Adventure on the Oregon Coast

Posted by admin on June 27th, 2013 filed in batman, photography, travel

Will’s grandfather turned 98 this past month and all the family was invited out to the Oregon coast for the celebration. His parents and brother flew out for a month, but Will and I could only go for a few days, flying out on a Friday and returning on a Tuesday.

Our initial flight from Florida was delayed, causing us to miss our connecting flight – the last Portland-bound one of the evening. Thankfully, the airline provided the affected passengers with hotel vouchers, so we found ourselves in the airport Hilton in Phoenix for a quick four hours in which we refreshed, napped and breakfasted.

Will’s mom, Terry, and his brother, Adam, collected us Saturday afternoon from PDX, but with my brother (Erick) and sister-in-law (Erin) newly relocated to Portland, I requested a quick stop to visit them before leaving for the coast.

I would see them back in Florida in the coming weeks for a cousin’s wedding, but really wanted to see their new place. Erick always finds the most amazing, unique things on the local Craigslist no matter where he ends up settling down (cool places to rent, great appliances for cheap, good deals on recreational gear and he even found his awesome wife!) They began their life in Portland subletting a room from a couple (which meant a total of four adults and two neurotic cats in a two bedroom apartment), then liked the area and building enough to claim the next available unit for themselves. So now they have an adorable apartment in a small, close-knit complex with a cheerful, grass-and-blossoms courtyard and a mélange of free-range pets eager to greet visitors. Maybe we just showed up on a lucky day of sunshine and spring for Portland in May, but what a stunning first impression that nook of the city made.

We strolled to a nearby restaurant and ate tasty, fresh tacos out in the clear air, under big umbrellas. Forgetting the rain and cold typical of the region, I’m jealous of the beauty, simplicity, kindness and care immediately apparent in that community. I could have happily stayed there for weeks, but my brother had to study for finals and his wife had work and the rest of us had a two hour drive to the coast, so after lunch, goodbyes, and a to-be-expected longer-than-intended stop at Costco, we were on our way. I fell asleep a few blocks outside the city, but I had time to notice the abundance of tiny drive-thru coffee shacks available in and around Portland.

Waking up near Siletz Bay, I saw the trend continued and proposed a drinking game centered on spotting coffee shacks. The caffeine adds up pretty quickly though.

Heading south through town, along the 101, Will’s mom gave us a quick verbal tour of the main attractions and how different shops or spots relate to the family. We stopped to check out our hotel as well – the bay and ocean view from the room delighted us significantly more than the tsunami risk area and evacuation route signs did:

After dropping off our bags, we drove on to Grandpa’s!

Darrell, Will’s grandpa is, as mentioned earlier, 98. I cared for my mother’s father, my Grandpa Walt, in the last year of his life. He died at 98, bed-ridden, tube-fed, catheterized and with multiple lung problems, but jovial almost to the end, for which I still admire him.  So I nearly dropped my jaw when I saw how active Darrell is at 98. He walks, talks, eats, jokes, and even performs playing the bones. (Will’s dad has uploaded YouTube videos of this, but I need to ask him for the link.)

We spent the weekend with Darrell and other family members present at various times, mostly visiting and eating meals, but made a few wonderful side trips in between, beginning with a walk to the beach by Darrell’s house with Batman and the parents:

After being dropped by at our hotel, Will and I went out in search of dance music and came across the Strange Tones playing at Roadhouse 101.

Since the band is based in Portland, we hope to see them again on our next visit – they put on a great show. Aside from a few cute couples and a drunken, gender-ambivalent spirit dancer, the floor was mostly empty so we enjoyed ourselves dancing and photographing Batman, both to the amusement of the locals.

Saturday (or was it Sunday?) after brunch, we headed east of town to hike a forest trail (the Drift Creek Trail, I think) which culminated in a beautiful suspended foot bridge overlooking a river and waterfall:

The next morning, we enjoyed another great side trip on a whale-watching tour that left from the world’s smallest harbor: Depoe Bay. I didn’t take my camera (it’s not water-proof), and though we didn’t see any whales, Will still got some great photos with his.

Threading the short entrance to the harbor, in itself was impressive, even on calm days:

We saw some adorable harbor seals and he photographed several lumbering sea lions hanging out on a big whistle buoy:

And after returning to harbor, we spent the next 15-20 minutes talking with Captain Kevin about his adventures as a life-long sailor, crewing and captaining motor- and sailboats up and down the Pacific coast, in Hawaii and in parts of the Atlantic (if I remember correctly). He was delightful to talk to and he told us about weekly sailboat races out of the Newport area which we’ll definitely be crewing in during our next visit!

We later enjoyed lunch with Will’s parents, aunt and grandpa:

Then we visited the Yaquina Bay park and lighthouse and parts of the Newport harbor-front – more pictures of that to come!

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