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Peace at Roads End

January 11, 2012

When it comes to the Oregon Coast, the further north you go, the more likely you are to encounter crowds — especially in towns and cities that have risen around the highways that carry traffic from Interstate 5 to the sandy shores. That’s because people from Portlandia escape the stress of the city by heading to the Pacific.

Because of this, it is especially important to find any little out-of-the-way stretches that are ignored by the crowds. Roads End State Recreation Area in Lincoln City is one such place. Located on the north end of town, the small stretch of beach is tucked behind one of the few areas in Oregon where you can find beach-front houses. The strand of beach is just under a mile and a half long.

About a mile down the beach, the houses suddenly give way to a rugged, tree-topped headland decorated with black lava and softer, orange sedimentary rock. It’s at this point, past the small creeks and the numerous drains directing water from under the houses and to the ocean, that the beach seems to turn into a treasure trove of large, empty mussel shells, some as much as 4-inches long. The pitch-black outer layer of the shells hide beautiful, iridescent mother-of-pearl cores.

But the real treasure is that, at low tide, you can actually slip around the tip of the massive headland and explore a secret cove and beach. If you enjoy the secret cove too long, though, you won’t be able to return to the main stretch of beach (and your car) until low tide returns.

Cooper thought the shells made great toys to carry down the beach -- when he could flip them over so he could actually pick them up.

The shell graveyard

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