Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Wine, Beer, Seafood, and Music Festival Festival

The Reedsport Chamber is hard at work, making Reedsport one of the hottest spots on the Oregon Coast for a good time. Now they are putting together the first annual Wine, Beer, Seafood, & Musical Festival in Gardiner. Gardiner is this little old town just downriver and across the water from Reedsport, once known as the White City because there were so many houses painted white. It was later known for the International Paper mill, which added a distinctive aroma for people driving down Highway 101. The mill is now gone and the town is undergoing a bit of a renaissance. Come join them on February 17 and 18 for a good time at the old Jewett School on the hillside. Can't miss it. Check Theresa Hart for more updates.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Surveying the Tourists

At yesterday's SOVA symposium, I listened to a presentation regarding research. I responded with the following email:

I enjoyed learning about the Dennett Group's visitor research for Southern Oregon. I want to follow up on the brief conversation we had about potential problems.

First consider the following simple model. Cities A and B each have 1,000 population. Everyone in A visits Southern Oregon once a year. 100 people in B visit Southern Oregon 10 times a year and no one else. If you sample the populations of A and B at home, you will decide that 10X as many SO visitors are from A as B. If you conduct intercepts in SO, you will get the same number of A and B. Longwoods is based on the former, and you on the latter. You won't get the same results.

You remarked that the only problems to worry about would be systematic sources of error. Here are five.

1) Assume that there is a decreasing likelihood on any particular trip of someone going to a Visitor Center. Your method will understate the number of trips to SO that a particular visitor takes.

2) However, since the cumulative likelihood of being at a visitor center at least once increases with more trips, you will paradoxically overweight the demographics of people who visit SO repeatedly.

3) You will underweight low incomes, because such people are less likely to base decisions on reading matter, which is what they get in visitor centers.

4) You will underweight "visiting friends and relatives" because such people have a built-in source of visitor information that is not available to FIT folks. They are consequently less likely to enter a visitor center.

5) You will underweight people who get their information from the Internet. Someone who has printed a local map from Mapquest doesn't need to get one from the visitor center.

You have a very accurate survey underway of exactly what it appears to be -- the profile of the average person who walks into a visitor center, or to a small degree an attraction. You also have useful information for the lodging, shopping, and dining folks, but it certainly won't be definitive.

I have devised a strategy for doing an online survey for the Oregon Coast. It will have errors, as does yours, but it will give useful information. It will say less about visitors to visitor centers but more about occupants of hotel rooms. I will be curious to see what differences appear between your results, my results, and Longwoods.

Rob Spooner, Publisher
Oregon Coast Magazine

Sunday, January 28, 2007


Reedsport Annual Dinner Report

We attended the annual banquet at the Reedsport Chamber last night. Reedsport has an exceptional number of festivals. They said it was the largest number of any city in Oregon, even Portland, which may be true. They had the list on the wall and it was impressive. Coming up soon is a wine, beer, seafood, and music festival in Gardiner. I think they should just say, "Oregon Coast Bounty," or something and keep it short. Anyway, it's going to be a rip snorting event and we're planning to be there.

Our very own Theresa Hart took over as the 2007 chamber president. She is a very polished speaker, which was evident during the evening. Reedsport is lucky that she agreed to take the job.

Saturday, January 27, 2007


Growing Brookings

People keep moving to Brookings-Harbor on the Oregon Coast. Southern Oregon is popular with retirees and they love the climate in Brookings. The population of Brookings exceeds 6000, up about 10% since the last census. Harbor is probably the largest unincorporated community in Oregon, making the total local population around 14,000. There is a thriving campus of Southwestern Oregon Community College and this is also a hot spot for Oregon Coast real estate. Blue Pacific Realty can help you find the house you need.

Friday, January 26, 2007


The Reedsport Chamber Dinner

We're heading down to Reedsport on Saturday for the annual chamber of commerce banquet. It's extra important for Oregon Coast Magazine to be represented because Theresa Hart, who works in our Internet side, will be taking on the job of president of the chamber for the coming year. She's quite an asset to Reedsport as well as our business. Reedsport is a great place. Unlike some spots on the Oregon Coast, it has kept a very working-class atmosphere. I've sometimes thought, though, that they could attract a lot more tourists with better use of their waterfront on the Umpqua River. They do have the Umpqua Discovery Center there, but it isn't nearly as much as in Florence.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


The Coos Wagon Road

Most of the pioneer trails have either been aBandoned or are now completely developed that they don't conjure up any images of early settlers. The Coos Bay Wagon Road is an exception. Running 78 miles today, the road was opened in 1872 as a link between Roseburg and Coos Bay. Even though it has been upgraded, it still runs through some very scenic back country. If you drive it today, there will be eleven miles of unpaved road if you follow the complete route. The new natural gas pipeline to Coos Bay follows the right of way of the old Wagon Road.

If you follow the route to the coast in order to get married, ask Wren Smart for her assistance. She's experienced at it, having helped many people get married and having done it three times herself.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Connie and Jennifer in Lincoln City

Connie Hansen came to Lincoln City in 1973 and decided to develop the acree of land around her home on 33rd Street into a garden. She did a spectacular job of it, and since her death in 1993, it has been open to the public as the Connie Hansen Garden. You'll enjoy the azaleas, primroses, irises, geraniums, and more than 300 species of rare rhododendrons. Another highlight of Lincoln City is the Jennifer Sears glass art Studio, where you can blow your own glass float. Jennifer was a well known figure in the tourism industry who died much too young, and this is a way that she can be remembered.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Visiting Astoria

One of the things you notice about old City Halls is that they have a much grander notion of what city government represents than the modern ones. Here in Florence, we have a modes, utilitarian building that you will leave town and never remember. In Astoria, the citizens built a Big One in 1904. It's still in existence today, looking out grandly over Astoria at the corner of 16th and Exchange, but the city offices have moved on. Now it houses the Heritage museum, which displays the region's heritage from the days when it was populated only by Indians through the explorers and later the pioneer farmers, loggers, and fishermen.

There are some interesting bed and breakfasts around Astoria. One of them is the Uppertown Bed and Breakfast. Another is the Rosebriar Inn. There are a number of nice hotels in Astoria as well, but you can try one of these for an even cozier experience.

Monday, January 22, 2007


Our Open Coast

The entire length of the Oregon Coast is open to the public. That's some 350 miles. In California, only about 90 miles out of more than a thousand miles of coastline are owned by the public. Governor Oswald West persuaded the Oregon Legislature in 1913 to make the beaches public property. Governor Tom McCall brought about legislation in 1967 that guaranteed that the beaches would remain forever accessible to anyone. You can't climb across private property to get there if the owner doesn't want to let you, but once you're on the beach, you can wander anywhere you like.

Friday, January 19, 2007


Beach Cleanup

The Great Oregon Beach Cleanup, organized by SOLV, is designed to give the beaches of the Oregon Coast a sprucing up twice a year. Volunteers comb the beaches for litter and bring it to collection stations in garbage bags. Some of the stuff is too large to handle this way, and every year the list of unusual items is pretty impressive. During the Fall 2006 cleanup, items retrieved included a refrigerator, the roof of an outhouse, a magic wand, a box of Cuban cigars, a harmonica, and a sailboat.

In an era when we ask ourselves sometimes whether there are enough public spirited people in Oregon to make a difference, the beach cleanups routinely gather more than 3000 volunteers for this day of work. It will be even more impressive if we ever see Wren Smart out on the beach doing a good deed for someone else.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Oregon Dune Mushers Mail Run

Maybe you thought mushing was just something people did in Alaska and Yukon on snow. But there's another version that goes over sand and every year, the big event is the Dune Mushers Mail Run. This year, it's going to be on the weekend of March 10 and 11, starting in North Bend and heading north to Florence.

It's a non-competitive endurance race where each musher carries commemorative envelopes signed by that musher and carried over the trail on the dunes. The stamp on each envelope is "cancelled" at North Bend, Lakeside, and again in Florence as part of the organizers' fund raising. Teams range from 4 to 10 dogs and cover the 70 miles over the space of two days.

You can get a good look at the dogs while they are running by stopping at the Oregon Dunes "Day Use Area," formerly and more intuitively entitled the Dunes Overlook. But some bureaucrat felt this wasn't sufficient, so your federal tax money was spent changing the name and all the signs.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Astoria is older than the rest of us

The Astoria chamber of commerce has invited us to attend their annual dinner later this month. It was quite an affair last time we attended, which was a few years back, and I'd like to do it again. It's important for Oregon Coast Magazine to be part of affairs like this.

One of the things about Astoria is that you're reminded of how much older Astoria is than anywhere else on the Oregon Coast. I don't remember exactly, but I think the last dinner we attended was something like the 125th annual. We're down here in Florence and there hasn't even been a city here for that long. Florence has something it calls Old Town Florence, which consists mostly of building designed to look old and a couple that are from the first decade of the 20th century.

Actually, Astoria doesn't have that much really old stuff in its downtown, most of which burned down 80 years ago. The Liberty Theater looks really old, but it's really just a late Vaudeville theater that was converted to movies.

Sunday, January 14, 2007


Largest Spruce: New Candidate for Disaster Tourism

It seems that Oregon's largest Sitka spruce, located at Klootchy Creek just inland along Highway 26 from the Oregon Coast, is in dire straits. It was hit by lightning and damaged some years ago and a recent storm revealed serious rot. Experts think it's only a matter of time before this giant falls.

When life gives you a lemon, make lemonade. We will hate to see it fall, but there may as well be a silver lining. Disasters are big draws. Rubberneckers slow down traffic to pass accidents. Idiots hear tsunami warnings and rush to the beach for a better view.

We should do something like that for the Klootchy Creek spruce. Sell tickets to watch it. The Oregon Lottery could start a game; winner guesses when it falls. If it starts to go, it'll be even more of an attraction. Nobody would watch the Tower of Pisa if it weren't leaning, would they?

All this levity masks my deep dismay. I'm a tree-hugger at heart. I love the big ones. It will be a shame to see this one go.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Siletz Bay

Siletz Bay is a very interesting place. It's cut off from the Pacific by the Salishan Spit, which extends all the way from Gleneden Beach almost to the Inn at Spanish Head. Over the years, many huge stumps have floated down the river and become stuck in the mud. It's a wonderful place for birds. In fact, a lot of marsh land is included in Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge, some of the most scenic estuarine habitat along the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway. When you finish viewing wildlife, you can have a super dinner at the Bay House Restaurant. This is definitely one of Lincoln City's best.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Entertainment for January

January 6 – Belinda Underwood – Kernville SteakhouseLincoln City – Willowy Belinda weaves her vocal spell while dancing with her bass. An enchanting evening with a delightful pair of musicians as Belinda is joined by her talented keyboard partner. Very classy, elegant entertainment! FMI 541-994-6200

January 10 – Rick Bartow Group – Kernville Steakhouse – Lincoln City – Great music and a lot of fun, they’re becoming an institution here! You oughta check ‘em out! 7-10 PM. FMI 541-994-6200

January 12 – 14 – World Poker Satellite Tournaments – The Mill Casino Hotel – North Bend – The final round winner wins a seat at the WPT in Las Vegas. FMI 800-953-4800

January 13 – Triple Creek – Kernville Steakhouse – Lincoln City – Our friends from the valley return to our stage. A wonderfully versatile trio of guitarists that’ll bend your ears and minds! FMI 541-994-6200

January 17 – Joe Dobroe & Evans Longshore – Kernville Steakhouse – Lincoln City - Again, a delightful evening of music in store for you when these fellas start swingin’ their axes on the bandstand! They’ve got the chops and the chips will fall! 7–10 PM. FMI 541-994-6200

January 19 – Jimmy Bivens – Kernville Steakhouse – Lincoln City – Jimmy’s cool, he’s tall, sings fun songs, has a nice voice, wears a baseball cap, plays the tambourine with his feet… looks like he just got off the beach and you’re gonna love him! Heck, we do! FMI 541-994-6200

January 19 – 20 – Comedy on the Coast – Chinook Winds Casino – Willie Tyler & Lester, Michael Pace, with host Jeff Capri. FMI 888-MAIN-ACT (624-6228)

Information courtesy of Oregon Coast Visitors Association

Monday, January 08, 2007


Weddings on the Oregon Coast

If you want to get hitched on the Oregon Coast, you should engage the services of Wren Smart. From her offices in Mapleton on the Siuslaw River, she does all the arrangements. Pick a place. She'll marry you in the Oregon Dunes, on the beach, beside a babbling brook, whatever you like. She's been doing this for several years and people seem to be really pleased.


Fun and Games in Reedsport

There are a remarkable number of festivals that take place each year in Reedsport on the Oregon Coast. Reedsport is a very civic minded community and they put on a good show every time they run one of these things. They range from wild parties in the dunes like Dunesfest to classic car shows. Many of the festivals are found in the Calendar section of Oregon Coast Magazine.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


Snowy Plovers

Throughout Oregon, people are locating the best places to watch birds and combining them into "trails," which are actually just a series of disconnected locations. The first trail was in the Cascades. The Oregon Coast Birding Trail has now been officially launched. There is a brochure and a Web site.

However, one bird that won't be seen much along the trail is the Snowy Plover. To begin with, there hardly are any. Secondly, they tend to congregate in areas where people don't ordinarily go. Thirdly, the government is trying very hard to keep those few people who might bump into a plover away from those few places where they could be found.

This raises an interesting question. The government has cordoned off the areas where the plover breeds, at least during the breeding season. Nobody except the government actually sees them in action. They go to a lot of trouble and expense protecting the plovers from their natural enemies.

But would it make any difference if they shut down these areas and then didn't actually do anything? The plover is so rare that they can actually count nearly every one. It is too rare to have any impact on the environment. I have no idea what it eats, but the handful of predators that eat plovers and their eggs would starve if they had nothing else. They probably wouldn't lose weight if they had no plovers at all.

And it's not as though there aren't plovers. This species is found all around the world. There is another population in Eastern Oregon that is doing just fine. We don't actually need snowy plovers on the Oregon Coast in order to save the planet, so why don't we just "declare victory." Set aside some areas of the dunes and announce that there are now plenty of plovers there, but nobody can go look. The government could then stop fretting over them and use the money for something more productive.

Saturday, January 06, 2007


Different kinds of Good Weather

"There's no such thing as bad weather," said John Ruskin, "only different kinds of good weather." That's the sort of positive attitude that carries you through winter on the Oregon Coast. Certainly there are many kinds of weather to enjoy. We just had hail on Thursday that turned everything white for half an hour. Pea-sized puppies. I'm glad I wasn't playing golf or something.

And we're getting some pretty good wind as well. Angelia Moor, one of our ad reps, just moved to a condo on the oceanfront in Rockaway Beach from the safety of her home in Lake Oswego. Just in time for some near-hurricane winds.

One of the great things out here, for sure, is that the weather is always changing. Inland, you can go for long periods with gloomy weather, but on the coast, there's always a sunny patch between storms. Usually even between squalls. It can get seriously wet, of course, but it's always an adventure.



Twenty Five Years

Oregon Coast Magazine is now in its 25th year of publication. It started in 1982, during the worst economic downturn that Oregon has seen since the Great Depression. It has survived longer than any other general interest magazine in the Pacific Northwest. There have been a couple of efforts at Washington Magazine, Oregon Magazine, and sundry city books. But Oregon Coast Magazine just keeps plugging along. There are subscribers who began before the current owners bought it in 1988.

The person who makes it all work is my wife Alicia. I tell people that and they say I'm being modest, but in fact I wouldn't have any idea how to get an issue to the printer. She hunkers down with her Mac and with the help of a lot of others on the staff, it gets down every two months. It's always been an amazing thing to me.



The Mile by Mile Guide to Highway 101

We're in the process of producing another guide to the Oregon Coast. The guide has been producing by Oregon Coast Magazine for about 15 years now, ever since it was abandoned by the old Oregon Coast Association. It's the most popular guide in the entire state, not just the most popular for the coast, and there will be about 341,000 copies produced in a month or two, most going out for free distribution.

We're very fortunate to have the help of the Oregon Coast Visitor Association in distributing the guide. It's through their support that we've been able to get more than 100,000 additional copies into circulation in the last couple years. The guide is online, but if you want a printed copy, just go to OCVA's Web site and request one. One will be mailed to you.


Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Enjoying Christmas in Astoria

I got a chance to visit Astoria for Christmas when I visited daughter Jaci at her house in Knappa. It was a lot less snowy than the last time, when I almost got wiped out on the road.

I think every town should have something like the Astoria Column even if it doesn't do anything useful.

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