From the Blog

Camping On The Coast: Cape Lookout

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We knew that early May was way, way too early to be camping, especially on the coast. We normally camp in a tent. But we wanted to try a yurt. We figured it would expand our camping season if we didn’t have to worry about sleeping in a puddle. How correct we were.

Incredibly, as we pulled into the campground at Cape Lookout State Park, under gales of wind and pounding rain, we did see people huddled in tents and under canopies. We thought WE were crazy, but THOSE people were extra nutty crazy.

We were thankful to unload our stuff into our yurt and see that it had electricity! And heat! It was like we were cheating! But we didn’t care! The rain never let up the first night, and we were happy to have a little porch to fire up our camp stove without getting soaked.

However, this was our first camping trip of the season. And so we forgot a bunch of stuff. Like our camp stove. And our dutch oven. And our frying pan. And our only pot. We unloaded everything and were baffled. How did we forget all this stuff? We had all our usual boxes and gear. But half of our stuff was not where it should have been. We figured items got rearranged in our last move.

We had nothing to cook with or to cook in. So we hopped back in the car before it got dark and made an emergency supply run to Tillamook. At least this time, the yurt was taken care of for us, and we didn’t forget our tent poles, like we did for our first camping trip last year.

Did I mention we were so happy to be staying in a yurt? Did I mention that the rain and wind never let up the first night?

We’re good at trashing the place up pretty quickly. All the stuff that would normally be outside had to come inside to keep from being soaked. But it was a good amount of space for the two of us. We noted families and other couples in the yurts around us. I was thinking it was going to be nice to fall asleep to the rain tapping on the roof of our yurt, but it was more like listening to a symphony of jackhammers. It never let up. There was no indicator of wind inside except the sheets of rain that pounded LOUDER when the wind blew. Over the rain, we could hear the ocean roar 100 yards away. Through the night, I thought about the people who were out in tents, trying to sleep in this weather.

The next morning, the rain let up. The puddles drained away and we were able to light a fire and cook breakfast outdoors. We ate our pancakes and bananas then went for a walk on the beach.

What a beach. The tide had gone out through the night, exposing layers of rocks and happy little tide pools.

We saw a giant purple starfish clinging to these rocks. We poked around and picked over the rocks, but we could see that the tide was coming in. This was no place to be absentminded. We had to run away from the waves a couple times. I don’t know if you know this, but there are few things in the world more foolish looking than adults having to run away from little ocean waves. But I’d rather look foolish than endure a weekend of briny wet feet.

The sand was packed smooth all the way up to the bluffs, which made me think the tides come up and nibble at the forest. Much of the beach was draped with heavy non-native looking stones. I imagine they were put there to keep the dunes and cliffs from melting into the ocean.

I’m endlessly fascinated by rocks and land and geology. I know these layers tell a story. There are probably hundreds or thousands of years here.

Likewise, the tides deposit sand on the beach for streams and rivers to carve new stories. Here a stream has created miniature geologic formations. These will only last until the next tide, but will likely reform again and again.

In the distance we saw three waterfalls pouring off the cliffs and made it our mission to get as close as possible before the tide came in.

The beach was fascinating and beautiful in every direction. Tide pools are cool. Waterfalls are cool. Scoured cliffs are cool. Streams carving up the sand are cool. Any one of these things would have made the beach interesting. But this beach had ALL of those things.

For scale below, there are two people just to the right of the falls in blue.

This was the middle of the three falls. The last and largest of the falls was already covered by the tide. We weren’t in the mood to go for a swim to see it.

What an amazing place. Looking north, in the distance below is Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge.

After some spits of rain in the morning, the day cleared up and we actually got some sun breaks. We headed back to our yurt for lunch, then went on another walk to see the rest of the campground. We followed a service road up the peninsula, which then became a trail, and then became a footpath through beach grass, and then Dave started complaining that we were lost (on a peninsula) and we were going to get poison ivy or poison oak (he doesn’t know what poison ivy or poison oak look like).

My inclination is to see where we can go. His inclination is to follow a trail. For him, if there is no trail, that means we are lost. For me, if there is no trail, that means we can go in any direction. We are just beginning to see how this plays out for the rest of our lives.

We followed the sound of the ocean and eventually climbed out of the woods to the beach. Dave was instantly happier. We picked over piles of those same river rocks and tried not to fall or break our ankles. We meandered back to our campsite and it had become positively sunny. We read books in a sunbeam, we napped, we ate Jiffy Pop, then built a fire, ate dinner and drank a bottle and a half of wine until we were silly. We wondered at how we go more than half a year missing our camp adventures. Perhaps camping in yurts is the solution.

The next morning it was raining again. But we didn’t have to pack a wet tent. And that was awesome. We loaded up the car and headed north. Like the previous day, the clouds began to break and the drive up the coast was gorgeous. We’ve made this drive before, but it felt totally unfamiliar without a shroud of coastal clouds. It was clear and sharp, the new spring foliage was impossibly bright green.

We also realize that the coast is our new “neighborhood.” We drove through small towns and scouted picnic areas knowing that we will be back this summer to see more. We pulled over to snap the photo below. Again, in the distance is Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge, this time looking south.

This is going to be a fun summer, y’all.


  1. Auntie Laurie says

    What a BEAUTIFUL new neighborhood you have, I’m Very Jealous! Thank You for sharing!

  2. yurts!!! i want a yurt! in my backyard, so it feels like i am in the wilds…
    suggestion for your camping gear; put it all in the same colored tubs, different color from all your other tubs. this helps hugely when trying to locate everything.
    can’t wait to visit.

  3. Suzanne Andrews says

    The beach photos are gorgeous! You are one lucky woman!

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