Thursday, September 13, 2007
Busy-ness and absence have kept me from my keyboard of leisure the past couple of weeks, so I've largely fallen down on the blog-job. It hasn't been without some rewards. For example, we got to take Labor Day weekend on the ocean in the aptly-named Seaside, Oregon. It's not an area we know well, or have ever been to, but we liked it and may well return.
Seaside evokes the feel of summertime Amityville as it was portrayed in the movie 'Jaws,' in which, except when a huge man-eating shark is stalking the beaches, the entertainments are pretty simple and family-oriented. It does compensate somewhat for the lack of sharks, most of whom the 48 degree waters must be too cold for, by being in a Tsunami Zone. There are signs posted all over with an arrow pointing in one direction, and the signs say something like this: "In Case of Tsunami: Run This Way Fast!"
Overall, the effect was a bit like nicely stepping back in time, and the sparsely populated Oregon coast even reminded me of the far-Upstate New York lake culture I grew up in. The crowds of families visiting Seaside weren't much different from those who would come to the amusement park my stepfather owned at Pine Lake Park, where as I recall, a seasonal Labor Day highlight would be when all the 500 or so employees of the White Mop Wringer, Co. would have their annual picnic in the grove.
The middle, lower-middle, and migrant worker classes all bring their families to Seaside. There are bicycle, scooter and paddle-craft rentals aplenty, fairly laid-back tourist traps, and unpretentious restaurants, with nary a chain or a franchise of any sort in sight. On the Friday evening we arrived, most restaurants closed by 9:30, the non-smoking, non-drinking billiards hall was completely empty, and the wait in line at the mobbed grocery store, a demographically appropriate Safeway, was 25 minutes long. The pizza place we had lunch at the next day was unchanged (except for most of the video games) from the 1970s, and the salt-misted beach we tried to build sandcastles on with Lord Running Boy had impromptu bonfire pits nestled all throughout its dunes.
Running Boy is about to crest on 3 and a half, so taking him out to the bonfires at night wasn't a responsible option, but he was intensely aware of their presence, announced them from our balcony repeatedly while jumping up and down and saying, "Look! They're having fun over there with fires! Let's go, Let's go!" Then when he was on the verge of sleep, someone out on the beach would send up a Roman candle or some firework, which would ignite fresh excitement and regret at missing out on something good. We have little doubt he will one day be a denizen of the bon-fires.
We explored a little when the surprisingly heavy road traffic allowed. Only a few miles south of Seaside lays the more upscale town of Cannon Beach, where the more prosperous classes go. There are art galleries, day spas, and eateries verging on the trendy, with many B&Bs and houses for rent. Still delightfully franchise-free, metaphorically breaded with panko and fried in Canola oil, not tallow. It was foggy until after mid-day, and just as we had finished playing with the corpse of a dead jelly-fish and were leaving the beach, the looming massif of Haystack Rock, pictured above more visibly, started to blacken a surprisingly large section of the mist. It is the third-tallest sea monolith which juts out of any ocean. We had been playing just north of it, oblivious, and our emerging perspective was just like this: