February 4, 2015

Back to Oregon

The recent passing of my Grandma, although heartbreaking, provided the happy opportunity for Matt and I to return to one of my favorite places in the world: Oregon.

It is my home away from home. And I will tell you that last night I dreamed about Portland's old, distinct, and famous (well, at least to Portlanders) airport carpet, which is set to be replaced.

Most of the extended family on my Mom's side reside in Portland. I was so excited to see them all again! But I was most excited to see my brother, Brandon, my sister-in-law Karyl, and my niece and nephew Krista and Sam. It had been a year and a half since we'd last seen them. They used to live in Portland, but moved over to the Oregon coast about one year ago.

We decided the trip would be too hard on Makenna at this age with the flights, funeral, family gatherings, driving, hotels, etc. Thankfully Matt's parents were available to watch her for us and Makenna had a blast staying at "Nana and Papa's" house. In retrospect, we absolutely feel we made the right decision in not taking her along.

We squeezed in so much in the four days we were in Oregon and it was just lovely. Besides reuniting with extended family (and I must say that time was far too brief), I arranged for my first friend in life to swing by our hotel room for a quick visit.

The lovely Katie

The day after the funeral, we visited my "happiest place on earth," Powell's bookstore in downtown Portland.

It's an entire city block of new and used books. I know precisely where to find their archaeology section. I have lugged so many books home to Michigan from this section over the years.

We left Portland behind and headed west to the beautiful coastal town of Astoria, where my brother and his family now live. Portland bid us farewell with this gorgeous view of Mt. Hood.

We arrived in Astoria at sunset and met Brandon at the prime lookout point in the town. There are no words to describe this beauty.

Astoria is nestled on the shores of the Colombia River {the river which runs between the borders of Washington and Oregon}, right where it flows out into the Pacific Ocean. It is simply breathtaking, and the weather was perfect, especially for the winter time.

We hopped into Brandon's truck and he drove us down to a spot along the ocean lined with big boulders. We arrived just after the sun had set.

Brandon and Matt climbed down to pick mussels off of the rocks for our dinner that night. Karyl was cooking us a seafood feast with homemade clam chowder, crab, and mussels {of course!} cooked in a rich and delicious sauce. Quite fitting for their new home on the seashore!

As the guys were busy at work, I sat and enjoyed a gorgeous view of the Oregon coast.

It was just what my soul needed. Watching water has a way of calming my heart like little else in this world, and I find myself deeply drawn to the shore, whether it be the beaches of Lake Michigan, where I was fortunate enough to grow up, or the mighty oceans.

I visited the Oregon coast with my Mom and sister just after my Grandpa Dorsey passed away. It seemed only right to return here again after Grandma passed, too. Some of my last memories with them in the years before their health started declining were trips to stay along the Oregon coast. We always had amazing views because they so loved to just sit and watch the ocean. It felt like a small homage to them, to return to their beloved Oregon coast after both of them had passed.

After plenty of mussels had been gathered, Brandon drove us down onto the beach. There was barely enough daylight left, but we were able to catch a glimpse of the remains of a famous shipwreck which hauntingly protrudes from the sand.

We celebrated New Year's Eve with Brandon, Karyl, and the kids in their home. It was so lovely. Although, we had to laugh...the kids weren't able to stay awake until midnight and us four adults barely made it. {Matt and Sam had fallen asleep cuddled together on the couch!} The fact that it was almost painful to stay awake that late certainly made us feel pretty old!

We enjoyed a wonderful New Year's Day brunch together at a restaurant after sleeping in. Then they showed us around downtown Astoria {so quaint--I wish I had more pictures!} and took us down to the docks to watch the seals.

Another highlight was stopping to see the house from the beginning of the movie Goonies. It was filmed in Astoria and the private owners of the house welcome visitors to walk up to their house and check it out, from the outside, of course.

The "Goondocks:"

We also went to the Astoria Maritime museum. It was especially fascinating because Astoria is located on some of the most treacherous waters in the world for sailors--it is there that the powerful Colombia River flows into the mighty Pacific.

We stopped to check out antiques and finished our busy day with a quick visit to a nearby waterfall. Waterfalls are one of my very favorite, plentiful features in Oregon. It wouldn't seem right to visit Oregon and not see a waterfall.

It wasn't frozen, but the mist from the waterfall covered the surrounding area in a thin layer of frost.

I am so thankful for all we did and saw in Oregon, but most especially the wonderful memories we made with Brandon and his family. It was perfect in every way, except that it was far, far too short.

Until next time, Oregon.

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