Yes, I know that sounds odd, but the sun really is out here. I’d been planning for a long time this June trip to Oregon to see friends and visit places, so Veeka and I got on a plane Tuesday and came out here. We had to change flights twice and miraculously my luggage made it. We stayed with my brother Steve and his wife, Nancy, and spent 4 days running around. At that point, it was raining every day so on went our winter clothes. First we visited old friends Becky and Leo Franz at their lovely home/farm in Warren, which is a good 30 miles northwest of Portland. Hadn’t touched base in awhile, so it was good to do so.
One day I spent with an old Lewis & Clark College chum – Nayan Fleenor – as we went out to tea at a lovely lavender farm in Helvetia – 15 miles west of Portland, I am guessing. The tea/lunch was great but the weather was breezy and cold. Meanwhile, Veeka’s cousin Christina took her to the Children’s Museum near the zoo. Christina and her sister live in a section of town known as the Pearl District – which is Portland’s answer to Georgetown (as in Washington, DC) although far more bohemian.
I was also testing out Portland’s famous coffee shops. So far, I’ve only gotten to visit two. one was Either/Or, a small-ish neighborhood gathering spot in Sellwood (where I lived for a year when I was first out of college) that served up baguette sandwiches with local butter and ham and other goodies. The latte I had was fine and my companion said the mocha she tried was superb. Decor was intimate with only a few chairs and tables; only odd part: the place closes at 3:30 pm.
The other spot was Cathedral Coffee in St. Johns near the University of Portland and not far from Cathedral Park. The employees told me the place was named after the park plus it’s a gathering spot for an evangelical, full-Gospel Christian group that meets there at 7 pm Tuesdays. I then noticed the folksy music being played there was Christian in nature. Funky, full of light, the place has paintings of the Oregon coast on the walls and the lattes come in huge ceramic saucers. Our table was an old railroad trestle and there were tons of books to pick up and read. They cheerfully made Veeka “sweet” iced tea after the beverage she loves in the South.
Other days were filled with visits to the Bishop’s Close also near L&C and yesterday a trip to the beach! Yes, we drove south on I-5 to Cottage Grove, then out to Reedsport where the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area was. The day was filled with gorgeous vistas of coastal scenes as we drove and stopped in towns like Bandon (which had tons of beach access), Coos Bay (where we discovered Kaffe 101, a great coffee place stocked with Christian books), Gold Beach (where the gas was sure expensive) and Brookings, where we finally stopped for the night. The coast was miles of sun-flecked seas with rock islands in the water not far from the beaches. It got more ‘sauvage’ south of Port Orford where there were more overlooks high above the beaches, some of which were too dangerous to walk on. The sand was a white-flecked brown and all afternoon we traipsed from one park to another, jumping out to look at all these gorgeous viewpoints of blue sea, blue sky and tons of madronas and sea plants and pine trees – such a welter of beauty.
The whole coastal route is fabulous for biking as well. I had not been in this area for decades – was there in high school and may have revisited the area in 1981 but I’m not sure. But it’s been quite a long while. Veeka of course did not want to leave as we never get to see beaches where we live now. She went through three changes of clothes in as many hours as she kept on getting herself sopping wet running into the surf. And I was putting as many photos as I could onto Instagram so my friends and contacts could be envious! Then today (as I write this) we drove from Brookings north along Rt. 199 through the redwoods. along a river and through Cave Junction to Grants Pass, where I met up with friends Gail Dall and Karen Forsyth and daughter Christine. Gail, Veeka and I drove south to Ashland where we saw “A Wrinkle in Time,” which is one of the plays the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is doing this season. We all enjoyed it immensely and Veeka understood the storyline as I’d read the book outloud to her. Hadn’t been to Ashland in eons. Later, Karen and Christine showed up with a picnic lunch and we all sat at a picnic table in a nearby park and enjoyed the splashing brook, the kids playing, the perfect, sunny weather and great conversation.