Travel Pic Thursday: Ecola State Park (Oregon) – Anniversary Edition

Today marks the day that my husband has been legally obligated to put up with me for nine years. Yes, nine years ago today we got married and this week’s Travel Pic Thursday is dedicated to the setting of our wedding: the sands of Ecola Beach State Park on the Oregon coast. So, let’s explore this little gem…

Ecola State Park – some history

Although people now go there for scenic beauty, the original attraction to Ecola for non-natives was a dead whale. Hardly romantic, but in 1806 the Clatsop Indians brought a hunk of whale blubber to Lewis & Clark’s winter camp, Fort Clatsop. This was apparently a better meal than the dog meat the Corps had been living on, so William Clark and a group of twelve others, including Sacagewea, convinced the Clatsop to show them to the beached whale

oregon, oregon coast, ecola state park

Sometimes there’s not actually a beach at the beach…

Despite having traversed mile upon mile of rugged land, Clark declared Tillamook Head (at the northern point of the park) to be the worst and steepest mountain he’d encountered.  The party came down over the southern side of the head then crossed Ecola Creek to reach the whale.  In fact, the name Ecola comes from Clark’s naming the creek after the Chinook word for whale: ekoli. Not to be confused with E. coli, which is what you might get from eating dead whale.

The natives traded away 300 pounds of blubber and Clark seems to have had a sense of humor when he wrote that God was kinder to them than Jonah by letting them eat the whale rather than the other way around.  Two months following the blubber feast, Lewis and Clark gave (returned?) Fort Clatsop to the Clatsop Indians and headed back to St. Louis.

Ecola Point & Crescent Beach

Ecola State Park has a couple options when you enter its forested depths from Highway 26. One route takes you to Ecola Point which has picnic tables, grassy areas to let Fido out, and “real” restrooms. Near the restrooms, you’ll find a sign marking the trailhead for the well-maintained hike to Crescent Beach. It’s a short 1.25 miles down, but remember, it’s all uphill on the way back.

Indian Beach

If you’re looking for easier beach access, take the road to Indian Beach (cue politically correct ballyhoo). The drive follows a 1.5-mile narrow, winding road so don’t even think of trying to get your RV down it. From the parking area, a short path (that even my grandma managed in her walker) takes you to the beach.

The sweeping view with a perfect array of focal points make this spot one of the most photographed spots on the coast so it’s likely the sight will feel familiar to you even on your first visit.  Indian Beach’s cove-like setting makes it popular with surfers, while the rocky headlands and outcroppings provide excellent places for tide pool exploration. On a nice day, it’s a perfect spot to sit on a blanket and just watch the waves.  On a bad day, well, the view from your car is always nice.

Getting Hitched

My husband and I got married on Indian Beach by the local county judge. If we could have gotten away with it without being beat over the head, we would have just scrounged up some beach-combing witnesses and called it good, but to stay on the nice side of the women in my family, we asked my mom and grandma to be witnesses, and my sister to be the photographer.

Grandma making sure we're doing it right!

Grandma making sure we’re doing it right!

It’s a risky thing to get married outdoors, especially on the Oregon Coast where the weather can change at any minute. Just a couple months previous to the wedding date, we had seen couple getting married on a beach just a bit south of Ecola. It was nasty cold, the wind was howling, and the wedding party did not look like happy campers.

We were worried, but the weather gods must have favored us because we had super sunny skies, warm temperatures, and no wind (a very rare event on any beach!). And we didn’t even get pooped on by any seagulls…a good day at the beach indeed!

Looks like I've already lost his attention!

Looks like I’ve already lost his attention!

Happy Ninth Anniversary, Mr. Husband! Looking forward to another nine, and then another nine, and so on…

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TAMMIE PAINTER IS THE AUTHOR OF THE TRIALS OF HERCULES: BOOK ONE OF THE OSTERIA CHRONICLES AND AN ARTIST WHO DEDICATES HERSELF TO THE TEDIUM OF CREATING IMAGES WITH COLORED PENCILS.
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