I must announce that I am alive. Sorry. I’ve been neglecting my personal blog while working on the PlanetAshland.net site. I’m getting an overwhelming response to the site.
Last week we decided to take a drive up the coast and visit the places we missed on our motorcycle trip a couple of years ago. Our first night we returned to one of our favorite hotels called the Ya Tel in Yachats, OR. Yachats is a quaint seaside town which has not been overrun with commercialism. It was exciting to walk out on the jetty and watch the waves crash around us at dusk. Afterward we went to the Drift Inn and had dinner. The place was artistically decorated with colorful umbrellas and mermaid murals all over the walls. We were happy to have live music while we ate fresh seafood. June Rushing overwhelmed us with her rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”
Nothing makes me happier than coffee in the morning on the beach.
Turns out there was a heatwave coming through Ashland which made the coast even warmer than usual. Sometimes in the high 90’s. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it that warm on the west coast, at least where I’ve been hanging out. After reluctantly leaving Yachats, we drove up the coast and visted a few other seaside towns. We had visited Newport on our way back from Canada in ’06 and found the harbor area, an Uber-Ripley’s Believe it or Not and pulled taffy turista town. Then Monica discovered the opposite side of town called Nye Beach, which runs along the ocean. We stopped in an arts center where we learned that the area’s school art program was shutting down due to lack of funds. As we walked around and looked at all the amazing student art we were pretty disheartened to hear about another program closing. It seems that art and music are the first to go in schools. The curator of the art center told us to check out the Sylvia Beach Hotel just up the street.
We were welcomed to explore the rooms of the hotel, each one had a theme of a famous author. The whole hotel was dedicated to the love of books. Rooms that were available were named after authors such as Hemingway, Colette, Alice Walker, Dr. Seuss, Virginia Woolf, Jane Austen, JRR Tolkein and Agatha Christie. They even had dorm room dedicate to Oregon authors so people could stay relatively cheaply.
After we left Nye Beach, we drove up a little further and decided to have a picnic along the water. It was so windy we had to hold our food down.
I tried to enjoy lunch with the Unibomber.
Monica had the idea to go along the cape route as we went further north so we could stay along the water. We decided to try to find a place in Oceanside. She spotted a hand-painted sign along the road that said Clifftop Inn. “There’s a place!” she said. I’m always a little skeptical of Monica’s scouting because she points out every single thing along the road as potential. As we rolled into the tiny town we found very few places to stay. I thought I would check out this Clifftop, thinking it would be a bust. We drove up a long hill to the peak of the cliff where a simple looking hotel stood. Monica went in and as I studied the surroundings and the view I figured it was out of our price range. She came out of the office, beaming. She had managed to negotiate a lower price since it was so late in the evening. We scored an amazing room with a deck overlooking the ocean.
We sat out, drank wine and watched the beautiful sunset.
By the time it grew dark, we realized we were starving. Finding food in this tiny town was nearly impossible and we ended up at a tavern just up the road. Smoky and decorated with the original paneling and a few animal heads, we walked up to the bar and peered into the kitchen. We heard someone cooking so we thought we were in luck. It was going to be a far cry from the dinner we had in Yachats, but it was worth it having seen that sunset. A short gray haired woman with a cigarette ambled out of the kitchen. She was wearing one of those cheap boardwalk T-shirts with a picture of a teddy bear ironed on. She seated us in a corner booth away from the smoking drunk women at the end of the bar. The menu consisted of ordinary burgers, sandwiches and other fried delights. I ordered a cheeseburger. We chuckled when they offered us TaterTots as an optional side. Classy. Monica ordered the Garden Burger. “Do you have a wheat bun?” she inquired. I kicked her under the table. “Hello? They serve TATER TOTS.” Wheat bun indeed. Of course, to go with your minced, formed deep-fried potato products. Dork.
After our succulent pub grub, we returned to our room. All night long the balmy breeze fluttered through the room and the sound of the crashing waves lulled us to sleep. It was amazing. Turns out the place is being renovated into a retreat center. Secretly, I hope it stays as quaint as it is. I thanked the woman, a hemp-wearing soft-spoken 20-something, who gave us the room. I’m pretty sure it was the best room. At least to me.
We literally had to pull ourselves away from that place. When we woke up it was really windy and we were so glad we weren’t on the motorcycle. We bypassed Tillamook since we heard it was a boring lumber town. It is also the home of Tillamook cheeses which makes it quite aromatic with bovine flatulence. We rode up the coast toward Astoria and stopped to see one of the lighthouses where both got dizzy on the spiral staircase. Wimps.
We stopped to visit the landing site of Lewis and Clark and then we crossed the bridge from Astoria into Washington and stayed in Long Beach. Being a Friday night, our accomodations diminished greatly. We ended up at a Rodeway Inn. It was close to the beach and we had a nice walk along the beach at sunset. We had dinner at a seafood place where the specialty was fresh halibut. A seafood dish is always pricey so we split a dish of grilled halibut and the more I ate of it I realized it had no flavor whatsoever. It was one of the most bland things I’ve ever eaten. I didn’t say anything and thought well, it’s just really fresh so it has no fishy taste. I ate it with the rice pilaf which didn’t have much flavor either. After we were finished Monica asked me how I liked it and I confessed I thought it didn’t have much flavor. She agreed and when she went to pay the bill and she was gone for a long time. The lady at the cashier asked her how she liked the dinner and Monica told her that it was a bit tasteless. Evidently, the cook failed to season the fish and we got the fish for free with apologies. We felt a little better about that. Thank god Monica is willing to complain because I’m such a pushover.
Before heading south we stopped to take a short hike to the Cape Disappointment light house. It was a nice walk through the woods along the coast until it became a concrete uphill slab associated with the Coast Guard. Afterward, we headed toward Portland where we spend a few hours at the Saturday Market under the Burnside Bridge. It was really hot, but we wandered around through the crowds and then went to Powell’s Books where we usually can both easily spend a few hours. I stood in the metaphysical section and listened to a couple argue over the buying of books. “Well, did you read the last one you bought?” the woman snipped at her husband. She was scolding him for buying books and he was just taking this berating from her. I glanced over my shoulder to see if she was actually wearing his testicles as earrings. Good god, people, get out of here and go to the library and fight. I digress. She made me feel so guilty that I didn’t buy anything either. I told you I was a pushover.
After a stop in Eugene for a Trader Joe’s run, we got home about 10:30pm. It’s still been pretty hot until today when it started to rain.
And now, for the slideshow:
Click the slide show to enlarge.