PACIFIC CITY, Ore. - There are plenty of ways to enjoy the Oregon coast other than just looking for shells or building a sandcastle.
On a foggy afternoon, the beach at Cape Kiwanda may appear ominous at first glance.
But if you ask people in Pacific City, they'll swear up and down that this can be an ideal place to conquer your fears.
“Pacific City, I always say, is the sunniest spot on the coast, even though it's not sunny yet,” surfer Pete Haralabatos said.
As the dory boats are heading in, many first time surfers are venturing out past the breakers.
“Normally, you get a northwest swell, so you can get out right by the rocks. People are really mellow here, there's a lot of people learning,” Haralabatos said.
Learning means patience. And surfing depends on the wind and the tide, much like hang gliding, a sport that instructor John Matylonek compares to both scuba diving and martial arts.
“We start using just a part of the glider for your to meld your hands and your eyes with the control frame. So everything is done in little baby steps,” Matylonek said.
Matylonek is an instructor at the Oregon Hang Gliding School, which is based in Corvallis, but spends the summer in Pacific City.
Now, if you're not quite ready to test the waters or take flight, there's certainly nothing wrong with staying grounded on your own two feet. Or four for that matter. And you can find some pretty friendly riding companions without ever leaving Pacific City.
“It is, it's very therapeutic. A lot of folks, they come back and want to do that instead of see a psychiatrist. I've heard one girl say,” Dan Stuebgen said. Stuebgen has run Green Acres Beach and Trail Rides for three years in Pacific City.
While Stuebgen can slip into a saddle with ease, he says many first-timers need a bit of coaxing before they'll head out on the trail.
“One young girl, she was like 18. It was her idea to do this. She got out here. The time to get on the horse came. And she started crying and just couldn't stop,” Stuebgen said. “And we finally talked her into it. Got her on there and her knuckles were white. She was holding on to the reigns so hard. But she came back an hour later all smiles and so happy she actually didn't chicken out and went ahead and did it.”
And no matter if it's a fear of animals, a fear of heights or a phopia of the water, Cape Kiwanda could be a good place to find your courage.