First things first: before getting into the Rockaway Beach story, allow me address the giant stuffed bear in the featured image. The short answer to Why is that giant stuffed bear there? is: I have no idea. During my last stay at Rockaway, that bear was there, under a yield sign, for three consecutive days. There’s no greater context around it, but I figured it was a more interesting picture than the typical shots of sand and sunbathers you get in beach stories.
Rockaway Beach: Low Key and Restful Vacation Destination
Anybody familiar with the Pacific Northwest knows that our rocky, primitive beaches tend to be better suited for hiking and picture taking than for sunbathing or playing in the sand. The relative scarcity of sandy beaches means that hordes of tourists swarm to every appealing spot once the weather gets nice. Rockaway Beach, for some reason I’ve never quite understood (but always feel grateful for), somehow manages to avoid the worst of the crowds.
Go to Rockaway in wintertime and you’ll feel like you own your own private beach. Go there in summertime and you’ll find plenty of fellow beach goers, but nothing on the scale of the waves of humanity that descend upon places like Cannon Beach.
When I vacation, I prefer peace and quiet over crowds, so Rockaway is my go-to beach spot. That does not mean, however, that there aren’t plenty of events and activities going on there, as well.
My personal favorite Rockaway event is the annual Pirate Festival. It’s full of good, clean fun for kids and adults alike. At night, there are pirate fire artists who breathe fire and play with fire swords and swing around other various fire-themed items. They perform, by the way, in the parking lot in front of a steam train that takes you on a fantastic scenic coast tour.
Because they aren’t quite as overloaded with crowds, Rockaway tends to be less pricey than many of the other Oregon Coast destinations. I don’t have the numbers for this offhand and will update this blog in a couple months after I visit Rockaway again, but the prices for food and lodging have always been very reasonable in my experience. That doesn’t mean the stuff is “cheap” in terms of quality, though. I’ve honestly never had a bad stay in Rockaway, and at this point I’ve probably stayed in all the major rooming places.
The dining options are a bit more limited than some other places, which is of course the price you pay for choosing a low key destination over one of the more storied ones. However, the food that is there has always been good quality and the service always friendly.
Rowdy Roddy Piper Story Heard in a Rockaway Beach Bar
Notice to readers: this story really isn’t part of my Rockaway travelogue, so if that’s the only reason you’re here, feel free to move on (and thanks for visiting!). I just want to share this tale that was told to me by a local at Rick’s Roadhouse on the town’s main drag.
Apparently, wrestling and entertainment legend Roddy Rowdy Piper lived somewhere close to Rockaway. The woman I spoke lived in the same town as him. She told me that Piper was as nice and down to Earth as a guy can get.
She also told me about a boy with agoraphobia that also lived in their town. Piper was this boy’s hero. The kid spent hours watching wrestling in his bedroom and dreaming of meeting his idol.
As one might expect, the kid wanted Piper’s autograph badly, and as one may further expect, the boy’s mother wanted to fulfill her son’s dream and get him that autograph. So, when the boy’s mother ran into Piper at a restaurant, she immediately engaged him and begged for an autograph for her son.
Piper began to sign his name but then thought to ask why her son wasn’t getting it himself. The woman told Piper her son’s story.
Piper sat down, got a new piece of paper, and started writing again. This time, though, he wrote a full paged letter. When he was done, he signed it “Rowdy Roddy Piper” and promptly told the boy’s mother that she couldn’t take the letter home to her son. The only way the boy would get it was if he walked into the restaurant and got it himself. Piper then gave the letter to the hostess and told her she was not to give it to anyone except for the woman’s son.
The mother went home and told her son the story. The boy was driven fairly mad with curiosity and the desire to get a personal letter from his hero…mad enough, in fact, that he worked up the courage to go into the restaurant himself and get it.
After that, the story goes, the boy’s anxiety diminished, and he eventually was able to regularly go out into public again.
I heard this tale while drinking beers at the roadhouse. I have no way to corroborate it. But it’s one hell of a story, and Piper is a man I’ve always admired, so I decided it needed to be recorded somewhere.
Rest in peace, Hot Rod.