A beach walk with a mission

Niki Price of the Lincoln City Cultural Center is hiking the Coast to raise money for the center and awareness of public art.

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Life threw a few challenges her way, but Niki Price finally got her Oregon Coast trek underway. The first leg was every inch as amazing as she expected.

Niki Price's public art walk along the Oregon Coast Trail began with a bit of history at Ft. Stevens State Park, where the wreck of the Peter Iredale has been slowing disintegrating since it ran aground in 1906.
Niki Price’s public art walk along the Oregon Coast Trail began with a bit of history at Ft. Stevens State Park, where the wreck of the Peter Iredale has been slowing disintegrating since it ran aground in 1906. Photo courtesy: Niki Price

“It was grand,” Price, executive director of the Lincoln City Cultural Center, said of the 21-mile stretch from the north trailhead at Ft. Stevens State Park to Seaside, with a side trip to Warrenton. “It was truly grand. I had a wonderful time.”

Price did the trip over two days and plans to hike the entire 425 miles of the Oregon Coast Trail for a journey she is calling “On the Path of Public Art.” The idea is to help spread word both of the Oregon Coast Public Art Trail, which features more than 800 pieces of public art, and of  fundraising efforts to create the cultural plaza at the cultural center. 

“This is a personal goal of mine,” said Price, who was recently named chair of the Oregon Cultural Trust‘s board of directors. “But at the same time, I am really interested in public art and bringing public art to the Cultural Plaza. My goal is to get the name of the plaza out there, get people to associate the plaza with our public art dreams and to know that the plaza is still very much happening and very much in need of their support.”

Price originally planned to set out in March, but bad weather, an injury, and family matters kept her grounded. While disappointing at the time, Price thinks now it might have been lucky.

In Warrenton, the coast art tour stops at the metal sculpture of the Warrenton Warrior mascot, which the Oregon Coast Visitors Association describes as "built by students of Mr. Ernest Moon's metal fabrication class at Warrenton High School in the 1968-69 school year. Photo courtesy: Niki Price
The metal sculpture of the Warrenton Warrior mascot was “built by students of Mr. Ernest Moon’s metal fabrication class at Warrenton High School in the 1968-69 school year,” according to the Oregon Coast Visitors Association. Photo courtesy: Niki Price

“Really, the September date was the first I could do anything serious,” she said. “It was glorious. The best weather. It was like Bali. I got to explore a different part of the coast than I’ve explored before. It was everything I hoped it would be.”

She was surprised to find cars and trucks on the beach of the north coast. Lincoln City has some spots where the beach is auto-accessible, but this was the first time Price saw the beach used as an actual highway.

“I saw people driving to find picnic spots, four-wheeling. I also saw people learning to paraglide off the beach. I saw a lot of kites and a paragliding class.”

Sadly, she saw a lot of trash, too, which she tried to carry out until her pack became too heavy.

Price’s BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) was inspired by tales from the Pacific Crest Trail, but she questioned if she had the stamina and backcountry skills to hike that. She also would have had to take significant time off from her job.

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“So, I tried to think about a similar goal that was more accessible to me, and the Oregon Coast Trail really fit the bill. I walk on a bit of it nearly every day in my neighborhood beach in Lincoln City. Walking this Oregon Coast Trail also makes my mother and husband happy. They always worry about me when I’m off on a wander.”

Price is accepting donations, hoping to raise $5,000 to buy a pedestal for the cultural plaza. There are two kinds of donations, Morale Boosters, which are one-time donations, and pledges per mile, which can be any amount and are due at the end of the trek. 

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This story is supported in part by a grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust, investing in Oregon’s arts, humanities and heritage, and the Lincoln County Cultural Coalition.

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