Strangely Quiet

My life is suddenly very, very quiet.

I tidied up the house, and it stayed that way. I made dinner, and nobody lost their minds over how they don’t like beets. I went for a bike ride to do some errands, and it didn’t matter how long my errands took. I baked cookies with Christy, and we had a complete conversation with no interruptions. Janice is coming to clean, and it’ll stay just as she leaves it for days.

…Because the other 2/3 of my family are in (unexpectedly sunny) Seaside!

They drove down yesterday morning, pretty much first thing, leaving me to quietly pick up the house and then read my book until church. Bizarre. My bike ride to church was easier than normal (no extra 50 pounds, I guess), but it was odd attending alone. Coming home, no worrying about nap time; just get some lunch and mosey on down to Redmond with Dad to pick up our RAMROD ride packets.

It all seems delightfully calm, except I really didn’t sleep well last night. That’s how I know I’m feeling disturbed about something, even subconsciously. It’s great to have the time to get everything done, and I’m enjoying it — and it’ll be really helpful on Wednesday and Thursday, as I prep for and then do RAMROD — but I’ll be happy to have the family back too.

Meanwhile, I’m going to try to enjoy the peace and quiet, and being able to do what I want (or need) to do whenever I like.

Vacation: Summing Up

So here’s the rest of what happened on vacation: We read books, went for walks and hikes with and without the baby, my parents arrived (much to Benji’s incredibly cute astonishment), Deborah left, Ian and I celebrated our 10th anniversary, and we all drove home. Here are some pictures from all that stuff.

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With Grammy (not pictured) at a county park near Seaside, seeking sun. We found it for a little while, but clouds advanced relentlessly and we eventually had to concede defeat.

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Gee, the similarity between my mother and the model is striking.

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Mom had lots of fun reading with Benji. He’s a masterful flap-opener in those types of books, and the peek-a-boo book with farm animals is his very favorite. He gets so excited he has to lick the pages. That’s a lot of excitement.

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I’m so glad I went to the bathroom at the bakery in Gearhart. Otherwise I would’ve missed crocodiles in the bathtub, and that would have been sad. Makes me wonder what they did in the men’s room.

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Dad and I rode across the Highway 101 Business route bridge from Astoria to the west-ish on our slightly-longer 50-mile ride. Aside from this bridge we had a nice ride, but the bridge had that pointy, criss-cross metal decking not rideable by bikes. Fortunately a sidewalk did offer an alternative… a 4-foot-wide, 2-foot-high alternative bordered on one side by logging trucks (as you can see from my picture) and the other by Youngs Bay. We walked across.

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Ian, Dad, and I went to Oswald West State Park on Friday morning and hiked to Cape Falcon/Falcon Cove/Point/Ridge/whatever it was called. This turned out to involve standing at the edge of a precipice with nothing but rocks and ocean below… but rewarded intrepidity with gorgeous (if misty) views.

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One evening, after a long day of dense clouds, the evening fined up and we got some lovely clouds and sunlight just at sunset. I tried to do a panorama shot with my camera but the accelerometer seems damaged, because it lost where I was at in the circle and I ended up with discontinuities in all my attempts (this problem continued for other panorama shots after this point, too). Bummer. I really like the panorama feature, and can’t easily replicate it with my nice digital SLR.

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On Friday, August 9, Ian and I celebrated our 10-year anniversary (I know, we’re so old) with an afternoon in Seaside and dinner at Newman’s at 988. I’ll just say that I had no idea you could get such amazingly delicious food in a tourist town. For our gift to ourselves, we bought a large (open edition) giclèe print of a Jeffrey Hull watercolor we really liked, called “Out to Sea”:

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Our last morning there, we went for our morning walk and, lo and behold, sun! …at least, brighter light, anyway. It was nice not to finish our walk covered in dampness from the heavy mist.

Then we drove back, and the least said about that the better. Suffice it to say, Benji and I will be taking a break from the car as much as possible this week.

Catching Up

All right, there is no catching up to be had. Sorry. I’m just going to start up leaving out whatever’s happened between mid-July and now.

Ian, Benji, and I are in Seaside, Oregon, at the Fergusons’ beach house with Ian’s parents. We arrived on Thursday, August 1 after a surprisingly easy drive with Benji. Not to say he loved the drive, and by the end he was continuously signing “all done,” as if that’d get us to take him out of his seat, but I admit being devoutly grateful he drinks from a bottle so he can eat in the car rather than stopping to nurse every few hours. We made it with one stop to look at the big trucks and crawl around, just south of Olympia.

We took Benji to the beach first thing, and he wasn’t super thrilled, but we coaxed a smile out of him.

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Friday I went for a bike ride out past Cannon Beach – exactly 60 minutes out, then 57 minutes back thanks to the headwind on the way out. I found the tunnel, even with blinking “Bike in tunnel” lights activated, a terrifying experience. I’ve done it before, but now I really need to come home without a careless-driver-sponsored detour to the nearest hospital. –Got home just fine, by the way. No worries.

It got sunny that afternoon, so we all went to the beach. Benji found the sand interesting, and we had to restrain him from diving directly into it. Water of all sorts has become one of Benji’s favorite things, which means lots of splashing during bath time.

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Saturday, Ian and I hiked from Ecola Point back to Seaside (about 8 miles) while Gary and Deborah watched Benji. We failed to bring a backpack (one of many small, slightly irritating things we forgot; but at least we remembered the baby), but made do with my camera bag and jacket pockets. It started off overcast, but by the time we arrived in Seaside it had “fined up” and the day turned quite nice.

Here we are at Ecola Point, perky and happy. …or at least, as perky and happy as we’re going to get these days.
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Indian Beach was swarming with surfers hoping to catch a wave. Lots of disappointed surfers that day. Look at that nice, calm water.
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I really just took this picture for Mom.
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Oregon coast: Always lovely, when the mist clears enough to see it.
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And here we are at the Seaside trailhead, much less perky, but with still another couple miles to walk home.
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Beach views helped.
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Sunday never cleared up, so instead of doing the bike ride I planned, Deborah and I walked to Gearhart and back from Seaside (another 8 miles or so). We found delicious blackberries and many incredibly expensive beach houses. My walking muscles aren’t used to that demanding activity. It turns out my feet are also wimpy and uncallused. Sunday we kind of just played with Benji and hung around — exactly as one should during vacation.

Monday didn’t clear up either, but after lunch I decided to bite the bullet and go for a ride. Otherwise I could see I’d probably spend the entire vacation waiting for nice weather rather than actually riding. It is hard to decide to go out in 60-degree temps and cool, misty weather after coming from 75-degree sun at home, but I HTFU’d and went out. And I’m glad I did because it turned sunny after I left Seaside.
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Oh, but on the route I tried to follow a “bike path”-marked trail on Google maps, without having looked at it in person before. When I got there, I found this.
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A nice hiking path around this river, but not exactly expedient for road biking.

Last but not least, some cute Benji pictures.

Reading with Grandpa Gary:
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Spinning the stacking sombreros. Benji has figured out that if he tosses round, flat objects like these stacking sombreros (we didn’t know what else to call them) on a hard floor, he can get them to spin. It’s one of his favorite activities right now, along with sucking/blowing on the center bump of the sombreros, which have two little whistly holes in them, and working hard to stack them on one another. Oh, and of course he knocks sombrero towers over, bangs them together, and finds objects we hide under the sombreros. Basically, they’re his favorite toy, and here when we got them I hated them. Go figure.
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I don’t have any pictures of this, but Benji is also pulling up on everything (including grabbing hair, arm/chest hair of guys, shirts, pants, and skin of unsuspecting victims), working on taking steps, and mastering honest-to-goodness hands-and-knees crawling. Independent walking is a long way away, but we’re working hard on that. Sleeping is a bit tough, though, because every time we put him down or he wakes up, he wants to stand up.

More Seaside Pictures!

Day’s Verse:
God, brilliant Lord,
your name echoes around the world.

Psalm 8:9

Here are pictures of the day for the last few days.

Sunday: None, because I didn’t bring my camera with me at all! Also, we spent almost the whole day reading, with the occasional walk thrown in to keep our limbs from ossifying. I read almost the entirety of Three Musketeers. All for one, one for all! And thank goodness Milady was killed in the end, that b*tch.

Monday:
Ian at Kinni-Kinnic Lodge

Tuesday:
One Sandal
I went for a really nice bike ride on Tuesday, over to Oswald State Park. Here’s the route:

I mention this because there were some AMAZING views on the hill above Manzanita, and I took some pictures with my cell phone (which has the equivalent of a pinhole camera, so the best I could hope for is blurry-but-recognizable). Unfortunately, those will have to wait until we get home because I have no way of getting them off my camera here.

Wednesday:
Abandoned Sandals
Check out the other pictures I put in my Flickr album, though — we saw some really cool sea life this morning during the low tide. We saw a limpet with its antennae out!; a sand dollar that had MOVED and left a track!; and of course lots of sea stars, hermit crabs, barnacles, anemones, and crab tracks.

I’ll probably post some more pictures from today. Dad and Mom came down yesterday afternoon, and Dad and I are going for a ride that’s supposed to have some nice views. We’ll have a better camera along, so I hope to capture some of it.

Seaside Vacation: Day 1

Day’s Verse:
I have God’s more-than-enough,
More joy in one ordinary day
Than they get in all their shopping sprees.

Psalm 4:6-7

Here we are in lovely Seaside, Oregon, compliments of Ian’s parents. We arrived yesterday evening, and after unpacking the car naturally went straight to the beach, where we reveled in the atypical sunniness (clouds have since moved in, but should clear by the afternoon). Expect more pictures than words for vacation-related blog posts.

Ian and Tillamook Head
Ian’s first step onto the beach for this vacation, with Tillamook Head in the background.

What Vacation Should Be
This is what vacation should be.

Ian into the sunset
Ian immediately wanted to go touch the water. Handily enough, he had worn his waterproof hiking boots and stomped fearlessly right into the waves.

Check out my flickr photo set for more pictures. I’m posting more pictures on flickr than I’ll be putting up here, so it’s worth checking out each day we’re on vacation.

Seaside Day 8: Fort to Sea Hike

Day’s Verse:
Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.
1 Peter 2:16

Yesterday Ian and I did our most ambitious hike yet: the Fort to Sea, from Sunset Beach to Fort Clatsop and back. I call it a hike, but in places it was much more of a stroll, a walk, a perambulation, or a tromp. Here we are at the start, feeling fresh and frisky.
Fort to Sea: Start

We started by walking through a wind-ravaged clearing, crossed an amazingly elaborate pedestrian bridge:
Fort to Sea: Bridge

…and then spent a couple miles weaving through cow pastures, literally:
Fort to Sea: Cow Guard

Then, after tunneling under Highway 101, we transitioned into a some more woods and farmland.
Fort to Sea: Farmland

Good thing some genius invented trail mix. Ian carried the trail mix baggies in his jacket pockets because we didn’t have a backpack and I had used all the extra space in my camera bag with 2 PB&Js and 2 apples. I also carried a water bottle strapped to the back of my camera bag (the tripod holder, when empty, fits a Nalgene perfectly!), and Ian hand-carried another Nalgene. Next time, we’re bringing a proper backpack.
Fort to Sea: Trail Mix

After the farmland, we entered woods, but the trail remained well-maintained and graveled almost the whole way. Almost immediately we found a nice pit toilet and signs: 3 miles to Ft. Clatsop; 3 miles to Sunset Beach. Halfway there, and they gave us a potty break! Then we followed a meandering stream along the side of a valley, eventually climbing to the top of the valley for an overlook.
Fort to Sea: Overlook

The overlook was about 2.5 miles from the ocean, but it looks very far away. We gazed out for a while, ate trail mix, and moved on. The trail changed to a wide graveled road that led us almost all the way down to the road. We cross the road, meandered for about 1/4 mile (just long enough for us to wonder whether we really were near the visitor’s center), and voila!
Fort to Sea: Ft. Clatsop Visitor's Center
When we went inside, one of the rangers asked if we had a national forest pass. We were confused: Why would we need a pass? We’d just walked here from somewhere else, didn’t plan on doing anything on national forest land, and intended to turn around and walk back. Once the ranger understood our plan, she agreed we didn’t need a pass after all, but she said she hoped we’d come back and see the fort some time. So now I’ve been by Fort Clatsop twice and never seen it yet.

We used the visitor center’s facilities (aahhh, water to wash your hands!), ate lunch, and did the whole hike again — backwards! Actually, we took a the Alder Creek Loop up to the outlook, but after that it was all the same, and we didn’t walk backwards at all. too risky. Instead we walked normally and talked about number theory and different types of elves in Middle Earth. The cows had moved and were standing around one of the pass-throughs, which made us nervous. They kept eyeing us suspiciously, like they thought we’d come to steal their hay or something. We crept through carefully, only getting partly covered in 1:1 cow poop:mud goo. My boots need a good cleaning.

Here we are after 12.25 miles and 4 hours, back where we started:
Fort to Sea: End (Ian)

Fort to Sea: End (Katie)

Overall we agreed the Fort to Sea trail was a really excellent one. It had lots of different landscapes, from pastures — which you saw up close! — to lots of different types of forest to water meadow to regular meadow. Enough landmarks appeared along the way to keep it interesting, too. First you walk 2 miles and get to the Highway 101 underpass; then another mile and you get to the halfway bathrooms; another 1.5 miles takes you to the overlook, etc. It felt less like 6 miles each way than only a mile or mile and half to the next interesting point. Also, it was quite flat compared to the Tillamook Head hike, sticking closely to valleys and not needlessly hurtling over high points just for the heck of it. That made it a fairly easy 12 miles, coming in at just under 4 hours, excluding stops. I’m pretty sure we’ll be doing that hike again.

Seaside Day 6: Cannon Beach Day Trip

Day’s Verse:
Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.
James 5:13

Here’s another thousand-word equivalent:
Cannon Beach

I’m just kicking myself: Why didn’t I walk to the edge of the dune and then take the picture?! Fortunately, Ian and I had an excellent time in Cannon Beach regardless. We caught a bus there, spent most of the day strolling around and talking to bored shop owners, walked a good bit of the beach — from Mo’s to the river — and then caught the bus home. It only rained a little bit while we were inside eating lunch, but amazing storm clouds graced the sky the whole time. After all of that excitement, I needed a nap. Tomorrow’s looking almost as exciting.

I could get used to being on vacation.