With your windows rolled down, radio blaring, and warm wind blowing through your hair, it´s time to take to the open road. But´ oh, crap. Where to go? Don´t worry! The Mercury Summer Fun Action Squad will point your compass in the right direction!
It's probably the world's most raggedy natural-history museum. And none of it makes much sense: Cougars attacking antelopes? Bears and leopards cohabitating? Haunted by resident dead beasts, the Jen Jen Safari Club in Estacada lifts this small town to a demented Hemingway-esque stature. With dozens of taxidermied big game animals displayed behind glass, forever battling in their respective dioramas, the JJSC is certainly the most viscerally intoxicating place to get a Mai Tai if you ever find yourself in, well, Estacada. LC Jen Jen Safari Club-116 SE 4th Ave, Estacada; take I-84 E to 205 S, merge to 212/224 East until you see the signs (or simply follow SE Foster Blvd. to the end of the earth), 630-3208
Historical reports from Clatsop Indians say pirates once anchored in Nehalem Bay. This was 300 years ago, back when Spanish ships spidered the seas claiming everything in sight. The pirates, they said, rowed ashore, climbed Neahkahnie Mountain and buried a large treasure chest filled with gold. Then, they killed one of their own and draped the body over the chest to guard the treasure. Today, the location of this priceless treasure is still a mystery, but there are hundreds of holes left by those seeking the booty. So what are you waiting for?? Get a shovel, and start digging! JDNehalem is on the coast between Tillamook and Astoria. Take US-26 West, Turn left onto OR-53/Necanicum Hwy, right onto US-101
LET'S GO CASINO
As everyone knows, "gambling" is the new "alcoholism." But why bust your nest egg flying to Vegas when there's plenty of money-losing action within a two-hour drive of Portland? We advise taking a gambling holiday at either of the following two casinos, which are just a quick jaunt down the road.
Spirit Mountain Casino may not be the best, but it's the closer of these two large gambling houses. As in most casinos, the slots take priority, giving the octogenarian set something to do other than blocking the blackjack tables with their oxygen tanks. It's got bingo, craps, roulette, the aforementioned blackjack, and a poker room--which features 7 Card Stud, Omaha, and the current card game du jour, No-Limit Texas Hold 'Em. A fun place to rob the locals blind. From I-5 south, take 99W in Tigard. 22 miles later take Highway 18W and go 31 miles. On your left in Grand Ronde, OR.
Chinook Winds Casino, on the other hand, is the better choice if you have time to take a beach holiday. With a beautiful view of the ocean, Chinook is a more open, and airier casino with blackjack, craps, roulette, and a better buffet. Plus not only do they have blackjack and poker tournaments six days a week, they also bring in hilariously cheesy entertainment like Kansas (Aug 13 & 14), Styx (Sept 10 & 11), Michael Bolton (Oct 8 & 9), and--be still my beating heart--Huey Lewis & the News (June 18 & 19). WSH I-5 South to Salem, Highway 22 West 25 miles, jump onto Highway 18 and go 23 miles, taking a left onto Highway 101. Two miles into Lincoln City, take a right on Logan road, a left on NW 44 St, and you're there.
Whoopee! Witness the miracle of aquatic life! Depending on when you go, you might see salmon spawning, eggs, alevins, fry, smolts, or fingerlings--and who knows? You might even learn what all those things mean. Most hatcheries offer tours and picnic areas. Call for details. A must for the nature geek! JB Various locations, www.tinyurl.com/ypc8v for locations and contact information
THE DEVIL'S TOUR
The Oregon Coast has a kind of freakish relationship with the Prince of Darkness, because they've named no less than THREE of their attractions after him!
The Devil's Punchbowlis a big hole in a rocky cliff off Highway 101, carved out by the churning ocean underneath. The adventurous can hike down into the bowl...BUT ONLY DURING LOW TIDE. If caught inside the Devil's Punchbowl by the crashing waves, you can expect a certain horrible death and an eternity of pointy-tailed demons laughing and calling you a fucking idiot. Eight miles north of Newport in Otter Rock.
The Devil's Churn is also a hole... well, it's more of a trench than a hole. Anyway, the ocean gets funneled through the trench, picks up an amazing amount of speed and power, and then KA-BOOM! It crashes into the rocks, covering your squeamish relatives with salty spray. Pioneer folk named it the Devil's Churn, because as a whole, pioneers were pretty unimaginative--as opposed to modern folk who might've named it something like the Devil's Salt Water Accelerator. Still, it's cool to watch. Just south of Yachats, in Cape Perpetua Scenic Area.
The Devil's Elbow is not a hole, nor is it an elbow. It is, however, a very nice state park for camping and hiking, plus you can check out the adjacent Heceta Head Lighthouse. Built in 1894, this is one of the most beautiful of Oregon lighthouses. Plus, at dusk, it's fun to imagine the light suddenly going out, and hearing the screams of damned sailors as they smash into the Devil's Elbow and drown in the hellish confines of the briny blue. Also a good place for picnics. WSH Located half way between Florence and Yachats, at mile marker #178.
INDIE ROCK ISLAND
If not for the Department of Safety, Anacortes, WA would be just another beautiful but sleepy town in the San Juan islands. But the DOS has transformed the town's former police and fire station into a music venue, art gallery, and youth hostel--and the seaside town has become a mini indie rock oasis.
Indie cred lurks around every corner in Anacortes. The Microphones' album Mount Eerie is named after the town's popular hiking and rock-climbing site. The Business, a used book and record shop, is owned by Bret Lunsford, of the bands D+ and Beat Happening. When you need a break from rock and roll, retreat to Whistle Lake to swim, or take a ferry to a more remote island for the day.
There are only six beds in the Department of Safety hostel, so book early. Or, plan on camping elsewhere on the island. JB Take I-5 North through Seattle, exit 230 to Highway 20 into Anacortes; Department of Safety, 1011 12th St, Anacortes, (360) 293-8361, dorm beds from $17, double room $35
Forgo the children infected, urine covered beaches of Northern Oregon and settle into the relaxing non-touristy town of Oceanside. Outfitted with only a couple of small hotels, a fun bar and a restaurant, Oceanside is a terrific place to relax, and beach comb in peace. At first glance the beach may seem unremarkable, but a 40-yard tunnel through a rocky cliff takes you to a sandy getaway covered in weird, Star Trek-ish rock formations that are teeming with seals, birds and starfish. Plus it's not a bad place to do some kayak surfing. Go during the week, and you've got the place to yourself. Ahhh, sweet privacy. WSH Take US 26 west for 20 miles, then take OR 6 towards Tillamook for 50 miles. Follow signs to Netarts highway, and follow for 9 miles. Take a left onto Chinook Ave, and you're there.