The Oregon Coast is a mystical place that sticks with you if you’re open to it. I’m still pondering my time at Heceta Head Lighthouse, which I wrote about a few weeks back. Even though it was over a month ago, I continue working on an internal conversation weaving through the fabric of my travels.
An early blog post of mine way back in 2019 (which seems like 15 years ago now) was about seeing things as they are rather than how I’d like them to appear — in the context of travel.
My point in that article was that millions of people visit Rome, and other places across the globe, to get in on their own story around travel. Is it my place to tell them they’re wrong to engage in a frenzy of bucket list races for social media glory? Can I still have my own connected experience with thousands cramming in to see the Trevi Fountain — fighting off selfie sticks?
A pandemic took care of some of this… for now. But the nagging question still remains.
The Heceta Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast hosts six rooms in the former lightkeepers’ duplex, and an intricate seven-course breakfast is served in the morning in the Victorian appointed parlors. Being a solo traveler, I was seated across the main dining room table from another couple, Evelyn and James, who appeared to be around retirement age.
I’d noticed her elegantly coiffed gray hair the night before while enjoying a plate of cheese and crackers from an Adirondack chair overlooking the blustery Oregon Coastline. James inadvertently let me into the house after being told not to… let anyone into the house (you know, security and all).
It was too awkward not to talk to each other, even though we were across the table, and soon enough we were engaged in a deep philosophical conversation about Oregon (they are from Salem — the capital of the Beaver State for those who don’t know), the environment, travel, and whether or not such beautiful places like this lighthouse should be open “to the masses” to experience.
While this kind of discourse might be welcome with friends, with perfect strangers I felt uneasy. After all, I just wanted to enjoy the ornate morsels of fruit served in a depression-era coupe glass. However, this is what the world needs more of — uncomfortable conversations to process points of view and opening of minds.
Evelyn made it clear she didn’t want me to write about the lovely lighthouse so that it could be kept a divine secret meant only for a few. On one hand, I got her point. The more visitors, the more erosion of beauty might occur. And certainly, more commercial development would destroy the magic.
But on the other hand, I feel a strong calling to help others find their own path toward the connection to nature — which the world desperately needs — and this was an extraordinary experience to use as an example.
If people don’t experience (either in person or via content such as mine) the glory of nature — say, the feeling of the salty spray of the ocean blowing against the face — will they earnestly want to help protect it? Without such healing elements, can we as a society really propel respect for the Earth and humanity?
We discussed the concept of the National Parks, and the tragic tradeoff associated with designating iconic areas like Mt. Rainier — much of the land was logged to support the costs of managing these budding national treasures.
My elegant breakfast companion thought there should be fewer visitors to the National Parks to keep them from being ruined. James seemed open to the concept that an increase in tourists allows more people to access, enjoy, and appreciate the stunning natural beauty.
Maybe Evelyn just wants statuesque vistas, like Heceta Head, to herself — and I get that too. Who doesn’t yearn to have a transformational nature experience in the peace and quiet of self-contemplation?
What are your thoughts and feelings?
Should travel be encouraged, and what kind?
Is it worth it to help more people feel the healing properties of Mother Earth?
How has nature impacted your life, if at all?
I’m really interested in your point of view, so please respond with your constructive comments below.
As for me, I’ll be heading back to the Oregon Coast tomorrow to explore Brookings, Gold Beach, and Port Orford. I can’t wait to walk with redwoods and listen to waves crashing on the rocks. Stay tuned (and follow me on social media) for the highlights.
Until then, may your December be bright!
PS… Be sure to take a look at two recent articles I’ve released about ways to access the beauty of National Parks — the links are just below.
Exploring Paradise at Mt. Rainier — National Park escape.
Explore pristine Paradise at Mt. Rainier with me. Includes tons of fall color photos and helpful planning information for Mount Rainier National Park.
Olympic Peninsula road trip — 3-day epic winter tour.
Inspiration to plan your own Olympic Peninsula road trip. This Epic 3-day itinerary is great for first-time visitors and all seasons. Includes an interactive map and downloadable itineraries.
Join my adventure library
They’re not on the main website, but all my adventure itineraries are free when you subscribe to my newsletter all about this wonderland we call the Pacific Northwest.