Kiwanda Wonder: From the Inn

pc-feetfireI spent 52 years of my life in South Florida where I equated a “beach day” with sunshine, temperatures above 70 degrees and a bathing suit with sunscreen slopped on generously. For the past dozen years the Oregon coast has introduced an entirely new and amazing meaning to “a day at the beach.” Nowhere is it more wonderful than at what has become “My Little Beach Town” like it has for so many others. We took a late September long weekend at the Inn at Cape Kiwanda recently and were greeted by weather that – at one time – would have encouraged me to be indoors. Not now!

Overcast skies only served to bring us all a bit closer – to our toasty beach fires.  The wind was barely moving the colorful kites streaming along behind flocks of kids using barefoot running for wind-power – fueled by giggles and glee. A toddling towhead decked out in cozy fleece danced close to the waves adding a glisten to the low-tide sand while his watchful dad put finishing touches on the sand castle. Two sprightly seniors were sipping coffee mid afternoon as the tide began to switch from low to high. As the glassy waves built into more organized sets, they hopped up, donned their wet-suits and headed out for a standup surf session.  I have to admit – the two seniors were me and Ed.pc-sept-surf

It was so much fun catching wave after wave, even though the rides were short that afternoon, the waves were glassy goodness over and over again.  We came ashore and back to our room (and the toasty fireplace) in time to shower and dress for the 5:30-6:30 Friday night wine and cheese sampling party in the lobby of the Inn at Cape Kiwanda. This week’s end ritual begins with few people knowing each other – but soon conversation is lively. We took turns checking out the birds on the haystack with the telescope in the lobby.  As we snacked on fruit and cheese we recalled the day’s fun – how many hiked up the dune and took photos of the awesome view. Those who hadn’t quickly made plans for the next day.  As the hour wound down a few of us lingered by the fireplace while others made plans to meet for dinner at the Pelican Pub.

pc-beachcarSaturday morning dawned a bit foggy with the haystack rock rising ghost-like out of a low bank of cloud.  Again, it was no time to remain indoors and miss the wonder. As we walked across the parking lot of the Pelican Pub we had to look twice at what we were seeing. A lone guy was standing mid-way between the waves and the dunes doing – something? The air between him and the fog was all glimmering with light refracted somehow into rainbows in the shape of a sphere. Holy cow! He had a bucket of soap and a huge bubble blowing wand. He’d dip the wand into the bucket, hold it high and allow the light morning breeze to billow out bubbles nearly 4 feet in diameter. They would bounce and dance for a bit then disappear in a poof.

pc-3horsesIn a light drizzle that was mixed with peeks of sunshine in the blue windows between the clouds we took our coffee out to the beach for our walk down to watch the dory boats launch for their early morning catch. After a hike up the dune at Cape Kiwanda we began to make our way back to enjoy breakfast on our balcony.  As we were strolling back, the muted hoof beats of a group of horses caught our attention, just in time to snap another photo of what makes Pacific City beach wonderful in every sort of weather. Don’t miss it!

The Inn at Cape Kiwanda

The Inn at Cape Kiwanda

SUP: Perfect Beach Town

Inn at Cape Kiwanda is nestled between the light colored dune and the darker hill to the right - all ocean view rooms

Inn at Cape Kiwanda is nestled between the light colored dune and the darker hill to the right – all ocean view rooms

What’s a perfect beach for SUP paddling and surfing? Sandy bottom, glassy waves, no crowds, clear water warm enough for no wetsuit – does that work for you? Well, except for the warm water and no wetsuit, Pacific City, Oregon is pretty close to ideal.  The swells can be predicted and the mix of surfing waves goes the gamut.  The ambiance in a beach town can add a lot to our SUP surfing and paddling experience.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI am staying at the Inn at Cape Kiwanda this trip and finding it to be an incredible spot for a super surf trip experience. In previous trips I have stayed at a nearby campground, in a camping cottage or in a rental home set back from the ocean. The heart of Pacific City’s beach scene is the triumvirate of the Cape Kiwanda Dune, the Pelican Pub and the iconic Haystack rock about a mile off shore.

This “haystack” stands 327 feet (100 m) above the sea and is the world’s fourth largest sea stack or off-shore monolith in the world. The Inn at Cape Kiwanda is situated right in the middle of these three with an ocean view from every room. IMG_1580

While that is a nice amenity, its value to us as SUP surfers on the Oregon coast is enormous.  That early morning surf check in case the waves are right for a “dawn patrol” is usually a chilly trek from where you spent the night to the parking lot next to Pelican Pub. There we usually huddle in ski jackets holding our morning coffee close and tight. This morning I simply rolled over, still in the cozy bed, and check ed out the sets coming in at pre low tide. Not yet ready to surf, I made some coffee and went out on the deck.

capewaves2From there I could view the far western edge of Cape Kiwanda Dune, where the sets announce their arrival with a wash over the jutting rocks. I took a long beach walk and enjoyed the art – created by clouds, water and sand.IMG_1587

By noon as I had a light lunch back on the deck at the Inn, I started to notice larger arcs of whitewater wrapping around the end of the dune. These sets came in consistently for bout 20 minutes. i timed the intervals between sets and decided, with incoming tide and lighter than expected winds, it was a great time to don the wetsuit and head out. An hour later I was chilly but had my fill of waist to chest high rides cutting right and left on fairly glassy faces.

Now came a real treat. I loaded my board onto my car and drove over to the Inn at Cape Kiwanda. Just outside of the lobby is a WARM WATER shower. I doused the board and myself – it felt wonderful.  After drying a bit it was back to the room for a rest and a book.  But as I read, I could keep an eye on the incoming tide and the dory boats coming in – right up on the sand.

I must have dozed off – about 4:00 the swell seemed to build a bit. The expected afternoon winds didn’t materialize and I was right there, front and center to observe the sea.  Back into my wetsuit and an afternoon session I might have missed if i hadn’t been right there – better than any webcam!