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Learning Lessons on Oregon Coast The Hard But Amusing Way, Part I

Published 10/14/21 at 12:56 AM PDT
By Andre' GW Hagestedt

Learning Lessons on Oregon Coast The Hard But Amusing Way, Part I

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(Oregon Coast) – Still, to this day, after some thirty or more years of goofing around Oregon coast beaches, the thrill is not gone. Even after personally documenting every single beach access on the upper half of the coast, I still find surprises out there these days. The wonders never cease.

There's a kind of wisdom that comes with that experience, right? And that experience often takes the form of mistakes – correct? Oh yeah. To this I can personally attest . As the song says: “Mistakes, I've made a few…..” (and for the record I prefer the Sid Vicious version).

Periodically, the beaches can become more of an adventure than you bargain for. So, here's a handful of beach blunders I've made that were rather humorous in their way. Or at least now they are. Just as engaging, however, is the history I've actually witnessed in the region, which these wacky tales put on display.

The Oregon coast can be a hard teacher of lessons.

Lesson Number One: Don't drop your keys on the beach.

It's one of those deliriously awesome second summer days in the autumn of 1993 at McPhillips Beach – that wondrous little spot where you can drive your car near the northern face of Cape Kiwanda. I park my rig at the parking lot above and go for a sunset stroll with camera in hand.

Normally, I'm seriously obsessive / compulsive about checking my pockets for my keys. It's a weirdly instinctive thing. And this one time in my life I should've continued this oddball habit.

Somewhere along this sunset walk, my rather old, torn shorts let my keys loose in the sand. By the time I discovered this, the sun was going down quickly. Ruh Roh.


An hour after calling a locksmith he arrived, and it turned out he had vision problems and couldn't create a replacement key. After two hours of shivering in the cold, aching from hunger and too much coffee earlier, I was left with a steering column that was ripped open so I could at least start the car. This cost me 75 bucks.

This was before Pacific City was the hotbed of activity it is now: before the big pub on the oceanfront. Instead, there was a divey old roadhouse bar and restaurant in the same spot, which was luckily still open around 11 p.m. It was a rickety place: two stories, with the bar up top; a dank little hole-in-the-wall where a tired old piano player tickled the ivories with time-worn blandness. Actually that inadvertent humor brought a smile to my face. Who doesn't love a weirdo, dive bar on occasion?

Whatever sandwich I got – and I'm guessing it wasn't a great one – it felt like the best damned nourishment I'd ever had.

Part two of the story delves into a few more lessons involving running out of gas in the wrong place and time, karma aboard a whale watch tour, getting your rig stuck in sand, and why dry clothes are important even on a day trip.

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees nearly 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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