Hope Springs!

One of the many definitions of the word spring is, “to be released suddenly from a constrained position.” In the dictionary, this is referring to a door being sprung open, but you could also relate it to the changing of the seasons from Winter to Spring. Those long, cold months held up inside have been very relaxing, but eventually the birds start chirping louder, the days get longer, and it’s time to escape our fleece sheets and hot cocoa hibernation in anticipation of all the new delights ahead. Hope springs…

For those fortunate enough to live near the mighty Pacific, or to make a visit to the Central Oregon coast, springtime affords the opportunity to escape the doldrums of winter and seek new adventures on its shores. This got me thinking of an old quote from a Stephen King book about the Pacific Ocean:
“You know what the Mexicans say about the Pacific? They say it has no memory. That’s where I want to live the rest of my life. A warm place with no memory.”

The Pacific may indeed have no memory, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make memories of your own. One such destination to do so is the lovely central Oregon coast. We are particularly fond of Yachats and Waldport, but you can’t go wrong anywhere along this beautiful stretch of coastline.

The central coast region, from Newport in the North to Florence to the South, is full of options for travelers of all ages and interests. Everyone knows about the great beaches — both sandy ones that are perfect for strolling, running, kite flying, and wave watching, and rocky ones that often boast great tide pooling opportunities to find the perfect agate or silver dollar seashell — but there’s room for more imagination during springtime at the coast.

If the sight of mammoth sea creatures is your thing, spring marks the start of some terrific opportunities to spot gray whales making their way North. From March 22-30, visitors can take part in the Spring Whale Watch Spoken Here program coordinated by the Oregon Parks and Recreation department. The Spoken Here program has been around for more than 30 years so the chances of spotting a whale are pretty good as trained volunteers are placed at 24 sites up and down the coast from Washington to Crescent City, California to help onlookers hopefully catch a glimpse of the whales and you can bet there’s plenty of spots in Oregon as well. From the Sea Lion Caves to Cook’s Chasm to Don Davis Park, visitors to the area can look forward to many prime whale watching spots.

While that particular week is best for seeing a heard of gray whales specifically, thanks to the experienced guides, there are plenty of other migrating grays and other fish in the sea. North of Yachats is Depoe Bay, which is home to the Whale Watching Center. Located north of the Depoe Bay Bridge, the center informs visitors on how to observe whale migration as well as provides information about the history and environmental influences on the different species of Pacific whales.

If a hands-on approach is more to your liking, the Waldport Bay, Newport Bay, and Depoe Bay areas all have whale watching and fishing trips available as well. What could be better than a day on the high seas with expert sailors to guide your tour? It’s so exciting that even Jack Nicholson and a bunch of fellow patients decided to take a trip out of Depoe Bay in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

And perhaps when your attention isn’t directed at the whales (I know, it’s hard), you can stop by other attractions and scenic areas such as Strawberry Hill for a terrific sunset, Devil’s Churn to gain an appreciation for the power of the Pacific’s waves (don’t be scared off by the name), and various campgrounds in case you feel that springtime need to pitch a tent and breathe in deeply the sights, sounds, and smells of renewal.

Spring is here, and we wish you a season filled with invigoration, renewal, and joy! And remember that Sweet Homes Rentals is here to help if you or your family or friends would like to enjoy the coast from a beautiful beachside home, or sit in a hot tub overlooking the Pacific. The hot bubbly water may steam up your binocular lenses, so you’ll just have to pull yourself away from whale watching long enough to enjoy a good relaxing soak!

Inspiration, or The Power of the Sea

“The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination, and brings eternal joy to the soul.” – Wyland

Do you feel the pull of the ocean, like a lure drawing you in?  We do, which is why we so love running Sweet Homes Rentals.  Our clients and guests come to the beach because they love the sea air, the stormy skies, the rays of sunshine shooting between the clouds, tinting the sky and the wet sand all shades of shimmering colors.  It is a great privilege to provide beautiful, luxurious seaside homes for our guests to enjoy while they’re giving in to the pull of the sea – whether to relax and bring them back to the quiet peace of nature, or whether the vibrant, rhythmic tide excites their energies, passions, and creativity.

In oral histories, written texts of yore, and digital images and messages of today, our oral, written and visual culture is replete with stories about the mysteries of the sea and the magical way it touches us.  Whether on a salty beach, near the powerful swells of the sea, or inspired by how the mind conjures images and impressions of the ocean, there is something indescribable about the way that Earth’s salty depths lives and thrives in our collective imagination.  So we felt particularly thankful and blessed when Casey Barber, a 16 year old guest who spent a couple of stormy days in one of our beautiful oceanfront homes, sent us a poem that she was inspired to write at the beach.  We’re pleased to share it with you here, with her accompanying photography, straight from the sandy beach of Bayshore…

Waldport

Never-ending grooves,
labyrinthine patterns
of wind-blown sand.
Cattails standoffish,
Air moist and leaden.

Silence screams and
the sun panics,
Choked behind burdensome
clouds that whisper
threats of a storm.
Gasping,

Fighting, for breath and
inhaling only
a tyranny of fog.
Stealing light,
Stealing comfort.
Translucent walls
march inland.

Sand cowers, cringes
half-protected under
Nature’s reckless debris
and scarce remains of the tide.

Some hours ago
an ocean existed
A handful of lost pools
Outlast the absence
and feign the image
of their predecessor.

An otherworldly calm
A fallout future
A hushed breeze.
 

So when you come to the lush and beautiful Oregon coast to lose yourself at the sea, we hope that you also find peace, inspiration, and a creative spirit that stirs your soul and stimulates you.  In the words of e.e. cummings:  “For whatever we lose (like a you or a me), It’s always our self we find in the sea.”   Anchors Away!

A Win-Win Proposition

We’ve never been much for popularity contests — not when either of us were kids, and not now.  But we live in a new world, filled with new media, which creates new networks of friends, information, and opportunities.  So, some time ago Sweet Homes Rentals joined the Facebook and Twitter revolution as a means to connect our friends, customers, clients, and supporters to Sweet Homes and to one another.  It’s a virtual place for us to share information about the Oregon Coast, last minute specials, news about Sweet Homes, and great photos, videos and updates about our beautiful homes.  But if we’re going to do the social media thing, we want to do it right, do it well, and do it big!  Why have 500 pairs of eyes on our posts if we can just as easily have 5,000?  So, we decided to make it a win-win game.  We ask you, your family, your friends and your networks to visit the Sweet Homes Rentals Facebook page, “Like Us” and hit “Enter to Win,” and then we give you a chance to enter our Oregon Coast Fun Package Give-Away!  When we get to 5,000 “Likes” we’ll draw one winner from all of you who submitted your info, and that person will get the following prize package:

  • A Two Night Stay at The Sand Castle – One of our most popular oceanfront homes
  • 4 Tickets to the Oregon Coast Aquarium
  • A $100 Gift Certificate for Gourmet Dinning at Ona Restaurant in Yachats, OR
  • A Giant Dune Buggy Ride for 4 at Sandland Adventures near Florence, OR

So, we’ll trade you a “Like” for a chance to Win.  We’ll surpass our 5,000 Likes mark on Facebook, and you’ll also get to keep up with news, specials, events and info from Sweet Homes.  It’s a winning proposition for everyone!

Prize is redeemable from 6/1/13 to 5/31/14. Not redeemable during blackout & holiday dates. Gift certificates are not redeemable for cash or cash back after purchase. Not redeemable with other coupons or free night specials. 

Launch: Anchors Away!

LAUNCH is a transitive verb, which is appropriate because the word implies a change of status.  According to Merriam Webster, launch means to spring or throw forward, to release, catapult, or send off; to set (a boat or ship) a float; to put into operation or set in motion; to get off to a good start; or to enter energetically.  It’s a hopeful word, a word that signals forward movement and promises change, and a word we at Sweet Homes have been reflecting on lately.

In 2008, Todd and I launched Sweet Homes Rentals, largely by happy accident.  As owners of a beachfront vacation home ourselves, we found ourselves in a bind.  Our beautiful house wasn’t renting often enough to pay for itself, so in 2007 we pulled it from the local rental company that we had been working with and starting renting it ourselves using online marketing and promoting it via major vacation rental websites.  We tripled our rentals and income, and suddenly family and friends were asking us to represent their beach homes, too.  Before we knew it, what began as an act of necessity on the part of two avid travelers, a commercial director (Todd) and a professor (Kate), who had no first hand professional experience in the travel industry, resulted in us owning and running Sweet Homes Rentals, a thriving, boutique luxury vacation rental business on the central Oregon coast.

We are committed to high quality homes that offer our guests the little luxuries that make their beach getaway comfortable and memorable.  We are committed to outstanding customer service before and during our guests’ stays.  And we work hard for our homeowners to ensure that their beautiful houses are always well cared for, treated with respect, and kept sparkly clean.  These are our commitments and core values, and with these guiding principles our little rental company that began with our own lovely home has now grown to about 20 luxury rentals, with a lot of hard work and the assistance of our founding property manager, Wendy Snidow (a local real estate agent).  When we launched Sweet Homes, we didn’t know what the journey would bring or where the road would lead us.  Now, we can’t imagine another path.  When we think back on our launch and all the challenges and successes from then to now, we take pride in how much we have learned and grown.  Most of all, we are thrilled to be able to help home owners like us successfully rent their homes, we are honored to be able to hire outstanding local labor and support local businesses, and we love being able to be a conduit through which our renters and their families can enjoy the gorgeous central Oregon coast in luxurious homes with spectacular ocean views and vistas.

In June, Todd and I and Kasey Baker (a licensed architect, professional designer, and one of our property managers) launched an environmentally friendly house cleaning and care company in Yachats, Oregon, called Fresh Digs.  Fresh Digs handles all the cleaning and home care at our sweet homes, and has opened the Sud Sea Laundromat in Yachats.  The Sud Sea affords us a place to do all natural laundering of all our homes’ luxury hotel quality bedding and towels at night, and provides a great service to locals and travelers alike who need a place to do their laundry by day.  Who knew that Sweet Homes would not only grow by representing more homes, but also be spawning new businesses and becoming integrated into the fabric of the community?

Now, we’re launching again!  Not long ago we began our Facebook page (facebook.com/sweethomesrentals) and Twitter account (@SweetHomesRents), and now we’re launching this Sweet Homes Rentals blog, “Anchors Away!”  We are embarking on another journey, and we invite you to come back often and stay in touch to see where this adventure leads us.  In the coming months I’ll be writing about great things to do on the Oregon coast, especially those hidden gems that are often overlooked or hard to find out about, about new homes that join the Sweet Homes family, about our ongoing project to create environmentally friendly green house cleaning products, about restaurants and businesses that are especially worth supporting on the coast, and so much more.

Thanks for visiting and reading, and I wish you the opportunity for adventure in your life.  When you launch, you never know where you will land, but it always holds the promise of the new.  Anchors away!

Kate Korgan is a Sociology professor and senior associate dean of the graduate college at UNLV.  She is co-owner of Sweet Homes Rentals with her husband, a former executive chef and an accomplished film director, Todd Korgan.  They and their son, Jonah, divide their time between the central Oregon coast and Las Vegas – and they all love a good adventure!

The Joys of Second Summer

It’s early August now, Yachats and Waldport are teeming with visitors and seasonal residents, and it’s as crowded and bustling as these little towns ever get.  There’s traffic in town on Highway 101, it may take a moment to find a parking spot in town, and you’ll likely wait a bit at most restaurants and stores.  The weather is great, the whales are in view, there’s lots of fun and frolic afoot, and it’s a wonderful time to be on the coast.  Soon, though, school will begin, guests will pack up and head home, and things will begin to quiet down a bit and return to the ebb and flow of daily life at the coast, with fewer people, fewer cars, and just a little less activity.

But that moment in late August when the summer begins to fade into early autumn is the start of something special.  It’s called Second Summer, and it’s a closely kept secret among insiders on the central Oregon coast, but I want to share it with you today.  Second summer refers to the month of September and the first half, or a bit more, of October.  In Yachats and Waldport, the warmest weather, the nicest breezes, the least fog, and the quiet that comes with the memory of the happy summer crowds that have now dissipated, make for an incredibly beautiful and special time at the coast.  It’s the summer with the perfect weather, but fewer people and dogs romping on the beach.  It’s the summer with less traffic and just enough people for that happy buzz in local establishments.  It’s the second summer, and it’s especially treasured by locals who know that after summer officially ends, there’s another unofficial summer waiting to be enjoyed.

Visitors, too, can seize the opportunity to enjoy second summer.  With lower occupancy in the vacation rentals and hotels, it’s easier to find just the right luxurious rental for you and your guests.  At Sweet Homes, we still have availability in September, and though October is booking well there are still some nights available at many of our homes.  Like most other rental companies and hotels, we also have fall specials available.  On October 1st, our homes change to their lower winter rates, and we begin to offer our famous 1 free night on all stays special (so you book 2 or more nights, and then you get one free).  If you want to come and check out second summer, just visit our website to choose your sweet home and your desired nights, and when you place your reservation use coupon code SeptBlog.  When you do so, we’ll be happy to offer you the lower winter rates, even though you’re staying with us in September.

Mother nature is second summer’s generous hostess.  Warm breezes fill the air from the East and from California, and the late summer sun warms the inland areas and valleys, making for less of a temperature difference with the coast.  As a result, there is less wind, less fog, the warmest  days of the year, and lovely nights on the central coast.  It’s dreamy!   The sea life is plentiful, the tide pools are thriving, and if you’re lucky you may even get to experience the eerie glow of one of nature’s most beautiful nighttime mysteries: bioluminescent life.  With the coast warmed up for second summer, there tends to be more abundant nutrients in the water near beaches, including dinoflagellates, or tiny phytoplankton.  These plants brush up on beaches and can create a bluish-green glow in the evening when they are bumped or disturbed.  It’s called glowing sand, and it’s a beautiful and stunning sight to behold this very special and rare form of sea night light!

Besides the beaches and all the trails, scenic vistas, and various outdoor activities the central coast always offers, there’s also lots of social events in second summer, too.  From the EcoTrek at Cape Perpetua (9/1), to Yachat’s Fall Blues Car Show & Shine (9/7 – 9/9), to Waldport’s Cruizin’ for Crab events on 9/22, to the Sky Candy 2012 great kite event in Yachats on 9/28 and 9/29, plus the usual art galleries, wine tastings, live music, and other local events that always make Yachats and Waldport fun places to relax, second summer is a great time of year to beat the crowds and enjoy the lively activities the coast has to offer.

So, the secret’s officially out.  Wouldn’t you like to indulge in some second summer fun in Yachats and Waldport this year?  If so, don’t forget to use the coupon code above to get your special rate on Sweet Homes rentals, and don’t forget your sunscreen — it could get hot out there!

Anchors away, friends, and have a wonderful second summer!  May the glowing sands light your way back to the beach….