We’re continuing our annual recs for desert-leaving trips between now and Labor Day (beecause though it bee August, there’s still.so.much.time. to get your vacay drive on!)
This feature? Shares the gorge coasts of Oregon and Cali from a bee in our hive who knows ’em well: TJS District Manager Amber Cariker.
What kind of traveler would be down with these choices? “These places connect me to the Earth, and to a community of people who are present and open-minded,” says Cariker, who’s managed the beejesus out of TJS’s three locations for the better part of a year. “I am very interested in cultivating growth in my life, and I feel an overwhelming sense of connectedness to spiritual environments. Now, I think these places run slower than the average vacation, but for the right vacationer or family, I feel these places will also help people slow down, oberve more, appreciate the stillness, and explore the unknown without fear.”
(What she said.)
Wanna slow down? In her words, here’s Cariker’s turn-by-turn account. And since, around here, if Cariker says it we beelieve it, we’re going out on a limb to say we think you should, too.
Take Avila Beach Drive to San Luis Bay Drive and then take the street for See Canyon. You should have an off-road vehicle, but let’s just say it’s been done in a Honda civic.
“You’ll drive through windy roads of rich color—trees and lush tall golden grasses—until you come out into Los Osos Road where you’ll find a treat….
Montana De Oro
The Spanish translates to “Mountain of Gold.” And from Los Osos Road, you’ll drive all the way to the end and exit at Montana De Oro. Quite a long drive, but there is an area that becomes very wooded. You’ll park and use the man-made wooden stairs to begin a trek through the trees into the forest. Staying on the trail, you will come across a rich, dark brown sand that will then lead you to a slivered opening of ocean rocks and a beautiful quiet state beach. Bring a blanket and a picnic. You won’t want to leave.
A beach…with cliffs? This is THE place to watch a sunset. But you should also visit in the morning when the tide is down, and collect some pebble-like beach sand to build your at-home terrarium. The post-vacay high you feel from seeing that sand will take you back to Shell Beach with every glance. #NaturesGiftShop
Pappy and Harriets in Pioneer Town (Insider intel? Take Pipes Canyon road to get here).
So, nostalgia. I grew up dancing next to my parents on the planked hardwood floors, and the walls are cement with colored bottles in them like an old biker cantina! Harriet used to make all the food and desserts from scratch and when Pappy passed on, she sold the business to a Power Woman couple. They have gone on to turn it into an amazing music venue where Paul McCartney played last year, and they are about to have some amazing upcoming concerts: Bonobo, Iron & Wine, City & Colour.
Pioneer Town was a product of the early Western movie genre. Gene Autry helped the making of it, but it never really made amazing movies. Pappy and Harriet’s is the landmark of the Pioneer Town, but go and you’ll also be able to “walk the town” and soak in the western buildings. To think they’re now having contemporary concerts under the stars….
The Art Queen
Want some kitch in Cali? Head to “The Art Queen” and walk to the back of the Museum of Crochet, a sprite little building shaped like a lime-green viewfinder. When you see a key in the door, turn it. Go inside. You’ll find it filled with vintage crochet animals and sundries that’ll surely make you smile.
Sam’s Spa in Desert Hot Springs
In the heavenly place, mineral pools and soaking tubs are surrounded by grass and a man-made lake with fish and birds. Plus, there are peacocks that roam around the pools while you’re hanging out.
Peacocks, people. Peacocks. Need I say more?
This slice of heaven is great for two reasons. First: berry picking! (Entire pick-your-own flats for only $12-$15…in a place like this.) Second? Walk the aisles of lush fruit trees before heading to your next (and last) stop: The river. A river, you ask? Yes: Sauvie Island is the largest island that runs along the Columbia River…which, you can get to from the main road. If you choose to drive to the river (and I absolutely think you should), take a blanket and lay beside it. And don’t forget your parking pass for the day. I doubt you’ll want to leave.
Second on your Portland Nature Itinerary? Overlook Park. (“Skidmore Bluffs” is also what I’ve heard it called). Many years ago, a family allowed its back yard to be turned into a park. It is now open to the public, and at first glance you feel like you’re entering a grassy field where an umbrella of a tree drapes over a bench overlooking the city, a forest park, bridges, and train tracks. But really, it’s so much more. #SeeingIsBelieving.
Where to eat, you ask? Dove Vivi features cornmeal-crusted pizza with toppings like sautéed red onions
and corn and roasted poblano peppers. And Por Que No?—which, mind you, you’ll never find without at least a 30 minute wait—is beyond colorful and layered with art and lanterns and serves luscious agua frescas (cantaloupe, papaya+coconut, mango+lime, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera)…among other delicious bits. Definitely get the chips and salsa and sample the eclectic menu…especially veggie options like the seasonal taco. (Last one I had was beet, turnip, pumpkin seed, and rutabaga. A-m-a-z-i-n-g!)
Want some shoppin’? Hit Paxton’s Gate. There’s one in San Francisco, too (the original location), and no joke: #FavoriteStoreInTheWorld. It’s like the Natural History Museum…but a shop: taxidermy; bones; gardening supplies; dehyrdrated seeds and pods; books on making your own products; science; and odd collections of amazing things.