Covering 180 miles of Oregon coast travel: Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita, Nehalem, Wheeler, Rockaway, Garibaldi, Tillamook, Oceanside, Pacific City, Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Waldport, Yachats & Florence.
Word Spreads About N. Oregon Coast Mystical Legend
By Andre' Hagestedt
(Wheeler, Oregon) – If you’re an addict of the ABC show “Lost,” with all its strange, intertwined coincidences, you may be interested to know there’s a place on Oregon’s coast that has its similarities.
Wheeler, on the Nehalem Bay, is notorious among some regulars and residents for something called the “Wheeler Moment” – where serendipitous coincidences and odd twists of fate seem to happen with regularity.
Meanwhile, even in Newport’s Nye Beach district, some claim the phenomenon happens there as well, nicknamed the “Nye Beach Moment.”
The whole strange - even slightly paranormal - legend was recently spotlighted on “The Oregon Coast Show,” so word is slowly getting out about this special spot.
It's not just a tourism ploy, either. Wheeler resident Peg Miller described it as: “you’re thinking about something, or needing something, and it just sort of appears.” She refers to the area as being a “spiritual vortex lite.”
Back when Miller owned a hotel in town, she had one of these “Wheeler Moments” with the plumbing.
“I had just discovered a leak,” Miller said. “And I was wondering what I was going to do. Then I was interrupted by the doorbell of the B&B, and there was a guest at the door. During registration, I mentioned I had this leak to deal with, and it turned out he was a plumber.”
The man helped her repair it and became her regular plumber after that.
Other “Wheeler Moments” for Miller include the time she was having trouble with the latch on a thousand-dollar bracelet, and it turned out a guest was a jeweler, among numerous others.
Still not clear what a Wheeler Moment is?
Old Wheeler Hotel’s Winston Laszlo - along with Miller’s boyfriend, Garry Gitzen – was one of the first in town to coin that phrase and talk to the media about it a few years ago.
“I'd say that the ‘Wheeler Moment’ is the result of some sort of spiritual vortex that apparently exists in this little corner of the Oregon coast,” Laszlo said. “It seems that the vortex - or whatever it is – causes wishes and visions to become manifest at a higher than normal frequency here.
“I believe ‘funky coincidences’ occur all the time. It's just that apparently that property of nature is stronger around here. The phenomenon occurs here at a much higher frequency - and at a higher speed - than elsewhere. Whether it has to do with the geography of the area, or the meteorology, or maybe even the human history, it is something that you have to experience for yourself.”
Many of those who live in the Nehalem Bay area – or frequently visit – say it can happen almost daily at times. Sometimes they’re rather large; often they’re rather small and just plain trippy. But usually they’re quite pleasant and even beneficial.
Laszlo’s experiences are diverse and sometimes rather intense. Winston and his wife, Maranne Doyle-Laszlo, had enormous difficulties getting the hotel remodeled when they first took it over in the late 90’s. It was nearly a year and a half of one problem and odd, unlikely disaster after another – leaving the couple with the real feeling the building was “fighting” them. Then one day, things suddenly went smoothly and quickly.
That was their second introduction to the fact something was different about Wheeler. The first was getting introduced to the town while on a yearlong RV trip around the country.
“We always said wherever we ended up, it had to be ‘within walking distance of an espresso coffee shop and a fabric store,’ ” Laszlo said. “When we finally started to consider buying the Old Wheeler Hotel, those words came rushing back to us as we suddenly realized that the only two existing tenants of the building were an espresso coffee shop and a fabric store.”
Other stories Laszlo recounted included a hotel guest from the east coast was sitting in the coffee shop below, when she bumped into a cousin she hadn’t seen in 11 years.
Then, there was the truly weird ancestral family connection to Wheeler they discovered one day. Laszlo’s sister-in-law realized that her aunt had visited the building decades ago from another state, back when it was a clinic for the treatment of arthritis. It also turned out the aunt’s in-laws owned the building at the time.
As the Laszlo’s were in the process of refurbishing the hotel, a small house being built nearby caught their eye. They would jokingly call it “their house” and watch with interest its progress. “Then one day, after we had installed a chandelier lamp in the piano lobby of the hotel - a lamp we had very carefully picked out and which we thought would be perfect - we took a walk to ‘our house’ and on a whim, peered in the windows. And there, in the middle of the dining area of the little house, hung the exact same chandelier we had just installed at the hotel! We ended up buying the house a few years later.”
Local businessman Phil Kaufman tells a similar story about a couple who were looking for a house in Wheeler. They were ogling one particular house for a while, and suddenly realized the telephone pole right in front of them had a heart scratched into it, with a couple’s initials inside that were identical to their initials. They took that as a sign and purchased it.
Wheeler Moments aren’t confined to Wheeler, either. Residents of the entire Nehalem Bay area, including Nehalem, Mohler, Manzanita and parts of Highway 53, say there’s something different and unique about the whole area.
In Nye Beach, Village Market & Deli co-owner Deborah Trusty recounted numerous odd little moments there as well. Again, things that serendipitously happen out of the blue to help you along occur in this little beachside neighborhood too. “It’s like if you’re wishing for something, or needing something or someone, it sort of just drops in your lap in this really strange way,” Trusty said.
Wheeler Moments - From a Personal Perspective
As a part time resident of the Nehalem Bay area, I’ve had plenty of these, and they never cease to surprise me. I’ve had some which really added to my life, or literally changed it for the better. These are long, convoluted stories – too long for here – but they’ve involved dating and meeting some really interesting women sometimes. Because of this area, I was introduced to Russian rock star Boris Grebenshikov, in a way that wasn’t likely to happen again in my life, except for being in this one spot at the right time, as no one but Russian immigrants know of him in the U.S. I immediately became an enormous fan, and eventually got to interview him for The Oregonian and meet him at an after show party.
One of my favorites happened December 2005, when I was driving from Newport to Manzanita. As I drove, I was busy writing a column in my head about following radio station KINK FM 102 up the coast, noting where it comes in and fades out. I planned out little jokes like “Why don’t they ever play King Crimson on KINK?” and lines about how I’ve had odd coincidences on the coast listening to the station, when all of a sudden their “local spotlight” comes on and I hear friends’ bands from Portland.
Just as I entered the Nehalem Bay, right after Rockaway, David Bowie’s “Heroes” came on KINK. With Crimson’s Robert Fripp at the helm of this song, this is the closest I’ll ever get to hearing Crimson on that station (as Crimson is too avant garde to be played on a commercial station). Strange that song would come on as I thought about Crimson and KINK some 20 miles ago.
Then, as I pulled into Wheeler, the local spotlight came on, and one of favorite local bands, Camaro Hair, was serendipitously blaring from my stereo.
Then, later that night, I stop at the overlooks above Manzanita to take in the night atmosphere, with my stereo blasting tunes into the night air. All of a sudden, an old Mark Isham song appears on one of my prerecorded tapes. It’s not just any Isham song – it’s the tune KINK has been using as the theme for their news for 20 years. Now that third coincidence was a weird one, and made me laugh out loud.
I, and other Wheeler folk, have discovered Wheeler Moments can transplant themselves. Peg Miller told me a story of one that happened when she and Gitzen were in Wisconsin which had all the makings of a Wheeler Moment.
There are numerous Nehalem Bay folks who, like me, spend half their time there and half their time in Portland. One, a former bartender in Manzanita named Jason, now slings booze at a Portland bar named Mint. I walked in there one night, to hang with him and a pal named Greg, who is also a Manzanita part timer. To my surprise, there are about three other Nehalem Bay residents there, all of us visiting Jason.
Then, to everyone’s greater surprise, a group of about six of us were sitting around talking – many of whom had never met before that night – and we all discovered we were connected to each other through past acquaintances in really strange ways. In my case, it turned out Greg’s roommate in Portland is the younger brother of a guy I knew in Salem back in the late 80’s. Others dated former roommates of the others’, or other astounding incarnations of connectedness like that.
I usually call the Wheeler Moment the "Nehalem Bay Moment," anyway.
Then, quite recently, I’m heading to a live music bar in Portland, thinking my part time coastie pal Beth Willis might be performing there. I was planning on calling another close part time Nehalem Bay pal named Abby once I got there, in hopes of getting her to come and join me. Instead, I walk in – and Abby is already there. I had made no plans with her at all about this. And, it turns out, she had never been in that bar before.
Again, like the whole “wishing” or “thinking about someone” aspect of the Wheeler Moment: this person appeared. Another transplanted Wheeler Moment.
In the end - as I’ve written before – it’s hard to say what’s really going on here. But when Winston and Garry first told me about this phenomena in 2002, I suddenly realized I’d already had a host of odd serendipity and good luck happen to me there during the previous year.
I can’t explain it. I can only vouch for these funky coincidences happening way more often in Nehalem Bay and Nye Beach than they do anywhere else – and I spend a lot of time running between Seaside and Newport, and living half the time in Portland.
As I’ve written before: Make a wish there. You may be surprised. But don’t be surprised if something interesting and out of the blue happens in the Nehalem Bay area either.