What do you get when you bring together historic lodging, strangers, good food, entertainment and the dramatic scenery of the Oregon Coast? My wife and I were about to find out!
We headed north to the Heceta Head Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast where festivities were taking place. The Heceta Head Lighthouse was celebrating its 124th birthday with an open house and we would be joining as event volunteers alongside lighthouse staff, the U.S. Forest Service and members of the Oregon Dunes Restoration Collaborative.
The free event drew over 300 visitors this year and since it’s one of only a handful of opportunities to view the assistant light keeper’s house, it’s worth putting on your calendar for next year when the 125th birthday party is sure to be extra special.
U.S. Forest Service volunteers provided the history of the lighthouse and the assistant light keepers house. There was also a well-stocked gift shop for buying a remembrance of this historic lighthouse. We helped welcome park visitors who partook in Taylor’s Sausages (more about them later), delicious birthday cupcakes and a variety of drinks.
Working the birthday party was only the beginning of our lighthouse experience because we were fortunate enough to secure the last available room! The on-site bed and breakfast has six rooms, some with private bathrooms and all with special views to the spectacular coastline, the inspiring Cape Creek bridge, the lighthouse, or some combination of the three.
After the party, we made our way upstairs to freshen up before dinner and waiting for us outside our room was a bottle of wine and some snacks. Now that's a cheerful welcome! We grabbed a late dinner in town and were greeted by an absolutely incredible full moon rising over the hills when we arrived back at the B&B. So much light spilled upon the landscape that I hardly needed a flashlight to walk to the beach - which of course I did! The short walk provided a view of the lighthouse beaming streaks of light over the darkness of the Pacific and once I reached the beach, the assistant light keepers' house was fully visible in tandem with the lighthouse, creating a truly beautiful scene.
On the beach, sandcastles, names etched in the sand and hearts with initials of couples were now being washed away with the changing of the tides. Being alone on the beach, waves pounding, invites relaxation and reflection. It was enchanting.
With our window cracked opened to hear the sound of the waves we turned in for the night. My peaceful sleep was unfortunately not broken by "Rue" the B&B's ghost, but by the brightness of the moon casting so much light through the window that I thought the sun was rising.
Before breakfast I had another stroll on the beach. The low tide exposed an abundance of sea life on the rocks and in easily accessible tide pools. Star fish and anemones were plentiful and sea lions bobbed within a short distance of the beach.
My solitude was interrupted by a pair of rowdy college students who had stopped en-route to Los Angeles. Unaware of the abundant life on the rocks and tide pools, I pointed out a few things to them in the hope they might be a bit more careful as they bounded from rock to rock.
Breakfast time was nearing and I didn’t want to be late to the much anticipated seven course meal. This elaborate breakfast is one of the famous features of the Heceta Head Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast. Everyone, including us, has a similar reaction that includes a question like, “how can you have seven courses?” Experiencing it made believers out of us and rather than describe each course I think you should experience it for yourself. Beyond the amazing food, what made the breakfast special was the great service, which included concise descriptions of each course.
When staying in B&Bs there’s always that moment of meeting fellow guests at mealtime and wondering whether there will be awkward silence as the food is served. Our group immediately hit it off and the conversation was lively throughout. From three Oregon couples, to couples from Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., and a pair who had driven all-day Friday from Boise to arrive for the Lighthouse Birthday Party and to celebrate one of the young lady’s birthday.
I mentioned I would get back to the Taylor’s Sausage folks, so let me start by saying they make amazing products. We were lucky to have them join us at breakfast and share their stories. Since 1924 six generations have operated and expanded the Cave Junction, Oregon business and even our vegan birthday girl tipped her hat to the passion and knowledge exhibited by the owners.
Not every stay at the Heceta Head Lighthouse B&B will be during a party, but with the great staff, a house with a rich history and the enchanting Oregon Coast as your backdrop I can say your odds for an amazing experience are really good.
Memories From The 2016 Birthday Party
Video by Michael Sherman