Beautifully restored and kept, Yaquina Head Lighthouse stands the tallest on the Oregon coast, and is the only lighthouse with the living quarters attached. It took over the job of the old Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, which is the only historic wooden Oregon lighthouse still standing.
We’ve made reservations and set out to visit Yaquina Head historic lighthouse on an early September morning. As we lined up at the door waiting for our guide, a swarm of black bugs pestered us. We found out they were harmless (aka no bites) although very persistent. Luckily, our guide showed up on time, got into character as an 1800s lighthouse keeper, and let us take refuge in the clean and bug-free building.
Inside, we gathered in the oil room, where the fuel for the light was stored. In the past, the keeper had to fill up the jug and make the 250-step trip up the winding metal staircase to keep the flame going in the original 4-wick light. We followed in his footsteps and admired the pristinely maintained Fresnel lens, carefully designed to capture and project light as far as 20 miles out to the sea. The lighthouse is a solid piece of architecture, comprised of more than 370,000 bricks, and features a five-foot-thick wall at the base of the conical structure that houses the lens.
Downstairs, in the keeper’s quarters, we read log entries made in lovely cursive handwriting and found out more about what it took to maintain the lighthouse in order.
Outside, we followed the road along the bay and listened to the guttural calls of sunbathing sea lions. Farther down into a quiet part of the bay, we spotted ducks and willets. A local couple gave us tips on finding local fresh fish, and we headed to Newport’s waterfront.
Our first stop was Chelsea Rose, an inconspicuous fishing boat offering freshly-caught whole fish. We bought a beautiful tuna, expertly filleted by the guy at the dock.
Next, we had to find Local Ocean, the famed local eatery featuring expertly prepared fresh local seafood and fun cocktails. We got a tip to get a spot at the chef’s table, so we had the best seat in the house to watch the masters at work while we waited for our food. The food was indeed delicious, balanced, and fresh. For dessert, we shared a scrumptious crème brûlée and sipped on prickly pear margaritas.