It's Pronounced "Yah-hots"

“Looking at this, you can’t tell me we do not live in an absolutely beautiful place.”

I glance over at Andy, wondering if he’s just talking out loud, or posing a statement, or a question. Turns out, it doesn’t really matter. Standing on the edge of the beach, watching the pounding surf, the wind raging, he’s completely at home, content, relaxed. That goofy grin I get in the alpine? He has it here, surrounded by sea foam, and sand and salty air that permeates everything. 

Andy, looking small next to Elephant Rock (Seal Rock beach)

Curious harbor seals poke their heads out of the surf zone, watching us like bobbing apples. The world is all silver and grey, monotone, poised between the weather holding off and the promised deluge’s arrival.

My husband is a coastal guy. I’m a mountain girl. Compromise, compromise, compromise.

contemplating the tide at Yachats

No, not really. I actually do adore our coastline, I just happen to be drawn more to the mountains. But yes, I do love it. And yes, this to me (to us) is beauty. Not warm, white sand beaches stretching as far as the eye can see, but storm beaten, wild coastline where you have to work to get down to stretches of beach frequently only exposed at lower tides.

This. This is Oregon. This is home.


Andy hasn’t had a vacation in almost two years. House *stuff* kaboshed our anniversary trip (kayaking in the San Juans). He just had a birthday; mine is just around the corner. A three day beach rental in Yachats is on the ticket- a sort of birthday/due-for-a-break/anniversary/date trip.

Somehow, the weather held. Oh, it wasn’t sunny, and yes, it rained (it is, after all, the Oregon Coast in November). But the deluge held off, and you really can’t hope for more than that. We had strong winds, cool temps and dark skies. Puffy coats, rain coats, fleece hats, gloves were in order. But we also had entire beaches all to ourselves. The pace of the coast is markedly slower during the off season.

just him & the kelp

sunset at Tenmile

I arrived in Oregon in 1996, fresh-faced from humid Georgia, visiting colleges and universities with my dad. Still, I remember that he and I took an entire day to drive the 101 down the Oregon coastline, Seaside to Newport before heading back to Portland. That trip may have sealed the deal: I remember the intense green, the permanent, alluring fog, the damp, the cleanness of the air; I remember a coastline that felt positively wild and untamed compared to our east coast villas and frat party domains; I remember feeling like I loved this place, that I found somewhere I belonged.

During Andy and I’s initial college years (we are both on second careers/degrees…sigh), we visited the coast often, frequently heading to the Three Capes area, with Cape Kiwanda being our favorite. The central coast is just a little too far to do as a day trip from Portland, or at least to do very often. Newport has the aquarium. Florence has the Oregon Dunes- we’ve been to Florence exactly once, perhaps 15 years ago: five cheap college kids renting a rundown beach house for a weekend, playing in dune buggies, visiting the Sea Lion Caves. Fantastic memories.

But never to Yachats. Or Cape Perpetua. And it may now be one of Andy and I’s favorite places on the coast.

At three hours from Portland, horseshoe-shaped Yachats straddles the 101, the town curling around a small inlet where a fresh water river meets the salty, foaming Pacific. Cape Perpetua looms south. Yachats is tiny and charming and absolutely lovely.

Yachats reflections

We stayed south of town, past Tenmile creek. The cabin was ten feet from the beach- we watched the high tide roll in from the living room, a gray and teal surf play against a silver sky. Saturday we spent the afternoon roaming the beach- small, private, and often only seen at low tide or in the absence of storms. That night we drove into Yachats for dinner at Ona.

husband and dog stretching their legs

details at Tenmile

Rocky shores. Rainbows. <3

So here’s the thing about Yachats. I’ve stayed at several places on the coast, or mountain towns. The only thing that I ever find semi-disappointing (first world problem here, beware) is that when I don’t want to actually cook, good restaurant food is lacking. I did NOT find this to be the case with Yachats. Which tells me this place is a zoo in the summer.

Ona was delish. Andy had the crab cakes…although not to his exact and *picky* expectations (he would say here it has nothing to do with flavor or preparation, simply personal preference), the crab was fresh, sweet, and the cakes were predominantly crab, not filler: flaky and delicious. I had albacore steak, sashimi grade, wrapped in bacon. I don’t think this really needs more explanation regarding how good it actually was. Point(s) to Ona.

albacore steak wrapped in bacon

The Green Salmon Coffee house was another discovery. I am not a food critic, nor do I consider myself to be a true “foodie” or food blogger. But damn. This place was amaze-balls. [Reemphasizing the point: again, I rarely write food reviews. This trip might have a few in them. Go. To. Green. Salmon.]

We went for breakfast/lunch- sometime when we basically got hungry. Due to the phenomenon that is daylight savings, I needed more coffee. I ordered a mocha. Why? I don’t know, because quite frankly, mochas mostly annoy me now, being somewhere between too sweet and chocolate milk generic. Maybe I’ve just outgrown them.

Not THIS mocha.

Designated a *Sea-Salty-Mocha* on their chalkboard menu, I was intrigued. I like sweet-salty combos (insert salted caramel fan [here]).

Upon first taste, I looked at Andy and said flat out: “You need to try this.”

Him: “Why?”

Me: “You just do. Trust me.”

Him (eyeballing me): “Okay, but you know that a) I’m lactose intolerant and b) not the biggest fan of mochas.”

Me: “Yes. Andrew. I’ve taken all that information into account.”

Gathering said mocha cup into hand, he continued to eyeball me as he took his first sip. Closed his eyes. Opened them to reassess me. Took another sip. Got a look on his face. Possessively gathered my mocha mug close to his chest.

Him: “Mine.”

Me [grinning]: “Told you so. Hand it back.”

Him (grinning back, continuing to clutch the mocha, off to an angle now): “This might just be a life-altering mocha.”

Me: “Yes. I know, it’s incredible, right? Now give it back. The counter is over there. Order your own, buddy.”

the artsy mocha that caused all the fuss

Their sea-salty-mocha is something I’m going to *hope* to replicate in my house and will most likely utterly fail at. It had that really, really good quality espresso/chocolate balance to it, and you can tell they use a dark chocolate cocoa powder (almost Baker’s chocolate, but with an edge of sweetness to it) which makes the drink unforgettable. The milk is fluffed and steamed perfectly. Then? Then they add black Hawaiian sea salt to the foam.

Jesus. The sweet-slightly salty edge combo/burst on your taste buds…I’m not a food critic, and I do not claim to be one. For me though? Bomb. I got another one the next day, and I’m not one to seek out expensive coffee, especially not anymore.

Sound weird? Deal. I told my mom about this mocha, and I don’t talk coffee shop with my mom. She was basically like “I dunno, sounds odd, honey.” So, next time my mom comes to Portland, we’re going to Yachats for a mocha.

That said, the food at Green Salmon is also on par.  I won’t replicate their menu here because I suspect it changes depending on the season…but just….GO.  

Roasted yukon & sweet potatoes, garden sausage, smoked serranos, organic egg, chipotle wrap- with rosmary & garlic infused ketchup. Hello breakfast.

Beyond the food, Yachats continued to impress, despite being far from Portland. Cape Perpetua, a stone’s throw from the town, is probably the main draw, especially in summer.

I don’t think I have been (yet) anywhere on the Oregon coast with such incredible and diverse tidepools.

We had them on the *private* beach outside our rental past Tenmile. Strawberry Hill, although two miles south of Cape Perpetua, ended up being one of our favorite places. Here, harbor seals bobbed in the surf, curious and playful, watching us watch them. We walked the length of Strawberry Hill, and although we weren’t there at low tide, it still has to be one of the more interesting and intricate coastline areas I’ve seen in some time.

harbor seals bob in the surf at Strawberry Hill

I goofed around in sea caves. The dog got her exercise too. [GRIN].

Pepper Action Shot: Take One (photo by AJP)

Pepper Action Shot: Take Two (photo by AJP)

blurry pup

being silly (photo by AJP)

Returning from Yachats after lunch at the Green Salmon, we hit up Devil’s Churn, a deep inlet/chasm carved by waves at Cape Perpetua. Although not exactly at high tide (we kept Pepper on leash in this area, be warned) the waves were numerous, wild, and unpredictable. It was gorgeous. We wandered up along the rocky, unforgiving coastline, picking our way among the tidal formations…at one point, Andy got a little too bold…and a little too wet.

The Devil's Churn, Cape Perpetua

taking his chances with the tide...

wet & fussy husband
(I really was trying not to laugh) (photo by AJP)

From there, we headed south toward additional various areas near Cook’s Chasm, Spouting Horn and Neptune’s beach. None of which I wouldn’t recommend. Seriously. Cape Perpetua may be one of my new favorite areas on the Oregon coast. No major hikes happened- just incredible tide pools and traipsing around on coastal rocks like displaced mountain goats.

fuzzy looking anemones

gorgeous tide at Devil's Churn

anatomy of a seal along the tidepools near Cape Cove

I love starfish too

stalking seagulls at Neptune Beach

Sunday night, the promised deluge arrived, and we made our way back into Yachats for some fresh fish and chips at the Luna Sea Fish House. A simple, unpretentious hole-in-the-wall along the 101, nothing fancy, just a few tables set up in a room but some decent and very, very fresh fish & chips.

the ballpoint pen details are hilarious

The classics: fish & chips & chowder

An 11 am Monday morning checkout found us driving up the 101 with no particular agenda, save to enjoy the scenery. Somehow, the rain holds off. Not the gray, or the wind- the world is clouded over, the wind heralding the coming storm, but still no rain. We’ve been lucky this weekend. We duck in and out of both old and new haunts: Seal Rock beach, Yaquina Head, the historic bayfront in Newport, Devil’s Punchbowl, Cape Foulweather.

Seal Rock beach

Andy's having hat issues

Devil's Punchbowl

Cape Foulweather

noisy sea lions in Newport

compass details at Yaquina Head

At Lincoln City, we turn back towards Portland, perfectly content, the brine and salted wind still on our skin, in our hair, the work week and stress washed away.

 This is Oregon. This is home.

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