August in the Pacific Northwest: Part II

I left you in Cannon Beach. After long walk on the beach and a short dip in the frigid water (just our toes), we headed inland. We spent the night with friends in Canby, and the next day we explored Portland.

Portland, Oregon

The first stop was, of course, Portland’s famous food trucks. To no one’s amazement, Soren headed for the pork. I went with Vietnamese.

After lunch, we wandered, bought a pair of dangly earrings (me, not Soren), ate frozen yogurt, and eventually we ended up at Portland’s Rose Garden, which — I’ve got to be honest — blew the Brooklyn Botanic Garden away. The grounds were positively bursting with roses, just as a rose garden should be.

Is that micro mini the tiniest rose you’ve ever seen?

By the time we’d inspected and photographed all eleventy billion roses, we were famished. So we headed off to grab some Cuban.

We left Portland in the morning and headed south toward California. The plan was to take the scenic route, driving along the coast. When we reached Arizona Beach (just south of Humbug Mountain), we stopped for an impromptu picnic lunch and a stroll. ‘Twas windy. Very very windy. But also quite lovely.

We drove some more and found a new beach. And then we engaged in the age-old tradition of writing each others names in the sand. Awww. (Did he actually dot my “i” with a heart?!)

That evening we reached Arcata, the town where my very dear friend Erin resides. I had heard stories about Arcata, but they hadn’t prepared me for the reality of the place. We pulled into a parking spot on the main square and took in the scene. The plaza looked like a Grateful Dead convention. Hippies were everywhere. Arcata so blew my mind that I forgot to take even a single photo. Hippies aside, we did what we came to do — catch up on the goings on in Erin’s life. So that was lovely.

Avenue of the Giants

The trip between Portland and Arcata needed to be speedy. We had a lot of ground to cover, so we made tracks. Our two beach stops were the only pitstops we made, which meant that we missed a lot of wonderful scenery, including forests of massive redwoods. Luckily there are redwoods south of Arcata too. And Soren promised we’d have time to see them. So we turned away from the coast and followed the Avenue of the Giants, an aptly named road. Look at these motherf&*$#ng trees!! (That is a normal sized human and a giant tree, not a tiny human and a normal tree.)

What I REALLY wanted to do was drive through a tree, like people did in the 1950s.

Soren said, and I quote, “I don’t think you’re allowed to do that anymore.” Au contraire mon frere. You ARE allowed . . . for a small fee. (That’s me driving, and, yes, it’s not as impressive it used to be.)

By the time I’d had my fill of giant redwoods, it was early afternoon. We planned to camp that night, but didn’t have a reservation. Soren knew of some first come, first serve sites further south, at Navarro Beach. The campground sounded perfect, but we were still hours away. Would we make it in time to get a spot? Soren wanted to speed, but the twists and turns of Highway 1 made that impossible. I kicked back and enjoyed the view.

Navarro Beach, California

And we made it! There were still two or three spots available when we pulled in. The beach was foggy, but gradually the mist cleared. We took a stroll and sat on some rocks to watch the ocean. “What’s that?” Soren asked. He was pointing a a black dot in the water. “Maybe a bird,” I said. But then we spotted more black dots. Some of them were quite close to the beach, close enough to see that those dots were actually bobbing heads. Harbor seals! They seemed curious, blinking at us with their puppy eyes. Definitely a highlight of the trip.

Eventually we walked back to our campsite and began to make dinner. We had planned to roast corn on the fire, but we didn’t have any salt. We did, however, have salty fritos. Soren crushed them up and sprinkled them on his corn. I watched in disgust and snapped a photo.

We watched the sun set and tried to ignore our redneck neighbors, who got drunk and began telling us stories about the keggers they used to thrown on this very beach. Keggers where drugs were rampant. Keggers where men got stabbed. One guy told a story about how the police pulled him over for having a rifle in his back window. Finally the cop let him go. “And he never knew I had a loaded pistol under the seat!” he bragged. Another time he got pulled over for being drunk. The back of the truck was filled with beer cans and wine cooler bottles, yet the cop let him go because the guy claimed to be a picking up trash off the highway. Yes, Virginia, California does have rednecks. And apparently really stupid cops.

The next day we turned inland and headed into wine country. The vineyards were beautiful. And I convinced Soren to stop at a roadside stand to buy peaches — peaches that just so happened to be named after me.

You might expect they’d be bitter and cynical, but they were quite sweet.

We ended the trip hanging with friends in Mountain View, California. A perfect finale for a perfect vacation . . . except I forgot my purse at their house. And the purse contained my ID. So we missed our flight. Ok, so maybe it wasn’t perfect. But it was still pretty damn good.

The End

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