Wheeler - on the Nehalem Bay
"Wheeler Rules - I can't believe it's been ignored"
I can't believe no one's written about this place before on Virtual Tourist.
Well, I'm glad to be the first.
This tiny little place along the Nehalem Bay - on the North Oregon Coast - is just starting to get discovered. After decades of languishing in a sort of no-tourist, no man's land, its renaissance is coming along nicely.
Sure, it's not exactly the beach. Sure, it's not exactly a major distraction along Highway 101 and the north coast, as it meanders inland amidst the lush, green canopies and placid waters of Nehalem Bay. But the sleepy village of Wheeler has its charms, largely because there doesn't seem to be much here.
Or is there?
There's a quirky, kooky side to this quaint and tiny place. Take a closer look at the four antique shops (with only about six blocks of a town, this makes antiques Wheeler's largest industry). Check out some of the oddball impromptu events, or go hunting for the hidden artist colony. Observe the local herbal shop, Simples Herbal Apothecary, that doubles as a state-run liquor store (target marketing doesn't work here). And then there's that wacky winery just outside town - Nehalem Bay Winery.
check out www.beachconnection.net/vtour_nbay.htm for a serious, deeply detailed virtual tour
Wheeler Station was until recent years one of two antique shops in town. But when that neighboring space became vacant, owners Sandy and Pat Sandhagen knocked out the wall between the two. Now, at some 10,000 square feet, Wheeler Station is a massive, meandering labyrinth of various rooms, all crammed with collectibles of beauty or varying degrees of chuckle-inducing kitsch.
Pat admits it's so big people really do get lost. "That's why we have the intercom," she said. "We've had to use it several times when some man was looking for his wife." (503) 368-5677.
Walk these sidewalks and charming storefronts, with nearby Neahkahnie Mountain reflected in the water, and you won't notice that something's off at first. Like at E-Kahn-I Books (503-368-6881). The fact you can purchase an MBA for nine bucks is your first clue. This certificate, a "Master of Beachcombing Arts," comes complete with signatures from "R. Sandy Shores" and Sir Francis Drake. Or check out Ridgefield Antiques or the kooky City Center Antiques, with some slightly unusual items (503-368-7959).
Stately Old Wheeler Hotel sits on the corner of Gregory and 101, sort of the flagship of the town's renaissance. Once a crusty, failing structure that was the blight of the town, owners Winston Laszlo and Maranne Doyle-Laszlo slowly turned that into a shining beacon of class, luxury and charming, beachy fun (www.oldwheelerhotel.com).
Outside Old Wheeler Hotel is cryptically designated "Artisans Row." But where, you're asking, are the artists, beyond a handful of artisan shops on the street and the nearby Gypsy Fire? You'll just have to check with shopowners to visit these.
Up the street, the growing legend of Treasure Café is still under the aegis of Michael and Judy Santo. On the menu now are many ethnic specialties, including dishes with a slant towards Thai, Chinese and Singapore, such as a Thai Black Pepper Crab, or a Singapore Chili Crab. Other fish delights include monkfish, skate and scallops, while other features include quail, steaks and pastas. Michael says it's all from local ingredients. Desserts are frighteningly good, and famous breakfasts are served on weekends. 92 Rorvik. (503) 368-7740.
All this is a short drive from the wonders of Manzanita's beaches.