August 03, 2010

Oregon Trails

The last day of our vacation for this year has come and gone.  Now, the usual melancholy slowly starts to set in: there was so much more I wanted to accomplish but didn't.  I didn't, for example, do one lick of work on anything even remotely related to printmaking.  But then, I knew this wasn't going to be that kind of vacation.  

First, there was the living room renovation.  And after this, because it wouldn't have been much of a vacation if we didn't go on at least a small adventure, we headed down to the Oregon Coast for a taste of sea air.  Yes, we have sea air, lots of it, right here in Vancouver.  But Vancouver's sea air is different.  With Vancouver Island as a barrier between Vancouver and the Pacific Ocean, our coastline is a tamer one by far. 

This means that Vancouverites who want to experience the true ocean, and the raw power of waves full of the momentum picked up on route from Japan, either take a ferry to the west coast of the Island or drive to the Oregon coast.  We've already done the Vancouver Island trip so this time it was Oregon's turn.   

We packed our camp chairs, bathing suits, sunscreen, and dreams of relaxing by the edge of the Pacific somewhere, reading and sketching, and headed south.  We figured on, roughly, a ten hour drive to Depoe Bay, where we were spending the first night, so we endured the drive along the main highway for the first part of the trip, just to get some mileage behind us.  Then, about half way down, we veered off to the scenic route and, within the hour, were rewarded by the first glimpses of the sea: 

Obvious from the above photo, the sun didn't choose to come along with us.  It must have decided to stay behind in BC because within minutes of crossing the border into the States we were engulfed in fog.  And the fog followed us for the rest of the day, changing into clouds and back again, becoming more and more dramatic the further we got into Oregon.  By the time we reached Depoe Bay, at around 6:00, I was wondering how much use I'd be making of the tank tops, summer skirts, and sunscreen I packed.  Suddenly, the fireplace that came with the room, which I initially took for a weird marketing ploy, began to make sense.
As we hauled our stuff into the room the winds whipped around us with full maritime force and it looked like it might rain. We took it in stride.  After all, we're hardened British Columbians, weaned on clouds and rain.  Given it's been cloudy on all but one of our camping vacations, we weren't about to get discouraged no matter how much wind was trying to shove us around.  We just layered up in all of our long-sleeved stuff, I traded my gauzy skirt for long pants, and off we went to explore the hotel's semi-private beach. 

The wind, even stronger at water's edge, howled around us and it was so cold I was sure I could see my breath.  But it was magnificent.  Buoyed on by thoughts of the cozy supper of bread, fruit and cheese and a bottle of Marshal Foch waiting in our room (along with that fireplace), we clambered over rocks, picked sea shells, and soaked in the energy of the place.  It was such a rush to be there, in the nearing dusk and all alone, I doubt a clear blue sky could have added anything.
Day 2.  We drove further south to Newport, a pretty little seaside town of gallery shops and restaurants.  

There, incredibly, the fog lifted and the suddenly the day was warm and felt like summer. The sun even followed us for the rest of the afternoon and on our drive north again, this time to Oceanside, for our second night.  But just as we were beginning to get used to our sun glasses, we turned a corner, got closer to the open sea I guess, and we were back under fog and clouds.  
By the time we found our hotel, perched on it's cliff, the sky was dark and ominous again.  Our room, sans fireplace and much more "rustic" (and I'm being polite here), had a million dollar view.  Here's what we saw from the deck:

And these are pictures from the beach:

Day 3.  We began our return drive back up the coast.  First, a small detour to visit a legendary tree hidden inside a beautiful forest:


And this is the Octopus Tree, so named because it has no central trunk; it's  branches seem to grow right from the ground:

A couple of last looks at the soul-stirring scenery:

Then off to our last tour stop and a total shift in atmosphere: Seaside. Still under hazy cloud, the air was warm and balmy here and the town was teeming with happy vacationers.  This is a shot of a manicured canal section that runs through what seemed to be the main part of town but, really, Seaside's claim to fame is the new mile-long stretch of boardwalk along the ocean.


I didn't take any pictures of that boardwalk, even though we walked a good length of it. For us, the draw was the beach itself.  It wasn't quite warm enough to swim but the temptation to get our toes wet was irresistible:

We walked and walked and the waves washed in over our feet and felt like renewal.  So, while we never got that chance to sit in the sun and read and sketch, we both agreed, on that long haul back, that it really didn't matter.  
And, although I'm feeling a little guilty that I didn't get to any printmaking this time around, I know it's also important to take a break from actually "doing" and feed the soul in other ways.  It's all part of the creative process...

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