I hit Central Point Oregon right about dinner, a week ago Tuesday, as planned. Found Sue's place up a maze of back roads with no problem at all. Just follow the dog pictures! It's a boarding kennel, after all!
On arrival, I try Debbie's cel number, and get "No carrier." Sue says she bets she knows who Debbie's cel provider is, because a couple of them have problems with that general area. We try the land line, and I get "Can't be completed as dialed." Hmm. Possibly a phone number off? Not like she's there more than once a week, anyway. So we go tour the kennel.
Lots of dogs, a single cat, and then I get to the building where Sue's own dogs live. I meet the VERY enthusiastic 4-month-old lurcher puppy, who can't stop bouncing, plus trying to eat my shoes. A very old breed, an old gamekeeper dog, she tells me. All my friends seem to have antique dog breeds. I then am introduced to a hoard of daschunds. I think it was 7 in all, but it's hard to keep track of lots of squirming enthused doglets. I think I got the relationship of all of them, but I couldn't tell you what it is. Phoenix, the youngest, accompanies us to the house, and becomes very friendly whenever one stops to sit down.
After several non-connects, I finally get Debbie's voice mail, and leave her a message. Sue and I are working on Bailey's over ice when she calls back. Debbie will be coming over, and I offer to take them to dinner. We go out and visit Sue's hawk, and I find out that she lost Boomer, Jana's peregrin falcon, to West Nile last year, and was pretty upset by it. She's getting a Finnish Goshawk from a breeding project back east, this year, and while she's not happy about getting one young enough it ends up as an imprint, she's realized she has to get it West before West Nile comes through the area where the breeder is. West Nile is devastating the bird population back there.
Debbie shows up, and has a tale of how her ex-husband, not contented with getting every piece of property she ever bought when she was a programmer, is now going after her savings and retirement funds. (There is an ironic twist on women's rights, where women who were the main means of support for their men for many years are now being taken to the cleaners when those men file for divorce.) She really needs some moral support and company, and we go off for a great dinner. She and Sue hit it off as I expected they would, both being onetime zookeepers who went into computers and med-tech, respectively, then burning out on the bucks and going to do something else. I feel like Debbie and I have had no time pass, when it's actually been about 13 years since we last saw each other. Debbie and Sue hit it off so well that Sue's offering to rent her the spare room, when she comments that she's not very happy with where she's living.
Next morning, I hit the road again, and decide to go down the Umpaqua River, and then go up the Oregon Coast. I see elk along the way, mostly males with horns in velvet. I stop at Tillamook and tour the factory and buy myself an ice cream. It's about 3:30, and I still have "miles to go before I sleep," heading for Washington. I cross the bridge at Astoria, giving a nod to the ancestral homelands. On the Washington side, the roads are mostly empty of people (as is the land around), and I cruise happily and mapless on seat-of-my-pants navigation up to Aberdeen, where I now start locating Ocean Shores, where I am booked for my "beach time" before the serious crunch hits. Ocean Shores is a tiny beach town with aspirations, reminding me oddly of my lost Cambria, 40 years ago. The WorldMark is miles out beyond, on the sandspit near the entry to Gray's Harbor. I have a great view over the dunes to the ocean, where I can see fishing boats coming and going, though no beach. There are a scattering of upscale beach homes, but mostly the Worldmark is about all that's out there. It's 3 miles back to town, to the grocery store. I head back and buy groceries and fresh-caught salmon and clams at the smallish local market. Then I drive out by the local hotels where a sign says "beach access" and find you can drive on the beach! Like I did back in college! So I drive down the beach and park on the sand, where people are having beach fires, flying kites, and assembling for what seems to be a local ritual: watching the sunset from the beach. I'm charmed, and from that point, Ocean Shores has snagged my interest. For the next day, I alternate between wanting real estate and telling myself it's a sandspit: one good tidal wave, and it's gone. As a matter of fact, the lady at the desk tells me with good humor, when I remark on the tsunami evacuation signs, that she figures they wouldn't have a prayer, because the roads would clog, and that would be that. So, why do I still like this place so much?
I dine on clams back at my unit, saving the salmon for breakfast. Wow, there is nothing like good wild salmon...
(to be continued...)