Why Oregon?

We struggled, even argued, about where to go on vacation this year. If you’ve been reading, you might remember that we originally planned a family trip to Tuscany and Amalfi for April, but an atom bomb went off in the middle of our lives, and, now, we’re not even on speaking terms with his mother and one of his older sisters (a story I’ve been reluctant to share, perhaps for another time). Hawaii, Iceland, Alaska, Bermuda, and Costa Rica were all dissected at the proverbial round table for degrees of inconvenience, travel hassle, rudeness quotient of the natives, and the balance between adventure and relaxation. We felt so desperate to get away after all we had weathered this spring, but feeling so frayed made the prospect of travel a little daunting. I sort of felt, for example, that if some snarky European pushed me in line or made a nasty quip about Americans (as they are wont to do, frankly) I might just punch him in the face, which is clearly not ideal. You see our dilemma? 

I was sitting in the English department office grading my finals toward the end of the year, and a colleague started pontificating about Willamette valley pinots and corrected the room on the widespread mispronunciation of this region: “It’s Wil*lam*ette,” he directed with a snort, “but most people think it’s Wil*lam*ette.” And I thought – Thank you, Professor Windbag, you just reminded me of something! Many moons ago, when I started this blog, I had planned a pretty sweet little adventure to distract from the fact that we were about to become “fertility tourists” at Oregon Reproductive Medicine in Portland. Then there was a surprise pregnancy and loss to delay my whole summer calendar, so we had to switch gears and head to Colorado. The rest is a history of miracle embryos and open enmity between me and the illustrious Dr. Spock. I was disappointed at the time about the missed chance at Cannon Beach, the temperate rainforest, wine-tasting, and so forth. This trip was a recuped opportunity, rendering it, therefore, essentially pre-planned and mindless to arrange. And the people are nice, American, speak English, and drive on the right side of the road – perfection.

We celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary here in wine country this past weekend, and we leave tomorrow for that tortuous but breathtaking route down the Oregon coast for the second time in our lives together. In fact, I spent my first night as ‘fiancée’ at a grimy Motel 6 in Humboldt county after plans to camp among the redwoods were thwarted by weather and sheer exhaustion. The next night, we partied in Portland at a rock club serving downright flammable vodka-sodas, a dubious blur of pop punk, reckless dancing, meandering conversations with a Brooklyn native working the t-shirt counter, and the kind of drunken sex that makes it hard to look each other in the eye the next morning.  There’s something poetic about returning to this place, which is cast in the rosy glow of that innocent joy and promise I associate with starting our married lives together.

And the beauty of it is spellbinding. We moved from a bungalow in downtown Newberg yesterday to The Allison, and the only other time I’ve ever steeped in hotel luxury like this was at The Four Seasons in Maui (our honeymoon) which we could not afford at that time, a product or haggling on the phone during the post-crash recession of 2009, when hotels were desperate to fill rooms. This hotel is tucked in the back roads among the wineries, and every path is exploding with blooming daisies and fragrant lavender, so pastoral and fecund I almost feel I might get pregnant from having sex, you know, like some of it could rub off on me. 

As we looped around the countryside yesterday, I remember how pretty it is to just drive out here – tall grasses flank the winding roadside, dappled with Queen Ann’s lace and purple wildflowers, metric rows of grape vines stretching up thatched hillsides and capped with red rose bushes bobbing merrily in the warm breeze, all amid a backdrop of the evergreen mountain ridge with its 200′ trees and the dry sunshine so unique to the West. ‘Round one turn, the scenery smacks of Sonoma and another the vast blue skies of Colorado. We sat on the sloping hillside at Stoller yesterday drinking a bottle of buttery chardonnay with some Mt. Tam (from Cowgirl Creamery in California, also nostalgic for me) and let the sun warm my skin while white butterflies danced in our midst. All this after the most delightful couple’s massage melted away much of what I’m looking to unload here in this place of memory and unfettered beginnings. Tomorrow we head down the coast in search of oysters, eventually landing at our campsite on Humbug Mountain to play in the dirt and wrestle stubborn sea creatures for dinner over the wood fire. It’s everything because it’s nothing so heavy, and I can feel the deep gashes of loss knitting themselves together with every sumptuous mouthful of salmon, cheese, just-picked strawberry; with every turn that opens out onto another postcard vista.

   
              

   

20 thoughts on “Why Oregon?

  1. That looks like an absolutely gorgeous vacation. It isn’t necessary to go somewhere “exotic” to enjoy yourself. And you are right, sometimes the hassle of travelling, being a tourist and dealing with a foreign culture is just not worth it. You photos make me want to be in Oregon, right now 🙂

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    • Totally. I have loved Europe when I’ve gone, but it requires a thick skin for the culture shock and a lot of patience to overcome language and get around. This is easy, and we need easy right now!

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  2. Happy anniversary! I’m glad you get a second chance at the Oregon trip…the photos look wonderful and it sounds just amazingly relaxing and beautiful. I love the image that this brings: ” It’s everything because it’s nothing so heavy, and I can feel the deep gashes of loss knitting themselves together with every sumptuous mouthful of salmon, cheese, just-picked strawberry; with every turn that opens out onto another postcard vista.” I hope you continue to be restored and knit back together on this beautiful, romantic vacation that you so deserve.

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  3. Oooh, lovely! 🙂 I have never been to the Willamette Valley, but I HAVE been to Cannon Beach, three times (1993, 2001 — just after we made the decision to stop fertility treatments — and 2005). It is one of my most favourite places on the planet. (And I just realized, not for the first time, that it’s been WAY too long since my last visit!) Enjoy!

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    • We’re starting our journey down the coast just south of Cannon Beach in Tillamook (For Netarts Bay oysters) but, yeah, I felt like I needed to come back too after having seen it the first time.

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  4. It looks beautiful.
    We went overseas to visit our families for Christmas shortly after our loss and after much debate. Frankly I’m still not sure it was a good decision. Our families certainly appreciate being able to see us in person and “reasonably functional”, but there was so much pain and awkwardness. It might have been better to take some time for just the two of us in beautiful scenery.
    I hope the trip continues to treat you well.

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    • Oh man. “Easy” was the top priority in deciding. We deliberately didn’t go to California because we have ppl there and didn’t want to deal with exactly what you’re talking about. Needed to keep it simple!

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  5. Gorgeous. One of my best friends lives in Portland, and I’ve always wanted to go out to visit her. I live vicariously through her pictures, which are very much like these as she travels around the state.

    I hope you continue to have a wonderful trip.

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  6. Sounds fabulous! Sometimes, returning to places we love can be more exciting and restorative and definitely more relaxing than an exotic vacation. Last year, instead of heading overseas again (frankly we couldn’t afford it), we had our wedding anniversary down in the vineyards of beautiful Queenstown, and had an amazing time. I highly approve of your choice. (And I’m noting it down in case we ever get to Oregon.)

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  9. Happy anniversary! What beautiful pictures and even more beautiful words. I clicked over from a comment you left on Mel’s blog that really resonated with me. You are a very talented writer.

    I want to also say how very sorry I am for the loss of your son. I know those words mean so little and yet they carry weight. One of my dearest friends lost her infant son this spring. I never, ever know quite what to say, but I now know that saying nothing is never the right choice either. I send kind thoughts your way.

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