We had no plans, nowhere to stay, and nothing to do. We opted for a longer more scenic route- from Seattle down the Oregon Coast, tacking on about 8 hours to an already long drive. But every new cliff view and sea breeze rushing through open windows made it worthwhile. My vocabulary was 50% "wowwww" as I marveled and gestured at waves smacking rocks and trees shrining the road.
The very first day we woke up early and drove into Astoria, the first of many sleepy little beach towns. While wandering blocks, we saw no more than 10 people out and about, most stored we popped into were vacant. An unsettling cloud coverage added an ominous tone, like this was the beginning of a Quentin Tarantino film.
There was a vintage store with racks and racks of prom dresses, patched up leather jackets, tutus, sparkly moto helmets, and a mannequin dressed in a wedding dress with a sign hung around her neck.."waiting for the right guy." There was an old arcade with some glitchy pacman games that allowed you to play without depositing quarters. The backroom had all the classics- ski ball, never ending basketball hoops, dance machines, and those tricky coin launchers where you have to hit a certain slot to win the jackpot. We racked up a meager 35 tickets and left them to be found by somebody else.
Three days previous in a Portland coffee shop (where I got one giant ice cube chunk in my iced latte instead of a scoop of ice) I found a magazine sitting in the corner of the cafe. I thumbed through a few pages, circling here and there and one stuck out to me. A cafe in Astoria called The Columbian Cafe. The paragraph long description mentioned a menu item called "the chef's mercy" where you pick either meat, vegetarian, or vegan, and lose all control of what you might get. So naturally, this was our destination for breakfast.
The striped red and white awning and dried chili peppers in the window made me feel warm. We sat in a wooden booth beside a framed photo of two blond children. The waitress brought out homemade pepper jelly and sourdough to start us, and two unexpected vegan masterpieces for the main attraction. Haley's was a pesto, potato, red pepper dish and mine was a spicy asparagus, rice, beet puree, onion, and garlic dish. I ate slowly, appreciating the cracks in the ceiling, empty coffee tins on the walls, and man at the bar reading a newspaper. I love getting lost in a space and immersing yourself in the details- no recollection of what came before this moment or what is to come after. So we sat, munching on toast, slowly eating a plate of homemade vegan food, and basking in the moment of being in a random town in a random restaurant.
Back on the road- the only goal to drive as far south as we could before dark. I flipped again through the magazine I found in the portland coffee shop to find a dog eared page. Haystack rock on Cannon beach. Basically a giant-235 feet to be exact- rock hanging out on a sandy beach. The road to Cannon was littered with tiny roadside coffee shacks, just drive up and grab a piping hot cup of whatever you want, with a dark chocolate covered almond sitting on the lid. We pulled aside to a red barn looking coffee shack, got two lattes, and wandered around the beach for an hour with them in hand.
When I was younger I went to sea camp- CIMI, if anyone else has been. 3 weeks dedicated to all stuff sea related- paddle boarding, boating, snorkeling everyday, and an algae greenhouse with rotating flora and fauna you would find in a tide pool. Now every time I wander around rock beds by the ocean, I remember all the names, anatomy, and function of each little critter. Number one rule though, look but don't touch. And watch where you step! You could be crushing somebody's shell.
The coast blurred by. We made frequent stops out of the car to marvel at views, sit in silence, or go on short hikes. Each minute of travel offered a whole new perspective of the world. A different view or a different moment to appreciate.
An hour before sunset I checked to see what town was up next and happened up on a cute bed and breakfast in an old victorian home two blocks from the ocean. Our host made us vegan blueberry pancakes and hash browns in the morning with some coffee and orange juice. We spent the next day buckling down and driving all the way to San Francisco, listening to psychology lectures and Billy Joel.
One day stop over in San Francisco. I went for a run in the morning, taking a much needed moment to reflect and move my cramped muscles. We went for coffee in the city, and popped into a book store to add more to our ever growing collection of used books and buy some for our friends. A sunny afternoon spent on a blanket in Dolores Park surrounded by Vegan food & good books.
and just like that, our time on the scenic route was over.
Gas stations. Coffee cups. One Holiday Inn express. Pulling over on the side of the road to switch seats. Cramped backs. 60 miles per hour, 75, 80, 88, and back down. Big mountains. Pit stop in Weed, California. Music. Podcasts. Talks. Silence. And finally, finally back to LA, at square one, with a newfound appreciation for life.