As I walk the beach of Fort Stevens during a gray, overcast sunset, I feel melancholy that my lighthouse quest is now over. It has taken me a month just to do my “coastal crawl” justice. I have had some wonderful experiences along the Oregon Coast, from bushwacking to see Cape Arago, to tide pooling with Life’s Little Adventures in Cape Blanco, to the enchanted carrousel of Umpqua River light. But it feel like it ended with such a thud. I am not ready to leave the coast…but would I ever be ready? Yet my “lighthouse caching” was an Oregon quest, and I had fulfilled that quest. I had run out of Oregon coastal highway. It was now time to turn east toward Portland.
But there, just beyond our nations’ most dangerous ocean crossing, where the mighty Columbia River vies for rite of passage through the indivisible forces of the Pacific Ocean, creating one of the most treacherous river bars in the world, I can see it flashing at me… Every fifteen seconds, alternating between red and white, the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse just across the river is beckoning me. But that is Washington, and I still have points to see in Oregon before I cross the state line.
But the cape now offers a special incentive. In addition to its beautiful Cape Disappointment lighthouse, along with the North Head Lighthouse just a few miles to the north, it also has a couple of very special volunteer hosts. Nina and Paul from the Wheelinit blog! If I wait until I cross over into Washington to visit Cape D, I will miss them. Having long been a fan of their blog, the prospect of having a lighthouse tour given by these two is just too great a lure…It would be the perfect “pièce de résistance” to my lighthouse tour.
In trying to plan my visit, it will be a short day trip if I can’t find an opening in the Cape Disappointment State Park, which notoriously books up months in advance. I check online, and there on the map…one lone little available dot on the entire campground map for one night only. My fingers fly across the keyboard as I race to reserve it before someone else does. The confirmation comes back… I’m in!
So I send Nina an email asking if they will be on duty. My luck continues, as my only opening between the work week falls on their three-days-on schedule! She tells me to come for the later tour, so we will have a bit of time to “talk shop” afterward. 😉 So I take a half day off work on Friday and fly across the big four mile bridge fueled by excitement.
Cape Disappointment actually has the unbelievable bonus of not one but TWO lighthouses! After Cape Disappointment was built in 1859, ships approaching from the north still had difficulty navigating the rugged coastline, resulting in the “Graveyard of the Pacific,” location of 234 identified shipwrecks that occurred as vessels tried to enter the river. So a second lighthouse, North Head was built in 1898. Two beautiful lighthouses to explore, two great hosts and fellow “lighthouse nuts” to meet, and one night in a State Park where I can hear the sound of the ocean through my open window. Need I say more?
I hurry to get settled into my Space #76, then I take off toward North Head Lighthouse, where Nina and Paul are hosting. As I approach the lighthouse from the trail, I can see Paul in the lantern room. He looks deep in thought (I later learned deep in the crossword. LOL!) so I stop to take his photo. I stand there for a few minutes, thinking he might look up, and I will wave. A woman approaches, and asks, “Do you think that is a real man, or a statue?” I reply “I think it is Paul.” She looks at me like I am nuts, and walks off.
I get the grand tour of North Head by two smiling faces,while marveling at yet another historic beauty. Though a familiar floor plan, she has a few extra original touches, like the colorful tile floor.
Nina and Paul tell me to stop by the Beast (their affectionate name for their 40 ft rig) after they have closed up shop at North Head. I come bearing Happy Hour treats, when I am delighted to learn I have been invited for dinner! Fresh, healthy and scrumptious is the fare on offer, not to mention non-stop, lively conversation.
As a solo traveler, it is always such a treat not to have to eat my own cooking. It is also a real treat to sit in a home with a couch, table and chairs for a change! And to have such great company while watching these two work in harmony to prepare the meal? Well, what a delightful evening! (Since Nina and Paul are as famous among the blogging community as Elvis, no photos were taken inside their private quarters of Graceland out of respect for their privacy.) 😉
After I say my good-byes with the hope to meet again down the road, I grab my camera and another layer of fleece, and head for the beach to try and catch one of the infamous Cape Disappointment sunsets I have longingly eyed on Nina’s blog. As the perfect end to such a lovely evening, how could it be any better than this?