Sunday, August 24, 2014

Oregon Coast - Part 3 : Less Windy

Pacific Northwest Beaches aren't usually the type where all the men are in euro-speedos and all the women in two-pieces that fit with varying degrees of accuracy. It's more like a warmer version of what I think everyone thinks of New England. With better sand and more neutral accents.

We went to another beach at Ecola Park. Which was supposedly 'less windy'.  'Less windy' than the opening scenes to 1996 disaster movie "Twister", the last time Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton were remotely relevant, is not 'not windy'. Also, by meterogical fate, the wind WAS blowing directly onto the beach. Nobody was digging out their loved ones from suddenly appearing sand dunes, but nobody was peaceably perusing a newspaper, either.

Everyone mills about in Gore-Tex or capris and strolls up and down taking a sudden interest in tidal wild-life and various sub-species of gulls.

There are also surfers. Pacific North West Coast surfers, to be exact, in their Subarus and faux-hippie attire and rigourously distressed boards. I often wonder if these surfers get defensive when confronted with a Hawaiian surfer  or anywhere in which the size of waves can be measured in 'number of galleons that it can capsize'.

There are those who obviously insist on experiencing the beach as they imagine it, if we were 10 degrees lower in latitude. Shorts and frolicking in the sort of water they use to prep for cryogenics, I assume.

Invariably these off-seasonals are kids. My kids.

They spend some time making the sort of lumpy no-form sand castles that can only be made with perfectly dry sand, and then decide they want to play in the waves. Sensible parent that I am, I steer them to a calmer area, where the waves won't immediately claim them in a deceptive undertow. Owl Jr. becomes grumpy, because, of course he wants the life-threatening ones, populated entirely with wet-suit wearing Pac NW surfers.

And here, amongst water that makes my toes candidates for hypothermia-relatd amputation from an enthusiastic 1800's naval surgeon, they are most happy. Running to and from the waves. Surfers doing their surfer thing. Me, squinting, the wind and the sun being a bit much for my introvert ways. Mrs. Owl is far back where the dry sand is, being one of those regular people who seem to enjoy sunshine and just, 'relaxing'.

(It's impossible to 'relax' while being assaulted by a bracing wind and a sun that insists it's the middle of summer, is my general take on things. On a couch with the gentle impulse engines of the NCC-1701-D, maybe. )

But boy, do the kids scream alot. It takes a practiced ear and a tense-nonchalance to determine if this is 'screaming because we're having so much fun' or 'screaming because a severed head has just washed ashore'. Context and probability help me out, usually. And this is their game, running to the waves. running away from the waves. Owlet, being a girl who could get dirty taking a bath, would switch up the running and screaming and make extremely muddy lumps of sand and build a sad moat around them, and become pseudo-distraught when the waves washed over it. The things that kids find fun.

And the wind, not noticeably less, didn't seem to bother them at all.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Oregon Coast - Part 2 : Arrival

We got a place at Cannon Beach, not Seaside, where we stayed previously. It was by lack of planning, but we ended up liking Cannon Beach more. There is a spurious commercialism, a worn-out carnie atmosphere with Seaside. It has a generally charming crassness but it can start to show through over time, only to be expected of a town that manufactures delight one season every year.

The tired local kids who must wither at the sight of more and more tourists invading their town. Rebelling against everything that kids rebel against every year, but set up against the blare of souvenir shops and saltwater taffy makes it particularly dismal.

The young people, with their loud music and cat calls and impossible displays of athleticism on the beaches, unsustainable choice of cars,  and general aura of invincibility that grates anyone who isn't them. I'm not sure at what point people are emulating what they see on spring-break themed movies and TV, and at what point it's the other way around. It's a McDonald's of sameness, though, from Fort Lauderdale to Venice Beach to here, it's all pretty much the same, the finally pent up and sudden release of all those hormones upon the unsuspecting public, and multiplied by the expectations to do so.

Cannon beach, on the other hand,  is the home to the semi-famous Haystack Rock. It's quieter and settled but you suspect there is no way any town can support that many art galleries. The vast majority of the businesses must be subsidized by the owners, who I imagine to be far too well-off older women who have left their high-powered jobs to get back to roots which involves 'getting back to roots' with other just-near-retirement women and opening an art galleries.

There are restaurants, the sort that usually don't bother showing prices on their menus, or have everything neatly lumped into whole dollar amounts. Complete with horribly over-informed foodies and the forced casual free-ness of men stifling under t-shirts when they clearly would be more comfortable with at least a collar, ideally with cufflinks and season appropriate blazer.

To be clear, both are lovely places, for the right crowd, my family isn't exaactly the right crowd for either.

The house we rented was just right. Overpainted, far too many American flags, a sense of whimsy with regards to what, exactly, is a level floor. Old furniture that didn't so much as not belong together as they were all from exactly 35 years ago, but from as opposite styles as could be imagined. Somewhere there is a Salvation Army whose furniture section has been reduced to a single ottoman.

We decided, after arriving, to just take a look at the beach.

Just stroll, maybe.

Don't bother putting Owlet and Owl Jr. in swimming clothes, it's too cold and too windy and it's just a quick look. We told the kids we'd just look. Owlet asked if maybe she could put her toe in the water. Fine, fine, what could go wrong. Just the toe. 30 seconds later and our attention elsewhere, both the kids are drenched, covered with the wet sand, laughing, and we are glad to be within walking distance of a shower and dry clothes. Owlet has, and we know this, an amazing ability to take whatever small allowances for a given activity, and, particularly if there is dirt involved, increase it until she looks like she's advertising for a new Ultra Cleen Tide brand. The before picture.

Oregon Coast - Part 1 : The Drive

I'm not sure if going a second time makes a trip to a certain area a 'tradition' yet or not. But going to the Oregon coast, seems, in my  memory, something that my parents did with us more than once, so it's close enough to tradition for me to call it one.

Second generation immigrants can't be picky about such things.

In any case we went to the Oregon Coast again, this time to Cannon Beach, isntead of Seaside. Not because one is more tasteful and less bustly than the other and we prefer our beach visits contemplative if not outright Thoreauesque but because we planned late and that's where Mrs. Owl was able to find a beach house. A house near the beach. We are not of the tax bracket where beach house is both literal and figurative.

I get lulled into a a sense of ease when Mrs. Owl tells me it's a 6 hour drive. Doesn't seem so horrible. But it's 6 hours as the crow drives. If the crow didn't have kids and bathroom breaks and the border and eating and nausea and lack of GPS. And, you know, if crows were allowed to drive cars and retrofitted their cars to handle beaks and feathers and if they had the cognitive ability-- you get the idea. The TRIP is actually about 8 and a bit. 

8 hours seems to cross the line for me from 'that seems reasonable' to 'how much are airline tickets, really?'. It's also the length of time I remember my dad driving when we went on road trips. An interminable span that starts in the dewy moment of naivete and stretches to INFINITY.  It's an ADULT amount to drive, and I'd always wonder how the hell my dad did it. Something gets stronger or some mayfly need for novelty dies out when you get older, I assume, that makes the drive doable. I'm still surprised when I do it.

And being this adult-like person, I tend to have a very low tolerance for whining, usually from Owlet, who has a prediliction to car-sickness. It's absurd, my impatience, stemmed both from my current day form of Being Who Can Withstand Boredom and Guy Who Had To Do Drives Like This As A Kid Without A Tablet Showing Movies. Mrs. Owl has to intervene, and apply some patience and listening. It's a small armageddon when both of us have run out of patience. Events that always lead to massive guilt and apologies.

Oohhh roadtrips.