Monday, March 25, 2013

Heceta Head Lighthouse to Newport

View from hotel balcony, Newport, Oregon

Our destination today is Newport, an hour north of Heceta Head. It is home to Rogue Ales, purveyor of many fine beers, including the decadent Hazelnut Brown Nectar.

We pull into town around 6:30 and, after a few wrong turns, end up at the boardwalk on Yaquina Bay. Its main road, Bay Blvd., is lined with restaurants and shops. Many towns along the West Coast have similar areas: Morro Bay, Monterey, Astoria (as we will discover tomorrow), to name a few.

Despite its overt commercialism, the place exudes charm. It is a place to hang out, relax, and enjoy. Friends and families roam the streets. Inside Rogue Ales Public House, our server is friendly and engaging. She smiles and chats, but not in a way that seems forced. We feel at home, which is welcome after four days on the road.

Sandra orders halibut and chips, I have Kobe chili with Tillamook cheese. The food is good, not great. The beers–a taster of Honey Orange Wheat from Tracktown Brewery in nearby Eugene, and pints of Hazelnut Brown and Amber Ale–are delicious.

Maybe the mind is playing tricks on itself, but getting a beer at its source always seems more satisfying. It could be that driving 320 miles to get here and being served by someone who seems genuine in her enjoyment clouds our judgment, but I doubt it.

Besides, these things count. And even though the food may only qualify as “good,” I would return here without hesitation.

On our way out, we buy 22-ounce bottles of Chocolate Stout and Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout for later, then wander around Bay Blvd. Sandra loves saltwater taffy, and boardwalks always have a shop that specializes in such things. Two doors down, we find Aunt Belinda's Candies and fill a brown paper bag with goodies.

After walking some more and taking in the cool bay breeze, we head over to our hotel on the ocean side of the highway. Our room at the Hallmark Resort is on the top floor and is a suite, complete with full kitchen and spa. The view includes a glimpse of Yaquina Head Lighthouse in the distance to the north.

The photo at the top is my favorite shot from the entire trip. Taken from the balcony of our hotel in Newport, it perfectly captures the spirit of our travels. The sun setting into the ocean after a long day.

The photo's quality isn't great–it's from a phone–but the essence of this place couldn't come through any better. A few people, some with dogs, stroll along the beach. We hear the gentle swoosh of waves as they reach sand.

The world is quiet, still, perfect, or so it seems to us. Which is good, because tomorrow we enter vampire territory.

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