“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”
– F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Summer is a magical time at our house. Bedtimes aren’t as important, homework doesn’t exist, and there is so much possibility for adventure. Our kids also seem to be in this golden period of childhood. They have more stamina than they used to and are little people you can interact with instead of just hauling around. They’re curious and funny. Most importantly, they still think we’re pretty cool.
Last week, my parents rented a beach house on the coast of Oregon in Manzanita. All the different factions of my family converged there and lived the beach life for a blissful week of runs on the beach and berry eating. The rest of my family drove, but it would have taken us three days so we opted to use our credit card points and fly. Our flight was at 10:52pm. We boarded the plane long past the kids bedtime and as they walked down the aisle I had a flashback to our trip to Alaska four years ago where I prodded Cooper down the aisle with my foot while carrying a carseat overhead and Ellen strapped to me in an Ergo carrier. Noel trailed behind wrestling our three carry-on bags. I was so glad to be on our current day flight. The kids walked willingly to their own seats, were ecstatic about take-off, quietly watched the free kids shows on the plane until their free beverages arrived, and then laid their heads on our laps and fell asleep. They were a bit disoriented when we woke them to get off the plane when we landed in Portland. Cooper kept almost walking into walls and Ellen did some crying in the restroom, but it was mostly hilarious.
We took a Lyft to our hotel and crashed hard (it was 2am our time). The next morning we picked up our rental car and did an abbreviated food tour of Portland. There will be a post up on our food blog tomorrow for those interested in that aspect of our trip. I think the standout though, was berry picking at Sauvie Island farms.
The next day, we went to church and then checked out the gorgeous Portland LDS temple. They have a Visitor’s Center that is open every day of the week from 9-9 and they also have restrooms. You couldn’t ask for a nicer rest stop. Since we had the shortest driving journey, we arrived in Manzanita first, picked up the keys to our rental, and visited the ocean for the first time.
Our first day in Manzanita, Noel and I went for a 9 mile run on the beach. Neither of us has run that far in awhile, but sea level was making us feel invincible. (Our knees were telling a different story.) I had the theme song to Chariots of Fire stuck in my head the whole time. In the afternoon, we headed to Short Sand Beach at Oswald West State Park. Joe, my sister’s husband, had brought a boogie board he’d found at the DI and the kids had a great time playing around with it. (The adults did do, but maybe with less success.) Ellen thankfully liked the beach a lot more than the last time we were there.
Tuesday, we went to Cape Meares Lighthouse. The view of Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge were gorgeous and the kids thought the lighthouse and the Octopus Tree were really cool. Afterwards, we visited the Tillamook factory. Even though it was their temporary visitor’s center, it was really nice. Ellen, our cheese lover was in heaven.
Wednesday, Noel and I survived a tree root booby trapped run to Cape Falcon (also at Oswald West) without spraining an ankle. Then we headed to Cannon Beach. The dads and kids headed to the beach while the rest of us checked out the shops. We all split up in the evening and Noel and I took the kids canoeing on the Nehalem Bay since they have recently become obsessed with watercraft. (We rented canoes from Wheeler Marina.)
Thursday, we went to Astoria. We rode the trolley, ate fish, checked out the new Chinese Heritage Garden, went to our favorite Finnish shop, and visited the Astoria Column. If you can’t tell by the picture, fun was had by all.
Friday, Noel and I went on a run with an intermission to see tide pools. It was my sister, Hope’s birthday. As the mother of a newborn and a busy toddler her number one request was time to herself. So we took the kids hiking up Neahkahnie Mountain and then to the beach. That evening we went on a double date with her and Joe for pizza and then had cake by the ocean, followed by a dance party to “Cake by the Ocean.”
Our last day in Manzanita, we got everyone out to the tide pools and said our goodbyes to the ocean. After a feverish laundry marathon, everyone headed their separate ways. We went back to Portland to ride the Aerial Tram and then headed to the airport. Our flight home was uneventful with the exception of the airport staff making an announcement that all the oversized baggage (mostly carseats and booster seats) would be deposited in one place and it actually being deposited in another making it so everyone with children had the pleasure of hanging around the airport. Our kids were at the older end of the spectrum, so this was a much worse experience for other people.
I’ve mentioned before that traveling helps me step outside of my routine and see things from a fresh perspective. This time, I was struck by how well our family got along. I’ve done a lot of soul searching to figure out why the chorus of “hey mom” didn’t annoy me as much and why the never ending questions about our currency system or the plot of Cars 3 amused me rather than drove me up the wall. Obviously, real life and vacations are different, but I’m learning from my vacation self. I’m seeing some of the ways I can be less uptight and live more in the moment and maybe incorporate a tiny element of beach life into regular life.
Phew, if you’re still with me, here’s a large gallery for your viewing pleasure. As always, the nice photos were taken by my mom or were just plain good luck.