A Day Away from it All

Dear Liza,

We have been very caught up in the excitement about Mr. Trump’s leaving the White House and President-Elect Biden’s inauguration. Grandpa Nelson and I have been following the news for who was getting pardoned, who was being appointed, and what was going to happen next. Maybe we were a little too focused.

So Grandpa Nelson decided we needed a day away from the computer, ipads and television. Auntie Bridgett was enlisted and we all went to the beach.

The bright day glowed as we drove west across the Tualatin Valley and into the Coastal range. The forest was a combination of blinding sun and deep shade, acting like a strobe as we zipped past. Since it was the day after the MLK holiday, traffic was light.

Since Covid has made us wary of any restaurants with only indoor seating, we went right past Camp 18, a delightful log cabin that serves enormous cinnamon rolls. In Gearhart, we found Grizzly Tuna, a tiny drive-through serving tuna and chips, fish tacos, and other (mostly) fried goodies. We grabbed some for Auntie Bridgett and me, then drove to Dairy Queen for Grandpa Nelson, and ate right in the car.

We continued up to Fort Stevens State Beach and the wreck of the Peter Iredale. This is one of my favorite places on the coast so far. The wide, flat beach is great for walking, and the long views and whipping wind are good for over-stuffed, urbanized brains. It was sparkling, chilly, and wonderful.

We did notice something we weren’t as crazy about, though. Cars on the beach. This is an historic thing on the Oregon Coast, actually. Years ago, when the roads between small towns weren’t very good, the wide, flat beach was the best route. Now that the roads are smooth and reliable, most folks use them. But driving on the beach is still allowed, and a few trucks made zipping passes as we walked along.

We walked, as my Dad would say, “until we were half tired”, and found a nice long to sit on. We didn’t talk much, just stared at the waves and the tiny sandpipers, watched Auntie Bridgett sketch, and thought non-political thoughts.

When it was time to go, Auntie Bridgett found a surprisingly heavy stick, which she immediately adopted and began dragging along. We named it Sticky and traded off walking it down the beach, pulling it along like a reluctant pet. We walked and dragged, all the way back up to the wreck of the Peter Iredale, and left Sticky there, resting against the iron ship’s remaining ribs.

We tucked into the car and followed the Columbia River home, gawking at tiny towns and enjoying glittering views of the river through bare winter trees. The sun was just going down as we pulled into Portland, got stuck in traffic on the Fremont Bridge, made a wrong turn and ended up in the wrong side of the river, and eventually got home.

What a fabulous, squinty-bright day!

Love,

Grandma Judy