Nick & Sara’s Tour de West – 10

Monday, Sept 14, 2009

I failed my father this morning – or at least failed to faithfully and completely honor my father’s memory.

Woke up this morning in Beaverton, OR, a ‘burb of Portland, about 50 miles from the coast – not where I had intended to be. But due to the laptop troubles the day before, and being too lazy to drive back to the coast that night after dealing with Apple, that’s where I was. Looked like a beautiful sunny morning outside, and I had two choices – either head back to the coast by traveling SW along state road 6, which would bring me out in Tillamook, Oregon (yes, there really is a Tillamook town), a good deal further south then where I left the coast, OR retrace my steps by traveling NW on Rte 26 back to Seaside, and continue my way down 101 where I had originally left the coast. Since I was in no particular hurry and wanted to explore the coast fully, I opted for the “retrace my steps” route.

But first, I had a small errand to run, that involved paying honor to my father’s memory. You see, my Dad *loved* postcards. He loved to get them from any of his kids no matter where they traveled, and he always sent a bundle of them whenever he traveled. Didn’t matter that later in life we bought him a computer and he got e-mail from us – an e-mail from someplace new just wasn’t as satisfying to him as a picture postcard in the mail.

So, to honor his memory, and also to send my Mom something since she doesn’t do facebook (or email, for that matter), I decided, back when I was in Port Townsend to send a couple of postcards. I bought a couple and wrote them out that night over dinne, then the next morning when I was leaving my hotel I asked if they sold postage for  postcards. “No, came the reply, we have first class stamps but no postcard stamps.” OK,fine, I’ll find a post office on the way or ask at the next hotel.

Well, a couple of days had gone by and for some reason I hadn’t seen a post office, and I was *still* carrying these silly postcards around with me.  OK, time to try again – so I ask the front desk at this hotel – “No, we only carry first class stamps,” came the familiar reply, “but there’s a UPS store right up the road -you just turn left, go up past the Fred Myer store, and the UPS store is right there and they sell all kinds of postage.” Well, it’s a half mile in the opposite direction from the highway, but never mind, let’s get this done – turn left.. there’s the Fred Myer’s, where’s the UPS store? Oh, there it is – park – walk in..

“Good morning, do you sell postcard postage?”

“No, we just have first class postage – but the Fred Myer’s store does at the information desk”

(Muttering under my breath) “OK, thanks”

No sense in driving that short distance – it’s a nice day, walk around the corner – there’s the entrance to the Fred Myer’s – there’s the info desk.

“Good morning, do you sell postcard postage?”

“No, we just have first class postage – but the UPS store next door  does..”

“But, but, but.. they just sent me here!! Does no one carry anything but first class stamps anymore?”

“Oh, sorry – well, there’s a Post Office not too far away.. Just out of the parking lot, turn left and go for half a mile, then turn right, and go 2 blocks, then turn left again.”

Oh, screw it. I’m sorry, Dad – I know you’d be mortified by the sheer waste of putting a 44 cent stamp on a 20 cent postcard, but it’s going to cost me more in gas than I save driving around trying to find the post office.

“Never mind, just give me the first class stamps.”

Sigh – well I tried to honor my Dad’s spirit, at least.

Chores taken care of, postcards dutifully addressed, stamped (if excessively), and mailed, it was time to head back to the beach.  The road back, Rte 26, was considerably less crowded than on the way in yesterday – because it’s Monday morning, of course, and everyone is going to work, not to the beach – except for me – ahh, the joys of vacation.

Of course, it’s about 2 hours back to the beach. Now, Sara can go for a fair stretch without a stop – a full tank of gas goes 350 miles, easy, and could probably stretch to 400 if I wanted to chance it. Even at 80 mph, that’s a 4.5 to 5 hours of driving. *I*, on the other hand, can’t go that long. I like to drink tea, lots of tea.. in fact, when I’m driving long distances, I pretty much keep a cup of tea in a travel mug going most of the time. That means I need to well, stop a lot, if you get my drift.. not only to refill my tea mug, but to get rid of the last cup of tea.  And there isn’t always a convenient gas station on sight, and I must be getting old, but sometimes the urge to, well, get rid of a cup of tea comes up suddenly, and *very* urgently. Even with cruise control, it’s hard to drive when you’re squirming around in the seat.

And that’s where us men have such an unfair advantage over women. I can usually find a convenient bush or tree somewhere along the side of the road, even if there are no gas stations in sight. (That will prove not to be the case later on, driving through the Utah desert, but that’s a story for another day).   Of course, you do have to find the right place.. one where you can get the car safely off the road and there’s a woods you can walk into a , or a big set of rocks to hide behind, and no police cars or curious tourists wandering by.

About 3/4 of the way into the drive back to the beach I start to feel the need to find such a convenient place, but unfortunately, there’s just NO such place on this road that I can see. No shoulder, no safe place to pull over for the most part, and where there is a shoulder or a road that turns off it turns out to the driveway to someone’s house – and I’m not so sure they’d take kindly to me taking a rest stop on their front line. This goes on for about 20 minutes, and I’m definitely uncomfortable at this point.. I keep going around corners, scanning the sides of the road, hoping for a gas station, or a McDonalds, or a even a very wide spot in the road so I can pull over.

Finally, I see a “County park” sign with a nice wide gravel pull off, and a stream by the side of the road down an embankment. I pull Sara over to the side of the road, and before the engine is even completely stopped turning over the key is out, the door is open and I’m down the embankment looking for a convenient tree.

I swear I heard Sara laughing behind me. She can be so cruel sometimes – women.

Much more comfortable, we head on down to Seaside. When we get there, around noon’ish, I poke around a bit – the town is kinda tacky, but in that cute kinda touristy kinda-what-you-expect a seaside town to look like – not really gaudy or depressed tacky just kinda touristy and well “seaside holiday-like” for lack of a better word. And the beach is stunning – a wide flat, sandy beach, with the sun shining on a deep blue sea, nice even rollers, and hazy seaside mist that seems prevalent on west coast beaches but not so much on east. I’m not sure why that is – I suspect it has to do with the long fetch over water for the prevailing westerlies in mid-latitudes – vs. the relatively short fetch of localized on shore breezes on the east coast – but anyway, it works almost like a soft focus filter on a photographers camera, and gives everything in the distance a pleasing softer quality.

Unable to resist, I take off my shoes and socks, roll up my jeans legs,and walk down to the water to put my feet in – and call my older sister at the same time. She and I are equal parts beach bum – we both always enjoying walking on the beach on the east coast, where we grew up, and she’d enjoy this as much as me. The water is definitely brisk – that’s one difference between east coast and west coast.

And there’s one other difference. It takes me a while to realize it, but while I’m standing talking to my sister, I can feel it.. a growing disquietude – and as I hang up the phone, I finally figure out what it is. The beach is on the wrong side. I grew up on the east coast, and the water should be in the east. I can feel it   – if I turn around with my back to the water – that’s it. The beach… should be … over there! Not behind me. I don’t know what it is – the direction of the sun, my own internal compass, but *something* tells me this ain’t the way it’s “supposed” to be. Oh well, I’ll get used to it (I do, it just takes a day or two).

Now, I had set myself a goal when I got up this morning of making it further down the coast – at least down to Tillamook or if I get ambitious maybe down to Newport or Coos Bay.  But the sun is shining, there’s a nice little town to explore here, there’s supposed to be an aquarium somewhere, and part of this whole trip is an exercise in not planning and / or setting unrealistic expectations, so, to heck with it  – let’s make ZERO forward progress for the day and stay right here.

I’m quite proud of myself, actually. You see, I’m an “N” – a STRONG N. This ain’t going to mean a lot to those of you not versed in Myer’s Briggs but suffice it to say, Myers-Briggs theory tends to categorize us all into 16 different personality types based on 4 different traits we all have.. One of those traits is “Sensing’ vs. “Intuition” – sensing folks are usually more focused in the here and now – they pay more  attention to the physical reality of the world around them and the current state of affairs and the facts as we know them, and less attention to how things fit in the “big picture” and overall impressions and gestalt feelings, while “N”s are the other way. We live more in our heads then in the world sometimes. We *have* to make sense of the world by fitting it all into a larger picture – by spinning stories or scenarios – if we can’t explain the facts, we’ll make up a story to fit the facts. This can sometimes be useful, and it can sometimes be a detriment. Especially when we make up motivations and attribute motives to other peoples behavior which may not be real at all. We nonetheless are compelled to provide some overarching explanation for other’s behavior because we “N”s *need* a big picture to place it in. And sometimes those stories we spin in our own heads, well, they can have little to do with the actual reality save for the one or two starting conditions that sent us down that path, and can lead to strikingly wrong impressions/expectations of others.

And this applies to our own behavior – we N’s need a plan – we’re compelled to have a story into which we can fit our current behavior – a future scenario, if you will.

So part of this vacation is an exercise in deliberately not planning – being less “N” and more “S” – just letting things happen, and letting things be. I figure if I can learn to be less compelled to spin a story around my own behavior in some way, I can perhaps learn eventually to be less compelled to spin a story around other’s behavior – and simply accept them as  they are – which would be a good thing.

My story/scenario/future big picture this morning when I got up involved backtracking to Seaside then continuing down the coast. But I’m gonna do an “S” thing – live with the hear and now. The sun is shining,  the beach is beautiful, here I’m gonna stay for the day. Good for me!

OK, self-congratulatory semi-psychological mumbo-jumbo aside over, where were we? Oh, yes, standing on a beach in Seaside, OR. There’s  a little mom and pop motel just off the beach in downtown Seaside, so I get a room, unpack the car and set off to explore town a bit. There’s a somewhat funky private aquarium – not the best but not the worst – and I’m an aquarium fan so I check that out for an hour or two. One of  the eels reminds me of He-who-shall-not-be-named from the Harry Potter films. They should call him Volder-Eel. There’s also a 28 lb (!) lobster named Victor that apparently had been living a happy life in the aquarium until someone’s avarice got the best of them, and they tried to abscond with the biggest lobster dinner anyone could imagine. They were caught, but unfortunately they dropped Victor as they were apprehended, and well, 28 lb lobsters don’t fare well when dropped on land since their native environment is water.

After the aquarium, I wander around town a bit, poking my head into souvenir shops and t-shirt shops and the like. Around 4, I’ve had enough of that and decide it’s time to find a cup of tea and perhaps free wireless and do a little email and updating and photo editing, etc..since I still have a functioning laptop with me.  Walking into the local coffee shop, I ask if they have free wireless. “No, ours is down,” came the reply, “But Dundee’s down the street has.” Dundee’s, it turns out, is a bar, not a coffee shop, and yes, they do have free wireless. Putting aside the wisdom of bars with wireless (emailing after drinking may NOT be a good thing), I find a seat in the window, order a beer, and spend a pleasant afternoon people watching and writing email and downloading pictures from my camera.

Two beers and a lot of email later, and it’s time to find some dinner. There’s was a nice cajun restaurant just next to the coffee shop I had originally intended to work from. Pulling out my iPhone to check on the restaurant’s location, it slips out of my hand and lands, corner first, on the concrete sidewalk. Result: Sidewalk – 1, glass iPhone screen – 0. A spider web of cracks extend across the glass face of the phone. It still works, for now, but looks like heck and is hard to read.

Sigh.. this has not been a good vacation for glass and screens of various natures.

Better be careful with Sara.