The latter half of last week…

…looked something like this:

Artist’s conception. Not to scale. No meteorologists were harmed in the posting of this blog entry.

How so? Well…

On Wednesday, after getting a tire fixed (drama!) and tying up loose ends at work (no drama!), I drove down to Portland to pick up The Boy & my wife, who were visiting family there. Upon my arrival, it was strongly implied by many present that I must have ‘made good time.’ At no time during the drive did I observe even a hint of redshift in the road signs, so I’m sticking to ‘not much traffic’ as a quite reasonable alternative explanation.

From Portland, we headed south to Cape Lookout a state park outside of Tillamook for The Boy’s introduction to Camping 101 (101. Get it? Tillamook. Coast. One-oh… Oh never mind.). The tent went up without a hitch, a fire was lit, dinner was cooked, s’mores were consumed, and beaches were combed. After a kinda-sorta-mostly restful night (We’re bringing thicker pads next time. And warmer sleeping bags.), a pleasant morning on the beach, and an entirely uneventful breakdown of the tent, we were on to our true destination: Beachside.

Why Beachside? Because I’m an idiot, that’s why of the Hobbit Trail. We read about it in one of those glossy regional magazines that lurk by the supermarket checkout, and in a moment of ill-considered whimsy (that is, without stopping to consider the driving distances involved), we all agreed that it sounded like a neat place to go, and that we should do it some time this summer.

“Some time” was Thursday.

Thursday ultimately involved stops at the Newport Aquarium, Mo’s for lunch, the Sea Lion Caves and, finally, the Hobbit Trail. Hectic, yes, but overall quite worth the trip. The remainder of the day was uneventful: the tent gave us no trouble, the fire lit easily (if smokily – I let myself get screwed when I bought firewood en route and wound up with a lot of not-quite-seasoned pine), local clams were turned into a reasonable cioppino analog, and more s’mores were constructed and consumed. It was almost enough to prepare one for the hard, unyielding bedtime embrace of Mother Earth.

Almost. Next time, much thicker pads.

Friday was Too Much Driving Day. Not being a total idiot, I realized that trying to drive all the way from the Central OR Coast to Seattle would be unpleasant. Very unpleasant. No, we decided to break the drive into two parts, figuring we’d spend the night in a hotel (yay!) in Portland or Astoria, depending upon which route we opted for. Somehow, sticking to 101 and heading for Astoria seemed like the more vacationy thing to do, so Astoria it was. And in Astoria, I thought it would be nice to make up for our poor choice of sleeping pads – which we did. With a vengeance. A sweet, fluffy, king-sized vengeance.

The remaining drive from Astoria was a pretty easy one, allowing for enough time to stop in Olympia and hit the farmer’s market for supper things. Even so, everyone was glad to come home on Saturday. Our neighbors showed how much they missed us by bringing over a plate of homemade cookies. Our dogs showed how much they missed us by excitedly peeing all over the kitchen floor.

After some careful consideration, I have to say that I think I prefer the neighbors’ approach.

But the story doesn’t end there… No, Saturday night was when I got to enjoy my birthday present: Nine Inch Nails tickets. We dropped The Boy off at the Science Center for a sleepover, parked in one of the Seattle Center garages, and ambled on over to Key Arena for an absolutely amazing show (for those of you who don’t know Seattle, the Science Center & Key Arena are all part of the Seattle Center complex where the Space Needle is). The opening band sucked, but Trent & co. were incredible.

So there you go: the whirlwind demi-week of vacation… Recovery time not included.

2 Responses to “The latter half of last week…”

  1. Doug Says:

    How did you like the Sea Lion Caves and the Newport Aquarium? Two of my favorite places. The sea lions can be a bit underwhelming if they're out playing in the sunshine, as they were on one of our visits. Once, however, several hundred were in the cavern, and the noise and smell were amazing. I've never heard of the hobbit trail. How was that?

  2. protected static Says:

    We had tons of sea lions, both in the caves and out feeding in the waves at the base of the cliffs. That was really cool – I've been to the sea lion site near Santa Cruz (it's been years – I think that's where it was) – but the cave is much more impressive because of how close you are. I'd been to the Newport Aquarium before, and… it's okay. Oh, it's good – but it didn't feel like anything much had changed since the last time I was there 5 or more years ago. And it's expensive, too. Not as expensive as shelling out for all that camping gear was, but still :-) The hobbit trail/hobbit beach are part of the Hecate Head trail loop – there's a fairly largish trail head and parking area on the inland side of 101 between the Sea Lion Caves and Hecate Head proper. You have to park there, but you don't want that trail (and with the bright yellow sign announcing cougar sightings, I really didn't want that trail!). You want the one on the seaward side of 101, where there's a small 'hiker crossing' sign. That's the one you want, and it marks a pretty easy 1/2 mile track down to the beach. You know that coastline: you hike down this trail surrounded by large bonsai trees sculpted by the wind. Moss hangs everywhere, large flakes of lichen cover everything. You have to duck down through some tunnels caused by a combination of eroded trail and densely overhanging scrub – and the you pop out onto this totally secluded beach. It was totally worth the stop.

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