Monday’s Meander/Pacific Beachfront!

Call me lazy today but rather than sort recent pictures I have taken, I spent time perusing my slew of beachy pictures. I mean, it’s February, it rains all the time–then today as I was walking as I do daily, there came a flurry of bits of rain that soon morphed into hail-like stuff–an attempt at Oregon’s Willamette Valley snow. I kept on, invigorated–and appreciably more damp.

When I returned I began to think of the beach…and located a few decent older shots to post today. Ahhh. Of course, the reality is that it is usually very windy, chilly and wet at our Pacific Ocean beaches this month– but we always love it. Time to go again soon–if there isn’t too much real snow in the mountains to close passes we need to cross. Meanwhile–enjoy with me!

This Monday’s Post Has Already Departed for the Beach!

 

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We’re off to luxuriate in blue skies and sunshine, leisurely days and evenings and a little exploration–much needed since Marc has been travelling a lot for work, as usual. We do still miss each other (even at this point in married life) after awhile! Plus, it’s his birthday present, not saying for which one, out of loving respect. ūüôā Hope you readers can create time to enjoy yourselves and loved ones, too. I’ll be back with more pictures and words by Wednesday or Friday, depending on timing (and perhaps how very relaxed I become on the trip…)

May blessings surround you; may peace visit all.

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Day 4: Water’s Ways: A Short View of History, Hauntings and Happiness

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So much to write, so little time to get it written! I do feel an increasing desire to move on to topics other than our four day coastal trip. But patience, I counsel myself. There are more scenic pickings, as there were more excellent times. I never get tired of this route along U.S. 101. Note that most of the first shots across water are from the perspective of looking across the river from Oregon toward the state of Washington, one lengthy, impressive bridge span (4.1 miles long) away.

We arrived at Astoria, a bustling, important West Coast harbor where the Columbia River’s muscular currents of fresh water meet vast and briny Pacific Ocean waves. What a powerful thing it is to see and muse over. I hold deep regard for the essential pilot boats and captains, U.S. and international cargo ship crews, fishermen/women (gillnetters have a long history here) and the hearty souls who work for our critically important Coast Guard and rescue so many all year ’round. And too, there are attractive cruise boats on which I’d love to travel (hopefully next year, after a train ride to Astoria from Portland). From Astoria on the Columbia all the way across the state and to my city (settled along the intersecting Willamette River), all is carried from sea to various ports.

Astoria is the oldest American settlement west of the Rockies. It also is a major international harbor with one of the world’s most dangerous crossings from ocean into river’s mouth. ¬†That distant, very small pilot boat is guiding the freighter toward the mouth of the Columbia River, then through an ever-shifting sandbar and into the Pacific. You will note the waiting and readied Coast Guard ship; a beautiful cruise boat (“Un-cruise Adventures”), with the last picture of the Lightship Columbia, now decommissioned. From 1892-1979, there was a lightship stationed at the entrance of the Columbia. Five miles out, it was a virtual floating town with tons of supplies and a large crew for long stays.

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A brief look at the small city’s downtown shows a couple of examples of its old style with a few shops. We stopped at Rusty Cup for coffee; note the window’s sign.

There are wonderfully preserved Victorian houses in the hills where most of the population resides. I love the Flavel House, built in 1885 and now a museum.

We spent the night in Astoria and awakened to a fine new morning. One more day out and about and on the road…

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Then it was off to Long Beach, WA. First, the bridge, a drive that stirs me as we go over the mouth of the elegant but ever-working Columbia River. To the west, an endlessly brilliant blue sea.

And we arrive in our wonderful Northwest neighbor, Washington. We stop by Middle Village and St. Mary’s Church. It gave us pause thinking of the land and the native people living her long before the famous explorers Lewis and Clark arrived. I felt a melancholy as we walked around and imagined all the activities. The world’s history is stitched with events, sagas, wars; of land being overcome, possessed again, changed; of people’s power usurped and replaced; and beginnings wrought of endings. It just goes on and on; certainly today we see versions of the same. Perhaps because of this, it gave me much to once more think about.

The next stop did nothing to dispel such cogitation: Fort Columbia. From Wikipedia comes this abbreviated description of its history:

“Fort Columbia was built from 1896 to 1904 to support the defense of the Columbia River. The fort was constructed on the Chinook Point promontory because of the unobstructed view. Fort Columbia was declared surplus at the end of World War II and was transferred to the custody of the state of Washington in 1950.[2]

In the 1960s and 1970s, Battery 246 was outfitted to serve as a Civil Defense Emergency Operating Center and was one of several possible locations the governor could use in an emergency.”

I felt the loneliness of the buildings as I walked the grounds. The vast emptiness, rather than being peaceful, felt full and restless with the past. It was a knitted-together community of soldiers that lived there and a town was not far away for some socializing on off-duty time. Yet its intended mission combined with a stark quality of the buildings (which from a distance appear a bit pleasant), now emptied of life, were a reminder of how things might have been and also developed at that place, in those times. As I tarried at various spots, then looked into a kitchen and through another window toward the ocean, it seemed deeply inhabited by its history. Some say it is a haunted place. Perhaps.

It was time to head on up to the Long Beach Peninsula, dispel the pensive mood with more sun, wind and rolling sea. The beach purports to be the longest in the world–not verified as fact, to my knowledge–and also boasts a very long boardwalk. It was a railroad town once. Walk,¬†breathe,¬†take in more of nature’s generous offerings.

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We stop at North Head Lighthouse, opened in 1898. Lighthouses along the coastal stretch from Oregon to British Columbia are crucial to help keep ships safer. Yet the rocky coastlines have been strewn over time with some 2000 shipwrecks and hundreds of lives lost. I chose to forego a typical lighthouse photo and snapped those below. Many visitors were moving beyond a safety fence and trekked down to the treacherous bluffs to get a closer look at the vista. I seriously considered it but moved on. This is one of the windiest places in the U.S., with winds often surpassing 100 mph. It was definitely very gusty standing there, hair whipping, eyes stinging.

I found myself drawn to the property beyond the main attraction–brightly white and rust-red Head Keeper’s dwellings, which can be rented. This might be a fine place to work on a selection of poems or a new novel; Marc offers the thought that he’d like to work on his technical book here. Mostly, though, I would want to daydream, saturate myself with the wildness, mystery and blessings of nature’s panoramic ways. I suspect those who do rent this home come to enjoy bike rides, walks and hikes, and perusing surrounding towns’ delights as well as the mesmerizing ocean.

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It was finally time to head back home. Thus ended the small journey that we packed a great deal into, enjoying varied learning experiences as well as being replenished on every plane. It was a time for us to steal a few carefree days and nights together as ironically my husband travels a great deal in and out of the country for his work. And Marc and I especially find–as most people do–bodies of fresh and salt water soothe,¬†invigorate, lighten and inspire us. We would both return to the city happier. What my hat says sums it up. For me, another year alive despite heart health and other challenges, being able to do what I love most of the time, this is not a mere motto I take for granted: Life is good!

I hope you don’t just scrimp/save/wait for one or two fancy, expensive trips. Get in the car (or bus or train) and head out on a short ramble, even those close to home. Let taxing cares and harsher realities loosen their vise-like grip and drift away. We all need the balm of moments both meaningful and laughter-inducing. Take time to find and celebrate places and feelings you might be passing over–there are such surprises out there! Pull in close. Share wonder.

 

 

Note: This is the fourth and last part of a small series on our recent four day trip to the Oregon and Washington coasts. If interested, please check out Days 1-3 posted the last few times!

Case of the Velvety Glove

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When I got home there was only one velvety, paisley-swirled black glove stuffed in¬†my pocket. Surprise followed by consternation: how can this be? I took them off a brief time, perhaps five blocks out of three times as many during¬†an hour’s walk. Although there was a cold drizzle developing, I immediately¬†started out in search of a right-handed glove. The rain cooled my resolve after three blocks.

Earlier I had been taking photographs as often happens when walking in our historic neighborhood. There are wonders to capture and to use the camera at least one glove is removed. And I am digit-clad two-thirds of the year even in the temperate Pacific Northwest. I have Reynaud’s, a circulatory disorder that equates very cold and painful hands in temperatures below fifty-five degrees. It is a challenge to find the right gloves: comfortable, not cumbersome,¬† passably attractive. I’ve bought all sorts of gloves; leather insulated gloves are good but pricey.¬†These latest gloves¬†are a cut above.

Last fall I’d talked my husband into a getaway week-end at an oceanside town, Cannon Beach. Marc had been long overworked (we’re talking seventy hour work weeks) and needed¬†more than two days to rejuvenate but was happy to get there. The condo was¬† replete with¬†fireplace and located a block from the ocean and a short walk to unique shops and restaurants. As we walked the length of sandy beach, the wind was¬†more wintry. Despite living in Oregon for over twenty years I had brought inadequate gloves. I decided to shop.

The merchandise can be expensive there.¬†Browsing, I tried on a fluffy fake fur jacket that was cozy, chic, pricey. My husband raised his eyebrows and we laughed. I am¬†more a¬†Land’s End sort of gal since I love being outside. And dressing up went by the wayside when I stopped working.

Then I saw the gloves.

There were only four pairs:¬†purple, black herringbone with red trim, brown and¬†black with a silver paisley pattern. I picked up the paisley gloves. They were insulated and warm. They were soft and plush velour, the closest to velvet I had felt since I bought real velvet dress slacks over ten years ago. In short, they were a little fancy, very practical, costly for something synthetic but, all in all, perfect. We agreed: “A little pizzazz.”

Maybe we both needed a  lift. That week-end was a slow-as-molasses time, freed of the tentacles of stress. Hikes in the sun-illumined chill of autumn, dinners at a homey restaurant, late mornings sipping coffee as we read and chatted, and nights eased with firelight. It made a difference, and those unique, supremely useful gloves did their job during coastal explorations.

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So I had to find the lost one. I got my car and started back down the route I’d taken. Since it was comprised of¬†quieter residential streets, I drove at tortoise pace, peering at wet sidewalks, grassy areas and the streets. It was getting darker. Frustration crimped my shoulders as I cruised one block after another, recollecting where I may have used my camera. How was¬†it that I lost so many things? Some¬†say pixies are to blame…I say it’s my¬†carelessness¬†or a true mystery.

Tears threatened to flow. I know, tears for a glove? I have written before about both my ordinary and beautiful possessions, lamenting how often they get broken or misplaced. The real kicker is that I am an excellent finder of things for others. But I have acknowledged that I may like my things a bit too much. I don’t own a lot of expensive objects. My home is comfortable but humble. So those I appreciate greatly, like most people, I value. Ultimately, though, I view possessions as a challenge spiritually and emotionally. I do work at rising above. But listen: since Thanksgiving I have lost one earring each of three pairs I loved (one pair, a Christmas gift) and two more hand crafted mugs have lost their handles. A plate my mother gave me was broken and tossed without my knowledge; a grandchild was worried I’d be mad and sad.¬†Yes, just things.

I kept driving and more than half traversed the familiar streets. I saw a road crew worker at a corner and then it hit me. ¬†This was a block I’d paused for a couple more photos. I glanced to my right and squinted at a dark little heap, did a U-turn. The worker watched me as¬†I parked on the wrong side of the street. Jumping out, I crept up to what could have been a dead creature. Unbelieving, I gasped and grabbed it’s damp, tumbled form. Turned to the woman and waved my glove wildly at her.

“Found my lost glove! My favorite ones! Isn’t that great?”

She waved right back. “Good for you! Lucky day!”

Was it luck? Some things vanish, never to be found again. Were those dratted pixies playing games? More likely, my determination to not lose one thing more (for now) guided me to that spot. And after all, I’d only been gone about twenty-five minutes; it couldn’t have crawled off by itself. Still. Those finger warming, heartwarming gloves meant something –that excellent beach trip, the efficient way they ease my suffering hands. That silly silver paisley,¬†so soft.¬†It just had to be one happy ending.

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