51st annual Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest kicks off summer

Teams work during last year's Sandcastle contest.

Teams work during last year’s Sandcastle contest.

Saturday, June 20 will mark the 51st Annual Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest, kicking off summer with the most popular event of the year.

Dozens of teams participate.  Amateurs compete in large group (5-8), small group (1-4), teen and children’s divisions to earn medals, ribbons and bragging rights. Masters teams, comprised of previous masters and large group winners, from throughout the west coastm Canada and afar, come to compete for cash prizes.  The creations are magical.

Sandcastle building plots are laid out in the morning. A back hoe will be used to dig holes near each building site to provide a source of water.  Masters teams typically utilize construction forms, similar to those used for pouring concrete.  Sand is shoveled, tamped and packed into the forms to make large and elaborate sand sculpture creations that will hold without crumbling under their own weight.

Teams work from 7:00 am to 1:00pm, with the creations best viewed right before judging takes place in the early afternoon and winners are announced.

The stunningly NANCY MCCARTHY — The Daily Astorian Cannon Beach Sandcastle Day 2008beautiful, but temporary works of art are usually washed away with the next high tide.

To accommodate the influx of spectators, this is the one day of the year when parking is allowed on the sand in Cannon Beach.Other special events to celebrate the Sandcastle Contest throughout the weekend include a kick-off parade Friday at 5p.m,  a  Saturday Night Hootenanny at the Chamber Hall and a huge beach Bon Fire at the Tolovana Wayside starting at 8:00 pm, just north of the Tolovana Inn.

To register for the contest, contact the Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce at (503) 436-2623.   Details can be found online and in this brochure.

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Cannon Beach to Manzanita: Otherworldly Auto Tour

Excerpted from Beach Connection.net

Owald State Park viewpoint, just south of Cannon Beach.

Owald State Park viewpoint, just south of Cannon Beach.

Few auto tours along the coastline are quite as engaging as that run between Manzanita and Cannon Beach.  It’s about 15 miles and about a dozen winding bends that enter a lush, forest canopy, only to reemerge along more stunning ocean viewpoints.

The curves begin just south of Cannon Beach, twisting along as you drive past pullouts and spots like Hug Point, Arcadia Beach and Arch Cape that never cease to amaze. Soon, you’ll enter the Arch Cape tunnel, which opens up to a brief glimpse of panoramic ocean views, before entering the forests of Oswald State Park. Here, check out the surfing Mecca of Short Sands Beach, some wondrous trails, primitive campsites and a couple of hidden beaches tucked along the road as well.

Short Sands surf beach

Short Sands surf beach, between Cannon Beach and Manzanita.

These viewpoints just south of Cannon Beach are some of the most famous on the entire Oregon coast.  The final attractions here are the Neahkahnie Overlooks just above Manzanita – one of the most popular viewpoints along Oregon’s coastline.


Celebrating Memorial Day in Cannon Beach

Members 32771d523823a987d82964f0c53568a5of the Cannon Beach American Legion Post will conduct a Memorial Day observation at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, March 23 at the 1st Street Bridge, on the North End of Cannon Beach.  All are welcome to join the ceremony.

Dovetailing with Memorial Day Weekend, the Cannon Beach History Center will open a new exhibit, of “WWII on the Oregon Coast” with special events on Friday and Saturday, May 22 & 23 at 7:00 p.m.   The repercussions of the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor were felt across the nation, including Cannon Beach and other coastal towns.  The exhibit opening will feature comments by local historians, authors, and documentarians, highlighted by a presentation from Lt. Col. Alisha Hamel, a member of the Oregon National Guard’s historic outreach program. She is well known for her acclaimed documentary, “The Jungleers” about Oregon’s military role in combat.

Fort Stevens Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10580 and its auxiliary will hold a Memorial Day service at 11 a.m., on Monday at the Fort Stevens Post Cemetery, followed by the annual flag changing ceremony at 12:30 p.m. at the Warrenton Post Office, 99 S. Main Ave.

The staff and management at Tolovana Inn are pleased to offer discounts to active military guests.

Coastal Sunsets at Cannon Beach a Spectacular Display of Color

Glorious Oregon coastal sunset, (George Vetter Photography)

Glorious Oregon coastal sunset, (George Vetter Photography)

As the days get longer, rooms with a view at Tolovana Inn are even more desirable.

That’s because Mother Nature’s gorgeous coastal sunsets are a beauty to behold and almost impossible to describe.

When the sun drops toward the Pacific Ocean horizon, the backdrops of color are breathtaking.  A maritime layer can turn the sun into a glowing ball of orange and the landscape a sky of golden light.   The evening sky can reveal a color palette from pink, purple and blues to orange, yellow and red.

Spring and early summer nights frequently offer a show stopping display of nature’s glory that must be experienced at least once in a lifetime, and fortunately for most Oregonians, much more than that.

Daylight lasts over 14 hours now, with sunset approaching 8:34pm.

With ocean front and ocean view rooms, Tolovana Inn provides front row viewing for magical nights on the coast, one of many highlights of any trip to Cannon Beach.

Call today to reserve your  stay in one of the  spacious, ocean front or ocean view room at the Tolovana Inn, in Cannon Beach.



The May 1-3 Cannon Beach “Spring Art Unveiling” includes Edible Art, too.

Painting by David Jonathan Marshall at Modern Villa Gallery

Painting by David Jonathan Marshall at Modern Villa Gallery

The Spring Art Unveiling provides another great reason to stay at the Tolovana Inn in Cannon Beach.

At the weekend long Spring Art Unveiling, hosted by the Cannon Beach Gallery Group, its members spotlight new work by their chosen artists during special demos and receptions with live music,  May 1-3.

For the fourth year in a row, the spring art weekend will include “Art from the Chef’s Table” as twenty-nine of the towns chef’s, candy makers and baristas prepare  unique food and drink creations, inspired by featured gallery works,  and available just for this special weekend.

A complete list of gallery events and inspired menu items can be downloaded from the CB Gallery group site.

For reservations at Tolovana Inn, call 1-800-333-8890.

Honoring the Oregon Beach Bill in Cannon Beach

The lines were once drawn in the sand, where drift wood was once stacked to keep the public off  public beaches.

The lines were once drawn in the sand, where drift wood was once stacked to limit access to the beach.


It was 1967, when Oregon Governor Tom McCall signed the Oregon Beach Bill, declaring “the public would have free and uninterrupted use of the beaches.”

On Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22, at 4 p.m., Cannon Beach will unveil the first commemorate sign on the beach, recognizing this progressive legislation, now 48 years old.

At the 1967 bill signing, Governor McCall honored former Governor Oswald West, who authored 1913 legislation declaring all state beaches to be a public highway, thus maintaining public access.

As the bill became state law, McCall quoted West, saying of the Oregon coastline: “No local selfish interest should be permitted, through politics or otherwise, to destroy or even impair this great birthright of our people.”

What a blessing that has been to all Oregon citizens and guests!

Tolovana Inn is proud to honor this important legislation on Earth Day, and every day.

Specially, the Oregon Beach Bill declares that all wet sand lying within 16 vertical feet of the low tide line be the property of the state of Oregon, with public easements of all beach areas up to the line of vegetation. It also requires that all property owners seek state permits for building and other use on the ocean shore.



Governor Oswald West, who in 1913 called the shoreline the public's "birthright," was the first guest at Warren Hotel, built in 1911, on the site of today's Tolovana Inn.

Governor Oswald West, who in 1913 called access to the  shoreline the public’s “birthright,” was the first guest at Warren Hotel, built in 1911, on the site of today’s Tolovana Inn.



Puffins Returning to Haystack Rock



From NorthwestBirding.com

From NorthwestBirding.com


Puffins, charmingly stout sea birds,  return each year  to Haystack Rock to lay eggs and raise their chicks after having spent the last eight months floating and diving in the Pacific. Iconic Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach, steps from the Tolovana Inn, provides one of the most accessible locations to observe the comical and versatile puffins nesting in their natural environment.

Puffins are comical because of their distinctive look.  They have black, football-shaped bodies with stubby wings and big orange feet, topped with white faces, bright orange beaks and yellow tuffs.

Puffins are versatile because of the many skills they rely on to survive.  They fly out to sea, live on the water, dive 200 feet deep for food, and return to nest in burrows under the ground.

The sea birds spend their time in loose groups out on the ocean while looking for their mates or meeting new ones before they descend on the top of Haystack Rock in April to clean out old burrows or dig new ones.   They will continue their spring time rituals of courtship and mating until each female puffin lays a single egg and incubation begins.    Few puffins are actually visible while the egg is incubating.  The ones who are not sitting at the bottom of their burrows spend most of their time out at sea.

You can still see them as they come and go, but it will take patience. There are usually only two kinds of birds flying around Haystack Rock: gulls and puffins.  Gulls soar gracefully, puffins do not.

In June, when the eggs begin to hatch, activity really picks up.  The parents are constantly  coming and going, heading out to sea to catch fish for the rapidly growing chicks.  After about 45-50 days, the chicks will reach full size, and their parents will leave them, heading back out to sea.  After a few hungry days, the newly fledged young puffins come up out of the burrow and  work up the nerve to jump off the cliff,  eventually  taking flight and heading out to sea. Their short stubby wings, which make them great divers, do not make them good fliers.

The best Puffin viewing is April and May, then again in late June and July.  Watch during low tides and bring binoculars or a spotting scope.  Without viewing aids,  Puffins  look like big bumblebees buzzing around the top of the rock.

Cannon Beach Yoga Festival, March 6-8


Yoga: World Class Instructors; World Class Location

If you are a regular practitioner of yoga, or have thought you might like to learn more about it, there is no better way to immerse yourself into this stress-reducing and healthful activity that at the Cannon Beach Yoga Festival,  March 6-8.

The festival draws yogis and students from around the region and beyond for a weekend full of workshops, lectures, discussion and meditation.  Come with an open mind and you are sure to be inspired by the experience–and by the stunning beauty of Cannon Beach.

Events are held at various locations around town, including the Tolovana Inn.  A full festival pass includes opening and closing ceremonies, ten hours of workshops and shuttles between locations.  You can also purchase a one-day pass, or a partial festival pass, providing access into individual workshops, as space allows.

Learn more about this uniquely relaxing event and register online at Cannon Beach Yoga Festival.   When you book accommodations at the Tolovana Inn, be sure to ask about special festival rates.



Meet a Roosevelt Elk

Cow_elk_near_haystack_rock,_Cannon_Beach,_OR -859c0937c4b850e6


 (Photo: JoAnna Dotson, 1-2-2015) 

During the quieter, winter season at the Oregon Coast, keep your eyes peeled around dusk and dawn.  That’s when you are mostly likely to see a majestic Roosevelt elk emerge from the shadows of the forest to graze in open meadows or wander along the edge of Cannon Beach looking for a bite to eat.

Elk are nocturnal herbivores that munch on ferns, shrubs, lichen, various berries, and grasses.  They also feed on seedlings of Douglas firs and western cedar.  With the abundance of food and cover, along with mild winters, the elk rarely migrate, spending most of the lives in the same area.

Or, you might even be surprised like a young woman who recently spotted an entire heard of elk swimming near the Astoria Bridge.

According to a spokesman with  the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, it’s not unusual for elk or deer to swim in rivers if they are motivated to find another place to graze or if they are seeking protection from predators—primarily humans or cougars.

Roosevelt Elk are found between in the Cascades from British Columbia to Northern California, and especially in the Oregon Coast range.   Named by Theodore Roosevelt, the desire to protect North America’s large, coastal dwelling elk was one of the primary forces behind the establishment of Washington’s Olympic National Park in 1909.

Elk are matriarchal.  Herds are generally led by females, comprised of calves, and adolescent bulls and cows.  Males live separately, except during the late-August breeding resulting in calves born the following spring.   Males weigh between 700 and 1,100 and cows about 625.

 Astoria resident JoAnna Dotson spotted this herd of elk swimming near in the Columbia River on January 2, 2015. (Copied from OregonLive.com.  See more photos and read more at this link.  http://www.oregonlive.com/multimedia/index.ssf/2015/01/post_39.html 

Whale Watching on the Oregon Coast for the New Year


Oregon’s Whale of a Tradition

An excerpt from a column written by David Sarasohn, in
The Oregonian, 12/28/2014.

There are places, of course, where the holiday animal traditions run to reindeer, and others featuring cuddly bears.

Around here, we think bigger.

This weekend marks the beginning of whale watching week on the Oregon coast, which annually takes place right after Christmas, as though the whales were trying to get to a New Year’s Eve party in California. Over several months, about 20,000 gray whales, and maybe some cetacean fellow travelers, journey from Alaska to Mexico. This week, Oregonians will trek out to the coast to catch a glimpse from the shore or get a closer look from a bobbing boat.

The goal is to pick out a gray whale in a gray sea, or a spout of water in an endless ocean, and catch sight of a parade that’s been going on longer than anything with floats or marching bands. For the whale, it’s a several weeks nonstop cruise.

“It’s an opportunity to see an animal the size of a school bus,” says William Hanshumaker, Oregon Sea Grant chief scientist at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport. “It’s hard not to be impressed by seeing something that large.”

Gray whales, like a lot of other legends prominent around this time, are a renewal story. “These animals are back from the brink of extinction,” says Sobel. “Thirty or forty years ago, they were nearly extinct. They were protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act in 1972…before that, crucially, the Mexican government protected the whales in their winter quarters. In 1995, the gray whale came off the endangered list.

Now, thousands of them annually swim by the Oregon coast, keeping close to shore, although probably not consciously posing for pictures. Heading south at the end and the very beginning of the year, with a heavy layer of blubber that keeps them from stopping too often to feed, they’re swimming in mixed groups, on the way to give birth in warmer waters. On the way back north in spring, the males go first, with the females working to keep the new calves between themselves and the shore.

Oregonians tend to venture outside through various climatic conditions.  And they feel, it seems, a special pull from a prehistoric creature proceeding placidly down one of the world’s longest maritime migration routes, coming back from the threat of extinction to claim their (very large) place in the world.

Especially for a place that likes to think of itself as deeply connected to the natural space around it, whale watching seems a particularly fitting “New Year.”  With wobbly stomach and constant uncertainty, you scan an endless horizon trying to catch a sudden glimpse of something wondrous, something bigger than yourself.


(Bring binoculars and check into an ocean-front suite at Tolovana Inn for winter whale watching!)



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