My Five Vacay Faves

We returned from vacation last week, which was a road trip lasting about a week on the Oregon coast and up in northwest Oregon. The best parts, of course, were being away, being with friends and family, and then, yes, coming home. Coming home and finding the floofs in good shape and the house standing and damage free is satisfying.

Past those obvious points, I had specifics that I enjoyed. This is not the definitive order or rankings. They’re just the matters I most enjoyed.

  1. Being in the Cape Perpetua area. We’re guilty of multiple visits to this area since moving to Oregon fifteen years ago. This time, we treated friends to our favorite spots. Rich with volcanic leftovers and WPA efforts, exploring it is fun and educational. Specific favorites include Thor’s Well the Spouting Horn. Hearing – and feeling – the waves thundering in and firing spray several stories into the air is mesmerizing, almost therapeutic. Also of interest is the old rock hut. My wife often misremembers and informs people that it was built by Boy Scouts. She doesn’t believe me when I say, no, it was a WPA project. But, yes, it was. She was embarrassed when the guide at the information center corrected her. Its location high above the coast provide amazing views.
  2. Powell’s Books. We checked out the Powell’s Books, whatever its official name is, in Beaverton. It’s clean, large, well-organized, and it’s full of books! Books, new and old. Non-fiction and novels, coloring books and chapter books, and things related to books, writing, and reading. I walked around reading covers and blurbs, and employee recommendations. My wife summed it up as a tonic that inspires more reading. It also inspires more writing for me.
  3. Green Salmon Coffee Shop. Again, not certain if it’s the right name, but if you find the Green Salmon place in Yachats, you’re probably there. The coffee was good but not brilliant. Their vegan, gluten-free blueberry lemon scone was a huge piece of tastebud pleasuring OMG experience. So perfect in so many elements. Take it from this scone fan, it’s one to try.
  4. Oswego Grill. Back in Beaverton for my wife’s birthday, we went to the Oswego Grill in Beaverton where excellent lunches capped off with a sensation dessert was enjoyed. Lowly doughnut holes were the foundation. Baked on site after ordered, the holes are rolled in cinnamon and sugar. Five of them are brought hot and fresh on a plate, along with a bowl of warm caramel sauce. Chomp. Chomp, chomp.
  5. The Pacific Ocean. Like the night sky, the ocean always demands questions about existence and our niche rises when I contemplate it. Looking out to a far horizon invites a symphony of reflections about what’s beyond that earth curve and the people there, along with humanity’s history of exploration, and then, just the awesome presence that the ocean brings.

Not a fancy list, but if you get to these places – Cape Perpetua, Powell’s, Green Salmon, the Pacific – please check them out. Tell them Michael sent you. They’ll probably reply, “WTF are you talking about?”

Thursday’s Theme Music

Road Trip! The air was warm and growing hotter as the clouds took to other areas. Our pod was feeling cramped and crowded. An impromptu road trip was suggested. After the voting was finished, the idea passed, 2-0. (The cats voted against it, but their vote is only symbolic. They were left in the house with extra food and water.)

We departed at 8:30 AM and just rolled north on the Interstate to Eugene. Light lunch and shopping followed. We were back home by 6:30 PM. The point was to break away, even if only for a few hours. Mission accomplished.

For the record, today is Thursday, March 7, 2022. Our high was around 85 degrees F. It’s 7:03 PM. Sunset is due in forty minutes.

Road trips always provide a fountain of ideas for the neurons to toss out. But I went with Fat Boy Slim and “Praise You” from 1999. It all started with a television show called “The Outlaws” which we’ve been watching. Stephen Merchant is one of the creators and writers and also stars in it, along with this guy called Christopher Walken. Walken, an actor for several decades, is also a dancer. After watching an episode of “The Outlaws”, I pulled up “Weapon of Choice” by Fat Boy Slim, which features Walken’s dancing through an empty Marriott. I always enjoyed that video, but the neurons then brought up “Praise You.” And here we are. BTW, Mickey Rooney’s son, Michael Rooney, directed the choreography for “Weapon of Choice”. You should check it out, even if it’s familiar to you. It has a good vibe.

It was a great trip – excellent weather, light traffic, little construction, no problems, etc. Stay positive, etc. Gonna go chill with the boys, aka, Tucker and Papi, our house floofs. Here’s the music. Cheers

Two Directions Dream

The dream upset me. First was one with the usual military overtones. Superintendent of a command post, fixing it up, blah, blah, blah. I experience so many dreams of that ilk.

It segued into a road trip dream. I was in one car, a red convertible, top up, with a friend. It was a shiny, impressive car. My wife was with a female friend and a coupe in another car. The friend and I in the red car were talking about where we were going, when we were getting there, when we should leave. We agreed, we were prepared to leave; let’s go.

The other car had been parked beside us. I got out to go speak with them and discovered them gone.

Shock surprise went through me. I returned to the car. “They left,” I told my friend.

“They left?” He was as incredulous as me. “Where’d they go?”

“I don’t know.”

I called my wife. After she said, “Hello,” I asked, “Where are you guys? Where’d you go?”

She laughed. “We went to go have a party.”

“A party?” I swallowed the phrase with amazement. “We’re due to leave. We’re supposed to on the road now, starting our journey. Why did you leave? Why didn’t you say something first?”

That’s where the dream ended.

Highlights

Been on a road trip. Three cities (and three hotels), five nights, six days. So, if I wasn’t online much, you now know why. I’m not one to advertise that we’re not in our house. I’d rather not highlight it as a target for thieves. They’re already quite bold and opportunistic without me providing some useful intel about us not being home.

We went north. Seattle. Nine hour drive. But we decided to break it up into two days. Something about sitting in a car for a long time, ya know? Doesn’t get along with my wife’s RA. So the first leg took us to Lake Oswego outside Portland, OR. There we checked into a Holiday Inn Express and had dinner with friends at their house.

Holiday Inn Express wasn’t a highlight. Apparently built for tall people. Very tall. Like, I’m but five eight. Had to reach to my crown’s top to use the coffee maker. Likewise, the bathroom sink was higher than my waist. My wife, several inches shorter, struggled to lean forward over this tall counter to use the sink or see herself in the mirror to apply cosmetics. Lighting in the room wasn’t great, either. Nice big mirror (a ‘skinny’ one, if you know what I mean). No light at it meant you’re looking at yourself in near darkness. Not useful. Bed was okay. Wife complained that her pillow wasn’t sufficiently hard. Had to fold it over otherwise her head just sank. That was just a night. No biggie.

Dinner with friends was a highlight. We were visiting them in their latest home. Lovely location and yard. Nice home, some dated features but they’re adept at updating things. The woman of the house provided us with grilled asparagus, rice with mushrooms, and baked salmon. All delicious. They served excellent red wines as well. Conversation was scintillating as we played catch up.

Onward, north to Seattle. Mostly easy drive. Tacoma was a slow-moving parking lot. Stop and go often. No explanation of why. Traffic information signs were there but either unused or gave us useful tips like, “Motorcyclists, ride smart to stay alive.” Helpful when you’re stopped in traffic, wondering why. Nothing on the information radio station, either. All this tech, right?

We navigated the craziness of downtown Seattle (not much different from Portland, Pittsburgh, Boston, Chicago, Frankfurt, London, Washington, D.C., SF, etc, to me, although saner than Rome and Seoul) to the Inn at the Market by the Pike Place Market. Everyone said that is the place to stay. It was okay. Good location for visiting the market but no advantage otherwise. Comfortable room, yes. Good bed. Hard pillows. Wonderful lighting and mirrors, although no skinny mirrors. Water pressure was okay but several minutes were needed for hot water. My wife said she didn’t get a good hot bath the entire time. I had good hot showers, though, thank you.

Highlights including seeing my sister-in-law for the first time in three years. Well, since her mother died. She’s doing well. I met her and my wife at the same time, and have known them since I was fifteen. Went to high school together. Before losing her mother, she lost her husband to brain cancer after a four-year fight. They had many terrific years together. I thought her deserving of that, as he was hubby number three. Number three was the charm. Besides those issues, she’s coping with a son suffering PTSD from his tours in Afghanistan. And she runs her own business. We toasted a success as she finally — after eleven years of struggle — was granted her patent.

She introduced us to her new boyfriend, an intelligent and engaging person. We had a good time with the two. Eating had something to do with that. First night was a terrific Indian restaurant, Kastoori Grill, across from the hotel. Night number two found us at Cutter’s Crabhouse. We didn’t have reservations but my sister-in-law talked them into seating us. The woman doesn’t give up. The next night, we were at Zigzags for a late meal. Meantime, breakfast on day two was at Bacco Cafe, which I found fresh and delicious. (My wife was less enamored of her fare.) Lunch for day three found us at Kell’s Irish Restaurant and Bar. Day number four, we ate terrific grilled croissant sandwiches for breakfast, picked up at Sisters in the Post Alley.

First day and second morning had us browsing through the Pike Place Market. The second day also had us cruising the bay via a Salish Seas tour. An abbreviated history of Seattle and some notables were presented, along with a glossy overview of architectural highlights.

Trip highlights to the trip poured in on day three. We walked down Alaska Way to the sculpture garden. Then up the hill to the Space Needle. We caught a break and were able to buy tickets to use in the next fifteen minutes. Boom, up we went to the rotating clear floor. Pretty cool. Fantastic views of Everett Bay, Puget Sound, Mount Rainier, Bainbridge Island, and the Olympia Mountains.

Next, though, was the Chihuly Garden and Glass. Focused on Dale Chihuly’s work with glass, the presentations stunned and awed. These were gorgeous creations.

For the evening, we were hunting for a night tour. Didn’t come up with that, but we did end up on the Seattle Tall Ship, Bay Lady, for a sunset tour. I’d never been on a sailboat before. This was a schooner. From raising the sails to listening to the various commands until finally heeling through the sound’s deep water to the passing water’s reassuring whisper, this was a relaxing experience. I strongly recommend a cruise with them, if you have the chance.

Saturday found us heading south again. Crawling through Tacoma. Stop. Start. Pausing to eat at my wife’s favorite eatery, Panera Bread, in Longview, WA. Then on down to Eugene for an overnight stop and shopping. This hotel was a regular for us. We’ve stayed at several places in Eugene but the La Quinta gives us the most satisfaction. Located midway between the downtown area and Coburg Road, easy access to either is available. Besides the location, the rooms are large and comfortable. Hard pillows, you know? Good lighting and mirrors. Fantastic hot water and water pressure, needed to rinse off the travel grime. On to home, and our waiting cats, on Sunday.

Of course there were good beers all along. Also good people, friendly and helpful. Was worrisome traveling with the pandemic as a backdrop. We frequently wore masks but when you’re eating, what are you to do, right? We were all vaccinated but discussed whether it would have been better to stay home. None of us are exhibiting symptoms but COVID-19 strikes quickly and silently.

I can rationalize it as a break we needed. Many will understand and agree. Others will fault us for falling for the pandemic and vaccine information, which they view as a scam. Another subset will see us as privileged, which I don’t deny. Still another group will probably condemn us for being complacent.

I don’t have an answer to any of that. We went; we took precautions. We sought a balance. Hopefully, we didn’t contribute to another spike.

Fingers crossed.

Thanksgiving & Wedding Dream

The dream began with a gathering and an agreement. I and two other men would take eight women around on a trip. Don, a friend, was one of the other men. I didn’t know the women but, dressed in white toga gowns, they seemed like friends.

We hopped into a big light blue convertible. I never clearly glimpsed the car, but the imprint gained was it was a large American machine from the sixties. A ’63 Chevy Impala comes to mind. Don’t know any that would fit eleven of us, though. The trip commenced with traffic lights, talk, and confusion about where we were and we were going, never with arguments, though. Just discussions. One stop was a busy water park. The other men and I hadn’t been participating in the women’s activities; we were their drivers and guides. Now, though, we stripped down to shorts and ran through the park, playing in water.

But, it was time for a wedding! That’s why we were here. And I was getting married. I needed to rush to shower and get into suitable wedding attire, which seemed to be black jeans with a black shirt. Dressing as I went, I ran to the church and — that was that. No ceremony ensued. Next that I knew, the wedding was over. The trip was finished.

The women said good-byes. Sitting on the car hood side by side, Don invited me on another trip. He was going and thought I’d be interested. Two trips were available. He described them. As he described the second (no words from it are remembered), I interjected, “That’s the one that I want.”

He smiled. “I thought you would. It’s their traditional thanksgiving, and I was pretty sure that you’d want to go.” We talked about the food. He was smiling, reassuring me, yes, there would be gravy, turkey with stuffing, and mash potatoes.

I grew hungry and excited. Agreeing that I wanted to go, we got into the shiny, light blue convertible with Don driving. The dream ended.

Wednesday’s Theme Music

Just a simple song from my youth, sparked by random thoughts, “Gee, a road trip would be nice today. Maybe head to the coast, smell the air, listen and watch the waves, experience life as it was, when that was all taken for granted.”

Like a proper theme song, Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On” (1969) began.

For now I smell the rain, and with it pain, and it’s headed my way
Ah, sometimes I grow so tired
But I know I’ve got one thing I got to do

Ramble on, and now’s the time, the time is now
To sing my song, I’m going ’round the world, I gotta find my girl
On my way, I’ve been this way ten years to the day
Ramble on, gotta find the queen of all my dreams

h/t to Genius.com

Think I’ll ramble on into the kitchen for a cuppa coffee.

 

Food Trip

Winter has worn me down. I feel it in my palate. Snow has dissipated, the ice has faded and the temperatures are rising. (We’ve seen over fifty degrees Fahrenheit two days in a row!)

A little town fever is settling in. Town fever is just like cabin fever. It’s a sensation that you just got to do something different. The walls are slowly collapsing. The ceiling is sinking and beginning to crush me. And yes, I know the town has no physical ceiling, but it’s this sense grabs you that, “OMG help me I’m gonna go nuts where can we go to get the hell away from our routines and tedium now now NOW?” 

freedom-mel-gibson

I began simply, thinking, Grants Pass is just forty-five minutes away by speedy auto. We can go there, do a little strolling about, eat somewhere – wasn’t there a new place recently opened?

But I’ve been to Grants Pass not long ago. It’s a nice city but not the balm for this itch. My move floated toward Eugene! 

Eugene, just about three hours away and three hours back, is doable. We’ve done it a few times every year, just a little escape to shop, walk around, and…you know…eat somewhere different than our usual Ashland haunts. Mind you, Ashland has good food, and we can escape to Talent, Phoenix, Medford and even Jacksonville to find some relief.

But this is a mad, mad itch. Corvallis would be even better than Eugene. Or Bend! 

Oh, Bend. Now we’re talking. Bend is a more difficult day trip. Though the snow has diminished here in the valley, getting to Bend will probably require us to traverse some snow and ice. But there are so many great places in Bend, places like Next Level Burger.

nlb

Hmmm…burger. Cheeseburger, with a beer and fries. Deschutes Brewery is located in Bend.

mirrorpond_new

Oh, yes.

That would scratch my winter itch.

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