Last week we had a full moon. It was also the prelude to another moon-related event: the harvest moon (the full moon closest to the September Equinox: September 16th in 2016). The harvest moon in my part of the world is gorgeous and mysterious, often accompanied by fog in the early mornings and evenings. Hearing the strains of Neil Young’s ode as I type, this post suggests beautiful weekend get-aways to three Pacific Northwest locations where Autumn moon encounters will be glorious.
1. Cannon Beach, Oregon
To people who have travelled Highway 1 along the Oregon Coast, Cannon Beach is the supermodel among those towns. If you’ve never been before, know that the journey is as good as the destination and plan your time accordingly. But for those without the time to relish that narrow, windy and breathtaking stretch of road, Cannon Beach is less than 2 hours west of Portland.
The town does have its share of upscale restaurants and boutiques to lure the almighty tourist dollar. Still, its main beach (complete with glimpses of its landmark Haystack Rock) is fully accessible to anyone who chooses to go there. Two years ago we enjoyed a breathtaking Autumn sunset here with people from all walks of life, seated on blankets, in deck chairs, or on logs strewn across the beach. It felt like being at a community picnic. (We opted to stay in a cheaper town nearby -Seaside- to cut costs.)
Consider making your own harvest moon tribute at this natural marvel, declared one of the world’s 100 most beautiful places in 2013 by National Geographic.
2. Fort Langley, British Columbia
Fort Langley is an historic townsite that has undergone a lot of heritage-compatible redevelopment over the past decade. It was a key destination on Canada’s fur trade route, whose remnants are visible at the Parks Canada site (click here: http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/bc/langley/visit.aspx ).
I love that Fort Langley provides tranquil riverwalking opportunities, and has been home to people and families from a range of age groups and incomes (although that is sadly changing with rising home prices). The area is also surrounded by farms, and at the edge of Metro Vancouver. There is no better place to see the harvest moon rise than from along the riverbank with your sweetie, or else driving along quiet country roads flanked by horse pastures. Confession: we have family within a 20 minute drive of this area, and have been known to also take a chilly but temperate Christmas Day walk there, because it is lovely year-round.
As a bonus, while in Metro Vancouver take advantage of Chinese Moon Festival events.
3. San Juan Island, Washington
Ah, San Juan. I mentioned in an earlier post that I have a soft spot for small West Coast towns with a counterculture vibe. San Juan definitely fits that bill. Like many spots with a counter culture past, San Juan has also undergone some gentrification. Roche Harbour definitely caters to a more upscale crowd. Still, a number of island locals have set up interesting farming businesses for themselves, from lavender farming, alpaca rearing to grape-growing and wine production. That too has its yuppie side; but it’s hard to be elitist with a day job including fertilizing plants and brushing and shovelling manure for large, oderous (if cute) animals.
Spend the harvest moon at any of the island’s state parks or beaches. I’m a big fan of a simple moonrise viewing approach: picnic baskets, blankets, and perhaps a folding chair or two.
The Harvest moon is a magical annual phenomenon worth celebrating. This post has suggested three idyllic destinations for harvest moon encounters: Cannon Beach, Fort Langley, and San Juan Island. Each will bring you closer to nature as you marvel at the moon’s simple, stark beauty.