Monday, November 9, 2009

"Hey, you guys!": Our Trip to the Oregon Coast

Please pardon the random Goonies quote in the title...it loses a little something in print. But it's a great introduction to the beginning of our Oregon Coast adventure. Fate smiled upon us when Jon and I both had 3-day weekends at the same time in October, so of course we had to take advantage of it. While pondering where to go, we realized that while Jon reminisces fondly about all the family vacations he used to go on to the Oregon Coast, I had never been there. That's as good a reason as any, so rather than getting up and going to work that Friday, we got up and drove to Oregon.
Our first stop was Astoria, Oregon. Jon had mentioned a couple hundred times that the iconic '80s film The Goonies had been filmed in this town (home of the Astoria High School "Fighting Fishermen"). I promptly began obnoxiously quoting the one line that I actually remember, "Goonies never say die." What I had forgotten was that the cinematographic masterpiece Kindergarten Cop was also filmed in Astoria. All together now, "It's not a tumor (pronounced too-mah)." Even though we felt silly doing so, I'm so glad Jon asked one of the tourism office employees where the "Goonies House" was because she promptly pulled out a list of movies filmed in Astoria and even circled the highlights on a map. I'll bet you didn't know Short Circuit (remember Johnny Five?) was filmed in Astoria.
After our stop in Hollywood's neighbor to the north, we quickly visited Fort Clatsop--the site where Lewis and Clark wintered when they finally reached Oregon--before continuing on to the coast. We checked Seaside and Cannon Beach off the list en route to Tillamook, a destination all its own. For those of you not from the northwest, Tillamook is home to a dairy/cheese factory/grocery store/ice cream shop/mecca of yumminess. We restrained ourselves from heading directly to the cheese samples and check out the factory line. Then we went for the ice cream.
Jon had a couple more stops in mind, including Depoe Bay (the "world's smallest natural harbor") before reaching Newport, which is where we stayed overnight. These tiny seaside communities certainly know their audience, as nearly every hotel is located along the water. Our room was no different. For a girl from the Midwest, waking up to the sound of the ocean was a bit surreal.
The next morning took us on an adventure to Heceta Head where we climbed to the top of the lighthouse. We were blessed with gorgeous weather, so the views were pretty breathtaking. While waiting for our turn to climb, we kept hearing this barking noise. After a few moments of investigation, we realized that we were hearing sea lions. Big, stinky, annoying sea lions. This was quite fortuitous because our next destination was the Sea Lion Caves. Unfortunately we had already seen all the sea lions on the beach, but it was still cool to go down into the cave.
We had just enough daylight left to go for a run along the beach near our hotel. Sure, it was sort of windy, and yes, it was getting chilly, but we were rewarded with an incredible sunset and darn good workout. It's tough running through sand. It wouldn't be a "Spoon and Captain Jack Adventure" without a brewery, so we refueled with some tasty beer at Rogue Brewery.
Even though Jon had Monday off, I still had a workday at school, so Sunday marked the end of our vacation. However, we made several stops along the way. We went to another lighthouse, this one at Yaquina Head. As we walked up to the lighthouse from our parking spot, we noticed a lot of people standing on the trail with cameras and binoculars. Curious, we stopped to find out what all the ruckus was about. And a ruckus it was, indeed. A group of gray whales were swimming around, just spouting through their blowholes like they were putting on a show for us. It's no surprise that I have never seen a whale before (minus a trip to SeaWorld), but the fact that Jon had never seen one either made it extra cool.
Exhilarated after our whale spotting, we charged ahead to Lincoln City where there was a kite festival on the beach. Dozens of brightly colored kites were anchored on the beach as the festivities were going on. There were choreographed routines with kites moving in unison to music; it was amazing to see all the twists and turns be under such great control. All I remember from my kite flying youth is getting the plastic Wal-Mart kite stuck in a tree after five minutes. The highlight for us, though, was the kite fighting competition. We were slightly disappointed that the Kite Runner kids didn't make a cameo, but it was still pretty cool and surprisingly intense. Twelve kites were in the air with the ultimate goal of being the only kite still flying. A variety of methods were used to knock other kites down, including wrapping the string around another kite's string to pull it to the ground.
However, the last kite had to come down sometime, drawing our trip to a satisfying conclusion.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Husker Nation

One of the hardest things about leaving the Midwest (in addition to leaving my family, friends, and home of 25 years, of course) was that I would also be without my favorite teams. We don't have enough time to watch TV to justify anything more than basic cable, but even if we did, we still wouldn't be able to watch the Royals, Chiefs, or Cornhuskers, anyway. (Disclaimer: Yes, I know that there's not a huge demand for Royals or Chiefs games, but I am a loyal fan and would watch them if I could.) No offense to the Mariners, Seahawks, or Huskies, but it's just not the same.
However, we stumbled upon the perfect outlet for my fervent fanaticism this fall. When I first moved out West, Jon discovered a website for the Washington chapter of the University of Nebraska alumni association. Through that site, we learned that a local AM radio station broadcasts Husker games. There's nothing like listening to a Husker game in Washington...and hearing the feed and seed commercials that follow every break in the action.
This season, though, we figured out that we live ridiculously close to an Irish pub that hosts Husker watch parties each week. Thinking that there would only be a handful of fans in attendance, we were shocked to see nearly 50 people decked out in their red staring intently at the TV screens. Correction: Jon thought there would only be a few people. I had no doubts. Husker Nation is alive and well.
We've been able to attend several watch parties this season and the atmosphere is always comforting to me. The fight song is played after every score and "Go Big Red!" chants are raucous. All that's missing is the iconic "More Points!" To my delight, Jon usually fills in that part--I knew I married the right guy.
Speaking of Jon, he's been a great sport, tagging along with me and cheering on the Huskers. All that will change next September, however, when Nebraska travels to Washington for the "Battle in Seattle." I can't wait.

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