31 October 2021

Pearlescent Russellville Sunset


Nothing special about this, except tonight was a sunset day for pearlescent fire-clouds which were most gorgeous.

This, looking west from the corner of SE 103rd Dr and Stark Street, bustling downtown Russellville. 

Don't Be A Menace To A Good Night's Sleep


I was hoping for a picture of the mountain itself as I wended my way home tonight but the sun was down too low. But I did see this rendition of it on a truck parked in downtown Parkrose.

The coinage Beds In The Hood actually only intersects with the idea of Mount Hood awkwardly, at best, but it, along with the rough-and-ready rendition of Wy'east, does suggest a certain O.G.-ness when it comes to selling mattresses.

The price of entry is certainly for you, me, and everyone. They'll get you in that bad boy for just $29 down. 

This almost feels like a Tom Peterson's ad now. 

25 October 2021

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary) Part 41: Lincoln City Street Blades, In Passing


As we came back through L.C., I got me some street blade pix. 

You know. How I do.

The street grid in Lincoln City holds endless fascination for me, as I've said before. I'm coming up with an article that I'll submit to a blog of a fellow I very much respect exploring it. For now, it's only necessary to know this: for directional prefixes, the city is quartered by US 101, L.C.'s main street, and the "D" River into NW, NE, SW and SE quadrants. 

The average L.C. city street blade looks more or less like this:

There are a few obvious observations that one can make from this, and they aren't outre at all. L.C. follows a standard and predictable design logic which renders an easily-understood design grammar: the directional and the specific are of a lesser size which cause the actual street name (or number in this case) to be the star of the design. The ordinal, in the case of the numbered street, is appropriately sized.

The blade that's very oblique in this view can be seen a bit clearer, though smaller, in the deep background, at the corner with NE 18th Pl. It simply says N HWY 101. South Hwy 101 is called out in identical style on the other side of the "D" River.

The fascination in L.C. isn't so much in the simplicity of of the design but it the way it's actually somewhat inconsistently applied. Not too far from this corner, we found this:

This gives a good view of the standard named blade in town, and a very oblique view again of another. Here one can see that the generic ST doesn't line up with the directional like on the top blade, rather, it's centered. The impression given, when compared with other L.C. street blades, is a bit of casual sloppiness. 

There are other blade sets which come off as kind of avant garde, such as this one:

Here the layout is followed faithfully, but the font jumps out at you. I'm pretty sure that that Helvetica-esque font isn't an MUTCD standard, it looks atypical for street blades and, except for the capital "I" in the street name Inlet, there are no majuscules anywhere, and it's used in a very consistent way on the blades. 

It's a bit of a wonder, really.

And that concludes our little tour of the street blades of Lincoln City. 

17 October 2021

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary) Part 40: Late Afternoon, The Deco District


This was a picture that was taken late in the afternoon the day before those I just posted at Beverly Beach. I wanted to drop a comment on this area of Newport before I moved on.

There's an area of Newport they locally call the Deco District. This also happens to be Newport's official downtown. The heart of it is the block of Coast Hwy between SW Hurbert St and SW Alder St. Specifically at Coast Hwy and Alder there are a School District admin building, a historic theater that's a church at this point, and the old Newport City Hall, which now houses a branch of the Pig 'n' Pancake Restaurant empire. They're all toward the end of this block you'll see in my picture:

Taken as is in this shot, late on an afternoon in the latter part of August during the long tail of the Covid pandemic, it seems a bit forlorn. But the Deco-styled tower front of the theater should be unmissable.

Google Street View of the corner, sharked by me just a few minutes ago, looks like this:

The type on the buildings forms an underpinning to the Art Deco visual grammar which unifies the awareness across the two buildings. I understand there's a mural with the Pig 'n' Pancake pig logo in Deco style as well. I regret now not taking a few more minutes, what we had, to take a few extra snaps, but we'll go to Newport again. 

It's a very charming touch to a very charming town. I've always loved Newport. 

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary) Part 39: Beverly Beach and Otter Rock


Now, we're on the northbound leg out of Newport on Hwy 101 and the going-home energy is gathering. I didn't know it quite yet, but it was there.

There are a number of just-offshore rocks along the beach just north of the Yaquina Head promontory. They're visible as you tool past on 101, and a good place to look at them is at the state recreation area just in that area, Beverly Beach.

This is a beach access I know of from little-kid time, and it has changed greatly. Yurts didn't exist then, it it has one; we walked past it after we used the toilet. It looked comfortable. Oh, and public toilet there? Immaculate. Highly recommended. 

Coming into the area, you roll up to a manned pay station and sort of a gatehouse. The day-use area is, however, free and that's where we were here. There's a little arched bridge, totally Oregon State Park style, over this small stream, which is called Spencer Creek. Getting to the beach is quick and easy as going under that McCullough-esque bridge you see in the picture above.

I took the opportunity to zoom in on that rock just off-shore through the bridge arch.

That little mesa out there just beyond the surf is the eponymous thing that eponymed the adjacent community of Otter Rock - that is to day, it is Otter Rock. 

I didn't find if there're any otters on it that day, though. I was pleased just to be able to look. 

14 October 2021

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary) Part 38: The Coast Guard Station At Newport


Another shot as we were getting our get-out-of-Newport (sad as that is) energy together, a true local landmark.

Not only is Newport a major place with NOAA, it's not unimportant to the US Coast Guard. Here, on SW Naterlin Drive, just up from the Bayfront, is the Newport Coast Guard Station. It is a terribly charming nautical thing in a town that's brimming with terribly charming nautical things. 

Alongside of it there is a retired motor lifeboat, CG-36503 Yaquina Bay, and it stands as a memorial to those who died doing their duty on the sea and three CG sailors are named particularly. Full information on that can be found at the link you visit if you click on these here words.

The building itself is very cozy looking, rather rustic in that seaside-town way. A small serrated edge is put on the charm by the Department of Homeland Security tag on the sign, but that is, alas, the planet we live on now.

A cute family tale:

Way back in the long-ago, when my late mother-in-law was but a young woman, she lived in Newport, which was where the family first came to rest in Oregon after leaving Montana (as I understand it). She worked as a cocktail waitress down in Waldport, and while coming home, as they reached the north end of the Bay Bridge, her car's muffler gave out with a bang.

Taking the car off the main drag for, I presume, safety's sake, meant turning down Naterlin Drive past the CG station. The bang on the bridge and the rumble of the car woke the personnel there, bringing the young Coasties out to investigate.

I don't know how the rest of that night worked out, but I imagine a young woman suffering car trouble in the middle of the night in a small town could have worse things happen than a group of hunky young service men in little more than skivvies coming out to see if they can offer an assist.

Calendars get made with less of an excuse than that. And so it goes.

13 October 2021

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary) Part 37: How Not to Die After An Earthquake At Agate Beach


I'd say the biggest change since I visited the beach as a kid is the constant awareness of whether or not you're in harms' way about a tsunami.

No, not biggest ... most fundamental, maybe would be better coinage. When I was a lad, earthquakes happened in California, not here, and what we then immaturely called tidal waves only happened in Japan. Oregon had volcanoes, but there had been no eruptions during my lifetime (until that time) or my parents' or grandparents', and nobody really talked about that until about 1970 or so. Cascade volcanoes were called dormant, and by dormant then we meant yeah, they erupted once but they don't do that any more, they've learnt how to behave LOL. 

Geologically, Oregon and the Pacific Northwest was a pretty boring place to be and we liked it that way. Now, of course, we know that Cascadia is quite almost all the time except when it isn't and then we probably all gonna die, enjoy your IPA, have a nice day, live it like it's your last ... aaaand anyway.

Tsunami awareness is not an offical Coastal Fact Of Life, and you see it in a great many places. Perhaps the scariest is the way they paint the boundaries to the hazard zones right on the pavement, which makes my mind start scripting a disaster movie with me and The Girl as the stars, but then, I just enjoyed the hell out of the disaster film Greenland, so there's me for you.

But a little knowledge is power, and it's provided accessibly and for free, because at almost every public beach access, you get a geology lesson, or at least you get this:

A color-coded save-your-ass guide to seeing the beach. Local streets and landmarks or clear and prominent, as well as the quickest way to high ground. Also note that there is more than one level of doom here. The buff color, which only encompasses the beach itself plus a little across the road, is the tsunami danger area for a distant quake. The light green is for when it gets serious, like if Cascadia Next actually happens.

Man, that takes in a bunch of ground, don't it?

Thankfully, the way to high ground isn't far, but ... well, you know how vacation drivers are. 

We still might be goners.

12 October 2021

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary) Part 36: Burgers at Agate Beach



The cornerstone of any nutritious breakfast.

They're even more nutritious when you eat them with this view:

Nothing like this place anywhere near this place. This, then, ought to be the place. Word.

Agate Beach is just north of the central part of the city of Newport, and the way to get there is follow a local street creatively named NW Oceanview Dr. If one gets the feeling that this was the old Coast Highway, one would not be wrong about this, and at the place it bottoms out, there's a state wayside parking area on the inland side of the road, and a wide turnout on the shore side.

There's also a unit of the once-titanic Arctic Circle chain in Newport (yes, we miss these). We came armed with a couple of sides, fries and cheese curds, and nature's perfect food ... the hamburger (well, cheeseburgers). And we ate and just basked in the Coast air, and at this pint, eating burgers at the beach is pretty much peak Us. 

A few words about Agate Beach itself; it is so-named because it does indeed have agate tides. Latterly they are much fewer and far between than in our dimly-remembered past. An article online at Oregon Coast Beach Connection puts it thusly:
Long ago, Agate Beach had plenty of agates. They were hugely abundant. But according to Oregon coast agate expert and author K.T. Myers, the beach stopped being productive as long ago as the ‘60s. This came about when the jetties in Yaquina Bay were elongated, and dredging equipment also began dumping their sand load right off Agate Beach and Nye Beach. Winter storms could no longer cut through the 20-plus feet of sand dunes that grew in the area.

So, there's that. Sic transit gloria agates.

It's still lovely, and quintessentially Newport. So, there's also that.  

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary) Part 35: The West End Of Bay Boulevard


Just one more of the Newport Bayfront before we move along ... and, moving along from Newport is very hard to do. It's an absurdly easy town to fall in love with.

At the west end of SW Bay Blvd, the view looks like this:

There's that extraordinarily lovely bridge again. It feels a little different in person than it does in picture, but there's a feeling of space in the way the arch of the main span of the Bay Bridge towers over the district there. It feels like a historically-great place, this corner of Newport. 

This happens at the extreme western end of SW Bay Boulevard. to the right, a single block of SW Bay Street connects you to SW 13th St, which leads you to the neighborhood between US 101 and the harborfront, there, or SW Naterlin Dr, which takes you directly back to 101 and the Bay Bridge and points north and south.

This part of Newport is tourist-trappy, but in the good way. These little colorful shops were browsed in at length by the Brown Eyed Girl, as she is wont to do, for two things: a tchotchke, to hang from her considerable keyring, and candy. 

The Oregon Coast is a place for candy shops. 

The one there on the right, Republic of Candy, and on the left, Brandy's Bargains. The narrow blue storefront in the middle is vacant, and I figured out why: noting some of the public notices posted thereabouts and the near-term plans of the shopkeepers, that segment of buildings is to be redeveloped. Brandy's moving to a place up on US 101, I think it was, and the PM of the Republic of Candy was going to re-orient his business to more upscale consumers, probably selling online, both reasonable and prudent stances to take, given the context of the times.

Brandy was a charming woman, and the Republic of Candy held many imports, not the least of which was an authentic English Mars bar (price: $3, and presumably worth it). They were both very conversational which was also expected: our experience held true, that few people like to talk about the work they do more than a merchant on the Oregon Coast.

11 October 2021

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary) Part 34: The Street Blades Of The Bayfront


Newport has, unusually so for a town of its modest size, a number of themed districts, each with its own branding. 

The Nye Beach district, with its center in the lower Northwest part of town and along the beach, is one of Newport's two historic town centers; the "Deco" District, along US 101, is Newport's current 'downtown' business district, stretching from the intersection of US 101 and Olive Street in the direction of the Bay Bridge. And, as I've touched on previously, there's the Historic Bayfront.

Of the three, the Historic Bayfront is the only one I saw that had fully-designed street blades to extend the sense of place. Here's one:

They're pleasing, but have issues. The follow are just my opinions, and can be taken any way one wants, or not taken at all. I mean, at least they cared enough to design a charming design for thies.

The real issue with this is the wild-west-style font used. While it suggests historic Western US rusticness, it seems an awkward fit; more Tombstone than seaport. And that's a artistic style point that is wholly academic, but on a practical level, it does affect readability. A street blade should communicate clearly, and this font encourages you to dawdle on it's artistic detail, which is not an optimal thing for a street blade. The thick slab-serif style may give problems to anyone whose vision is perhaps not at youthful optimum. The 'arabesques' bracketing S.W. BAY BLVD. also muddle things; are they trying to communicate that Bay Blvd runs both ways from the sign, or are they just decorations?

My suggestion would be to use a clearer font with less affectation. An example I'd cite are the blade sin the Old Town and Chinatown sections of Portland; they use the regular weight of Friz Quadrata, which works perfectly as a display font in this case and is visually attractive but not so much that the artistic part of it makes it unclear. 

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary) part 33: Boats On The Bay


The charm of the Yaquina Bayfront is, in a great way, derived from the fact that it's a working harbor. Commercial charters, commercial fishing boats, scientific missions from the NOAA dock on the other shore: the Yaquina Bay is a busy place.

And, just like any good port town, you can see the boats, up-close. 

Newport crams a lot of harbor city experience in a short distance. It's charming and pretty and I find it exhilarating.

That hatbox off in the background, near the left side of the frame? That's Newport's LNG terminal and I've always found it a bit offputting; it's a dangerous thing. I think it was built back in the 80s, though; they filled an area of the Sally's Bend flats, just east of McLean Point, and put this thing there. It's been there quite a while, however and seems to be running just fine and safe, so maybe I just worry too much.

10 October 2021

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary) Part 32: Fleet Base Newport


This is a view of Yaquina Bay from the street that goes down to the Bayfront from the end of the Bay Bridge. I think the name of the street is Naterlin Drive but it's featured on no street signs.

That dock with the three vessels parked along side and its support buildings adjacent is a very important part of our national infrastructure. It's NOAA's Marine Operations Center-Pacific ... essentially speaking, NOAA's US West Coast headquarters. It's NOAA's Pacific fleet base, and a very important thing to Newport, not to mention a rightful point of pride.

NOAA defines it thusly:

MOC-P supports five ships, including vessels homeported in California and Alaska. The center and ships are part of the Silver Spring, MD based NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, which includes civilians and NOAA Corps officers. 

The ships in NOAA’s Pacific fleet collect data essential to protecting marine mammals, coral reefs and historic shipwrecks, managing commercial marine fish stocks, understanding climate processes, and producing nautical charts that help keep mariners safe. NOAA ships also deploy and help maintain buoys that gather oceanographic and weather information and warn of tsunamis.

The Newport facility also houses the Marine Operations directorate, which oversees the Pacific, Pacific-Islands, and Atlantic marine centers and all NOAA ship operations.
Very important and vital.

I remember hearing a while back that NOAA was thinking of moving that facility out of Newport but our federal politicos Did The Thing That Had To Be Done and kept it based on the Oregon Coast. They have a lease running through 2039. 

Something every Oregonian should be proud of, I think.

Still Life With FATE


Another pic from the inside of I've Been Framed, this from the top of what was once the sole display case from the vintage art-supply "Museum":

I call it Still Life With FATE.

This number of the legendary pulp icon was curated with wit and cleverness. Of course, some of us know what they mean by this: synesthesia. Sometimes we joke about trying to smell the number 7, but this is a reality to a synesthete, who, due to a sort of neurological cross-talk, get real physical sensations delivered with their perceptions of visual input. Some people say they can taste words, for instance, and I've read many accounts of people who feel sensations and textures associated with colors. Some see sounds as colors.

I fancy I have a mild tendency for this: various colors bring textures to mind. I've never been tested, and it's entirely possible that it's my over-active imagination at work as the sensations I think I experience are little better than wispy hints. But it's a fun thing to think and it just may keep me a little connected to my art, who knows.

06 October 2021

A Palimpsest On Tenth


This scene still exists within a block of the monolith I maladroitly complained about in episode 4014. 

It's a block of SW 10th Avenue, just before you get to Taylor Street and the block containing the Central Library. It gives an echo of what this entire district used to be like.

With the Park Tower West (in the left background) and the Fox Tower (in the right background) peering down at it, this feels like a pocket of downtown Portland trapped in a little bubble of reversed time, not yet as shiny and chromed and spiffed and upmarketed like the rest of downtown.

The building in the center is called the Medical Arts Building. We can I think safely assume that, back in the day, it was an office building devoted to the private practice of a number of doctors, dentists, and the like. I dimly recall seeing into some of those windows from an adjacent building many years ago. I saw dusty, abandoned medical spaces, some equipment. I don't think anyone's been in the upper floors of that building for years, a decade or more maybe. 

across the street from it there's the parking garage, identified by the faded painted sign on the wall at its back. There used to be parking structures all over downtown like this. Our beloved Pioneer Courthouse Square used to be one. That one even had a gas station in it. 

There are a few little corners of Portland like this ... and they're getting fewer by the years. Redevelopment and shiny new money will come to this corner eventually. 

It's the Portland way.

It Rises Over Tenth Avenue


You have no doubt heard of the Ritz Carlton being built on the block bounded by SW Washington and Alder Streets, and SW 9th and 10th Avenues. We drove past it on our way to Powells, and before we left, I took some pictures of the ziggurat in process.

It's not dreadful, I guess. It doesn't exactly move me to excitement, though.

This is what you might see if you stand on the corner of NW 10th and W Burnside and look south. One more tall building that we couldn't really afford to patronise and wouldn't if we could. Gentrification of a place is a thing of whiteness in more than one way; it's driven by white people's money, white people's values of luxury and success, and it turns a place with interesting color just as bland as dreadfully boring as it can be.

So, it's there, and it's being built, and it replaced a famous block full of famous Portland food carts, and I guess it is what it is.

The blanding of Portland continues.

05 October 2021

It's What We Used To Do Every Week, Only Now, It Feels Awkward


... but we will adjust. We always do.

The hours are slightly different but coffee's coming back. 

We can't have the same world we did before. But we will try and make the new one kind, if we can.

Just The Ends Of Watercolor Pencils


I didn't get this in whole because I was distracted by else the last time we did IBF, but I did this time. 

This is simply just the end of the stock of inexpensive watercolor pencils. Rather entrancing.

That's it. That's all.

Coming Soon To Powell's: The Sworn Enemy of Florin


One of the biggest, straight-up, sheerest heartbreaking disappointments of the plague time was the total unravelling of the weekly date-night I loved to call Book Church.

The scene, as I've hinted at elsewhen, was the Coffee Room at Powell's City of Books. Such a wonderful thing they had there; coffee, people browsing over the cool books they found, coffee, the occasional visit with and by Arnold Drake World, the paper flower guy, coffee, the weekly "Go" playing crowd, coffee, the Brown Eyed Girl, and coffee. And soooo many books. It was a kind corner of the world and in it we lived our best lives. 

I know Powell's just thought of it as a corner of their building. Sure, Powell's, you do you. 

Anyway, with the coming of the pandemic and the contraction of business everywhere, even Powells closed up tight. No place to go on our date-night. No place to soak up the city life, drink coffee, enjoy good books. Barren? You bet.

The pandemic, in its way, is still with us. Maybe we have, collectively, acclimated (not that it's become less lethal, mind). The commercial world seems to have been evolving back toward some semblance of what it once was, and this last weekend was the closest we had to a Classic Weekend in nearly two years: 
  • Time at the library
  • Time shopping for art supplies (IBF!)
  • ... and time spent in Powells.
Now, at Powell's, even the Pearl Room, one of the many rooms of my personal temple, is open again. I need to browse Aisle 940 even if I don't wind up buying anything. Part of my soul lives there, it must.

And, soon, coffee will be available in the Coffee Room again, for this is what it looks like, now:

The mystery and suspense novels, whose shelves are still there, are separated by a temporary wall from the area being redone.

Did I want to push through that door? You bet. Just to get a glimpse. The exterior windows are papered over too, so no joy to be had there.

A sign on the wall going in, you'll see it if you refer the first picture above, tells you the intended tenant. I've mentioned it before here, I thing. Guilder Cafe. That's Guilder, as in The Princess Bride, as in THE SWORN ENEMY OF FLORIN. They have a website here, and it's purest Portland. At the end of the "About us" page they state "We want you to consider it your second home, and welcome you into our extended family and hope to be welcomed into your family." which bodes well for something we hope to make into a regular destination.

And, at the end of every page on their website, the simple declaration:

It sure seems like a good fit. 

A Quick Look At The Craft Wave Aqua Fan


This is a great design for a portable watercolor set.

Today I decided I was worthy of an art supply treat, and I've seen this on offer for quite a while. Figured it was time to take one home. This is the Aqua Fan, by Craft Wave, and it looks like this:

The whole thing, collapsed, measures just eight inches by two, and is a little less than two inches thick; this does not count the clip on the side that holds the accompanying water-brush. This is a little deck built to travel, and looks as though it would be good for quick watercolor sketches at the drop of a hat. This would be a good kit for urban sketchers, for example.

The colors, which are identified by number, are highly-compacted cakes in shallow plastic 'pans', arranged in leaves: The top one has 3 colors, 4 in the second, 5 in the third, 6 in the fourth, 7 in the fifth, 8 in the sixth, and 9 in the seventh, for a total of 42 colors in all. A small rectangular mixing area is in the top of the case. 

The price of this kit was about $40. There was also an 18-color assortment for about half as much. As far as quality, I've not wetted the colors yet so I do not know, but they seem quite vibrant in the dry state and they seem pretty finished to the touch. I expect workable paints, perhaps about the quality of Cotman but just a little less than that, but much higher than, say, a set of Prang school-kid colors. Perfectly suited to painting on-the-go. 

But, really, it's the cool design that packs a whole lot of paint into a tiny little case that sold me. Most impressive

I've Been Framed Rescues My Kaweco Fountain Pen


I'm terribly fond of my pens. I hate it when they get lost and love it when they get found and today, I've Been Framed's Art Supply Center helped me get it back.

Last week I went to the refreshed IBF-ASC to get some pictures and document the transition. Well, a few days after that, I went to do a diary entry and wanted to use my beloved Kaweco Perkeo, and it was nowhere to be found where it should have been found.

The Brown Eyed Girl swung into action and started making phone calls while I was at work to the likely places ... the library ... Cruiser's Cafe ... and IBF. We found out that Prairie had recovered it, and therein the tale:

A shopper had found it next to the oil colors and, taking an shine to it (and how could not you not?) brought it to the counter and asked the price. Prairie didn't recognize it as part of the stock and said she'd be willing to sell it, but would have to hang on to it as lost and found and if it wasn't claimed, she'd sell it then. Subsequently, the BEG called IBF and Prairie, recognizing the number, called us back. 

They had it. And, today, we went and got it:

They included a sticker because they are just that nifty about things like this. 

The pen itself you'll see in the photo above. It's a Kaweco Perkeo, an entry-level model meant just so students and anyone who just wants to pick up a fountain pen can do so. The resin bodies and caps come in a number of colors and are sold matched up or in combinations: the model I have's color scheme is called "old Chambray". 

And it's back home, thanks to IBF, and as long as there's an IBF, the world isn't entirely a lost cause.

04 October 2021

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary) Part 32: Bay Boulevard, Newport, Oregon


Bay Boulevard is Newport's Front Street, the first street layed out when they decided to plant the town here along Yaquina Bay. It follows the bay in its angular way, and its direction influenced the growth and layout of the original town, as a glance of the map of the town will suggest.

It's a charming area with cute shops and an attraction or two; not too far ahead and off to the right from where I was standing to take this picture used to be a tourist dive called the Undersea Gardens, which was a literal dive; one would walk down a gangway to a floating structure which allowed you to step into a room below water level and see the sea life. Divers would put on shows. It was sort of an inverted aquarium. Time moved on without it though; After about 50 years in business, the competition from the now-world class Oregon Coast Aquarium (how were you going to compete with Keiko?) and escalating maintenance costs spelled the end of the line for it. There was a Madame Toussaut's Wax Museum outpost down on the bayfront as well for a long time.

Up the street and around the corner, though, there's still a branch of the Ripley's Believe it or Not museum, though that's a little too touristy for us these days. 

The atmosphere, though? That still can't be beat. 

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary) Part 31: Something Something Bayfront Something Bay Bridge


Some things make excellent backdrops for other things. The other thing here is the human activity and masts of fishing boats docked in the harbor area of Yaquina Bay; the some thing is a bridge I may have heard of somewhere, I don't know, I just don't know anymore.

The offshore mist, though, that, I've always found romantic and easy on the eyes. 

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary) Part 30: Mural of Neptune, Newport Bayfront


Having returned to Newport from the Devil's Churn to Newport, we found another motel in town ($$$) but had a good night sleeping. The next day was looking for more memories.

Here's a pretty one. We lingered on Newport's Bayfront and it was a good thing because when we were tourists when I was a kid we rarely went down there. The Bayfront is pretty fantastic, a colorful place where there are cute shops, many fishing boats and a number for working seafood processors. The air is redolent with the smell of them, but it was a good smell.

This mural, with Neptune looking out in the direction of the bay, was on the side of a building toward the east end of the commercial area of Bay Boulevard.

03 October 2021

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary) Part 29: The Devil's Churn


This is a spot worth seeing, and we felt emotions worth feeling.

There seem to be a surplus of places in wild area's like this named for the Devil. God may own the world, I guess, but the Devil's doing well enough to get naming rights to things. The Devil has a Punchbowl up near Otter Rock, and a Churn just south of Yachats.

Maybe that's where he gets his butter, who knows? 

But, in seriousness, what the Devil's Churn is, is a very very small inlet of the ocean. A very long time ago, the Pacific started worrying at a small crevice in the rocky shore. That crevice became a cave, which probably collapsed to form a crevasse, and in which the ocean's surf just kept working away at until it gets very narrow and very dramatic.

It is said that the incoming waves impacting the narrow end of the crevasse can send spray up hundreds of feet, but even if it isn't doing that, it's still impressive to watch. 

I can still hear the crashing of the water coming in.

This is a few minutes south of Yachats on US 101, though if you aren't familiar with the craggy shore, it might seem like forever. Leaving Yachats means the end of the friendly, flat and open shore of the central Coast and Lincoln County for the aggressively uncompromising crags of Cape Perpetua. This is USFS land, and is managed by the US Government. The wayside is comfortable and impressive, and offers this great view.

But you have to have a little bit of guts to drive that stretch of OCH. There's precious little shoulder on the seaward side, which drops straight away; this caused me to grip the door handle a little more firmly on the way down, the Brown Eyed Girl (in the pilot's seat) to be similarly wary on the way back, and both of us, I think, to respect the existential practicality of the average Oregon Coast resident, who countenances this sort of thing on a daily basis.

They always did seem to be the doughty sorts.

The wayside lets you get, to a degree, a bit up-close and personal with the business end of the Churn. It's most impressive and you get a sense of the power there.

It's not a thing to be taken lightly. One can go down there; there's nobody to stop you, but it's terribly easy to get yourself messed up permanently. Not long after we visited a vacationer from Walnut Creek, California decided to explore up toward the end of the chute and lost his life after slipping and falling because of a split second's inattention. Best to stay back and take pictures, I think. 

On a more cheerful level, this was something of a peak experience for the Brown Eyed Girl. She comes from a long line of women who have had a long operating love affair with the forces of nature at work, and the crashing of the surf into the end of the channel has always had a special allure for her. She could gaze at this particular place for hours, entranced by the natural power at work here and I, taking my cue from her reverence, began to listen for the heartbeat of nature here both aurally and visually. 

As a girl, she was beholden to the whims and plans of adults as to how she came here and how long they stayed. This day, she was in the pilots' seat, and she said when we came and when we went. I was along for the ride at this point, and that was fine with me, because she was sharing this dear and mighty thing that was so very special to her. The drive back north - this was as far south as we were destined to go on this visit - created a vivid memory, one I'll never forget, of a placid happiness that was quite unique. 

That of reaching out to grab something of great value, holding on to it until one is ready to let go, and not before, and not on anyone else's word. 

The day-use area, a bit of which is pictured here above, is well-kept and comfortable even if you're just stopping by for a short visit. There's an adjacent RV parking area which you can use overnight for dropping a small bit of cash into the collection box, which we did, because why not? The place gave us both a dear memory that'll last the rest of our collective lives, and that's worth something, and a few bucks to help the cause is a minuscule price to pay for that.

The experience and memory is something that one doesn't think they'll discover after more than 30 years as part of a couple: a new shared experience that lines up next to the mileposts that one passed when one was part of a new couple. 

It's part of how those who are lucky enough to grow aged keep a little bit of youth along for the ride. That's worth it. 

01 October 2021

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary) Part 28: The Bridge At Waldport


Waldport is a town about 15 miles south of Newport, on the south bank of the Alsea Bay, which is where the Alsea River enters the Pacific Ocean. It's a charming town.

And, like the highway crossing at Newport, it has its own signature bridge. This is it.

While it's much newer than the Yaquina Bay Bridge, it carries the same themes of sweep and arch that most Oregon Coast Highway bridges do.

Conde McCullough's mark lives on, you might say.

The current bridge dates from 1991. Up until then the original McCullough design spanned the mouth of the bay; built in the 1930s, its construction was sturdy but not durable enough for the rather corrosive weather that the Oregon Coast delivered season in and season out, year after year. By the 1980s the maintenance became expensive enough that the cost of replacing the bridge didn't seem so expensive after all. 

This span has four lanes in both directions (compared to the only-one-lane in each direction that the Yaquina Bay Bridge) does and has a much wider-open feeling. 

The pillars on each end of the bridge borrow from the original design motifs as well. It's not a McCullough design, but if he were alive today, it could have been. It understands the design grammar he laid down like a native.