and trust language but we included fly fishing and homemade pizza. Everyone was dry and able to enjoy the party afterwards.

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Day 1: The Marquette to Chicago flight went off without a hitch. By the time the beverages were distributed we were beginning our descent. Upon landing I was constantly checking my watch and phone and doing calculations and speculations… you see, when I bought the tickets I failed to factor in the human element of travel. We had 36 minutes to deplane and get onboard the flight to Portland. On paper it looks like a no-brainer. Get off grab a coffee and head to the next flight. The second that people found out about the short layover they doubted our ability to make the connection. Well, I am happy to say that we got off the plane quickly thanks to the efficiency of other Midwest passengers. We jogged to the next gate and even had time for a quick bathroom break!

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The flight was beautiful and uneventful. We saw mountains and read.

Portland

We got off the plane, grabbed our luggage and hopped into Bob’s car. Who is Bob and why do I write about him with such familiarity? Well, you see, Bob Kelly is the commercial vehicle salesperson at Northside Auto and Truck. I met Bob over the phone and told him what we were looking to do. Through many emails, texts, and FedEx envelopes Bob and I got to know each other. When he picked us up he told us about PNW history, the Oregon Trail, and Portland’s growing homeless situation.

IMG_0448He was very nicebut I had a one-track mind at thatpoint.We got to his office and chatted while the new member of our little family was getting its bath.

 

 

 

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Here he is: Vincent Van Go! Giddyup!!!

He’s a 2017 Ford Transit 250 with 148′ wheelbase and the midroof. He was big an empty, a true blank canvas. We will be dedicating large portions of the blog to him in the future but suffice it to say this is our new adventure rig. Total van life would not really be dirtbag yuppie. Let’s call our personal philosophy VanLite. More on that later too.

With our empty van we headed to suburban sprawl to pick up some light trappings for our return trip. IKEA and Target served as our fist stock-up site. Although it’s all in a pile in the back of the van we have the basic necessities now!

Due to the fact that we didn’t have time to lunch or breakfast after unloading our carts we crawled back into IKEA and devoured the, “most delicious hotdog” of Chelsea’s life.

We bunked at the Jupiter Hotel. It’s a groovy reboot of a 1960’s hotel. Check it out. I suggest the “mild side.”IMG_0485

Dinner at Burnside Brewing brought my first real taste of a fresh PNW IPA. I had the Isomer and was not disappointed. Bottled stuff is pretty good but fresh from the tap simply cannot be beat.

Today, we leave the city.

Hopefully by tomorrow we will be used to the time difference.