Our correspondent experiences a “pop-up five-star campground” on Cape Lookout, where luxury and crash landings offer plenty of memories — and bruises.
I arrived at Oregon’s Cape Lookout on the shores of the Pacific Ocean on a Thursday evening determined to spend the weekend discovering how fast I could go, how much danger I could put myself in, and to learn a new adventure skill that has zero application to my life beyond enriching it. By Sunday morning, I had accomplished all of that, and I had the bruises, limp, and bloodstains to prove it.
I punished my body — and loved every minute of it — alongside action-sport athletes, adventurists, and fellow journalists, all of whom were flown by Toyota to a Boy Scout camp transformed into a “pop-up five-star campground” and temporarily dubbed Hotel Tacoma. Choosing from a variety of available adventures, I opted to go off-roading, mountain-biking, fly-fishing, roaring down the beach in a side-by-side UTV, and paragliding. The irony is that for all of my desire for speed, the most harrowing excursion featured very little of it, and the most memorable one featured even less.
With a ProFormance Racing School instructor riding shotgun and offering off-roading lessons, I piloted one of the camp’s namesake pickups on a mountain forest “road” that was wide enough for the truck and nothing else. We climbed 1,500 feet in just a few miles and never saw a straightaway a quarter-mile long. I doubt I ever reached 30 mph. I can’t say for sure, because I would not, could not, take my eyes off the road to even glance at the speedometer. Whatever the top speed, it’s amazing how fast it feels when there’s a deadly drop-off 2 feet to your left.
The day after that, Olympic halfpipe snowboarder Louie Vito (who makes a living throwing himself to new heights) and I headed out on an excursion to take Discover Paragliding! flights. But it wasn’t the height that made paragliding memorable. It was the sudden stops. Thanks to four crash landings, I woke up with searing pain in my ribs, aching in both of my arms, and a black and blue mark on my right leg that looked like I had been lashed with a whip.
I shared my medical woes with Vito, who considered them a small price to pay. “That’s memories, man,” he said. He was jealous about how much higher I got than he did. Seriously, no lie: He told everybody who would listen as much, and dang right I’m bragging about it for the rest of my career — or until I succumb to my injuries, whichever comes first.