TH E BULLETIN• SUNDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2012
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Photos by John Gottberg Anderson/ For The Bulletin
Neahkahnie Mountain rises 1,795 feet above the Pacific coastline just north of the small beach resort town of Manzanita. Legend holds that treasure was buried on the mountainside in the late 16th century, possibly by the crew of Sir Francis Drake, who is believed to have spent five weeks in Nehalem Bay in1579.
Nehalem Bay Continued from C1 Beyond the beach, the Nehalem River j e tt y m a r k ed the point where Drake must have entered the harbor. It broadened into a shallow but placid anchorage where one might easily have imagined a medieval galleon finding
moorage. At the Nehalem Valley Historical Society, volunteer Lila Hendrickson told me that Indian lore first enticed early settlers to look for Neahkahnie's pirate treasure in the 19th century. Since 1890, when the first of several carved rocks were discovered atvarious places around the mountain, small fortunes have been invested — and a few lives lost — trying to decipher the glyphs to find the treasure. Yet it remains a
mystery. In the sands of Manzanita Beach, at the foot of Neahkahnie Mountain, a d i ff erent sortof treasure has been found: Beeswax. Once prized in candle-making before man learned to harness electricity, beeswax washed ashore from a shipwreck here between 1694 and 1705. Historical records confirm that a Spanish galleon was blown off course while en route from Manila to the missions of Mexico and California. "They've even found Philippine bees in the wax," Hend rickson assured me . S h e showed me s everal p ieces of beeswax kept behind the counter of the historical museum. "People are still finding it on the beach, all the time," she said.
couple of galleries, two bookstores, two g r ocery stores, several beachwear stores and a pet boutique. There are even two spas serving the community. And r ecreational p u r veyors o f fer bicycles,surfboards and stand-up paddleboard rentals and lessons. Though small, Manzanita
NehalemBay State Park:a gem ofthe Oregon State Parkssystem Visitors often rave about Nehalem Bay State Park, which
embraces the 4-mile-long sandspit extending south from Manzanita, separating the bay from the Pacific Ocean.
Indeed, it's one of the gems of the Oregon State Parks
system. At the park's north end, sawgrass-covered dunes
a waiter asked if I was meeting someone named Josephfor lunch. "He's been waiting there for quite a while," he said. I assured him I was not — then laid my eyes upon an illuminated plastic mold of St. Joseph, sitting piously at his own table.
Nehalem and Wheeler The Nehalem River flows 119 miles through the Coast Range, rising near Vernonia and draining more than 850 square miles of forest and dairy land before reaching the coast. Highway 101 crosses the river as it leaves the town of Nehalem (pronounced "nehHALE-em"); just below this point, it widens into the bay where Drake may once have moored. Today this tranquil reach is shared by fishermen, kayakers, stand-up paddleboarders and a resident herd of elk. The Nehalem Bay area supportsthree separate communities, each about two miles from the next. Manzanita, the beach town, i s t h e w e sternmost. Wheeler, on Nehalem Bay not far from the river mouth, is the most southerly. In the center is Nehalem, the river town.
has a variety of lodging options: motels, vacation rentals and bed-and-breakfast inns. At the top end is the luxurious, beachside Inn at Manzanita. I saved money by spending two nights off the beach at the petfriendly San Dune Inn; unpretentious and comfortable, it is
shelter 265 campsites and18
lightly furnished yurts, open year-round, from oceanwinds. There's a well-maintained
bicycle path through the park, as well as ahorse campwhere summer riders may rent steeds for a trot along the sands to the
Eighteen yurts offer year-round accommodation at Nehalem Bay State Park, which occupies the 4-mile-long sandspit separating Nehalem Bay from the Pacific Ocean. The park has a well-maintained bicycle path and a horse camp where summer riders may rent horses for a sandy ride.
jetty at the mouth of the Nehalem River.
From Memorial Daythrough Labor Day, anopen-air am-
marine biology... or hidden
the 2011 tsunami that struck
programs that both adults and
Japan's Tohokucoast.Flotsam, treasure. Signs posted around the park some of whichmayhavebeen
children find of keen interest.
ask visitors to keep their eyes
family heirlooms, is still being
Theymay focusonsubjects as diverse asnatural history,
open for debris that maywash onto the Pacific sands from
found on the OregonCoast.
phitheater offers interpretive
as well as glass artists Roger and Trevor Crosta. "We use a process called 'scavo,' which is I talian for unearthed," Roger Crosta explained to me. "It's an obscure Venetian technique that requires sifting a mix of organic compounds on an unformed glass piece, then blowing and shaping it without tools. It's all hand-blown, but it's rough in texture and looks like it's been dug up after hundreds of
For most visitors to Manzanita, a beautiful beach and a quiet village with minimal commercialization are reason enough to visit. The town is located about 15 miles south of Cannon Beach and 25 miles north of Tillamook. Its 600 citizens (and a great many second-home owners) take advantage of being just off U.S. Highway 101 — the coastal artery skirts the community, but does not run directly through it — to attract artists such as painters Don Osborne and J. Scott Wilson,
operated by a jolly Englishman
— John Gottberg Anderson
to the Pacific Ocean. En route, it passes two banks, the town library, city hall and a slew of small shops that include a
named Brian Hines. There is a surprising variety of dining options, a dozen in all. I ended my visit convinced that the Terra C otta C afe servesthe best food between Cannon Beach and Lincoln City. My paper-wrapped halibut was perfectly poached, and the selection of wines was outstanding. But for pure quirkiness, nowhere beats Wanda's Cafe, just down the road from Manzanita in tiny Nehalem. No sooner had I walked in the door than
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years." Laneda Avenue, Manzanita's main street, is about eight blocks long from Highway 101
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IL A plastic Joseph occupies a table at Wanda's Cafe, decorated in appropriately quirky fashion for the Christmas holidays. The restaurant is open six days a week for budget-priced breakfasts and lunches, and it draws a clientele that is decidedly more local than tourist.
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The Bulletin Daily print edition for Sunday December 23, 2012