Do you hate when people say “vacay”? I kinda do too.
We just got home from a week in Southern Oregon and boy, are our arms tired!
(That is a very stupid joke. It doesn’t even make sense, because we didn’t fly to Southern Oregon, and I didn’t even suggest we flew in the sentence and let’s just start over, mmmkay?)
Last week we went to Southern Oregon. It was the vacation we took instead of going to San Francisco (the certainty of having to deal with crowds of America’s Cup watchers kept us away), and we really had a great time. Here’s how:
Our goal on this trip was to find out if this book was science fiction:
Here we go…
We left home and drove to Medford. My mom lives there, in case you haven’t been paying attention. We sometimes call her “Mother Mary,” in case you haven’t been paying attention to that either. That evening we hung out at Mother Mary’s comfy and welcoming house, ran some errands, and not a whole lot else. Why is driving so exhausting, even as passengers? Vic wondered that aloud. More than once.
A break from all that time in the car was in order, so we stayed in town all day. We went to Despicable Me 2. The kids and I had gone the week before, but Vic and Mom hadn’t; the movie is super-fun and definitely worth seeing more than once. Afterward we had lunch at Kaleidoscope Pizza. I’m sure there are similar pizza places in Portland and I definitely want to find them because YUM.
We got up early and headed to Brookings, which is on the southern Oregon coast. I hadn’t been there since I was a kid and didn’t realize that the best (only?) route there from Medford is through California. How weird is that? We drove north to Grants Pass, southwest across the state border to Crescent City, and back up north to Brookings. It’s cocoa for cuckoo poops, that’s what it is.
We drove along the very edge of the Redwoods and were tempted to drive a bit farther south to drive through that one tree, but stayed on course to the beach instead. We thought the weather would be better there. We are bad interpreters of weather forecasts.
Harris Beach is beautiful, at least it appeared to be when we could see through all the fog. The skies were disappointing, yes, but generally, the weather was warm so we didn’t mind much. I even got a sunburn, proving that clouds and fogs do not mean sunscreen is unnecessary. Katie and Jack did lots of wave-jumping and sand-throwing, and the dogs enjoyed romping up and down the coast.
It really was a fantastic day, and we were slightly pleased to find the southern coast weather as unreliable as the areas we visit on the central and northern parts of the coast. But our love of Harris Beach waned a few days later, when we saw this news item:
Health advisory lifted at Harris Beach
July 13, 2013
A public health advisory warning against water contact at Harris Beach was lifted Friday by the Oregon Health Authority, according to a news release.
The advisory was issued July 1 after water samples showed higher-than-normal levels of fecal bacteria at the east end of Goat Island in Curry County.
Recent samples taken by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality showed bacteria levels had subsided and the water no longer posed a higher-than-normal risk, the release said.
But officials recommendeded [sic] staying out of large pools and runoff from water frequented by birds, whose waste was believed to be the source of the contamination.
The Oregon Beach Monitoring Program monitors the waters along Oregon's coastline for the presence of fecal bacteria annually from Labor Day through Memorial Day.
Marine waters are tested for enterococcus, which is an indicator of the presence of other bacteria. Enterococcus is present in human and animal waste.
Fecal bacteria can cause anything from diarrhea and stomach cramps to skin rashes or no reaction at all, but it is the largest threat to the elderly, children and those more vulnerable to waterborne bacteria.
Fecal bacteria levels were higher than normal? There are acceptable levels??? Yikes.
Vic and I researched Trip Advisor extensively to find the best places to visit on the southern coast, but we didn’t think to check recent news reports. [sing-song voice] Geniuses! But really, shouldn’t there have been a bunch of warning signs posted along the beach if we were supposed to stay out of the water? We didn’t see a single one.
Fortunately, none of us have been stricken with E. coli poisoning. Whew.
One of the coolest parts about this trip—and the beach was lovely, it really was—involved a liquor store just over the California border. If you Google a phrase like “why is alcohol cheaper in California” you’ll find a variety of ideas and even contradictions; all I know is that, for the most part, the liquor store outlets near the California-Oregon border had much better prices than I’ve ever seen at home. Mother Mary and I stocked up like the world’s about to end and we want to be drunk when it does. Or maybe we were buying in preparation for the Global Booze Wars. Those are happening, right? We be ready.
Mom took us to see My Fair Lady at the Oregon Shakespearean Festival. Anthony Heald played Eliza’s father and stole every scene he was in. What a hoot! Most of us know this actor from his baddie roles in Silence of the Lambs and tons of other movies and TV shows, but who knew that is actually quite delightful and can sing and dance, often at the same time?*
The show was spectacular. Somewhat sadly—but just somewhat—our kids recognized much of the music from the particularly hilarious My Fair Laddy episode of The Simpsons. In other words, Jack didn’t hate My Fair Lady. If you ask him to sing anything from it, though, you’ll hear “Wouldn’t It Be Adequate,” “I’m Gettin’ Blue Pants in the Morning,” and “In the Shack Where You Live.” Sorry. There’s only so much culture I can try to pound into that kid.
I love Ashland, and there are lots of eateries worth a try, but here’s something I don’t understand: why do so many restaurants refuse to split checks? Larks actually had it printed at the bottom of their menu that they have a one-check-per-table policy. Is it really that much extra effort for them? And wouldn’t you think they should be willing to split checks just to please their customers, many of whom visit Ashland in large groups? Servers will inevitably get bigger tips that way, right? Puzzling.
Back to California! We left the dogs at home this time, and headed down I-5 to the Shasta area, touring Shasta Dam and appreciating shady parking spots and our vehicle’s powerful A/C. It was H-O-T HOT in them parts. Beautiful scenery though.
Since we were a handful of miles from Redding and the northernmost In-n-Out Burger, we went a leeetle bit out of our way for lunch. Those of us who ordered cheeseburgers were glad to make the detour. And did we stop at a liquor store before crossing back into Oregon? You bet your sweet
open container ass we did!
The really memorable thing about the day was doing things we’d (mostly) not done before. I mean, how many times have we seen the sign to Shasta Dam/Lake from I-5 and thought “We should do that someday”? Too many times.
We had tentatively planned to go back to Portland on Thursday, but Mom convinced us to stay for one more day of relaxation. We spent the hot morning in Auntie Donna’s pool and then went out for lunch, came home and watched the first two Iron Man movies, Life of Pi, and the film version of My Fair Lady. Except for the packing-up-to-go-home part, it was a bonus day of even more vacation fun.
We drove back north. ‘Twas a long and boring drive, but sooo worth it for our week of vacation with Mother Mary. Thank you, Mom, for hosting us!
Conclusion: this book had some excellent ideas for family activities. Not science fiction-y at all.
Since we’ve been home, the list of things we hoped to get done over the weekend mostly went undone. Today Vic is back to work and I’m doing all our vacation laundry. Blech.
*Lyric lifted from Spamalot and shamelessly paraphrased. I apologize.