Friday morning was stressful again, and the last couple hours in the afternoon were slow and torture... but then I was out, and it was blue-sky-sunny-beautiful and I had a handful of cherries and it was the weekend and life was beautiful. ...That was the only good thing about last week. This dude with a couple of cherry trees in the empty lot next to his house kept bringing baskets of fresh cherries in to share.
So anyway, I eat cherries all the way along the walk to my car, joyfully flinging stems and spitting seeds into the lawns and flower beds of various businesses. And then I drove my ass out of there, blasting the iPod, and stopping only to grab myself a Chalupa and Pina Colada from Taco Bell. It was a long pleasant drive, all sun-through-the-green-trees in the Coast Range, and I hit Newport just after sunset, so it was all soft-glowy and gorgeous, with that beautiful bridge arcing over the bay.
It wasn't hard to find Lauren's trailer; I said hi to her trailer-mate, dropped my stuff, and settled down for a snack of chicken strips, corn fritters, and Lauren's fresh-baked, fresh-picked, huckleberry-salmonberry tarts. We marathoned Red vs. Blue, seasons 1 and 2, then hit the sack around 1.
We woke up a little after 9, moseyed our way through breakfast etc, and hit the road around noon. We proceeded to hop our way north up the Coast, stopping at various spots to explore along the way. It was still sunny and gorgeous, with a flawless blue sky and a strong wind; it was a bit chilly, but I was fine with a light jacket, shorts, and slippers. It was too windy for my Greek sea captain's hat, woe, and I had to bun my hair.
First we stopped in Waldport, getting ourselves fabulously lost in the post-apocalyptic, soon-to-be-eaten-by-dunes housing development on the north shore of the bay. Seriously, you have to see this place. It is so doomed. There's sand all over the streets; the place will get eaten/under-eroded by dune action, if it survives long enough without being eaten by a tsunami. ...Anyway, our goal was an empty lot, where we parked on the side of the road and hopped out, to walk out on the beach with the sand delicious-warm in our toes to the very end of the sand-spit, where the harbor seals nap. ...THEY ARE SO CUTE. All fuzzy and spotted and puppy-faced, silver when they've just come out of the water, and sausage-shaped. SO AWKWARD AND HILARIOUS. Oh man I love seals. We watched them through binocs for a while and giggled at them, and glared at the dumb family who got a little too close and kept making the seals nervous. Occasionally one of the handful that was not napping would pop its curious head out of the water to peer at us.
We trekked back across the sand and took off again, northward bound. We stopped at Seal Rocks; the official State Park parking lot was full, so parked at an overlook and took the turkey trail down the cliff, which was an interesting if alarmingly life-threatening scramble. ...Hyperbole. But it was quite vertical. We messed around in the tidepools, poking the anemones and prying up the sea stars and tormenting the hermit crabs. We moseyed north along the beach, lauging at the guillemots, oyster catchers, and gulls. There were, in fact, a couple of seals sharing a single Seal Rock. I watched a gull do an amazing hovering, vertical landing on a rock, and marveled over bleached out, iridescent seaweed. At the very north of the beach is a monstrous, whale-shaped rock, the vertical face of which is inhabited by cormarants, and the top of which is inhabited by gulls and their fuzzy brown silly gull-chicks. After laughing at a juvy gull getting blown sideways by the wind, we scrambled up the cliff "trail" to the precariously perched barrier at the overlook (one of those posts is not functional, unless the air on the Coast is a lot more solid than what I'm used to), and hit the road again.
Next on the itinerary was Newport. We had lunch at a fantastic Thai restaurant that gives you soup automatically when you sit down, and we ordered "Tasty Mango" (quite aptly descriptive, that) and... some noodle thing I can't quite pronounce/remember, but involved "sweet black sauce". It was all quite enjoyable, even though the waitress kept giving us heavily accented and completely unnecessary advice about how best to enjoy Thai iced tea and how spicy the food was... she didn't seem to believe we knew what we were doing (the Tasty Mango was not that spicy, despite her dire warnings). But the other waiter dude (probably her brother) was kind of cute. We bought a cooler and some ice for our leftovers and future Awesome Dinner plans, then headed down to the Bayfront. We enjoyed a mosey along the touristy-but-cute row of shops mixed with functional piers, ogling the view of the bridge and the bay, the one single sea lion on his distant rock, and the many sea-themed murals on the walls of the buildings. We resisted the temptation to buy all of the tasties being offered in the stores... until they offered us a free saltwater taffy sample. How can you say no to that? So we went in the candy store, and somehow managed to choose from the approximately ten million taffy flavors, and also somehow managed to tear ourselves away without buying any sweets. I helped myself to a salmonberry, but those are free, and don't count.
Back in the car, then further north yet to Depoe Bay, where we stopped at the Whalewatching Center just after 5, and just after closing time. The view, fortunately, is open 24 hours, but we didn't see any whales. We searched the town for a grocery store and completely failed to find one; apparently the citizens of Depoe Bay don't eat food. So we didn't stick around long, and continued our migration.
We managed to find a grocery store in, I think, Lincoln Beach. There we acquired various items necessary to complete our Awesome Dinner, along with Tillamook Marionberry Pie ice cream for later, and took off again. We arghed our way through Lincoln City (it's BIG and SLOW and UGLY and FULL OF PEOPLE); ditching the population center asap, we headed further north still in search of dunes.
Finally, our destination (albeit unbeknownst to us prior to arrival): Neskowin. More specifically, the Neskowin Beach State Wayside. This lovely park features the mouth of a stream surrounded by broad stretches of soft, golden sand, spreading out in a Y-shape around a large rock comprising some wind-twisted pines and a sea-arch. We scouted the area briefly, noting available driftwood, location of other groups of people, amount of wind (not much, as the sun was starting to sink), etc, before deciding Yes, This Is The Place and fetching our Bags of Stuff. We set up camp at large wooden beam, which makes an excellent bench if you avoid that one scary nail, then ran willy-nilly around the beach collecting driftwood. By which I mean firewood. We constructed a masterful pyramid of kindling, and after a great deal of struggle getting the lighter to stay flamey long enough to set fire to some newspaper twists (the wind was not helpful), we got a cheery fire burning (the wind was rather more helpful here, holy crap the thing burned hot and fast). I spent most of the remainder of the evening restlessly dancing around, graduating the fire to bigger and bigger logs, poking it with my excellent Beaver-Chewed Fire Poking Stick, and sprinting hither and thither across the sand collecting more wood. Lauren, by contrast, sat sedately and comfortably by the fire, roasting kosher franks which we ate with buns and mustard, then roasting red and green bell peppers and yellow squash, then toasting marshmallows on the (my) perfect coals. When I wasn't dancing around I sat or crouched at our newspaper-and-plastic-bag picnic cloth, cutting vegetables, nibbling on our tasty fare, and sipping iced tea. As the sun dipped low, I sprinted off to fetch the large string of kelp I'd spotted earlier; dragging it back to our fire, I cut it at the bell and stalk to make a trumpet, then spent the rest of the evening blowing my kelp-horn in great, loud, foghorn/conch/ship's horn reminiscent blasts at anyone who wandered within 100 meters. I was mostly ignored (woe), but this one dude did come by with, "Yes, my Mastresses, you summoned me? How may I serve you?" Not a typo, btw... he said "Mastresses", which we both decided is an awesome word with useful connotations. We watched the sun set and the stars come out and the coals die, before kicking sand over our fire (more like, hurled globs of moist sand, snowball-style... quite enjoyable) and departing.
We drove aaaaallll the way back down south of Waldport to Lauren's trailer, had ourselves berry tarts and ice cream, and watched Red vs. Blue until our eyes wouldn't stay open any longer, then passed out around 2.
We slept until 10, had tarts and leftover Thai food for breakfast, raped each other's media collections, and hit the road a bit after noon again. It was still sunny, cloudless, and windy. We hit Beachside State Park, just two beaches north of the trailer, and found ourselves a sheltered corner behind a dune. We collected more driftwood, and employing great skill and a few minor miracles we managed to light another fire. It was a bit touch and go for a couple of minutes, but we got it built up just the same, and once it was big enough to not die, the wind made it burn hot (and scary; with the bright sun and high, changeable wind, we're lucky we didn't lose any appendages to the flames). We toasted more marshmallows, then left what was left of the fire to guard our stuff while we took Melissa's trick kite out for a spin. ...Btw, Melissa- THANK YOU SO MUCH. Lauren's nifty plastic hawk kite died INSTANTLY in the wind, but the trick kite was more durable, and waaaayyy more fun. I am, I discovered, completely crap at trick kites, although I'm quite good at crashing them, and also trying to remove Lauren's limbs and eyeballs and so forth. ...I did get it figure out a bit better by the end, and could actually sustain flight for a few minutes at a time, and actually get the kite to do stuff. Lauren, on the other hand, was a natural; she took to the kite like a duck to water. Or, perhaps more aptly, like a hawk to the sky; I credit her affinity for raptors entirely here. Face it, Lauren, you just are a bird.
We could've flown that kite for quite some time, but it was already later than I'd sort-of planned to ditch the Coast, so around 2:30 we got back in the car and drove north to Newport again, for lunch at our Favorite Seafood Place Ever. I dunno what it's even called... South Beach Fisheries? Crab Palace? I'm not sure it has a proper name; it's just this shack that's just slathered with large, bold signs proclaiming CRAB, LIVE CRAB, CRAB COOKER, FRESH FISH & CHIPS, EAT CRAB HERE, FRIED OYSTERS, CRAB, SHRIMP BURGER, SALMON, POPCORN SHRIMP, SALMON, FRESH CRAB, TUNA, etc. Essentially every available surface on the property is covered with signs and menus; their menu is huge, and it's delicious, and it's super fresh, and most of it is deep fried. :DDDD If it is food of the sea, you can probably eat it there. We discovered it last fall; I had the best scallops of my life there. This time I got myself a cup of clam chowder (ohmigodsogood) and some fried clam-strips-and-chips, and a rootbeer; Lauren got a clam chowder sourdough cannonball and a coke. We enthused about the awesomeness of the food to the girl who took our order, and she let us have free samples of smoked salmon "candy". We stole a bottle of malt vinegar and went outside to sit at the bright green picnic tables with the pots of bright red geraniums, and attempted to prevent our food from flying away, while we watched the crows chase the sparrows around, and each other, and pick fussily through the spilled seafood and chips. We watched a crow pick up a cup of tartar sauce; it got self-conscious when we giggled at it, but eventually decided things were okay and ate a few bites, getting its beak all gross and covered in sauce before saying "screw it" and flying off.
We got me some fuel and Lauren some groceries, then I dropped her off at the trailer and headed for home. As I headed up Highway 20 out of Newport, I spotted the third set of hitchers I'd seen that weekend, a young, generic-Oregon-hippie couple with a backpack. So I picked them up. ...YES DAR, I PICKED UP HITCHHIKERS IN YOUR CAR, IT'S OK, THEY WERE NICE HIPPIE PEOPLE AND THEY WEREN'T EVEN SMELLY. So I drove them to the "town" of Wren, maybe 10 road-miles before Corvallis, and we chatted a bit about the nice weekend and our shared enjoyment of folk music, but mostly the chick napped on the dude's shoulder, and I quietly sang along to my music. They were very thankful and appreciative, and I felt very good about myself. So, that was one of my life goals accomplished, finally, and I will try to repeat the experience again someday.
The rest of the drive back to the Land of Port was uneventful, but oh god was I glad to get out of the car. Showering was nice, too; I was fairly well slathered with woodsmoke and sunscreen.
Today was actually not stressful. Maybe I'm getting the hang of this Multi-Case thing. Maybe I lucked out and got easy calls today. Maybe both. Anyway, it was nice. Hopefully the rest of the week will be like this. Anyway, NO WORK ON FRIDAY!!! :DDD So that's a good thing. I'm going to see about setting off/watching fireworks this weekend. Other than that, I'm planning on going NOWHERE all weekend. We can have some more travel shenanigans some other time. And we will~.