Friday, March 16, 2012

Seeing the Light at Cape Meares

Remember my friend Sarah? She comes out to the Pacific Northwest a couple times a year to visit. When she does, I "kidnap" her for a day or two, and take that time to introduce her to some things she can't see back home in North Carolina. Like the time I took her for her first foray into the Columbia River Gorge... Or the time I took her to the Hood River Valley to try some barbeque, Oregon style and then we watched the alpenglow on Mount Hood reflected in Trillium Lake... Or the time I took her hiking at Wahclella Falls

Part of the fun of kidnapping Sarah is she never has a clue where we are going. I plot for weeks beforehand, somehow managing to never drop a hint and keeping the secret not only from her, but from most of our mutual friends as well.

Sarah had mentioned on several occasions that seeing the Pacific Ocean is on her "bucket list" and in her previous visits was a little disappointed she hadn't made it over to see "our" coast yet. As our jaunts through the Columbia River Gorge were becoming almost predictable, I opted for something a little less expected to surprise her with - an overnight visit to the Oregon Coast.
After visits to the Tillamook Cheese Factory for squeaky cheese samples and ice cream, and the Blue Heron French Cheese Company for "provisions" (including her first tastes of brie!) we headed out along the Three Capes Scenic Route for our next destination - Cape Meares State Park.

At the first viewpoint, one could see Sarah was immediately in awe of the scene in front of her. In fact, I don't think I have ever seen anyone pull out a camera so fast and start snapping away (and that is coming from a photographer).

We were blessed with a rare winter day - blue skies, calm winds and not a storm in sight. I am certain if you squinted your eyes just right, you coul make Japan out on the horizon - the sky was just that clear.

The real attraction here is the historic lighthouse. Measuring only 38 feet tall, it is the shortest lighthouse on the Oregon Coast. In 2010, vandals shot out the Fresnel lens, which had been created in Paris in 1888 and survived a trip around the tip of South America to Oregon. Sadly, due to estimates ranging from $50,000 to $500,000, the damage to the lends has not been repaired and is still clearly visible. You may make a contribution to Friends of Cape Meares Lighthouse, who are collecting donations to repair the lens.

Unfortunately, the interior of the lighthouse is not accessible to the public during the winter. While it would have been fun to climb the stairs to the top of the light, not being able to do so did not diminish our visit in the least. The ocean views. along with the surrounding grounds and nature trails still make a stop here worth your while.

If you are planning a visit for yourself, the interior of the lighthouse and its gift shop are open to the public from April through October, and admission is FREE. Make sure to bring your camera. As Sarah can tell you, the views are picture postcard perfect.

Speaking of light, we were burning the daytime variety and it was time to head to our destination for the night - Oceanside.

Plan Your Own Visit:

Tillamook Cheese Factory
Blue Heron French Cheese Company
Three Capes Scenic Drive
Cape Meares State Park
Cape Meares Lighthouse

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