I picked my Kansas City-based friend Emily up at the Portland airport a few days ago, intending to spend a day or so in Oregon before heading up to Seattle. Whoops! We spent four days in the Beaver State, and would have lingered much longer if it weren’t for that meddling return flight of hers.
Exciting news from this unexpectedly long stay, however: I have decided to live out the rest of my life in a yurt on the beach. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Great idea! I don’t have any questions about this at all.” Nonetheless, allow me the indulgence of an explanation.
Emily and I spent our first night together camping on the stony ground of a private campground in southern Washington, just a few miles north of Portland. (No camping within city limits, alas.) It stunk, and that’s all I’ll say about it. There’s a reason Thomas Edison invented beds.
The next morning, we drove into the city for a maple bacon doughnut and a tour of Pittock Mansion, and then headed west to Tillamook, a town of about 4,500 just a few miles in from the Oregon coast. First things first: a free tour of the Tillamook Cheese factory, now celebrating its 100th anniversary. Happy anniversary, factory, and here’s to another 100 years of cheese.
Our camping luck improved at Cape Lookout State Park, a gorgeous, quiet, relatively small park that’s right on the beach. We staked our tent on much softer ground in an enchanted forest from which we could hear the ocean. We shared a smoked-fish pizza — trust me, it was good — at an excellent nearby restaurant called the Schooner. We strolled over to the beach to watch the sunset, and this is when I decided that the Oregon coast is the most beautiful place I’ve been so far. Deal with it, Zion National Park. Hang your head in shame, Rocky Mountains. Go home to your momma, Santa Barbara.
Then night fell, and we spent the night in a yurt.
Apparently, many state parks in Oregon offer yurts as an alternative to tent camping. A yurt is essentially a circular domed tent, stretched over a framework of collapsible lattice. Ours boasted heat, electricity, window screens, a skylight, a porch, a lock, bunk beds, a futon, a table and two chairs. Did I mention the beds and the heat? And that we could hear the ocean? For dinner, we grilled some hot dogs for dinner outside and sipped some delicious frosty Bud Lights (beer snob outrage emails can be filed to rugraham2 at gmail.com). Oh, and the total cost of staying in one of these “rustic” yurts? A whopping $27.
We slept well. We woke up. We walked on the beach. In short, yurt living is pretty sweet, Oregon is pretty beautiful, and I was sad to see it recede in the rearview mirror. Before I knew it, I was off to Seattle, where it was time to take the Big Right Turn back to New York.