Pacific Coast – Rockaway & Cannon Beach; Terrible Tilly Lighthouse

Majestic rocks rising from misty waters, fresh seafood, moody waves, and mysterious lighthouses all await along the Oregon coast. We had to stop by the famous Cannon Beach and get the story about Terrible Tilly lighthouse. Rockaway Beach was a hidden coastal gem and we celebrated the arrival of fall season with a cup of hot clam chowder.

We drove from Copalis Beach in Washington state and stopped in South Bend, WA for a quick and delicious, no frills, finger-licking-good lunch, courtesy of Linda’s Fish & Chips. We crossed the high bridge to Astoria, then witnessed a pink-and-purple sunset as we pulled into Big Spruce RV Park in Netarts Bay, OR.

From our new campsite, we set off to find the famous Cannon Beach but had to stop and check out Rockaway Beach, a small beach town with big charm. The Beach Bakeshop lured us in with fresh scones and coffee. But first, we just had to have a cup of hot clam chowder, because when you’re at the beach, you MUST have seafood.

Cannon Beach at low tide allowed for a good walk close to Haystack Rock, dotted with seagulls resting.

The Terrible Tilly lighthouse still stirs up stories and controversy to this day. Wise Native Americans stayed clear of it, believing that the 1,000-foot rock was haunted by evil spirits. Its building took 500 days and was a terrible challenge, with angry seas fighting against the construction crews and tormenting the lighthouse perched on Tillamook Rock since the 1800s. The sea finally won, throwing boulders at the lighthouse and smashing its lantern, thus forcing its decommission in 1857. After guiding sailors for 77 years, the battered lighthouse was sold off to various private investors. The lighthouse’s last private owner envisioned the structure as a resting place for cremains – but it was not to be so restful. The urns were replaced by live birds, voluntarily nesting in this unwelcoming spot, and the lighthouse is now a part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge.

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