Thursday, March 20, 2008

Aunt Jax invades Oregon, part two

Once we had the ocean in sight there was no stopping us. We drove straight to Cannon Beach and promptly parked by Mo's (more about THAT yummyness later), put everyone into their beach shoes, and headed for the water.

We decided ahead of time not to tell Jax that the water was REALLY cold. The problem is that I myself forgot just how cold it really is. So when she and I headed into the surf to get a picture, I thought I'd get a good chuckle when she put her toes in but little did I know that I would scream like a girl when it hit my feet too.

Anyway, there we are in the water like a couple of ding dongs.

We played down on the beach for a bit and then we decided it was lunchtime. Jax had to experience Mo's clam chowder. It is after all one of the things that convinced me a long time ago that I could live in Oregon. And I don't even REALLY like clam chowder. Unless it's at Mo's.

So we ate. Oh god did we eat. In the summertime you'll wait for two hours just to get in the door of the place but on a Saturday in March, we were able to get a table right away - a big circle spot right up against two windows looking down at the beach. We watched the waves crash and the dogs run and laughed while it rained on one side of the restaurant but not on the other and we absolutely stuffed ourselves full of clam chowder and grilled cheese sammiches. Jacquie was fascinated by the waves, and they were putting on quite a show. It was awesome.

After lunch we were way too bloated to go down back on the beach so we piled back into the van and headed South on Hwy 101. Hwy 101 has to be my absolute favorite drive on the planet. It's absolutely stunning. We stopped at viewpoints, read historical markers, and took pictures.

It was all fine and dandy until we found ourselves at a major impasse.

Skippy had realized that we were less than 20 miles from the Tillamook cheese factory. If you've never had Tillamook cheese, you are missing out big time. Not all cheese is created equal and this is some damn good stuff. Don't get me started on the ice cream. Chunk demanded gallon containers of Tillamook peanut butter and chocolate ice cream every three days while he was in utero, and my ass is still paying the price. But it's soooooooo good.

Skippy wanted to go. He had that classic kid-in-a-candy store bounce behind the wheel and that gleam in his eye that tells me I'm in trouble. You don't come between Skippy and cheese. However being the sensible one in this marriage (God help us), I said it was silly to drive that far, that they probably wouldn't be open, etc and to turn the purple people eater around, stat.

Skippy, being Skippy, continued to trek South. I pleaded and begged and cajoled. I eventually convinced him to at least look up the number and CALL to see if they were open, only for us to realize that even though the iPhone can fold your laundry and is licensed to perform weddings, even it cannot get a signal in the middle of the Oregon coastal forest. So we drove.

And the damn cheese factory was open. And (dare I say it?) it was FUN.

I'm not sure what Jax thought of that part of our trip. I'm pretty confident that she never imagined that a trip to the cheese factory was on the agenda when she booked her flight and we said, "Hey! We'll take you to the coast!" But she was a good sport and I think we all actually had a lot of fun. We bought cheese and had ice cream, and then finally jumped back on 101 and headed back the way we came, North to Seaside. Once we checked into our hotel we promptly swam, ordered pizza, and passed out.

Sunday brought more fun in Seaside. The sun was peeking out from behind the clouds and we shopped, bought saltwater taffy, and hid from one brief downpour by riding bumper cars and the tilt-a-whirl. The most unique thing we did was feed the seals at the Seaside Aquarium, but I'll blog more on that later. We rode the merry-go-round. We took pictures. And finally, after lunch the Chunk was worn out so Skippy took him back to the van while us girls went beach combing one last time. We found shells, sand dollars, and one lonely crab who was either thankful or terrified that two little girls came along and flipped him back over the right way.

Filthy, sandy, and exhausted, we made our way back to the purple people eater and at long last, hit the road for home. Our mission to show Jax at least a little bit of the Oregon coast was complete. After a quick detour to see the views and the column in Astoria (where I dissovled into gales of giggles when I read the sign at the Holiday Inn Express "Where sleeping under the bridge is a good thing!") we arrived home a little bit before nine on Sunday night, greeted a very happy Bailey dog, got three very tired kids into bed, and collapsed. The beach was a hit.

I'll get part three up tomorrow. I think I'm still catching up on sleep myself because right now, I'm sleepy.

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