I live in a vacation paradise. People travel thousands of miles to visit the Oregon coast. And with good reason. It’s gorgeous here. We’ve got forests, beaches, parks, fine restaurants, lighthouses, the aquarium, fresh air, moderate temperatures, and more. But those of us who live here frequently find that we rarely pay attention to all of that. We’re too busy taking care of business at home and at work. Beach? Oh yeah, that’s nice. Maybe tomorrow.
But some days are just too fine to sit in an office staring at a computer. Plus a girl just gets tired, you know? So one day last week, I joined the tourist parade and took a vacation day. Leaving Annie sleeping at home, I got in the car and drove south, turning where the muse led me. You might want to try this trip yourself someday.
Heading south on 101 from South Beach, I turned east on Beaver Creek Road, across from Ona Beach. When I came to the fork with South Beaver Creek, I turned right. Many of the scenes in my not-yet-published novel Being PD take place in this area, and I found myself reliving some of those scenes as I drove through miles of estuaries, pastures, forests and farms. The road was smooth and curvy, the scenery beautiful, and the traffic non-existent. I had heard this road led to Waldport, but I had never tried it for fear of getting lost. No problem. Ultimately I came to a T intersection at Bayview Road and turned right. This road ran along the north side of Alsea Bay. Ultimately it came out at Highway 101.
Over the bridge and through Waldport, I came to Gov. Patterson state park and joined the tourists at the beach. I spread out my blanket, sat on the sand in the sun and wrote in my journal, looking up to watch people passing with their dogs and kids, the waves breaking white and full, the sand dotted with driftwood forts. And the woman walking along talking on her cell phone all the way to the end of the beach and back. Luckily, I had forgotten to charge my phone so it was turned off.
When I got hungry, I drove south to Yachats, a tiny town with a lot of great restaurants. Bypassing the Drift Inn, Leroy’s Blue Whale and the Green Salmon, I decided to try Ona. It’s a little expensive, a little pretentious, but the view of the Yachats River and the food are worth it. My crabcake sandwich with curry sauce was delicious. Unlike at my usual hangouts, I didn’t see a single person I knew. Everyone was visiting from somewhere else. Why not me?
After lunch, I drove around the corner to park beside a car just like mine—silver Honda Element—and take pictures. What a place. It’s got to be a sin to ignore it. When the owners of the other Element came up the path from eating their lunch on a bench overlooking the surf and saw our cars together, they did a double take. We compared years and features and shared our mutual love of the vehicles some folks call “toasters.”
Time to return to reality, but first I stopped in Waldport at Well-Road Books, a well-stocked used book store with bountiful shelves and soft music playing. One book after another called to me. I came out with a stack of novels I can’t wait to read.
This morning, looking out at blue skies and everything in bloom, it’s hard to believe it will be gray, raining and windy in a few months. Now is the time to enjoy this place. Isn’t this why we moved here?