Cape Blanco

It came as a surprise to me that the most western point of the United States is actually a contentious issue. The debate is between a point in Oregon and one in Washington, and apparently between land shifts, measurement anomalies, and whether or not you measure at high tide you can switch between the two as to which should hold the honor.

But I’m not in Washington right now, so I’m picking Cape Blanco in Oregon. It was so windy I had to lean against a pylon just to keep from falling over.

Bandon: The Place That Wind Remembered

Bandon, Oregon is the windiest town I’ve ever been to.

Welcome to Old Town BandonI went to Bandon because it had shown up on one of those “Best Beaches in the World” lists. I had talked to a few Ashland locals about what else I should see and do in Bandon, and they suggested going to the old town area, which due to prominent signage is pretty hard to miss.

Old Town is pretty touristy and pretty kitschy, but it has it’s charm. I stolled through candy shops and pet paraphernalia stores. I saw a man playing a harmonica. Not for tips.

However the most distinguishing feature of Bandon is the wind. I had to hold onto my hat when walking along the docks just to keep hold of it. At one point in order to find some refuge from the gale I ducked under the awning of the fish cleaning station, which managed to keep it’s particular scent despite the constant opportunity to be aired out.

kitchI stopped for lunch at Tony’s Crab Shack, and had a sandwich made with “Bandon’s Famous Crab.” I’ve started a policy of always ordering whatever item on the menu includes the word ‘famous,’ and it’s served me well thus far.

I stopped by the visitor information booth, where I received some assistance from fellow travelers in keeping the front door from slamming into my face. A nice old woman behind the counter gave me instructions on how to get to the beach, and asked me three times if I had a windbreaker. I asked her if it was worth it to wear my hat and she shook her head. “That’s Bandon. We can’t keep a hat on and we don’t carry umbrellas,” she said.

Evacuation Route

I parked on the beach and put on my hurricane jacket. I tightened the hood around my face and started to walk along the rocks. The beach I was on sits right across from the old lighthouse, and is home to what I assume is the new hornhouse, based on the noise it made every 24 seconds. I read the Tsunami warning and was suddenly filled with absolute dread and certainty that a deep ocean earthquake was happening at that exact moment, and I would never be able to make it to the evacuation route in time. What a way to go. Oregon’s nice but it would be a real shame to have only made it this far.

The wind was so strong I could barely keep my balance, let alone hold the camera steady. There is a kind of beauty to it though. A kind of very specific, dangerous beauty. The waves and the wind are so high and strong, they crash up against the rocks like scenes from a movie about a storm. The mist blurs all the edges, from the rocks to the horizon. The Oregon Coast is not the kind of place you idle, it’s the kind of place you haunt.crashing waves