Cannon Beach Welcomes You

Dear Liza,

When we needed inside space and lunch after an hour in the wind and sand, we fetched the car and drove to the main part of town. Many shops and restaurants were open, but with restrictions like here in Portland: Shorter hours and take out only. Our first choice, Bill’s Tavern Brewhouse, was one such place and would have to wait for another time.

The Driftwood

But just across the street, The Driftwood Restaurant and Lounge, was open, welcoming, and had expanded into the parking lot in order to give enough space between tables. We wanted to get out of the chill, though, and there was just one table left inside. Hooray!

Auntie Bridgett, very happy

It felt odd, after these long weeks, to sit at a table in a public place, and order food. Odd, but wonderful.

Susan, bringer of beer, crab rolls, and smiles

Our waitress, Susan, was masked and pleasant, and brought us beer (beer!) and food I hadn’t cooked. We ate and basked in the new normality as we watched the morning clouds blow away to flood our window with sunshine.

And then the sun came out!

Once we were warm and sated, we headed off to explore. The shops that were open had these adorable reminders to stay safe.

Staying safe (and cute)

We looked at art through gallery windows and stopped at the candy shop for Grandpa Nelson’s beloved salt water taffy. The public art was delightful! I love this newly-installed fountain and sculpture of ravens, but foolishly neglected to note its title or artist.

Ravens sharing a feather

On our way back to the car, we stopped on the top of a bluff to have another long look at the beach and nearly got hit by a kite! A very young fellow was below us, trying to reel in his kite, and it was doing that bob-and-weave thing kites do when they don’t want to land. We had a chat and I thanked him for making our day at the beach extra special.

The kite, the boy, and his mom

We said goodbye to the sand, wind, and rocks before climbing into the car and realizing how tired we all were! Thank goodness for Auntie Bridgett’s stamina in getting us home.

Us, windblown and happy

Love,

Grandma Judy

Fog, Rocks, and Puffins

Dear Liza,

Haystack Rock

Once we got to the windy shore at Cannon Beach, I was in heaven. The wide sweep of the sand and the fog veiled cliffs set the mood for silence and contemplation, and we walked along, thinking our own thoughts. Auntie Bridgett found a reasonably comfy wall and sketched while Grandpa Nelson and I headed down the beach.

A world of clouds and sea

Haystack Rock, which is the landmark and symbol of the town, stands 235 feet above the sand. It is surrounded by starfish and anemone-filled tide pools and, further up, houses thousands of birds. Seagulls and cormorants are the largest and noisiest, but I paid special attention to the Tufted Puffins. They have a cute, wind-up-toy sort of flap and are easy to spot, but hard to photograph.

A Tufted Puffin….Photo credit, Save the Puffins

These are one of three types of Puffins, and are larger than both the Atlantic and Horned species. The colony on Haystack Rock had 600 birds years ago, but has dwindled to about 100, mostly because the fish they depend on have been either over-fished or are dying out due to pollution and climate change.

Photo Credit, Bruce McMillan

I have a soft spot in my teacher’s heart for Puffins because of a story called “Nights of the Pufflings”, by Bruce McMillan. It was included in a third grade anthology and told the true story of how children in Iceland would stay awake all night in the spring to collect baby Atlantic Puffins, called “Pufflings”, who got lost on their flight from the cliffs to the sea.

The children would collect the birds at night, saving them from traffic and dogs, and release them the next day at the beach. The children’s activism and care of their small charges warmed all the fuzzy feels of my heart.

Statue of a Puffin guarding the parking lot

Cannon Beach has this sort of love for their own Puffins, erecting statues around town and selling sweatshirts to raise money for their protection.

Once we had soaked up all the sea and wind that we could, it was time to get warm and fed. Tomorrow I will tell you about the pretty town of Cannon Beach.

Love,

Grandma Judy

West to Cannon Beach

Dear Liza,

Wednesday morning we got up early and were on highway 26 to Cannon Beach by nine o’clock. The weather was chilly, grey, and almost rainy.

As usual, the trip west really started once we went through the Vista Ridge tunnel. This is a tunnel that actually goes under a neighborhood in the west hills, and whenever we go through it, I wonder how the folks in that lovely and very expensive neighborhood feel about living above a major freeway.

Can you imagine living above the Vista Ridge Tunnel?

The city of Portland ends pretty abruptly once we passed the hills, because of the urban growth boundary. Other, smaller towns, like Beaverton, have grownup, but Portland doesn’t spread out. I like that. Having watched Southern California become one giant suburb, I am happy to see a bit of country green between cities.

Once we had passed the open fields and headed up into the Coastal Range of mountains, we pulled over at a rest stop, and I got my first history lesson

History lesson by the road

This historical marker tells of The Tillamook Burn, which was actually four fires between 1933 and 1939. They were all caused by logging accidents and, in the midst of the Great Depression, cost Oregon over 13 billion board feet of lumber. The lumber industry, like so many others, had been left to “police itself”, and it had not gone well.

The Tillamook Burn led to regulations on how trees are taken and what sort of equipment can be used, which has made logging safer.

Wolf Creek

Just behind the sign was a delightfully gurgling stream, a branch of Wolf Creek. It was mysterious and shady, and on a warmer day I would have been tempted to stick my feet in and hang out with the woods for a while. But the chill and damp discouraged such shenanigans, and we continued west.

We passed Camp 18 and the Elderberry Cafe, where we have stopped for lunch on other trips, but we were anxious to get to the beach. We found parking and grabbed coats, hats and towels, getting in sight of the ocean just as quickly as we could.

Haystack Rock and the BEACH!!!

We all inhaled, filling ourselves up with salty air. It felt like home. I will tell you more about our adventure tomorrow!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Weather or Not, We’re Going!!

Dear Liza,

Monterey, when it’s cold,

Every year, for my birthday, I go to the beach. In Southern California, where I grew up, it was always, always sunny. When we lived in Salinas, the beach at Monterey was often cloudy or even rainy and cold in March. I didn’t care. I went and walked in the wind and rain, loving the ocean. I’m sure it loved me right back, too.

And when it shines!

This year we were shut down for my birthday, and Grandpa Nelson’s, too. We were both missing the ocean a lot, but all the Oregon coastal beaches have been closed to keep people from congregating and risk spreading the virus. Even when the beach towns like Cannon Beach opened, they asked people from Portland NOT to come, because Portland still had too many cases.

Portland during the shutdown…

But now, our county and city are opening up! Restaurants are washing windows and setting up tables. And since our city is healthy, we don’t feel as though we are endangering the places we visit the lovely Oregon Coast.

The only problem is that we are now in the middle of our “second winter”. We had bright skies and warm sunshine weeks ago, custom made for long walks and taking pictures. Now, we have had three days of rain and cooler temperatures.

Storm clouds coming!

I don’t care! Tomorrow, we pack up Miles, our midnight blue Volkswagen Golf, with coats, umbrellas and boots, and head off for the beach!

Hooray!!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Looking Back, Just a Bit More…

Dear Liza,

Portland does SPRING very well!

This past year saw some big adventures, too.

Three generations! Me, Auntie Katie and Cousin Kestrel

In March, for my birthday, you and your family came up to help me keep a long-overdue promise to MY parents, to put their ashes into the ocean. We all drove over the mountains to Seaside, made a sand castle, and placed them in it. High tide would take them where they wanted to be.

David and Katie built their grandparent’s castle

A perfect Florentine

I started baking with more skill, with new equipment and confidence.

The summer came, and fall…

Leaves in Laurelhurst Park

In September we took the train to Vancouver, BC, and Seattle, Washington, and enjoyed what those cities had to offer.

Vancouver, BC, by day

Seattle by night

Auntie Bridgett kept painting, working hard as a member of SideStreet Arts.

Auntie Bridgett and one of my favorite paintings, A Paris

This year also saw the young people growing into wonderful ‘older’ people. Cousins Kyle and Jasper got to know each other and became buddies, bonding over Dungeons and Dragons and video games.

Cousins Kyle and Jasper, being guys together

As for me, I am still working on my story. It has grown from being a story about a CITY to being a story about a girl living IN a city.

My had drawn map of Portland, 1903

I never knew writing a book was so complicated, but I am learning, and I think that as long as I take time and don’t give up, it has promise.

My (at least) twelfth outline, getting more complicated and person- centered

Last year, I kept my promise to my parents. Maybe this year, I can keep my promise to me.

Happy New Year!!

Love,

Grandma Judy

To the Coast

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

I am back in Portland! I flew in Friday after Uncle David fed me a tasty dinner at Nemea Greek restaurant in San Jose and dropped me at the airport. Grandpa Nelson and Auntie Bridgett hugged me as soon as I got off the plane and didn’t stop until we got to our NEW house! It was my first time in it, but it felt like home. It has three floors, with the garage and an office on the bottom, living, dining, kitchen and a bathroom on the second, and two bedrooms and a bath upstairs. The painters have come and gone, making major improvements and one mistake, which Auntie Bridgett will tell them about today. (Oops. Sorry painters, she’s gonna go all artsy on ya.)

Back in our rental, which has been home for eight months, we slept soundly and woke up early to head for the Oregon Coast Comic Con in Tillamook. We met Jack Kent and his wife Verity at Coco’s Doughnuts on the west side and then caravanned over the hills to the coast. At 2,000 feet, there was snow!!! Real snow, piled up by the road, carpeting the forest, decorating the trees, looking more like a Christmas card than Easter week. It even snowed on us, a bit.

Once we were out of the mountains, the snow turned to rain and the rich dairyland of Tillamook spread out green and wet all around us. We drove to the Tillamook Air Museum, which is in a blimp hangar from World War II, the largest wooden structure in the United States. Impressive from the outside, it was cavernous, dark and COLD inside. Artists were setting up their tables still bundled up for the 39 degree outside temperature. Grandpa Nelson and I helped Auntie Bridgett set up, then headed off to see what we could see.

Tucked into our nice warm car (with heated seats!) we drove up the Oregon Coast on Highway 101. Wonderfully wet views of the forest and the ocean ruled the day. I got out for a few short excursions, but 35 degree rain isn’t conducive to strolling along the beach. I had my third breakfast (I have Hobbit ancestry, I believe) at The Pirate’s Cove in Garibaldi. Breaded and fried Clams and eggs, made with local clams AND local eggs! Yummy!

We reached lovely Cannon Beach, bundled up, and walked along the main drag. It is cute and, in Summer, full of families having summer fun with ice cream, beach toys and sun screen. Today, everyone was after fleece jackets and hot tea. We stopped at Tom’s Classic burgers to get Grandpa Nelson some french fries. We will return another time to browse the shops selling recycled driftwood and other flotsam, shops with names like “Washed Ashore” and “Found”, with the “U” made from a rusty horse shoe.

Driving back south, we found our reserved lodging for the night, one of a collection of tiny houses called Sheltered Cove. We had reserved one for us, and Jack and Verity had one for themselves across the way. Our hosts, Hank and Dee, checked us in along with their friendly and protective standard poodles, Mook and Red. The house was adorable! Not more than 500 square feet, it had a living, kitchen, bathroom and queen sized bed downstairs, and two queen sized beds in a loft upstairs. It felt light and airy, not cramped at all, and had plenty of room for us and our stuff.

When the Comic Con closed for the day at 5:00, a nearly frozen Bridgett hitched a ride home with Jack and Verity, and we got her tea and warm socks until it was time to go to the Pacific Restaurant. The food was great but the service a bit slow, and our view was of the heavy equipment involved in major street repair downtown. But Jack and Verity always make for lively conversation!

Back in our sheltered no, we slept like rocks. More adventures tomorrow!

Love, Grandma Judy