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Old Friends

It’s been almost a year since my last entry but I’m still living in Portland, Oregon and am still doing computer mapping work here.  In fact, I worked the entire year without taking much of a break – except for one memorable week in July when one of my oldest and best friends, Carole, flew up to see Oregon for the first time.  

 

So in this update, I decided to tell you all about Carole (she’s blushing now, I just know it).

 

Carole and I met during our first day of high school, as freshmen, in World Studies class and we’ve been great friends ever since.  Carole was lively and rambunctious in high school while I was quiet and reserved, and we’re each still that way.  She taught me a lot in high school, like how to cook great pork chops and how to ride a horse, and we spent many hours galloping through the bucolic hills above San Jose, then afterwards we zipped around town on another “horse,” her little Ford Pinto.  She was a real firecracker, often joining my buddies and me for Friday night poker, dragging me to parties on Saturday nights, and toilet-papering my house on at least one occasion.

 

We went to college in different parts of the state but wrote to each other every week and have kept in close touch ever since.  Carole got married several years ago to a great guy named Greg and they have a wonderful daughter, Brandi (see News: June 14, 2001).  Carole has mellowed a bit since high school and no longer toilet-papers my house much, but she's still one of the kindest, gentlest, and most caring people I know, and she'll always be one of my very best friends.  It’s nice to know someone like that, someone you know you’ll be close to for the rest of your life, no matter what.  Friendships like that are exceptionally rare and Carole is a real gem.

 

       

Above left:  I've visited Carole all over the country during my many cross-country roadtrips.  This is, um, a "few" years ago in San Jose.  I love the '80s hair!

Above center:  By the next year, she was in Atlanta managing a restaurant.  Visiting Carole was a good excuse for me to take a sabbatical from grad school and make another cross-country drive.

Above right:  She moved to Southern California a few years later, so once again, I got in my truck and tracked her down (she just can't get rid of me).  This is in the mountains near Lake Arrowhead.

Beware of Flying Pigs

I’ve visited Carole all over the country since my college days and she promised that someday she’d come up to the Northwest to visit me.  After hearing that story year after year, though, I began expressing some doubts.  Actually, my exact words to her were, “Yeah right, when pigs fly.”  Well, last spring she warned me that pigs were going to fly and in mid-July they did just that.

 

Carole came up on a Friday evening and I greeted her at the airport with a “flying pig” balloon.  It was actually a ladybug balloon, but I thought it was a pig when I first saw it in the store and got excited, and she got a big laugh.  We had a blast during the next week, hitting the road early each morning to explore a different part of Oregon, then returning to my apartment each night “tired but happy,” as we put it.

 

On successive days, I showed her the northern Oregon coast, downtown Portland, the Columbia River gorge, the central Oregon coast, my old town of Bellingham, Washington, and finally Seattle, another former abode.  From there, I left her in the capable hands of her friend, LeighAnn, who spent another week with her showing her around Washington.  Carole and I enjoyed an endless buffet of beach picnics, eating smoked salmon, cheese, crackers and clam chowder until we nearly burst, then we porked out again (in keeping with the “pig” theme) a few hours later on a different beach.

 

 

Here's Mary McCaslin singing Old Friends.

   

I introduced her to Fred Meyer soon after she arrived and she fell head-over-heels in love.  Greg doesn’t have anything to worry about, though, because "Fred Meyer" is a popular grocery store in the Northwest.  They don’t have Freddies in Southern California so she was totally amazed and enamored with the concept of one-stop shopping, Northwest-style.  As I was showing her around the Fred Meyer store in Tualatin, near my apartment, she spotted a nice pair of Columbia shoes but they were the wrong size -- and they had been discontinued, to boot (so to speak).  So during the next week we stopped at every Fred Meyer we saw so she could dash inside and check their stock.  That includes stores in Tillamook, Sherwood, Newport, Florence, Hillsboro, Olympia, Bellingham and a other few places I can’t remember (it was all a blur). 

 

I’ve never understood why women like to buy shoes and I never date women who own more than five pairs of shoes (my Dating Rule #4), which partly explains why I'm still single.  But I have to admit, by the Newport Freddies, I was really getting into it and eagerly raced up and down the aisles with Carole, searching for those elusive Columbia shoes in a size 8.  We never found them but had a lot of fun looking.

 

DAY 1:  The Northern Oregon Coast

       

Above left:  Cape Meares on the northern Oregon coast.

Above center:  And here's the Cape Meares lighthouse, one of 11 on the Oregon coast.  It's not manned anymore but it still operates.

Above right:  And they give tours, too.  This is the Fresnel lens that concentrates the light beam, making it visible 20 miles out to sea.

 

       

Above left:  The small community of Oceanside from Cape Meares.

Above center:  All this traveling makes me hungry.  We had lunch at Short Sands Beach nearby.

Above right:  Smoked salmon, Tillamook cheddar cheese, crackers, root beer -- and cherries and peanut brittle for dessert.  Just looking at this picture makes me hungry .

 

DAY 3:  The Columbia River Gorge

       

Above left:  We headed 30 miles east from Portland on our third day, out to the Columbia River Gorge.  That's Crown Point and the Vista House in the foreground and Beacon Rock in the distance, with the Columbia River in between.

Above center:  There are dozens of waterfalls in the gorge.  You can't see them all in only one day, but these two happy tourists are trying.

Above right:  Horsetail Falls.  As you can see, you can walk on the trail under the falls.

 

       

Above left:  The most spectacular waterfall in the gorge is probably Multnomah Falls.  At 627 feet in elevation, it's the second highest waterfall in America.  Only Yosemite Falls in California is higher. 

Above center:  Oneonta Gorge.  Isn't it "gorgeous"?

Above right:  Seeing all these waterfalls makes me hungry.  We had dinner at a sidewalk restaurant in Hood River that evening.  Cheers!

No Shirt, No Earplugs, No Service

Towards the end of the week, I drove us up to Bellingham where we visited my sister Doti.  They hadn’t seen each other since Carole and I were in high school so they had a lot to catching up to do.  The three of us went to a Mexican restaurant in Bellingham for dinner and, since it was a warm and pleasant evening, we ate outside on the patio – and right next to some train tracks.  Um... that wasn't a good idea. 

 

Above:  Carole on the Oregon coast.

That's because partway through our dinner, a train slowly approached and stopped within spitting distance, then blew its ear-piercing, body-numbing, taco-shattering horn, causing Carole to jump about two feet in the air and scatter salsa all over the table.  For the next half-hour, the train slowly moved back and forth, constantly harassing us by blowing its shrieking horn every so often.  It was fun to watch Carole jump out of her chair every few minutes and fling her salsa about, and I’m sure she felt the same about me.  We laughed at the ridiculous situation as we tried to enjoy our dinner in “peaceful” Bellingham. 

 

Despite my permanent hearing loss, it was great to reconnect with Carole.  We had a lot of laughs and long talks, we did lots of hiking.  In fact, it was the best vacation I’ve had in years.  She felt the same way and after getting back home, she mailed me a box of presents as a “thank you,” including mementos that she’d collected during her travels around the Northwest, which was really sweet.  Let’s see, there was a beautiful framed photograph of a lighthouse (she loves lighthouses and we explored several), a train whistle to commemorate our unforgettable dinner, a battery-powered flying pig with wings that really flap, a can of Campbell’s Chunky Soup (one of my staples), and several other item.  She wrapped each gift carefully, even the soup, and mailed it all First Class.  By the way, it looks like pigs will be flying again next summer.

 

Things quieted down after Carole left.  The fall was pretty typical for me, working during the week and then racing from one sporting event to another on the weekends, including volleyball, Portland State football, and University of Portland soccer.  And as usual, I drove up to Bellingham to celebrate the holidays with Doti.  I haven't gone camping in about a year but I hope to go solo camping in a few weeks at Olympic National Park, one of my favorite Northwest hangouts.  Like Thoreau (see News: July 23, 2001), I relish the moments when I can be alone in nature, an experience that always rejuvenates my soul and restores my sanity -- or what's left of it.

 

DAY 4:  The Central Oregon Coast

       

Above left:  We left Portland the next morning and headed west, out to the coast.  Our first stop was at a winery in the Willamette Valley.  Wineries here make some of the best Pinot Noir in the world.

Above center:  Otter Crest near Newport.

Above right:  Interesting boulders on the beach.

 

       

Above left:  This is Darlingtonia, a carnivorous plant like a Venus fly-trap.  It grows in marshy areas on the Oregon Coast, including here at Darlingtonia State Park north of Florence.  This is a great place to visit -- unless, of course, you're a fly.

Above center:  Siletz River Bridge in the town of Florence, where we spent the night.

Above right:  Evening fog rolling in over the dunes and the Siletz River in Florence.

 

DAY 5:  The Central Oregon Coast

       

Above left:  This is the marina in Florence.  I've loved this town since... forever.

Above center:  After spending the evening in Florence, we hiked a few miles across the dunes to the ocean the next morning.  The beach was deserted, just the way I like it.  After the hike our next stop was the Florence Fred Meyer store in search of shoes for Carole.

Above right:  The Dunes Overlook near Florence.

 

       

Above left:  No luck finding shoes at the Florence Fred Meyer store, but afterwards we stopped at the Heceta Head viewpoint north of town.  Carole loves lighthouses and we explored several, including this one. 

Above center:  We took a tour of the Heceta Head lighthouse.  Like all 10 other lighthouses on the Oregon coast, the light here is automatic so the lighthouse is no longer manned.

Above right:  After our tour, we had lunch on the beach at Devil's Elbow State Park and ate -- you guessed it -- more smoked salmon.  I can't get enough.

 

       

Above left:  Cook's Chasm near Yachats (pronounced Yah-hots).  I've seen the coast dozens of times but it was all new to Carole.  She was blown away by the scenery so it was fun to show her around.

Above center:  That evening we stopped in Newport and had dinner at the original Mo's Restaurant.  Mo's is an Oregon coast institution and this is the restaurant that started it all, many years ago.

Above right:  Inside Mo's waiting for my fried oysters.

 

DAY 7:  Seattle

       

Above left:  Carole at my sister's house in Bellingham, Washington, the morning after our encounter with the noisy train.

Above center:  When Pigs Fly.  Actually they are -- here in downtown Seattle.

Above right:  The Pike Place Market was where my family's story in the Northwest all began.  My grandmother moved from Cleveland to Seattle around 1910 when he was in his 20s and his first job, as a butcher, was here at the newly-opened Pike Place Market.  The market is now a Seattle institution.

 

       

Above left:  Inside the busy Pike Place Market.  This is the market where they throw the huge salmon, which you may have seen on TV.

Above center:  The Seattle waterfront from the Alki ferry.

Above right:  So long, my friend.  It's been a wonderful week!

 


 

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