Monday, May 29, 2006

I went on vacation and all I got was this lousy Ken Lay conviction

My vacation was really wonderful. It rained more than I had hoped it would, but the sun came out enough for me to be able to get out and enjoy myself.

My first rule to myself on this trip was that I was going to avoid the news. I didn't read any papers or news websites, and hardly watched any television, except for Saturday morning in Tumwater, Washington when I was stuck at the Motel 6 in the rain with nothing to do until a wedding at 1:00; I watched Dirty Harry and then a Discovery channel special on white shark migration. So now I'm catching up with what went on in the world.

The highlights: New Yorkers might recall that last Friday the metropolitan area was hit with a series of thunderstorms, which seriously messed up traffic at JFK. Our original pilot got stranded somewhere, so they had to bring in a replacement. We left the gate an hour late and ended up "number 27 for takeoff," so we were on the tarmac for another hour. I landed at PDX at 12:40 a.m., or 3:40 a.m. New York time, after having worked a full day. Fortunately I slept most of the way, so I was fine when I got to the rental car place a little after 1 a.m./4 a.m.

I had reserved an "economy" car, which was going to be a Kia or something, but they were all gone so I got the Jeep Liberty below at the economy rate. It was sweet! I never really figured out the mileage because I kept forgetting to look at the odometer, but I don't think it was so bad.

Saturday I had breakfast with my dad, did a little shopping, and then saw my old school colleague Laquita Mitchell sing the living crap out of Portland Opera's Don Giovanni as Donna Anna. I was so proud of her!

Sunday morning I went back to my old church for the first time in sixteen years, wandered around Beaverton for a while, and then had dinner with some friends from high school at a restaurant where we always used to hang out. (Thanks, Scott, for dinner! and KR PDX, sorry you weren't feeling well!)

Monday I did some much needed shopping (new underwear, mmm), and then I went out for dinner with my dad and grandfather, and tried to figure out a reasonable excuse to get out of visiting Grandmother at the home. Fortunately, before I had a chance to attempt to weasel out of it, Granddad said he didn't think it was a good idea for me to visit right now; I guess she's going downhill and she can be unpredictable and unpleasant. (Moreso, apparently.) So, sad as it is to say, that was a major relief.

Tuesday I went for a day hike at Silver Falls State Park, just east of Salem. It absolutely poured on my drive down there and I thought, "I'm crazy for wasting all this gas just to drive in a pouring rain when I can't see anything," but when I got there it had slowed to a misty drizzle and I thought, "Well, I'll walk for a while and if it gets bad I'll go back." I hiked for four hours, during which the sun came out and I got some amazing pictures of the forest sparkling with fresh rainfall.

On Wednesday I headed out for my vacation proper, cutting off Interstate 5 at Corvallis and then heading west on Oregon 34 to Waldport, about 70 miles of winding, hilly two-lane highway through astonishingly beautiful farm country and pacific rainforest. Once I got to 101, I headed south to the tidepools at Yachats (pronounced YAH-hots), but alas it was high tide, so while I got some nice pictures of the pounding surf, I didn't really get to poke around at the critters.

Then I turned around and went north to my hotel in the cute little village of Nye Beach, near Newport. For the amazing budget price of $48/night, I have to say the hotel was great. Immaculate and quiet, I had a king-sized bed on the third floor with a panoramic view of Nye Beach, complete with DVD player, fridge and microwave. For that price, it definitely exceeded my expectations.

The only downside is that it's up on top of a high cliff, so while the view is fantastic, there's no convenient beach access. That night I wanted to treat myself to a nice dinner, so I went to one of the more upscale resort/conference centers in Newport, the Embarcadero. Big mistake. Huge.

At first I was encouraged because I walked in and the waiter was HOT. I mean, you know, by Newport standards. But cute. Alas, they seated me in the waitress' section. Maybe they thought a single guy traveling alone would prefer a waitress. Sigh. I had parmesan encrusted halibut. The waitress said it was an "excellent choice." I will say the chowder was really good, but the fish...well, it was just bland and utterly without personality. The asparagus was so overcooked it literally couldn't be stabbed with a fork. It basically tasted like an extra large Lean Cuisine meal.

Wednesday night was my excursion to the local bar in Nye Beach; I picked it on the recommendation of the girl who worked in the town coffee place. Actually, she discouraged me. She said, "I don't think you'd like it, it's just local fishermen types, no cute girls or anything." Sounded perfect.

Nye Beach is miles long -- vast. And midweek in drizzly weather, I basically had it to myself. Even when the sun was out, I don't think there were more than 10 people on it. Fantastic. Thursday was a gray, drizzly morning, but I bundled up and took a very relaxing walk, just me and the sea gulls and shore crabs. I hadn't planned on going back to the aquarium on this trip, but as it was raining it seemed like the best option. It's a great place, just not all that big and not very much changes from visit to visit. I spent Thursday afternoon in a cozy chair by the window in the hotel and then took a nice nap. I had dinner in the room, finished off a bottle of Oregon Pinot Noir, and went for another walk on the beach at sunset.

Friday morning it was really raining, so I didn't get to go back to the beach and instead decided I would leave earlier than planned for my long drive up Highway 101 to Olympia, Washington. I thought it would take 5 or 6 hours, but it took 8. Long day. It rained, a lot. It's a good thing I left when I did, or I would have been late to the rehearsal dinner.

I am not picky when it comes to hotels, but let me just say that the Motel 6 in Tumwater, Washington, is lower even than my standards. I didn't feel super safe there.

Saturday morning it was still pouring, so I ventured out for breakfast then came back to the room and watched TV until it was time to get dressed and check out. The wedding was beautiful, and it was wonderful to meet up with Quinn and K-Lynn and others after many years. I ducked out of the reception a bit early so that I could get back to my mom's in Portland in time for dinner...and that's about it. A great time was had by all.


Matthew said...

Glad you had such a good time. Fish with personality? Hmm, maybe I need to watch more 'Finding Nemo'...

Jade said...

I can't believe you're making me homesick! It looks like you have a lovely time, sorry the weather was a bit cruddy for you, but Silver Falls is beautiful anyway, isn't it?

Andy said...

Silver Falls is unbelievable -- I'll be posting more pictures soon.

Earl Cootie said...

I spent a very rainy Halloween in Yachats several years ago at the gay-owned-and-operated See Vue. (We were in the Far Out West room - cowboys, yum.) I love the Oregon coast. I just don't get to visit often enough. Can't wait to see the "more pictures soon".