Hanging out in Alsea, Oregon

by Betsy Herbert

April 23, 2015

My big trip round-the-world trip started on April 10 when left Santa Cruz for Portland to visit friends before flying to Vancouver, B.C. My dear friends Dave and Teri live in Alsea, Oregon, a rural village some 25 miles west of Corvallis. Dave teaches physics at Oregon State University and Teri is a craftsperson, cook and organic gardener. I feel blessed: Teri took time out from all of her projects to knit me a pair of socks!

I love hanging out at their farmhouse. It’s peaceful and it feels like home, despite the extensive brown clear-cuts that quilt the surrounding green hills.

Teri and Dave have a great little calico cat named Jigg, who dances lightly on her six-toed feet and follows us like a dog when we go walking along the dirt road serving the neighborhood. She's a curious beast, especially when she came to investigate the camera that I was pointing at her...

I don’t get cell phone service here (both a gift and an inconvenience), but Teri & Dave have DSL and wi-fi. So I thought I’d fire off my first “Postcards from a Strange Loop” blog, with some description of Alsea, which was named for the Alsea River, which runs through the outskirts of town. According to Wikipedia, the Alsea area was settled by Europeans around 1855.

Wikipedia states that logging was once the primary industry in Alsea, which is now known for steelhead fishing on the Alsea River, and as a favorite stopping point for cyclists on their way from Corvallis to the coast.

But judging by the look of the landscape and by all the trucks in town, I suspect that logging remains the area’s primary industry.

I’ve made a few daily runs to the general store there (about 2 miles) to pick up supplies. Named the Alsea Mercantile, the general store that has most of the basic necessities (including some pretty good local wine). Folks still gather around the bulletin board outside the mercantile to see what’s going on.

Directly across the street from the mercantile is the old post office. Apparently built when the town first appeared on the map, it’s a wonder that the building is still standing. But as long as it is, it will attract photographers. According to Teri, the folks who own the Alsea Mercantile now own the building and use it for storage.


A few days ago we drove on Highway 34 from Alsea to Yachats, a charming town on the Oregon Coast just north of Cape Perpetua. Yachats is a native American word which is thought to mean "at the foot of the mountain." Yachats State Park is a rocky, ocean-front park with spectacular vistas, right in the middle of town.

Soon I’ll be off to Vancouver, so I’ll post another blog from there.