Sunday, June 12, 2011

Oregon Coast weekend

I'm writing this hoping to pass time while riding in the car, heading home from a weekend on the Oregon coast. I am a terrible car passenger if I have to sit for more than an hour or so. My back tightens up and I am constantly wriggling and readjusting myself to try to get comfortable. Today (and on the drive south on Friday) my left glute has been pinching me (sometimes down the back of my leg), and it is quite bothersome. Just the left side. I guess that's better than both sides.

So I am hoping to distract myself with hunting and tapping on the iPad. (I've already finished my Runners World magazine and read a bunch of blogs. Trying to break things up a little.)

Rod and I spent the weekend in Gearhart, Oregon (just north of Seaside) at the Gearhart Ocean Inn. I had bought a Living Social deal which would have been great except that I bought one for my parents as well. For various reasons they didn't make their reservations prior to the June 1 booking deadline, and now they can't use it. So my deal was actually no deal, as I ended up paying double. Before we left I asked if I could still book for them (since the voucher is good in the fall), but they said no. I was truly on the verge of tears. I was so sad because I had really thought my parents would have enjoyed Gearhart. I did tell the manager that I would never come there again, and I wasn't being mean-spirited, I truly could not bear to go there again after this. I do understand them "needing" to enforce the rules (after all, it's much more advantageous for them to take my money and not give me anything in return), but they only sold a limited number of packages, so I do think they are being a little mean-spirited. (Added later: I have been looking into whether I can talk them into at least honoring the face value of the voucher, based on state laws regarding expiration of gift certificates. I'm still thinking on it.)

Anyhow. Enough sour grapes.

Friday morning I got up early enough before our planned departure to squeeze out about 8.6 miles. 2.2 miles easy warm-up (> 10 minute average pace) followed by 6.2 miles sub-9. Well, the first of those was 9:05 but the rest were enough under to average out. Then .2 to the door of Starbucks.

I had packed the night before (as usual, a stress-filled experience, I don't like packing!), so I was able to eat breakfast and get dressed fairly quickly. Rod picked me up about 10:00 and we headed south. And west, then south again.

Even though Rod went to law school in Eugene and has spent plenty of time in Oregon, he's never been north of Lincoln City on the Oregon Coast, or south of Westport in Washington. I, on the other hand, have been to Ocean Shores and Long Beach (WA) many times, as well as the northern and central Oregon coast. So I was kind of the tour guide and he was the wide-eyed tourist (or wild-eyed, haha).

On the way down we headed west from Olympia to Montesano and Raymond. My plan was to have lunch in Astoria, right across the border. That put lunch a little late in the day; I think we got to Astoria around 2:30. I was glad I'd had a pretty good breakfast.

The Astoria Bridge from Washington to Oregon is amazing. It's over four miles across the Columbia River, and it climbs quite steeply on the Astoria side and circles into town. There is actually a 10K in October called the Great Columbia Crossing where you run across the bridge from Washington to Oregon. I have been interested in this race for a while but I am not sure it is worth the trip for a 10K. (Plus it's a week before the Portland Marathon so I'm already traveling for that.)

We had lunch at a bakery cafe called the Blue Scorcher. What I'd failed to realize in my Internet search was that it's a vegetarian cafe. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) We both had grilled portabella sandwiches. They were good and I think Rod liked his too, even though he said something about a ribeye for dinner....

Gearhart is only twelve miles south of Astoria, so we arrived pretty quickly and checked into our room. After settling in, we headed down to walk on the beach, of course. There's about a quarter mile walk across the dunes (which is typical for the coast), then a bit of really soft sand before we got to the hard packed sand. The hard pack was great for walking, running, and biking. (It's hard enough for driving, but there can be difficulty with the soft we saw with an unlucky car on Saturday.)

To the south we could see the buildings of Seaside, so we decided to walk down the beach and see if we could make it to Seaside. We were able to walk about a mile before running into a river-like section of water that we could not ford. So we turned back. Seaside would have to be reached by car.

For dinner we crossed the street to the Pacific Way Cafe. This is a really wonderful cafe (with attached bakery open in the mornings) in a historic building that was once a boarding house and grocery store. They have a nice eclectic dinner menu, plus a selection of pizzas. I was really wanting pizza, so I ordered a side salad with grilled steak (for protein) plus a pear, gorgonzola, and walnut pizza (I got a medium and saved the leftovers for breakfast). Rod had a New York steak (probably still suffering from the veggie lunch). We also ate our way through a generous bread basket (deeelicious bakery bread) and shared a marionberry crisp for dessert.

Saturday morning I headed out for a run. Gearhart might not be so great for a long run, but I was able to put together a medium length run. I planned to run on the beach but wanted to get a few miles in first. I ended up running about a mile along 101, which luckily I didn't ever need to do again after I got a better sense of the town geography. I ran up by the golf course and through some streets of fancy beach houses at that end of town. I stopped to check out the menu at McMenamin's Sandtrap restaurant (and use the bathroom), then back down to our end of town, where I braved the beach. I only had time to do about a mile and a half on the beach, but the running was good. I was doing about a 10:30 pace on the hard sand, which was about the same as my easy road running that morning. (For the weekend, I abandoned my "sub-10 easy" efforts.) Total distance, town plus beach, 7.77 miles.

I stopped at the Pacific Way Bakery for an Americano and couldn't resist a delightful-looking cherry almond scone. I ate about 3/4 of it along with 1.5 pieces of the pizza for my breakfast.

After I got dressed we checked out bikes and took them for a pedal around town and along the beach. We accessed the beach at the north end of town, which is where we saw the unlucky car stuck in the sand. They were trying to get out on their own when we first saw them. The tow truck was arriving just as we returned from our beach riding a while later.

Riding on the hard sand was so fun! I never realized that a one-speed bike could be so fun and easy to ride. I took some pictures of Rod as we were riding along. I was impressed (with myself) at how well they turned out!

Then a couple posed shots.

Does this bike make my butt look big? Yes, yes it does.

After we finished with the bikes we walked over to the Gearhart Grocery (across the street from the bakery and cafe) and bought deli sandwiches for lunch. I went with my traditional turkey and havarti (mustard, no mayo). Rod went all out with two kinds of meat and two cheeses! All on Dave's Killer Bread. We are in Oregon, after all. I also bought some fruit, oranges and grapes and, by request, a peach for Rod. We ate in the hotel garden, in the sun.

I could have spent a lot more time lounging in the garden, reading and soaking up some almost warm rays (maybe in the 60s?). But we had some touristing to do.

First destination, ten miles south to Cannon Beach. I had stayed in Cannon Beach last year after the Newport Marathon, and noticed how much the town had grown in the years since I'd been there. Since Rod has never been to Cannon Beach, and was accustomed to his memories of sleepy Oregon Coast towns from twenty years ago, he was a little blown away by the crowds of people and blocks of shops and restaurants, not to mention dozens (hundreds?) of hotels, motels, and inns. We were primarily there to see Haystack Rock, so we parked (lots of good parking in Cannon Beach) and walked across the street to the beach.

I tried to take a picture of us, but Haystack Rock did not get in the picture and the sun messed up the lighting. It was also pretty windy.

We didn't feel like shopping, so we returned to the car and headed to Seaside. Before going into town we made a quick stop at the Nike outlet store. I finally got a new pair of running capris! The two pairs that I have are old and wearing out. I'm not going to stop using them, but I wanted a new pair in case they went south. These were only $10 off regular price (hardly a deal), but since there's no sales tax in Oregon and I need them, I thought it was okay.

Then we drove into downtown Seaside. Did I mentioned Rod was accustomed to a quiet Oregon coast? Seaside was complete cultural overload for him! I think it might be a little like a New Jersey seaside town. Arcades, candy shops, tons of tacky tourist shops, and a frenetic tourist vibe. Part of it might have been the sunny day...Northwesterners go a little crazy when the sun comes out after a long, dark, wet winter. The beach was packed with wannabe sunbathers (like Waikiki beach, haha). We walked along the Promenade and marveled at the huge, almost tenement-like hotels. At least when we got to the south promenade it was a little less populated.

We were looking for a restaurant that Rod had read about in a magazine. I will say, when we found it, it looked very nice and I'm sure the food would be great. But it was just mid-afternoon and we really didn't want to hang out for two or more hours until dinner.

I must mention that Seaside is a very historical is where Lewis and Clark ended their Oregon Trail journey. Here I am with the Lewis and Clark statue on the promenade.

We went into a few shops and checked out the indoor carousel. All the carnival type rides are inside, which is just weird. Pretty soon we were happy to get in the car and head back to sleepy Gearhart.

We are just hermits, I guess. We prefer semi-deserted beaches and quiet streets and sidewalks. Back in town we walked a couple of blocks to check out a couple of shops I was interested in. One was an antique and gift shop. Really it was more decorative gifts than antiques, but I loved everything. In fact, I found a Father's Day gift for my dad! It's an embroidered "England" pillow just like my commemorative Boston Marathon pillow. Almost every city, location, and landmark is somewhere my dad has been in England. At first I resisted because it was so expensive, but after I looked up the manufacturer's website where it cost even more, I ran back to the shop to get it before they closed.

The other shop was a small nursery and garden store. We had a nice little botanical experience walking through the plants. Rod was impressed with the reasonable prices but we were not able to haul a large Japanese maple home in his Subaru.

When we abandoned the idea of eating in Seaside, we decided to go back to the Pacific Way Cafe instead. We made a reservation for 6:00, which was a good idea as they were fairly busy. They were happy to see us back! So they claimed. We do eat well, and also keep them busy filling our water glasses.

We had both pretty much decided what to order, when we learned that the special was fresh caught razor clams! (Fried, of course, how else would you fix them?) Thats what we got, of course. I also had a cup of the soup du jour, a light yam and corn chowder, and Rod had French onion soup. The dinner came with a small salad, green beans, and mashed potatoes. (Plus the bread basket.) I only had a couple bites of potato, because I wanted marionberry crisp again! Rod had coconut cream pie. We were full.

For the final activity of the day, we walked back to the beach to watch the sunset. Unfortunately a bank of clouds rolled in and obscured was also pretty cold! I was ready to head back as soon as the sun disappeared.

On Sunday morning I was out a little earlier to get my run in before we left. Once again I was running at vacation pace. Today, though, I had a better idea of where to wander around town to get in a few miles (I think four) before hitting the beach. I got onto the beach at north Gearhart, ran as far as I could south, then retraced my route back. To make the distance pass, I ran from log to log. At my turnaround, I took a picture of Seaside in the distance.

I did about three miles on the beach before returning to the streets. I reached the bakery at 8.18 miles (putting my week's mileage solidly over 40). At the bakery I got my Americano, plus some scones and bread for my parents.

Finally, on our way out of town we stopped for breakfast at McMenamin's Sandtrap. It was good that we had a hearty breakfast, since the drive home was long and grueling! Working on this post did get me through the last couple of hours in the car. (That was about half of this, I finished the rest tonight.)

I brought the bakery stuff to my parents, and hung out with Eva a little. Then I went to Rod's and he barbecued steaks for our last weekend dinner. Now it's late and only a night's sleep remains of my weekend!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

1 comment:

Marie said...

I had to chuckle reading Rod's reactions to Cannon Beach and Seaside. I hate Seaside! It's always been gaudy, but it's way worse now than it was when I was a kid. The charming, sleepier beach towns are farther south--Manzanita, Wheeler, Nehalem, and Rockaway. I enjoy an occasional day at Cannon Beach, but it is a lot to take in! Did you get to the wonderful bookstore there? I also have a favorite gallery I always visit there.

I love the photo of you and Eva!!