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Van Culture Flourishes on the Coast

For surfers, nomads and weekend vagabonds, vans provide a home, or a home-away-from-home

Vans fill a traveling and lodging niche somewhere between cars and RVs; they are large enough to live in, and are perfect for exploring coastal towns like Newport. Some people who have vans use them to travel to the beach on their weekends or vacations, and then return home when the trip is over. Other van owners have moved out of traditional houses and apartments all together, and have taken up full-time residence in their vans. Regardless of where van owners find themselves on this temporary to permanent spectrum, most agree that van ownership has given them a sense of freedom and excitement that is unique, and that van living is a lifestyle unlike any other.

You’ll notice a variety of vans driving along the Oregon Coast and parked next to the many beaches in Newport, but did you know that van culture has also become a nationwide sensation? The concept of van living has changed dramatically during the last 20 years; from SNL’s Chris Farley “living in a van down by the river” due to economic hardship in the mid-1990s, to modern times when van living is now a romanticized quest for simpler living. Over the last fifteen years, van culture has been documented and shared through blog posts, YouTube videos, and Instagram photos, with hashtags like #vanlife. Organizations, clubs and groups that celebrate van culture have also become very popular, with some that are all inclusive and others that cater to specific makes and models of camper or modified vans.  

Frequently, van owners customize the interiors of their vans to maximize all available space and utilize resources that are readily available. Meira and Louie Cole bought a 1988 Ford E350 4WD high top van almost three years ago, and although they don’t live in the van and they spend most of their time in Newport, they often travel up and down the Pacific Coast to where the surfing is the best. When they bought their van, they installed a rebuilt engine that runs on biodiesel that Louie makes, and added a propane on demand hot water shower. They also built a back bench seat that folds into a bed, storage shelves and surfboard racks, and even equipped the van with a solar panel that charges their electric cooler.

Meira explains how the van enables them to go into very rural places where there are no nearby stores, lodging or restaurants, like Baja, California, “As intrepid explorers, the van allows us to take everything we need to go beyond the limits of other people all in the name of surf.” Living in a van can also be difficult, and often challenging because of the lack of many basic functions that are included in traditional homes or even most RVs. Because of the extra work and effort it takes van owners to perform simple things like using the bathroom, cooking, or having clean laundry, Meira adds, “It takes a certain person to cruise a van. You have to be able to rough it.”

Other van owners, like Daniel Hasselschwert of Ossie’s Surf Shop, decided to live in a van and stop paying rent entirely. Two decades ago, Hasselschwert lived in a van for more than three years, because when he wasn’t teaching school in Corvallis, he was in Newport surfing, and paying rent was unnecessary. He eventually moved to Newport, changed occupations, and didn’t own a van for a long time, but really missed his van, or “rolling dorm room” as he refers to it. Hasselschwert’s most recent van reflects the changes in his life, and he says that “Customizing them (vans) is the fun part; when life changes, so does the van.”

Hasselschwert’s current van is a Volkswagen 1986 Syncro Vanagon 4WD, and is a rare find, as only around 40,000 were produced and distributed worldwide. Since acquiring the Syncro, Hasselschwert has added a dome on top and an outside rack, which he plans to expand further now that he has a young son. He explains that because the Syncro is 4WD, it can go off road to some of the hardest to reach surfing spots, or through the snow if he wants to go snow camping. Hasselschwert says, “You can take this van almost anywhere, you can also park it anyplace that you can park a car, and you can leave anytime you want.”

Van owners Ashley and Patrick Ward talk about the same freedom, “It makes it so we can be more spontaneous; we keep the van stocked so we can hit the road whenever we want.” The Wards own a 1980 Volkswagen Riviera, and take a lot of local and regional trips. Ashley explains that, “The van was pretty grungy when we bought it, but we transformed the interior by pulling out the old pressboard and installing cabinets and tongue-and-groove pine interior.” Patrick had worked as a Volkswagen tech for over ten years, and had owned a series of vans that he toured around in with a rock band when he was younger, so owning a van was second nature to him.

Ashley wasn’t so sure about owning a van when Patrick introduced the idea to her, but she quickly fell in love with the project when she posted Instagram photos or their van and people began to respond in record numbers. Ashley soon found herself in a community of likeminded van owners, and says, “Vans are cool. This has been a great project that we like to do together, from making it our own, to taking it on trips. We always look forward to running into cool people with cool vans.” The Wards are not part of any organization that meets with their vans, but they say that they are intrigued by the concept and might want to try it in the future.

Van owners are diverse and unique individuals, but they share some common traits and likes. They love customizing their vans to make them their own, the freedom to come and go as they please, and the ability to return to a simpler living situation, if only for the weekend. Owning a van as a hobby or lifestyle might be the next phase for your trips to Newport; there is already a van community here that is waiting to welcome you.

 

Become a Part of History!

How many of Newport’s oldest structures have you visited?

Newport is home to some of the oldest remaining structures on the Oregon Coast, and you can explore them the next time you visit! The town of Newport was first settled by homesteaders from the East Coast in 1864, and was named shortly thereafter for the town of the same name in Rhode Island. The Historic Bayfront and Nye Beach neighborhood date back to the very beginning of the town, and although most of the original structures have disappeared over time, a few remain. We’ve put together a list of some of the oldest remaining structures in Newport that will make you feel like you’re a part of their history when you visit!

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse

The Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, completed in 1871, is believed to be Newport’s oldest building. The structure is Oregon’s only remaining wooden lighthouse with built-in living quarters. The lighthouse has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places since 1974, and is reputed to be haunted. Regular daily tours of the lighthouse are available, and admission is free with donation.

Yaquina Bay State Recreation Site, Historic Bayfront                                                                                         

(800) 551-6949

Yaquina Head Lighthouse

Located in the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, the Yaquina Head Lighthouse is Oregon’s tallest lighthouse. The 93-foot-tall structure was completed in 1874, and is Oregon’s second oldest continuously operating lighthouse. The lighthouse has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places since 1993. Regular daily tours of the lighthouse are available, and admission is $7 to drive into the site, or free if you hike in.

750 NW Lighthouse Dr., Agate Beach                                                                                                

(541) 574-3100

Burrows House Museum

Built in 1895, the Burrows House has served as a residence, boarding house, funeral parlor and museum.  Renovated by the Lincoln County Historical Society in 1976, the museum displays both a traditional furnished Victorian parlor and lawyer’s office, complete with period clothing. Burrows House also features new exhibits, and hand crafted objects from the Society’s collection. Admission to the museum is free and it is open to the public Tuesday – Sunday, from 11am to 4pm.

545 S.W. 9th St., Deco District                                                                                                         

(541) 265-7509

The New Cliff House

The New Cliff House was built in 1913, and replaced an earlier boarding house (the "Cliff House") at the same location. The hotel overlooks Nye Beach, and is the only remnant of the tourist accommodations of that era in the Nye Beach section of Newport. The house has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places since 1986. The house was renovated in the 1980s, and has since been operating as the Sylvia Beach Hotel, where each room includes details and books that reflect the life and writing of one of 21 featured authors. Rooms are available, and the onsite Tables of Content Restaurant is open to the public.

                                                                                                                                               

267 NW Cliff St., Nye Beach                                                                                                              

(541) 265-5428

Pacific Maritime and Heritage Center

The building that houses the Pacific Maritime and Heritage Center was built in 1925, although the rock foundation and chimney date back to an earlier house that was constructed in 1890. This historic house was renovated by the Lincoln County Historical Society in 2004, after it had served as a residence, nightclub, and restaurant. The Center contains amazing nautical artifacts, heirlooms, and exhibits and is open to the public Thursday – Sunday, from 11am to 4 pm, and admission is $5 for adults, and $3 for children under 12.

333 S.W. Bay Blvd., Historic Bayfront                                                                                                

 (541) 265-7509

Yaquina Bay Bridge

Completed in 1936, the Yaquina Bay Bridge is perhaps the most recognizable landmark in Newport. With an iconic central arch and gothic columns, the bridge is impressive against the horizon, especially when the sun is setting over the Pacific. The Yaquina Bay Bridge helped to connect the northern and southern portions of the city, and stimulated growth along the Highway 101 corridor. The bridge has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places since 2005. You can easily drive across the bridge, but we suggest that you walk from the Historic Bayfront to South Beach and back again.

Newport looks forward to welcoming you! Click here for more info on visiting.



Now Is Your Time to Visit!

We’ve designed a great itinerary for all of our retired friends

You’ve earned your time off, so now it’s time to come to Newport while everyone else goes back to work or school! Newport has more than enough great restaurants, events and activities to fill your stay, but here are a few suggestions to make your visit the very best. You may choose to follow this list faithfully, or veer off at any point on your own adventure. And if you are not retired, but have some time to visit the coast, please enjoy this itinerary as well!

If you’re here for more than one day, check out a variety of additional ideas at discovernewport.com.

9:00 am: Breakfast, La Maison ● Start your day off right with an amazing coffee or other morning drink at this little bakery. They also offer some of the best food around, including flaky pastries and mouth-watering cakes. 315 SW 9th St., Deco District

10:00 am: Visit Oregon Coast Aquarium ● No trip to Newport is complete without a visit to the sea otters, touch pool, giant Japanese spider crabs, and other denizens of the deep. The Aquarium is the perfect place for kids of all ages. 2820 SE Ferry Slip Rd., South Beach

1:00 pm: Lunch, Mo’s, and wandering Newport’s Historic Bayfront ● Nothing says Newport like a piping hot bowl of clam chowder! After lunch, wander the Historic Bayfront to shop for souvenirs and watch the local fishing fleet in action. 622 SW Bay Blvd., Bayfront

3:00 pm: Explore Nye Beach ● Stroll through the Nye Beach Neighborhood, and visit the many shops and galleries. The neighborhood also has easy access to one of Newport’s best beaches, so you can take off your shoes and walk in the sand.

5:30 pm: Dinner at Ove Northwest ● Dine at Nye Beach’s newest hot spot! Featuring vegetable-forward New American cuisine, Ove Northwest combines international culinary influences with fresh, local and sustainable fish, meat, and produce. 749 NW 3rd St., Nye Beach

7:00 pm: Bonfire on the beach ● Take your s’mores ingredients and head to the beach for an evening bonfire to wrap up your day. Nye Beach and Agate Beach are both perfect spots to build a fire and roast s’mores.

Or

7:00 pm: Watch a performance at Newport Performing Arts Center ● Spend an evening experiencing world-class music, dance, theater, and other fine performance art. Check their calendar of events to see what’s playing during your visit. 777 W Olive St., Nye Beach

Newport looks forward to welcoming you! Click here for more info on visiting.

Run harder when it’s hard to run!

There’s always a race to train for in Newport

We are not fair-weather runners in Newport. If we wait for a “good” day to run in the fall and winter, we may not get outside for days, so we’ve decided that almost every day is a “good” running day. Running in the fall and winter does offer you the advantage of cooling off when you get too hot though!

Here is a list of local running events for fall and winter; for registration and additional information, please click the link for each individual event. How many of these races can you run? Make sure to bring your running shoes and a rain jacket.

Saturday, September 15: There’s no better way to celebrate the return of autumn than the Twisted Pine Run. You’ll run most of the race through South Beach State Park, but also spend about half a mile on the beach. Beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean and Yaquina Bay will be the background of the race, awards will be given, and a post-race celebration will follow.

Saturday, September 29: You’ll earn your beer when you run the 2018 Bay to Brews! The race will begin at Rogue Ales and Spirits, where you’ll run out and back on the bay, and then out and back on the beach path and jetty. You can run the 5K, 10K or half marathon, and then celebrate at the after party with a local DJ, burgers, and brews (or non-alcoholic beverages).

Saturday, October 27 and 28: The 3rd Annual Dia De Los Muertos Endurance Run has received a huge makeover and will include a 24 hour run this year, while still honoring the Day of the Dead! You can join family and friends to remember loved ones that have passed away in this rich cultural tradition. The run begins and finishes at Bosque café, and will feature post-race party with food, music and awards.

Thursday, November 22, Thanksgiving Day: Work up an appetite for your Thanksgiving Dinner at the Arctic Circle Turkey Trot along Yaquina Bay. This popular race offers 5K, 10K, and a kids run of about a mile as well. Terrific prizes are offered at the post-race raffle, and awards will be given to those with the best costumes.

Tuesday, January 5, 2019: There is no better way to kick-start your New Year’s resolution than with the Newport Resolution Run. The race is a 5K, 10K, or half-marathon in South Beach, but the real fun begins at the finish line, where runners will have the option of a polar bear plunge into the bay!

Newport looks forward to welcoming you! Click here for more info on visiting.

Extend Your Summer with a Stay at the Beach!

Newport has great lodging options to celebrate the final weeks of summer

Gather your family and friends together for one last trip to the beach before the end of summer! We’ve got the perfect place to call your home-away-from-home while you visit the lighthouses, stroll the Historic Bayfront, shop at Nye Beach, play in the surf and the sand, eat the freshest seafood, and drink local craft beer and regional wines. Whether you’d prefer to stay in a luxury resort, beach front hotel, romantic B&B, campsite, or RV park, we’re sure to have the right accommodations to compliment your plans. Come to the beach for a night or two, or stay for the whole weekend and beyond.

The Agate Beach Motel

These relaxed, country-style suites offer oceanfront or woodland views, and are perched above one of Newport’s favorite beaches. Each room is uniquely furnished, and includes a separate living area, kitchen or kitchenette and private deck. The Agate Beach Motel has DVDs and board games at the front desk, and dog-friendly rooms are available. The motel also features a centrally located fire pit and a seating deck over the beach, with a gas grill for family or group barbeques.  

175 NW Gilbert Way, Agate Beach

(541) 265-8746

Elizabeth Oceanfront Suites

Stroll or play on the miles of beach just outside your room, or curl up inside and enjoy
the spectacular view! Elizabeth Oceanfront Suites is a cozy boutique hotel with a variety of rooms and suites sure to suit all of your lodging needs. All 68 rooms have beautiful oceanfront views, and the hotel is located just a short walk from all of the great stores, restaurants and bars that make up the Nye Beach neighborhood. You’ll love the new windproof fire pits that are
perfect for making s’mores and watching the sunset.

232 SW Elizabeth St., Nye Beach

(541) 265-9400

The Shilo Inn

The Shilo Inn has 179 guest rooms that offer spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, the south jetty and the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. The Inn is also a short walk from Nye Beach, and is located next to the many shops, galleries and restaurants that the neighborhood offers. The Shilo Inn also features an onsite restaurant and bar, and has a pool and fitness center. Dogs are always welcome to stay with you at the Shilo.

536 SW Elizabeth St, Nye Beach

(541) 265-7701

The Anchor Pier Lodge

Featuring luxurious rooms with one-of-a-kind coastal themes, such as Captain’s Quarters, Surfer Dude, Ocean’s Edge, Coastal Garden and Bayfront History, the Anchor Pier Lodge is located right in the heart of Newport’s Historic Bayfront. The rooms also offer private decks that overlook the Bayfront and harbor and include a cozy fireplace. The Anchor Bay Lodge will customize your stay with their “Special Events Package” upon prior request.

345 SW Bay Blvd., Historic Bayfront

(541) 265-7829

The Landing at Newport

Located in the heart of the Historic Bayfront, this condominium hotel provides fully-furnished rooms complete with equipped kitchens, a dining area and a separate living room with a gas log fireplace. Most rooms offer washers and dryers, and feature a private balcony where you can enjoy all of the sights and sounds of the Historic Bayfront. The Landing also has a large patio with gazebo, gas grill and crab cooker for parties or family get-togethers.

890 SE Bay Blvd., Historic Bayfront                                                                                                                

(541) 574-6777

La Qunita Inn & Suites

La Quinta Inn & Suites offers casual comfort and great amenities for individuals, groups or families. Conveniently located near Hwy. 101, La Quinta is only a short walk from the Oregon Coast Aquarium, Hatfield Marine Science Center, Rogue Brewery, and the many other great things that Newport’s South Beach Neighborhood has to offer. Relax in the evening with 30 channels of HD broadcasting, or swim in the indoor pool and soak in their spa.

45 SE 32nd St., South Beach                                                                                                                          

(541) 867-7727

Nye Beach Remains Open During Construction!

Only a section of parking spaces in the turnaround are closed

You may have heard about the construction in the Nye Beach turnaround parking lot, but don’t worry, all of the restaurants and shops in the neighborhood are still open. The construction project to fix an outdated drain system is only affecting a few dozen parking spaces in the parking lot, and parking and beach access are still available. The drain project should be finished by the end of September, but it won’t slow you down from parking, accessing the beach or enjoying the many great things that Nye Beach has to offer!

Newport looks forward to welcoming you! Click here for more info on visiting Newport.

We Take Crab Very Seriously Here!

Newport is “The Dungeness Crab Capital of the World”

If you know much about Newport, then you know that we take Dungeness crab very seriously here! In fact, the phrase “The Dungeness Crab Capital of the World” became a registered trademark of the city in 2007. The Port of Newport is home to the largest commercial fishing fleet on the Oregon Coast, and has been harvesting record numbers of this prized culinary crustacean for over a decade. Because so much crab is gathered locally, residents and visitors alike are able to purchase fresh crab right off the docks, from area fish markets, and may enjoy crab in many local restaurants. Newport also offers a variety of opportunities for you to catch crab directly from the docks of the Yaquina Bay, or by boat in the bay itself.

Commercial crabbing is a way of life in Newport, and many residents work in the industry harvesting, processing and preparing the popular shellfish. Commercial crabbing from Newport is hard work, and it’s dangerous. During crabbing season, fishermen brave the rough and potentially deadly seas, and extreme weather to collect crab by passing through the Yaquina Bay Jetty, an area simply known as “the bar.” The Yaquina Bay bar is an invisible horizontal barrier, where the deep waters of the Pacific Ocean meet with the much shallower waters coming from the mouth of the Yaquina River, causing extremely perilous conditions for boats leaving and returning to the bay.

Out to sea, beyond the Yaquina Bay bar, commercial crabbers must work along the edge of the Pacific Northwest coastline known as the “Graveyard of the Pacific,” where jagged, unforeseen rocks and severe and rapidly changing weather create hazardous crabbing conditions. The Discovery Channel has even chronicled the life-threatening work environment faced by Newport’s commercial crabbers in the reality series, Deadliest Catch: Dungeon Cove. In addition to the difficult and harsh working conditions, crab fishermen often have to negotiate the price of crab to get fair payment for their yield.

If you want catch your own crab, the Yaquina Bay is perfect; it requires minimal expense and preparation and provides a great individual, family or group experience. Crabbing in the bay is open year round, although most crab is harvested between June and November. The best times to crab are when there is less difference between high and low tides, and during slack tides. Pick up a copy of the current Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations, a “crab gauge” measuring tool, and an Oregon shellfish license. Examine the regulations closely for instructions on gear to use, limits, and measuring and determining the sex of the crab. Don’t forget to dress in warm clothes and bring gloves. Choose to bait your traps with fresh turkey, chicken, clams, fish carcasses, small fish, or other meat scraps.

If you choose to crab the bay by boat, you will need to stay out of the navigation channel and away from boat traffic. Select a location to drop your pots or traps that is at least 20 feet deep; most charter boats are equipped with depth finders, but if you are renting your own boat make sure that you are crabbing in deep water. Use sinking line (as opposed to floating line) that is at least twice the estimated depth of the water to avoid getting tangled in boat propellers or swept away by erratic tidal currents. Also make sure that your pots or traps are heavy enough to sink all the way to the sandy bottom, and that your floats and buoys can be easily distinguished from other crabber’s gear.

Crabbing from a dock or pier is much easier and less expensive than crabbing from a boat, although the availability of crab can be limited to the specific area that you choose to drop your traps. The Port of Newport public fishing pier (located between the Rogue Brewery and the historic Newport Bay Bridge) in South Beach, and the Abbey Street Pier on the Historic Bayfront are some of the best spots to crab. Tie off the end of your crab line to the pier, and position your pots and rings so as to not interfere with boat traffic.

If you choose to use pots, leave them undisturbed for at least 45 minutes before pulling them in to examine your catch. With rings, let them sit at least 10 minutes before checking them, and then pull them up consistently and quickly to allow the basket shape to capture all of the crab in the trap. Crab rings and pots are inexpensive and available in many locations throughout the Newport area, and renting them is even less expensive and might be the best choice for your first crabbing adventure.

Bay crabbing charters, and boat and gear rentals, are also readily available on the Historic Bayfront and in South Beach. Talk to crabbers out on the piers and docks to find the best location, what kind of bait is having success, and how many crabs are being caught; most are likely to share helpful information with you. Crabbing in the Yaquina Bay from pier or boat is always a great adventure, and eating the fresh Dungeness crab that you caught yourself is an unmatched culinary experience!

If you don’t want to harvest your own Dungeness crab, that’s ok, because local crab is available for purchase. You can often buy crab right off the docks in Newport’s Historic Bayfront on Port Docks 3, 5 or 7, and from specific boats in the South Beach Marina. When you go to the docks or the Marina, look for signs that advertise crab for sale. You may also buy fresh crab from local fish markets that have purchased them the same day from select fishing vessels. Additionally, most local restaurants feature fresh cracked crab, or entrées and dishes that contain the savory shellfish. No matter how you acquire Dungeness crab, you’re sure to love this coastal delicacy if you like crab. Come find out for yourself why Newport is “The Dungeness Crab Capital of the World!”

Newport looks forward to welcoming you! Click here for more info on visiting Newport.



Travel Newport Magazine

Spring / Summer 2018