Monday, August 18, 2008

Worst. Vacation. Ever.

So it turned out that the only thing I took with me on my fabulous August beach trip that proved to be even less useful than the condoms ( never know!) was sunscreen.

It's been a busy, stressful summer and I haven't taken any time off, so I've been dying for a little "me" time to go hide somewhere and decompress. After church on Sunday, I drove out to Waldport, eager for some long walks on the beach and quiet time in prayer and meditation.

Okay, well...first, it immediately became apparent why the Howard Johnson had vacancies in mid-August. As Elizabeth Taylor said in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, "What a dump." Don't get me wrong: I wasn't expecting the Four Seasons, but wow, that place is long overdue for some fresh paint and some general maintenance. It might not kill them to pick up the trash in the grassy area between the hotel and the bay or clean the leaves out of the pool, either...not that it was warm or dry enough to go in the pool. Ahem.

I mean, sure, the room was clean. And by clean, I mean, it had this overpoweringly chemical "clean" smell that gave me a headache and made me sick to my stomach. Fortunately I had a sliding door with a screen...that opened up onto the "pet area." Watch where you step.

About 5 minutes after I arrived, fog as thick as pea soup rolled in and you couldn't even see across the street. I had planned on driving down to a decent restaurant in Yachats (there's not much in Waldport), but I looked at the fog and figured maybe I should stay local. I thought I would investigate the "Ahi Grill" on site at the hotel.

You can't really see what the restaurant looks like from the lobby; you have to go down a hall and around a corner and bang you're suddenly in the dining room, which is about the most depressing little excuse for a "restaurant" I've ever seen. But the waitress pounced and said, "One for dinner?" and I just didn't have the heart to say, "Oh, dear God, no," so instead I said, "Yes, please," with a sinking feeling in my gut. Ahi might be Hawaiian for tuna, but it's also Italian for "ouch."

The menu was depressingly limited; I had settled on the fettuccine alfredo with chicken, but just then the same dish was brought to the woman sitting at the table next to me, and it was far more food than I could possibly eat (and didn't look that great) so when the waitress came I asked for a burger and fries. ($6.95)

So, look, I just wanted to have a quiet dinner alone staring at the bay. Some people might find that depressing, I guess, but I think it's relaxing. Unfortunately, the tourists on either side of me had other ideas; they were the types that like to chat up strangers.

First they remarked on the weather, a reasonable enough starting point, and complained that it was 60, dark and rainy in the middle of August. (Hey, welcome to Oregon; you take your chances.) This prompted one man to say, "Yeah, global warming my foot, what a joke." To which the other table rejoined, "That's right, up in Spokane we had the coldest winter anyone can remember this year." And thus I found myself surrounded by global warming deniers. "It's just a plot so some people can make money." "Yeah, Al Gore -- he has a huge house and I heard he drives three humvees!"

Let's see...the Spokaners complained about how Governor Chris Gregoire "stole" the election from Dino Rossi, then they all commiserated about high taxes and moaned that Barack Obama wants to give us "Canadian" healthcare, "even though everyone knows Canada has the worst healthcare in the world." Naturally then we had to gravitate to Iraq, and it was generally agreed upon that "the Iraqi people are tremendously grateful we are there" and that "the liberal media" simply refuses to report the good news. The oldest man in the group then remarked, "Iran is next, mark my words. Just read Revelation, it's all there."

By this time my blood was positively boiling and the Revelation remark was the last straw. You read Revelation, you butthead. I held my tongue, though (see James 1:19-20) and instead said, "Can I get the check?" I didn't have anything to drink with my dinner because I'd brought along a bottle of Oregon Pinot Noir that was waiting for me back in the room; and it's a good thing, too, or I might just have told them off. Instead I wished them all a peaceful visit to Oregon.

About that wine: as I was shopping for the trip, I came across a new label, Anam Cara Cellars, and with my recent introduction to Celtic Christianity, I took that as a sign.'s awful. Tart, no body, with strong hints of pickle. Gross.

It was only 7:00 and I was still mad, so I decided I'd go for a walk on the beach, even though it was windy and foggy. Alas, there is only one public access route to the beach from the hotel, and I hadn't gone very far past it when I realized it was already lost in the fog and growing darker. A storm was coming, so I turned around and went back to the room, cold, wet, sand-encrusted and depressed.

I decided to take the old fart's advice and read Revelation. All of it, so that I could feel justified about my self-righteous indignation. And it made me madder still, because it's actually quite wonderful and there's really nothing in there about Iran; it's about Rome. Anyone with seven heads and ten horns can see that.

A thunderstorm rolled in and, there being nothing else for it, I turned out the lights, reclined on the bed and watched. This was nice for about two hours, but then I felt really tired and wanted to actually sleep. I would drift off for about 10 minutes and then awake again to another window-rattling blast of thunder. The storm finally passed about 3:00.

I awoke about six and lay in bed debating with myself about whether I should try to get more sleep or get up and take advantage of the day; at 6:45 I rose and went for a walk on the beach, which was definitely the highlight of the entire trip. Got some great pictures -- see below -- until flashes of lightning appeared over the ocean and I decided I'd better high-tail it off the beach and get some breakfast.

After morning prayer I hopped in the car and drove down to Yachats to get coffee at the Green Salmon, which has amazing coffee and pastries and boy, if you dared insult Al Gore at the Green Salmon, you'd probably be thrown out. My kind of place.

They are closed on Mondays.

After sitting in the car in the parking lot in the rain for about three minutes chanting, "No! Fuck. No! Fuck. Fu-u-uck!!!!" I figured I might as well drive down to the Fred Meyer just north of Florence and go to the Starbucks there.

Ummm...I misjudged the distance. It's like 25 miles.

And the Florence Fred Meyer does not have a Starbucks.

They do have an imitation Starbucks. There were two customers in line ahead of me, which meant I stood there for 12 minutes until I got to order. (Yes, I counted.) I asked for a large coffee and a low-fat marionberry muffin. "Okay, sir, just so you know, the muffins just got delivered so it might still be a little bit cold, is that all right?" "Sure," I said.

Cold? Fucker was frozen. I'm serious. It was cold, wet and mushy on the outside and muffin-ice at the core. Also the coffee was weak and tasted like cigarettes. Within an hour I had a "you have not had coffee yet" headache.

It was raining.

At this point I decided it was time to give up and go home.

You know, the Oregon Coast is wonderful, even in inclement weather. All it takes is a good bottle of wine, a comfy chair and a marvelous view. Well...three strikes. I was outta there. I drove back to the hotel, told them I had changed my plans and asked for a refund for the second night.

The good news is, I got 37.25 mpg in the new car.

* * * * *

The day looked like it maybe had some promise; sunrise over Alsea Bay.

Alone on the beach; perfect.

The tide was definitely out; have you ever seen a beach so broad?

Kind of hard to tell, but these are pelicans.

A great blue heron.


Jeff said...

"Tart, no body, with strong hints of pickle."


Well, at least it gave you stuff to write about. Whenever something bad happens, you should tell yourself, "At least I've got material."

Gino said...

i even enjoy the 'bad' stuff when i road trip.

there is no bad stuff, really. just unexpectedly different stuff.
and thats why i go, to see and do different stuff.
and bad weather just makes it all the more exciting.

if i get up there, we'll have to swap trip stories.

Gino said...

if ever you get the chance, try mendocino and the redwoods and wine country.
you'd love it.