I knew beforehand that my last stop in my Oregon Lighthouse Exploration was going to be anticlimactic. I could barely see it, let alone feel it. At over a mile off shore, the best I could hope for was a few grainy, distant photos. No way to come close, let alone have the intimate experiences I had had with the other six lighthouses now in my rearview mirror. For this reason, if I were scripting a tour, I think I would reverse the order and go north to south. But I didn’t have that luxury with my summer migration.
Nevertheless, what it lacks in proximity, Tillamook Rock, or “Terrible Tilly” more than makes up for in history. From the initial stories of the construction workers being cut off from supplies by a 12 day storm, to a later bizarre turn when a couple of enterprising Real Estate Developers tried turning it into the “Eternity at Sea Columbarium,” a place for interment of ashes, Terrible Tilly has quite a past. If you want to read more about its macabre history, you can do so here.
The closest one can get to Terrible Tilly short of renting a helicopter (I won’t admit to considering asking Seaside Helicopters for a quote) is the overlook at Ecola State Park. A beautiful little day use park, the road and hiking trail both go from enchanted forest to beachside bliss in just under two miles. I stood on shoreline, looking longingly, as if I were waiting for something to change. It never did. I must have taken 25 photos that all look the same. Distant landscape. Distant portrait. Blurry, gray, grainy, desolate, isolated, cold, alone…unreachable. “You win…”
As I continued my drive north along Highway 101, I found the atmosphere of the towns to vary more so than the quaint fishing villages down south. For example, Cannon Beach had a higher end luxury enclave feel to it, while nearby Seaside had such a different vibe. A little like its “sister city,” Seaside along the Jersey Shore.
Staring out across the mighty Columbia River, I realized as I stood at land’s end along the beach watching the 15 second flash from Cape Disappointment Light on the Washington coast, my anticlimactic ending to my month-long lighthouse exploration only left me wanting for more…