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Our Last Week On The Oregon Coast — Part 2 — Finding Connection In The Unexpected Blessings

After the weekend at Cannon Beach we drove to a campsite near Portland in the town of Lake Oswego, a suburban bedroom community we wanted to explore as a potential place to relocate at some point in the future. While the campsite was not picturesque, it was convenient. We turned it into a one night pit stop of sorts where we went to the grocery store, did laundry, picked up supplies at the Whole Foods and even managed to go look at a house on the Lake itself to get an idea of what it would feel like to live in a place with a view of the water. Flexing our spontaneity muscles, we used the “Camp Nab” app to find an amazing spot at the lovely Champoeg State Park about twenty minutes away from town. (We have realizedState Parks are our favorite places to camp!) Champoeg (pronounced Shampoo-ey!) is situated south of Newberg along the scenic Willamette River. We stayed here for the rest of the week. Complete with forests, fields and wetlands, we spent a restful few days riding bikes after work on the River bike path, and even watched Bachelorette on the laptop from the new reclining camping chairs we bought underneath the stars snuggled up in blankets.

On Friday we headed down Highway 101 along the coast to a fancy-ass RV Park called Pacific Shores Motorcoach Resort based in Newport, a small town situated on Yaquina Bay. The district is home to restaurants, cafes and art galleries, as well as being the home to the largest commercial fishing fleet on the coast, and stubborn groups of sea lions, which like to hang out on the piers. Our site overlooked the trees with a lucky view of the Pacific Ocean due to the fact that we didn’t have neighbors on one side permitting an open and stunning view. One of the most expensive campsites of the entire trip, the setting was incredible. The “Resort” had hiking trails, a Pickleball court, laundry and massive ocean views. The Resort was filled, top to bottom, with expensive Motorhomes, and Jeremy even spotted one that, upon doing some google research, was a 2 million dollar coach.

The first night we drove a few minutes up the road to catch a movie, “Free Guy,” in a tiny local movie theatre where we were one of two couples watching the film. My second movie in the two years since the Pandemic, I delighted in the hot popcorn, having a date with Jeremy, and watching a fun uplifting movie in an old fashioned cinema! We spent the weekend driving up and down the coast where we explored DePoe Bay in Lincoln City, ate fresh fish and chips, shopped for souvenirs and marvelled at the incredible landscape of the Oregon Coast. The weather felt like fall rather than summer, and while the fog was relentless, the beauty of the giant rocks that peppered the coastline with massive holes and crevices carved out of the middle of them were truly awesome. While Haystack is the more famous site along the coast, we were able to see hundreds of rock formations as we drove, in addition to incredible lighthouses, bridges like the Astoria Megler and Yaquina, the famous ‘blow hole,’ Thor’s Well, and even swarms of People in Pacific City dotting massive sand dunes like ants, illegally climbing the bluffs and sandboarding down!

Saturday night we ate an incredible fresh seafood dinner overlooking the water, and while the food was amazing and views were outstanding, meeting Captain Tom who sat dining alone at the table next to us was the most magica part of our nightl. Captain Tom, nearly 70, has been a private fisherman for more than 45 years. Based out of Monterey Bay, Tom lives on his 45 foot fishing boat and spends his summers on the Oregon Coast and calls Newport his home in the summers. He fishes mostly Tuna, and spent the evening sharing tales of his years as a fisherman, of the endless days and nights without sleep out on the water alone, heaving 12,000 pounds of tuna from the line one at a time to the boat’s commercial sized refrigerator. He shared how he learned to fish when he was 11, selling trout to his neighbors for ten cents a piece, earning enough money each week to go swim at a local club and even have enough to buy himself a burger and milkshake. He told us of his most recent fulfilling moment in which his 15 year old grandson, a boy from Hawaii, spent two weeks fishing with him, learning how to fish Tuna from Grandpa, something he had cherished with his own grandfather.. He told us the point of view of Federal fishing regulations on the private fisherman, how he now catches 300k worth of fish a year but because of increased regulations, limitations on how much he can fish and more, he barely makes 100k a year. We sat for hours talking to Captain Tom and on the way back to our car we each shared what we each found most interesting and profound about the experience.

The next afternoon the sun shone brightly as we headed further south down the 101 to Lincoln City and Florence, excited to view the coastline under a bright blue sky. After we poked around Florence looking for coffee and a snack, we headed out to explore the Florence Jetty. Here fresh water from the Siuslaw River mixes with the Pacific Ocean. Low-tide sand flats and rocky ledges play host to mussels, crabs, clams and a huge variety of fish. As we walked down the Jetty, Jeremy hoisted his Foil Board above his head to find a spot to put in so he could Foil. (Foil surfing is when a hydrofoil is mounted under a surfboard; as the board gains speed, the hydrofoil wing will lift the surfboard and “foil surfer” out of the water due to the kinetic energy and flies much like an aircraft – the setup has a ‘fuselage’ and rear stabilizing wing). As Jeremy and I walked down the rocky pathway to the end of the jetty I stopped and chatted to Tom, a man in his early thirties wearing a baseball cap parked in front of his pickup truck. Tom was sitting in a camping chair with a huge can of propane attached to a small stove. On the camping stove was set a massive boiling pot. When I asked Tom what he was cooking, he dipped his hand quickly into the water, plucking a fresh mussel from the pot. He had pulled them off the rocks a few hours earlier and had been boiling them in the salt water for nearly an hour. He told me mussels are the tastiest when you boil them in fresh sea water. As I pulled the mussel from the shell, the salty, faintly sweet, mushroom-like flavor melted in my mouth.

Nearby Jeremy pulled up his wetsuit, preparing to get into the water. As I marveled at the wide sandy beach on one side of the jetty set against the breaking waves that raged on the other side, a man who looked to be in his twenties drove up the narrow rocky pathway we were standing on driving a bright blue Ford Bronco. He was aiming straight for a giant piece of driftwood in the middle of the road, the rocks crunching under his tires as he moved closer and closer to the spot where we were standing. While I didn’t know it at the time, apparently, putting two tires of your off road vehicle on another vehicle’s tires or a rock – or in this case driftwood — is a badass move that demonstrates the capability of your vehicle. Apparently the bigger the object, the better the vehicle’s abilities off-road. While the young man parked his Bronco at a 90 degree angle, two tires balancing on the wood, I snapped photos and chatted to his family who told me their son is in his 40’s (not his 20’s) and that he has had the truck for more than 20 years.

In the chaos of the photos and wind, the mussels and people, we didn’t see that Jeremy had begun to get into the water, carefully carrying his very awkwardly shaped, twenty pound foil barefoot down over the rocks covered with barnacles, muscles, clams and seawood into the frigid ocean water. Everyone on the jetty shifted their attention from the truck to the water to cheer on Jeremy as he paddled into the water and began to navigate the waves. I was terrified as the waves created on the inside of the jetty, and I Facetimed my daughter, Kloey, so that she could assure me this was a relatively easy task for my husband. He paddled into them confidently, and within a few minutes as I hung up the call, he pushed himself up into the board and rode the wave extended a foot above the water for a long while before hopping back into the water so he could paddle back and try to grab another wave. By this time, the crowd had cleared and I cheered him on, screaming into the wind as he effortlessly caught a second wave.

We finished the evening checking out the Dunes, which in this part of the coast are massive, an unmistakable landmark that run from Florence down to Coos Bay. We watched the sunset sitting on top of the nearly empty sand dunes, the early evening sun sparkling on the ocean, grateful for the sea and the sand and the moment. We snapped a photo to capture the peace we felt, the joy at being filled with connections on the coast of Oregon.