beach trip

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Last week was our annual family trip to Cannon Beach, but with my friend’s BirthdayPartyOne (PartyTwo is happening tonight), and my trip to Montana, I haven’t had a chance to write about it yet.  Brother, his wife, their three kids, and Mom ‘n’ Stepdad arrived on Sunday, and I arrived on Monday.

Before I left Portland, I checked in with Brother to see if I needed to bring anything, and he texted back, The house is small and not very nice, just so you know. Greeeeat.  That meant I was sleeping on the floor.  I threw in my sleeping bag and pillow, as well as a blanket to throw down, just in case.  I also brought my bike this time, just in case I wanted to get away and have some solo adventures.  When I arrived, I got the low-down on the house, which Mom and BrothersWife had spent the whole day cleaning and fixing, but there were still a multitude of things that were broken or at least annoying.  They called the rental company, who sent a repair guy down to fix the more egregious things.  The house was owned by a family named Kennedy, but it must have been the Grey Gardens branch of the family, not the Hyannisport branch.  After some negotiation, Mom’s diplomacy skills got them to refund a day of the rental fee, the entire cleaning fee, and the entire pet fee.

For the most part, we did all the usual family-type things that people do on the beach.  We lit fires, we roasted marshmallows to make s’mores, and we talked and watched the kids play in the sand.  The sunset was particularly nice one night, so I managed to get some pics before my battery died.


Stepdad had been telling us about a phenomenon called ‘minus tides’, in which the tide is extra low, but this year the minus tides were up to two feet lower than usual, and about as low as they can possibly be on the Oregon coast.  Tuesday’s was the lowest tide, apparently, but if you were lucky enough to be up around five-thirty or six in the morning, you’d be able to experience the minus tides all week.  On Wednesday, the morning of my third and final day, my eyes popped open around six, so I dressed quickly, grabbed my bike, and headed for the beach.   It was very foggy, as mornings there often are, but this time it was so foggy that I couldn’t even see Haystack Rock until I was actually down on the beach and right next to it.  I rode along the dirt roads and paths, following the dune grass, until I found a set of steps leading down to the sand.  I carried my bike over my shoulder until I got onto the wet sand, because dry sand is extremely hard to ride in, and it gets in every single crevice of your bike’s mechanical parts and destroys them, so I was quite happy to wait for the wet sand.

I came across an interesting scene, which was of a series of chairs that had been left on the sand overnight, complete with peoples’ toys and jackets.  It was very eerie, almost post-apocalyptic.  I set my bike down and pulled out the camera. . .


. . .then finally made it to Haystack Rock.  It was pretty exhausting just getting down there.  It’s a pretty good walk at the normal low tides, but during the minus tide, it took forever to walk to the water’s edge.  I arrived around six-thirty, to find about ten or fifteen other intrepid explorers down there with me.  We all were walking around the edge of the rock, admiring and touching the myriad of colorful starfish and anemones that were exposed.

starfish1 starfish2

starfish starfish3

The ultra-low tide exposed some nefarious and debaucherous activities, as well.  These two star-crossed lovers (har har) were caught in the act of spooning on a rock. . .


. . .and here we see a perfect example of the type of forbidden love that sometimes manages to transcend the boundaries of inter-species predation.


After I pulled myself away from the starfish and their activities, I walked down to the water’s edge, which was clear down to the ‘back’ of Haystack Rock, on its ocean side.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with this area, during a normal low tide, you’re normally only able to get to the beach side of the rock, where the usual tidepools are.  This time, the rock was almost completely exposed.  Check THIS out:

lowtide lowtide2

I know it’s hard to convey all of this by such close-up shots, but it was absolutely stunning, and despite the lack of sleep that morning, I’m very glad to have had the opportunity to witness it.

By this time, which was now around seven-thirty, the tide was just beginning to come in again, and some of us who were engrossed in our photography had to scramble from a couple of waves.  I turned around to find a little rock and tidepool formation that I’d attempted to photograph earlier, but the light had changed enough that it was particularly eerie and beautiful.


After that, I put my bike back over my shoulder and trudged back through the thick fog toward town.  I navigated through the stairway and parking lot of a time-share condo in order to do so, and took the liberty of using their rinsing shower on my bike as well.  Don’t tell anybody.  From there, I headed to my favorite coffee shop, Bella Espresso, for my favorite beach drink, a white chocolate raspberry mocha.  Mmmmmm.  I was the second customer of the day, and arrived just as they were opening, so I sat in the courtyard and watched people on the street while I sipped my coffee, before I rode back to our ‘small and not very nice’ rental house.

This was the fifth year in a row that we’ve done a Cannon Beach vacation.  This one was quite a bit more stressful than usual, due to the fact that the rental house was so small, and awkwardly laid out, and dirty.   The kids were also a bit much to deal with this time, at least for me.  Eight-year-old Niece is usually really great, but when she’s having an off day, she can be almost insufferable.  Three-year-old Nephew is, well. . .three, so he’s at the Constantly Looming Tantrum stage of life.  There are very few things that are more annoying to me than little kids’ tantrums (especially since I’m not much of a ‘kid person’ anyway), so I took the opportunities for quiet getaways whenever I got the chance.

This trip was fine and everything, but I’m sure next year’s trip will be better.


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Yesterday I got a text message from RockShowGirl saying, “I don’t have to work today.  What are you up to?”  (I took the liberty of changing her ‘r u’ to ‘are you’, by the way.  You’re welcome.)  I called her back and we decided that a day trip was just what we needed.  We were originally thinking of going to Astoria, but she called back to say that it was warmer at the beach, so she suggested Oceanside, where I’d never been.  On the way is Cape Meares lighthouse, which I’ve also never seen, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity for some exploring.

First stop was Cape Meares, where you can see the top of the lighthouse from the walking path, which is odd.  We came around the corner and were startled to find that “Oh. . .that’s it right there. Crazy!”  The path takes you right up next to it, and then snakes around so you can enter the site.  The lighthouse turned out to be a cute li’l guy, too, not even forty feet tall.  (Click the pics to view them larger.)

lighthouse1 lighthouse2 lighthouse3

Admission is free, so we climbed clear to the top.  (I know, right?  Can you believe it?  All that way. . .)  I took a few pictures, but the ones from inside the lighthouse structure were much better than the ones I got of the view.  See for yourself.

lens windows2 window

We didn’t spend too much time there, because we’d been driving for more than two hours over crazy roads paved with potholes, and then hiking around the lighthouse site, so by this time we were both getting really hungry and excited to get to the beach.  We got back in the car and headed the rest of the way to Oceanside, a town perched beautifully but precariously on the edge of a cliff, with one main road and about five hundred residents.  The great thing about going to the Oregon coast on a weekday is that wherever you go you will pretty much have the place to yourself, especially if you are off of the main highway.

oceanside1 roseannas

Our first stop was Roseanna’s Cafe, where we shared an excellent lunch of clam chowder, salad, and a halibut burger.  We were the only customers for about half of our meal, when another couple arrived.  The place is excellent, and really cute, and I would highly recommend it.  They have lots of seafood and pasta dishes in the $15-20 range that gave us Pavlovian salivation responses while reading their descriptions, but both of us are on a pretty tight budget these days, so we put it on our Places-To-Come-Back-To-In-The-Future list.

Finally, with our bellies full and satisfied, it was time to walk down to the ocean.  The town of Oceanside is perched on a cliff, like I said, and the main beach near the town is run-of-the-mill as far as beaches go.  I mean, it’s pretty and everything, but as a long-time Oregon resident, I have to admit that I’m pretty spoiled.   The pictures I took of that part of the beach weren’t especially exciting either, quite frankly, so here’s a picture of the town instead that I took from there.


For the real beach experience of Oceanside, you walk through this tunnel. . .

tunnel1 tunnel2 tunnel4

. . .which, on the other side of the cliff, guides you onto a beautiful, secluded, rocky (and true–ha ha) beach that still feels very wild and unspoiled by civilization.  We hiked around for an hour or two, climbing on the rocks, exploring caves, and taking pictures until the wind chilled us sufficiently and we decided to head back, but the beach and the town are exquisite, and I recommend a trip there.  Here’s a little pictorial incentive for you.

oceanside2 oceanside3


Then it’s into the tunnel again. . .

tunnel3 tunnel5

. . .and you’re back in the real world of the twenty-first century.  We walked back to the car and took the opportunity to drive up through the hills and explore the rest of the little town.  All the roads except the main street are steep, narrow, serpentine one-lane switchbacks with signs posted saying how motor homes and trailers are not recommended.  The houses are beautiful, almost without exception.  In many of the yards were posted small signs telling us to boycott this certain place that was across the street from the restaurant at which we ate lunch.  A quick Internet search just revealed the reason why:  it’s now a strip club, and it seems that many of the residents are all up in arms about that.  Kinda funny, really.  For the record, I’m not a fan of strip clubs, but I’m a live-and-let-live kind of guy.  If I don’t like a place, I won’t boycott it, I’ll just choose not to go there.

But that’s a story for another day.  This is the story of a beautiful place, on a beautiful day, with a great friend.

IrishBand goes to Port Townsend

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And now, finally, here’s the entry describing IrishBand’s trip to Port Townsend earlier this month.  As you may or may not know, the other two guys in the band are PT natives, so each trip back is loaded with memories and emotions for them, and new memories and good times for me.

We drove up there early on Saturday morning, the plan being to arrive early enough that we could meet up with friends, eat pizza, and wander around town to look in the shops and see the sights.  The Plan quickly seemed to evaporate, however, as phone calls went unanswered and shops weren’t open.  We did manage to connect with Dan and Julie, who grew up in PT but lived in Portland until recently.  We visited them at the extremely unusual house they’re renting, which is also a place that Singer lived a few years back.  I wanted to take pictures of everything, but I thought better of it because it was our friends’ place.  Maybe next time I will.  We’re planning to go up to PT more regularly.

So after that, we were a bit at a loss as to what to do next.  We’d already explored the town, and most of the shops were closed, so when in Rome, you do as the Romans do on a slow Saturday afternoon. . .which in Rome means that you see the sculptures and ruins and art, but in Port Townsend it means that you’re probably going to end up at a bar, which is what we did.  Singer, Singer’sGirlfriend and I killed a bit of time in there until Violinist arrived in town.  We also spent a good bit of time in a bookstore after that.  Incidentally, that’s where I picked up a copy of Invisible Man, which I wrote about in this entry.  We ate at the amazing Waterfront Pizza, and that’s about when Violinist arrived.  He suggested that we drive out to the lighthouse and watch the sunset, which was beginning to look like it could be a very memorable one.  We locked our instruments in a closet at the venue, and then loaded ourselves into the car and headed up the hill along the winding streets of the town.

Here are some pictures of our evening at the beach.  You can click on them to make them larger.

The tide happened to be high while we were there, and the waves were crashing against the rocks, sometimes splashing clear up next to the lighthouse.  I wasn’t able to capture any of the huge ones on video, unfortunately, but this will give you at least a sense of what it was like.

Ahhhhh. . .so nice.  I could watch that all day.

From there, we went back to the venue to set up and eat dinner.  They provided us with pizza, salad and as many drinks as we wanted, within reason.  Nice place, that Sirens, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  Their sound system, however, leaves a bit to be desired.  We started to set up, and were told that they don’t have any microphones anymore.  Luckily I had brought one, and we managed to scrounge up a toy one from the back room, so all was not lost, but it certainly sounded much worse than usual.  In fact, about two-thirds of the way through the show, after struggling with the PA the entire time, we said a collective ‘screw it’, and decided to pretend that it was 1885 or something, and just play acoustically and have fun.  We walked with our instruments and played in various parts of the bar, including the hallway, and then went back to the stage for the rest of the set.  There was some floor space near the front, so two people took the opportunity to do some wild Irish dancing around the room, which made for a fun ending to an otherwise problematic show.  We left around one a.m. and stayed out at Violinist’s parents’ house, like we did last time.  They were excellent hosts, as usual, and they made an amazing breakfast for all of us. . .hearty pancakes with raspberry sauce, applesauce on the side, veggie sausage, and all the coffee and tea we could handle.

Incidentally, I learned that not only was the movie Snow Falling on Cedars filmed in Port Townsend (among other places), but also that a couple friends of the group were extras in the film.  They played Japanese-American kids (because that’s what they were at the time; they’re all growed up now, and are Japanese-American adults) who were walking onto the boat as it was leaving to take the families to the internment camps during World War II.  I loved the book, and thought the movie was just okay, but I put it on my InternetFlicks queue to see what there is to see of PT and our friends.

The next morning was a special annual event in Port Townsend called the Kinetic Race.  It’s not really a race as much as a chance for people to show off their ingenuity.  The ‘kinetics’ are these odd contraptions that are somewhere between bicycles, kayaks, boats, and cars.  They have to be built along a set of guidelines.  They must be human-powered (no motors of any kind), and they have to be able to travel on the street, in the water, on sand, and through mud.  Our little group congregated right along the waterfront, sitting or standing on the rocks, to watch the street-to-water portion of the event.

The vehicles were absolutely ingenious.  Here are pictures of most of them.  Like before, you can click on the pictures to enlarge them.

The Art-Not-Fear trio (Fear-Not-Art?  Not-Fear-Art?  Fear-Art-Not?) was struck by tragedy when Not capsized on the other size of the pier, and the driver/captain had to be rescued by the sheriff.  The guy wasn’t hurt, luckily, but the kinetic looked a bit worse for wear when we saw it on the shore later.  Incidentally, the picture of the Cadillac sticking out of the water, with “Fear Art” being the obvious caption, was just too priceless not to capture.

The plastic replica of a 1963 Cadillac started out as a crowd favorite, but I’m not sure how many friends they made that day, because they rolled down the ramp so fast that they slammed into the guy in the water in front of them, and he had to use his arms to push himself away from the car.  Which is okay, accidents do happen sometimes, but later on, it seemed to have a bit of difficulty in the water, and it even needed to be towed about halfway through the course.

The one below was my personal favorite of the kinetics, because of its simple, clean, economical design.  It’s also the one that ended up towing the Cadillac.  Just another example of the fact that simplicity is always best.  It went into and out of the water effortlessly. . .

. . .unlike the one below, which seemed overbuilt and awkward.  It took a great deal of shifting things around, both going out and coming in.  It did really well in the water, I have to say, but it sure looked like a lot of wasted energy.

The Magic Bus was far and away the crowd’s favorite, and huge cheers erupted as it rolled down into the water:

I took a video of each kinetic coming back from the water and up the ramp, but that would be ridiculous overkill, so I narrowed it down to two.  The first video shows two of the fastest transitions from water to road (again, due to their excellent design), and the second video shows three or four different people coming in around the same time (including the guy who got hit by the Cadillac), so you can really see what the various kinetics are like in motion.  The second video is a bit long, but it’s definitely worth watching the whole thing.

After about two hours of hanging around and watching the kinetics, we started to get hungry, so we walked back up to Waterfront and had a slice of pizza (third time having pizza in two days!).  By that time, we were all starting to fade out, and we decided to drive back home to Portland.

The trip was a total blast, as usual.  I love PT, and I’m really glad to have the opportunity to spend time there regularly, and to meet so many of the cool people who live there.  I feel like I’m starting to get to know the place by now.

The only bummer about the trip was that the Tyler Street Coffee House is no longer open on Sundays.  I have to go on record and say that this makes no sense to me at all.  It’s the best coffee and pastry shop in town (nay, the WORLD. . .there, I said it) and it’s been a highlight of past visits.  We didn’t make it there last time, so we were very much looking forward to renewing our love for the TSCH.  Alas, it was not to be.  Next time, however, we’re planning to come up on a Friday so that we can partake of the wonderfulness that’s created there.

Just thinking about it already makes me happy.


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The trip to Cannon Beach was nice, and relaxing.

Drove JBJ over there with me, since his wife and kids were in Astoria already.  We had a blast, talking and listening to the CD compilation he had just finished making.  We got almost to Seaside, and he called his wife to let her know where he was.  She said, “Turn around; we’re going to Cannon Beach.”  So we did.  We all met at Cranky Sue’s Furiously Good Food To Improve Your Mood. With a name like that, how could it not be good?  Turned out to be VERY good, in fact.

Afterwards, we went our separate ways, and I met Stepdad at the beach house that we had rented.  I unloaded my car and the two of us walked down to the beach to meet up with Mom, Brother, SisterInLaw, Niece and Nephew.   Brother and Niece and I attempted to fly Brother’s kite, but it’s one of those little stunt kites that tends to nose-dive often, and on one of its nose-dives, the nylon ripped at the tip from the force of the crash.  He put it on sabbatical for a while, until he can figure out how to fix it.  I’m not gonna lie; those kites make me nervous.

I didn’t get any really good pictures this trip.  The weather was cold and foggy, and there were even thunderstorms on Sunday.  It was a good trip, it’s just that for some reason I’m having a hard time thinking of what to share about it.  We made a bonfire, walked the beach, walked to town, drank a lot of coffee, made some really good food, lost my keys and spent an hour tearing apart the house looking for them, walked the beach some more, took lots of pictures of Haystack Rock in the fog. . .I even took a page from Andrea’s book and shot a couple of quick videos, but they’re too big to upload, so I need to figure out how to compress them a bit.  Again, I apologize; I don’t know why I’m having a tough time writing about the trip, but I am.  It was nice, and relaxing, and that’s what’s important.

I had to get back to Portland at a reasonable hour on Sunday to meet a couple of friends and see the play Mimesophobia.  It was a dense and brilliant mystery, both in the way the story was told, and in the way that the play was staged.  The theater was very long and narrow, with seating for about twenty people.  There were video screens on either wall, and every few feet there was a small speaker.  It was as if we were watching a film.  The actors could whisper into their little wireless microphones and we could hear them perfectly.  There were a couple of characters who would shut off their microphones and speak to each other normally.  It was a murder mystery, only it was told via film clips (which were described to us by two ‘film-maker’ characters, who were writing a film based on the murder, Charlie Rose interviews with a person who was closely intertwined in the story, messages that were left on answering machines, people portraying the actual participants in the various events. . .it was a lot of information to take in, but it was absolutely brilliant.

Last night, J and I watched the movie Private Eyes, which I had seen many times before, but not since I was a little kid.  I was hesitant to rent it, because I had a feeling that it wouldn’t stand up very well over time, but my brother had seen it recently, and he enjoyed it, so we decided to take our chances.  I like my comedy a good bit darker these days, but it was still fun and entertaining.

This week is about to get crazy.  I found out yesterday that IrishBand has a late gig tonight, tomorrow night is the play-reading group, in which we’re reading the script for My Dinner With Andre.  Thursday night is a small Breanna gig, Friday night is a big Breanna gig, Saturday is IrishBandSinger’s birthday party at a 3 Leg Torso show, Sunday is a daytime ‘play’ consisting of a lot of personal narratives that we listen to in headphones.  It sounds a bit like This American Life, only the audience is involved somehow, by adding their own stories, and interacting at various times.  Can’t wait.

Today I drove a work friend to the hospital for some asthma-related breathing problems she’s been having.   She went in yesterday, apparently, and she felt the same thing coming on today, so she asked me to take her in.  Back at work, I’ve been involved in some very heavy, emotional, interesting and surprising conversations, that I think should remain private, other than to say that a small part of one of them involved pedophiles and what happens to them when they find themselves in prison.  Definitely not the type of conversations you expect to have when you wake up in the morning.  I have a feeling that’s what’s making me feel so pensive and odd today.

Speaking of which, I need to get back, actually.  I’m home writing this on my lunch break, and now it’s time to leave you.

Seaside trip

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Yesterday after work, my friend Blaine came to meet me at my place, where we switched to my car and drove to Seaside to meet Chris and Nicole, who live in GoldenGateCity. You remember them, they got married this last spring. Anyway, they were up in Seaside (Oregon, that is; there’s a Seaside in GoldenState also) for the entire week. They stopped in to see me at my place on their way up, and I recruited Blaine to join me when I went over to visit them last night. We had a blast listening to a funny CD we made about a million years ago, and laughing like hyenas the entire way.

It was sunny and ninety degrees when we left Portland, but when we arrived at the coast it was cold and fairly crappy. This is the norm on the Oregon coast, and I’ve learned to be prepared with a hoodie or something, no matter what time of year it is.

The terrible picture is from my phone, by the way. There’s a huge amateur volleyball tournament happening this weekend (Sarah in NYC? You gonna be there?), so there are nets everywhere on the beach, as well as a smallish stage. We met Chris and Nicole and went to sushi at a pretty decent Japanese restaurant called Tora. After that, we headed back to their time-share, which is the same one that Chris’s parents and siblings (and siblings’ kids) were staying in, so we went to their parents’ place to say hello to everyone.

We all talked and laughed, and at around 10:00, Blaine and I drove the hour and a half back to Portland. Again, we had a great time talking and laughing, but the drive was more difficult this time. It was foggy through the mountains, and we saw a coyote or something in the road at one point. Once we were in the city limits, around 11:45, there was a huge wreck in the opposite direction of the highway, which looked like a motorcycle was involved. There were lots of police cars, and at least one ambulance, and traffic was completely stopped.

We got home and I went in and went to bed, but Blaine still had to drive himself back to his house, which is about half an hour’s drive, in Vancouver’s NorthernSuburb. Incidentally, I’d like to give a ‘shout out’ to Blaine, who said that he reads my blog in the morning on his PDA, while sitting on the toilet. No doubt some would say that’s the only appropriate place to be while reading blogs, but as far as I’m concerned, wherever you want to read from is fine by me.