My uncle has lived in Florence for several years now, but this is the first time I have had a chance to come visit him. In fact, this is the first time I have ever been to Oregon.
We set off around 9:00 AM on Wednesday, September 7th. At first, we tried to catch an Uber to the train station, but could not get an available driver so we decided to drive Daisy (my VW Beetle convertible) and leave her in the parking garage.
We caught the train into EWR and made it to security in the recommended 4-hour pre-flight time. The place was virtually empty (shocker) with no wait time, but my bag got flagged because of a family cuckoo clock so I had to wait a bit.
Once through security, Michael and I found a nice bar, had some okay sushi and a vacation beverage., and people-watched while we chatted.
Eventually it was time to make our way to the gate to board the plane. It was a 3:30 flight that was running a bit late (cue sarcasm – 😱) and it was packed! Michael was assigned Group 2 (as a very frequent flier) and I was Group 4. By the time they started boarding Group 3, they were requiring everyone to check their carry-on bags. Everything for my trip was in that bag and if they lost it, I’d have to run around Oregon au naturale… oh, my!
Doug and Todd were the first of Michael’s friends I met. They were so kind to pick us up from the Eugene airport and drive us home. The curves in Oregon can be a bit nail-biting and being in the dark made them all the more frightening. Todd rode shotgun and, as a man of few words, maybe said three the whole way home. Michael owns a large Cadillac sedan he calls “Mamie.” Doug was driving (he is not a large man) and the driver’s seat seemed to swallow him whole, but he knew how to take charge of Mamie and drove those curved roads with purpose. I shut my eyes for most of the drive – not because I was tired, but because I was a bit terrified.
The next day we got up early to drive an hour to Coos Bay so we could pick up Gypsy, Michael’s dog, where she had stayed while he was in New Jersey with me. Gypsy is a Mcnab (breed) and is so smart. She was really upset though, as she usually gets “shotgun” and didn’t for the ride home. She tried really hard though, licking the inside of my ears, sliming my glasses, trying to forcefully squeeze me out of the seat…
Sheri = 1 | Gypsy = 0
The drive was fantastic, as clearly shown in the multiple photos I took along the ride. 👇
We were pretty tired from the previous day’s travels, so we hung out at Michael’s house and played with Gypsy for a bit. Later that evening, we did a bit of freezer surfing and found some wonderful lamb steaks for dinner which Michael grilled on his cute Weber grill. They were delicious!
Friday started out pretty relaxed. We took Gypsy for a walk and found huge amounts of blackberries (Michael calls them “Marion Berries”). I didn’t have anything for which to hold them so I just pulled up the bottom of my black t-shirt like a makeshift pouch and collected as many ripe ones as I could find. We ate them later.
After that, we went to Grocery Outlet pick up some cheeses and a few other items. I suggested I make guacamole and got most of the ingredients. The Grocery Outlets in Oregon sell wine, so we got some of that too. 🙂
EXPLODING WHALE MEMORIAL PARK
Yes, you read that right – exploding whale. Michael told me that years ago, a whale had washed up on shore and exploded. It was such a weird story that I had to look it up when I got back to the house.
The park is actually quite nice and I took lots of photos of the plant life, even finding cherry sized rose hips!
Friday evening we took Doug and his husband, Jim out to dinner. We drove along the coast to a town called Yachats (pronounced, “yah-hots”) and ate at a fabulous restaurant called, “Ona Restaurant & Lounge.” The food was spectacular and the company was fantastic. If you are thinking of eating there, you’d better make a reservation. Otherwise, good luck getting a table.
There was quite a bit of smoke on the drive up, as the forest fires had blown it to the shore that day. Michael was coughing a bit and it was bothering his throat. Surprisingly, it didn’t seem to bother me at all.
As we were driving along the coast, I saw the sun and asked if there was an eclipse I missed. It didn’t look like the sun, but more like a orange-red ball in the sky. Doug and Jim (riding in the car with us) told me it was the smoke that made it look eerily red.
Since Michael was spoiling me rotten, I decided to make breakfast. I attempted to make omelets, but the pan had round ridges in the bottom and I could not get it to fold over – we had scrambled eggs with cheese, tomato, greens, and avocado instead. To make up for it, I also made avocado toast.
My playmate for the week was Gypsy. She’s extraordinarily smart and relentless when it comes to a good game of fetch. If you throw her toys within catching distance, she will jump up, catch it, then do this little twist before proudly landing gracefully. Our favorite game was rug surfing. I would throw her ball or bone down the front hall and she would chase it, sliding the rug all the way down and leaving it a rumpled pile at the door. We played this game morning, noon, and night. It was so much fun!
Gypsy loved for me to throw it, but she wouldn’t always make it easy for me to get it in the first place. This was her game: “I’ll drop the bone on the table and you try to reach for it. If you’re quick enough, you can throw it to me. If not, I’ll move it a bit further out of reach and laugh at you when you pathetically try to grab it from me.”
I am a sucker and lost THAT game all but once.
Michael took me to play bingo at the Greentrees Village Recreational Center and I had a blast! We sat with a table full of Michael’s friends, each of them such a delight. To my left was Jim and Michael was to my right. Across from me was Sandy and Rich with Aaron and Ray further down. Ray was the only bingo winner at our table, but Jim won a ticket prize.
We laughed and had such a good time (even thought I got my butt kicked).
Sundays are famous for brunch and the Florence gang was no exception. We made our way to a Mexican restaurant called Ixtapa Family Mexican Restaurant. We started out with a frozen margarita and after the first sip, I leaned over to Michael and whispered, “I’m going to need a nap after this.” It was one strong drink! We both had fish tacos with black beans and rice. It was delicious.
Again, so many of Michael’s friends sat around the table, each one of them so much fun. Some were the same from bingo night, some not, and more friends that I had not yet met. It was a lovely time.
Later that afternoon (yes, after the nap), Michael’s neighbors came over. A wonderful couple named Jacqueline and Andy. They were so easy to talk to and I just know that if I lived there, Jacqueline and I could be friends. They share their time between Oregon and Alaska, have two cute dogs, and also have an RV.
Over dinner on Friday night, I had learned that Doug was a costume designer. Jim was so excited to share Doug’s talents and I love costumes. I mentioned that I would love to see photos, so they invited us over to see Doug’s albums.
We brought my homemade guacamole and some crackers to their home and got to see all the fabulous costumes he made over the years. We even got to see a video of the full cast of Alice in Wonderland costumes being worn for an impromptu event in a park.
Doug modeled his Ursula costume, but in the end, his cat got the catch of the day. 🤣🤣🤣
Monday we spent some time in Old Town, putzing around the shops and getting a few tchotchkes for the family. I bought a deck of “lucky” playing cards and ended up beating Michael (slaughtered, really) in a game of Progressive Rummy. It’s the only time I have ever beaten him, as he slaughtered me when he came to visit me the week prior. Payback!
Later that evening, we went back and had a fabulous meal at one of his favorite restaurants, the Waterfront Depot. Again, without a reservation, good luck.
Before dinner, we sat outside along the river and saw fish jumping out of the water! It was the craziest thing to see.
Dinner was fabulous. We both had the rack of lamb and shared their fried green beans appetizer. I kept making “mmmm” noises. It was so good I could not help myself.
Our last day together. Michael drove me up to a town called Newport. On the way up the coast, we decided to make a stop at the Heceta Head Lighthouse. The walk and views were breathtaking! You begin by walking along a path through the woods, then come out at the lighthouse keeper’s house, now a bead and breakfast. Next, you walk up the path to the lighthouse itself, right on a cliff overlooking the ocean and two huge boulders jetting out of the sea. The pictures speak for themselves.
When we got to Newport, we shopped for gifts for Deniz, Zoe, and my mom (aka, Nana). Then we walked down to a restaurant called, Local Ocean. I had a tuna reuben with an Icelandic Port beer and they were both delicious. There were a few hiccups with service, but the food was good and the company was magnificent.
After lunch, we walked down to see the sea lions. Michael told me about them, that they hang out on these giant rafts and yell at each other like a bunch of grumpy old men. He was not kidding.
The smell – ugh! Newport is a fishing town where the fishing boats come in with the day’s catch and sell them right off the pier to be processed. Some of the chum (fish waste) I’m sure, makes its way to the sea lions. They are fat and satisfied right where they are!
I had such an amazing time with my uncle. I shared with you our adventures, but we also had so many deep and meaningful conversations. I will forever cherish this trip.
The drive to the Eugene airport was reflective of how I felt. It was such beautiful scenery, but also quite foggy with a bit of mist in the air. I was sad to go but it was time for me to return to those in New Jersey who rely on me, missed me, and also love me.
Thank you. Thank you for sharing your home, introducing me to your friends, treating me to so much incredible hospitality, sharing Gypsy, and trusting me with so much honesty.
I love you and miss you like crazy.