Signs and metaphors

The night before we were due to leave Oregon, it was decided that we would gather on the beach one last time, to roast hot dogs and marshmallows and watch the sunset.

Memory making. On crack.

We were down two adults, so I found myself cooking potatoes, trying to pack up our belongings to ensure a somewhat smooth, less-than-three-hours-long exit the next morning and wrangling 5 children in various states of hunger-fuelled insanity, while the professor sat on the beach trying to get a fire going. (Toute seule, it needs to be said.)

It was my own real-life version of Whac-A-Mole – run upstairs to pack, run downstairs to corral impatient children heading to the beach unsupervised, check the potatoes, run upstairs to pack, run to the third floor to address 5 children pouncing on the pulled out sofa bed screaming ‘NO MORE MONKEYS JUMPING ON THE BED’, run back to packing, check potatoes, retrieve yet another errant child on the way to the beach.

Finally, everything was more or less ready and I ordered everyone to use.the.bathroom because there had been a few abrupt beach-departures throughout the week to accommodate someone who suddenly needed to pee, etc.

I escorted the troops down the 83 stairs to the sand where the professor tended his fire. Then I walked back up the 83 stairs to retrieve the stuff I hadn’t been able to carry. Back down the stairs. Back up the stairs. Back down the stairs and wouldn’t you know it, a child suddenly had to go to the bathroom.

If only I were exaggerating.

While I ‘worked out’, a chair caught fire, and the sand latched on to everything like a disease. There was sand in the hot dogs, the buns, even the ketchup. I bit into a smore and the graham cracker seemed crunchier and more resilient than I remembered.


I watched my brother-in-law throw a football to the Hen, and I couldn’t help but feel we were in the middle of a Fourth of July photo shoot (albeit the satire version). That the Hen missed the football tossed in his direction seemed a fitting metaphor for the evening.


The next morning, after a mere two-hour exit process courtesy of the previous night’s preparations, we bid Lincoln City adieu and headed back to Seattle. We stopped in Portland for one more round of donuts, this time at Blue Star. It was the kind of place that had a gynormous line snaking all the way to the entrance, with all manner of people clamoring to drop $3.50 on a piece of fried dough.

One bite into the Old-Fashioned rendered the professor a fan and I was more than pleased with my de rigueur apple fritter. My sister tried the blueberry bourbon basil donut which had the most beautiful purpley glaze. It was also extremely basil-y which is slightly disconcerting when paired with fried dough.

With just about one hour before we had to get back in the car, we did a quick walkabout of Portland, stopping at Powell’s Books and Stumptown Coffee and Lardo for sandwiches for the road. Just before we hit the road again, I stopped at Blue Star once more to get the professor another Old-Fashioned, in lieu of an 18th anniversary gift. The couple ahead of me was mulling over the selection, considering the purple basil donut. I thought about telling them about our basil-donut experience, but thought better of it – not wanting to be the weird person in line who offers her unsolicited opinion.

Good thing, because as it turns out the purple basil donut is their signature offering. Apparently people – at least in Portland – want their donuts to taste of green herbs. It reminded me of my experiment with chicken lemonade.


After dropping off my mom at the SeaTac airport, we made our way to a friend’s house. Despite their being out of town, she’d offered to let us crash at their place for a few nights, which will surely go down in history as one of the nicest things, ever. Unfortunately the Johnsons are still living in the 90s, traveling with neither GPS nor a phone with a U.S. Data plan. All we had were the hastily written down (on paper) directions I’d retrieved from Google Maps the night before.

Which is how we found ourselves stopped on a road with the instruction to ‘turn right’ onto a nonexistent road. Three miles from where we needed to be, as it turns out. It was a sign of how we’d spend most of our time driving around Seattle – staring at tourist maps marked with all the Top Pot and Cupcake Royale locations in the city, but offering precious little information on  ways to successfully get onto Highway 99, so you can find that bleeping Bridge Troll.



All while a homeless man walked past the van, unleashing a torrent of expletives aimed at a Mercedes that had passed him three minutes before. We sat, stunned, as the extremely disgruntled gentleman constructed (loud!) sentences using every curse word the dictionary has ever seen.

I feared rolling up the windows might catch his attention and incite further rage, so we sat quietly, waiting for his words to fade into the distance.

Our main reason for spending a few extra days in Seattle was to go to a Mariner’s game. All summer long the Hen had begged to go to a game and his baseball-loving father was only too happy to oblige. So on the 18th anniversary of our wedding day, in the city where we’d spent a bit of our honeymoon, we entered Safeco field with our 3 boy-wonders. Along with an enormous bag of kettle corn which I’d bought as my own anniversary gift slash consolation prize. Because I wouldn’t describe myself as a fan of America’s favorite pastime.


The Hen had also dreamed about running the bases after the game, like he and his cousins did last summer after a Tin Caps’ game. As luck would have it, on this particular day, kids were allowed to run the bases after the game. Less lucky was the game going into extra innings. Which means my genius plan of queuing after the 7th inning, in order to ‘beat the crowd’, translated into standing in line for an hour and a half while the crowd watched 4 more innings of baseball.


Sometimes the early bird has to wait for the worm.

2 thoughts on “Signs and metaphors

  1. As always, very entertaining. :). More experiences to add to the book of memories.

    Twana Johnson
    Serving in Mexico


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