Friday, October 05, 2007

The sun sets over the Pacific

Ok my friends. Vacation September has come to a close and I'm back in business. After a trip to Florida at the beginning of the month, a few weeks of part time working while I visited with friends from out of town, and then the big bang - a wonderful ten day vacation on the west coast with my husband Rob and my best friend Emily. We just got back in town late Tuesday night. What can I say.... it was a blessed vacation, to say the least.

Here's the rundown.

Rob and I flew to LA 9/23 and waited for our connecting flight to San Luis Obispo. We expected a smaller plane, but not a prop plane (which is what we got, and it was my first experience on one). I did a lot of deep breathing and tried to clear my mind of all bad thoughts. I squeezed Rob's hand so hard on take off that I could've popped a pinkie off. But the take off ended up being pretty smooth. The ride up the coast was spectacular. The sun had already gone down, and we flew low over the coastline looking down on clusters of lights. It was beautiful. Then came the landing, which was a whole different story then take off, and I was very thankful for my tightly secured seat belt. Once we got on land I was still shaking but partly with excitement to see my soul sister waiting for us in the teeny tiny airport. The parking lot was smaller than my local Big Y - that says it all.

That first night we stayed in S.L.O. at a hotel. It was only 9 in CA but it felt like midnight to us, so we had a few glasses of wine, chatted it up, then slept off our weary day of traveling. The next morning we drove up the coast to Big Sur. Ten years ago, when I was going to school for a semester exchange at UCSC in Santa Cruz, I had gone as far north as San Fran and as far south as Big Sur. That morning drive covered new ground for me, and Rob was in total awe of the majesty of the California coast. (He jokes that he's never been farther west than New York state). We did a lot of ooing and awing as Emily drove along the wild, twisty turny route 1. That night we stayed in Pfieffer State Park and camped next to the Big Sur river. We spent some time at the beach and had a beautiful dinner at the restaurant at the campground (they also have a lodge - kind of a plush park, if you ask me! I dig it!).

The next day we continued up the coast to Monterey and went to the aquarium. That was a must do on Rob's list and he was like a kid in the candy store. It was adorable, if I do say so myself. :) We all enjoyed it very much. Then we continued up to Santa Cruz where we got a room and went out on the town. So much has changed in ten years, of course. I honestly thought I'd be able to slip right back into the geographical situation of all of my favorite spots - from beaches, to restaurants, to even the campus. Unfortunately, I was lost. But we managed and I got to go to Natural Bridges, which was my favorite beach, and got to cruise through the campus which was more like looking at your fav celebrity after a major face lift - who are you?

The next day was the one day everyone has on a vacation - the "bust" day. We had planned on going to wine country, which was a longer drive away then we thought. Emily had an ear infection that had seemed to disappear, then reappeared with force. I took over the wheel and by the time we got to wine country, everything was closed and we needed to cross over mountains to get to the campground we were hoping we could get into, but being first come first serve and late in the afternoon, we knew our chances were slim. The major first bust in the day was taking a road over the mountains that turned out to be the most dangerous driving I've ever done in my life. It was a one lane (but two way, mind you) twister of a road, slim as a freaking sidewalk, that climbed a mile plus high in the sky. The locals would come out of nowhere in big trucks and I kept telling myself that if I confronted a car, just hit it head on and resist the instinct to turn, because avoiding an accident could easily cause our little rental car to plummet off the side of a cliff. As our elevation kept increasing, my friend was in greater and greater pain. My mom's words from years ago telling me to never fly with a sinus or ear infection because "your eardrum could explode" was on repeat in my head. There was no turning around, just keep going up and up, honking my horn around every blind turn like I was taught in drivers ed oh so many years ago. It seemed like it never ended. Maybe because it was 7 miles long and the most I could go at any point was 20 mph.

The point is, we survived. But once we were in the valley, the focus was on getting Emily to an emergency room because she was in serious pain by this point and very ill. We took her to the ER and I was a nervous nelly waiting for her to come out. When she did, she was like a new person. Without giving you the gory details, they made her feel all better, and we were off to find a hotel for the night. We sorted through the land of the richey rich to find a great affordable room for the night and dinner outside listening to live jazz. Our luck had turned back around.

We enjoyed the next day as real wine country day and yours truly didn't turn down a tasting. Yours truly was an emotional lady around the campfire that night. Yours truly poured herself out of the tent the next day wishing I could be tied to the roof in my sleeping bag. Needless to say, I loved every minute of it.

We drove for most of the day up to Eugene where we stayed overnight and spent the next day thoroughly enjoying the downtown farmer's market/art/craft fair. I met some wonderful artists and added to my collection a bit with a painting by - I love it. I could see myself living in Eugene and loving it.

We continued up and east to the edge of the Cascade Mountains to a place called Breitenbush Hot Springs . We got there in time for dinner, a vegetarian meal shared by all guests in the lodge, served cafeteria style. It was Thai night - so good! Then we set up our tent and hung around inside it for a while waiting until late night to go out to the hot springs. They were amazing. Only two very kind women were there to share them and we all had nice conversations soaking in the hot, healing waters. The contrast was sleeping out in our tent on a cold, rainy Oregon night. Fortunately we all had airbeds to sleep on that kept us up and dry out of the two inch puddle underneath us, but there was no shaking the way a cold dampness can settle into your bones and chill you to the core. We loooooovvved the car heater the next morning, all soggy three of us!!

From there we traveled north to Pacific City where we stopped for a yummy warm lunch and a few brews at a brewery right on the majestic beach. We kept going to Cape Lookout where we had a yurt reserved. Now, I have known about these things, being a nature loving New Englander, but I've never seen one in person, let alone slept in one. This is the way to go, man. You get all of the beauty of camping, but at night, you get to sleep on a cot in a heated structure. No worries about bears or mountain lions busting into your tent because you forgot you left a cherry chapstick in your pocket. No worries about waking up in the middle of the night shaking and as deep and tucked into your sleeping bag as possible without asphyxiating yourself. Life is real good in a yurt. I kind of want to buy land now and build a series of yurts to live in - sleeping yurt, kitchen yurt, living area yurt, studio yurt....

As much as I was ready to set up shop in our yurt for another few months, we had an excited lady on our hands, eagerly awaiting her reunion with her boyfriend in Seattle. So we drove up enjoying the spectacular Oregon coast, had lunch in Astoria then continued on to Seattle. It's a beautiful city, from what little I saw. We found Emily's boyfriend Miguel and checked into our little B&B in the Pike Place Market. It was such a funky, laid back, but still very clean and beautiful inn - I loved it, and if anyone needs a recommendation for your next Seattle trip, I say check out Pensione Nichols Bed and Breakfast! After freshening up in our two cute rooms side by side, both couples emerged ready for a night on the town. We walked into the common area and three funky cats were sitting with a guitar case and one funky cat asked "where are you guys going tonight?" and I replied "we don't know?!". Then we were more told than asked (love you funky cats) that we need to go to the Lava Lounge because one of the funky cats (Lana) was going to be playing and they were having a benefit for a really great friend of theirs. Naturally, we said yes and took on our roles of insta-entourage. It could not have been more perfect. We were guided to the hippest spot in town, the music was great, it was for a great cause, and we had a blast. If you want to know more about the amazing music we heard, check out Deering Down - they just released a CD called Break This Record.

We flew out the next morning and so ends my long tale about our trip.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Welcome back Jess! What a beautiful picture! :) Great post!