9. Last Stop: Seattle

If you are new to my blog, you may wish to read these posts in chronological order.  I have numbered all posts to facilitate this.

Our last morning in Cannon Beach was spent sitting on a log on the beach, eating a bagel,  drinking coffee and watching the locals take their dogs to the beach for early morning exercise.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen happier dogs than those prancing around on a beach.

With our return flight only a few days away, we left Cannon Beach and my giggly, girlhood memories and headed back to Seattle.  We arrived back at Ellen and David’s place to another warm welcome and another great meal.   At dinner we recounted our tales of Indian residential schools and bike trips along False Creek; of Caffe Mingo’s meat marinated in espresso and wine, the good karma at our apartment in Portland and our meeting with Lucille and Julian; of John Steinbeck and Charley and the redwoods; of wool spinning, Indian tribal dances and Joe’s Deli; of lazy days in Bandon and job interviews at sunrise; and of chocolate-covered sea foam and bubble-gum cigarettes, Tilt-a-Whirl’s and Haystack Rock.  We obviously needed a debriefing!

But lest you think that my nostalgia trip had come to an end, there was still one more meeting scheduled for our last day in Seattle.  Debbie, my eldest sister Carolyn’s best friend from our days in Portland, was a constant presence in our family.  In fact, it was difficult to talk about Carolyn without mentioning Debbie, they were so inextricably linked.

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8. Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach was another nostalgia destination for me.  Located only a 90-minute drive from Portland, we we had visited often and I have wonderful memories of our time there.  So, we set out once again, me full of anticipation  and Hans Einar, my companion on this journey and in life, supportively helping me to navigate my trip down memory lane.

Less than 2 hours into our 5-hour trip to Cannon Beach, we passed near Florence, Oregon, home to the Oregon Sea Lion Cave . I had vivid memories of a trip to the cave during at least one of our summer trips from Portland to Los Angeles, so I did not hesitate to stop, nostaligia-tear tissues at the ready for another few steps down memory lane.

In its own words, the Sea Lion Cave is “nothing short of wild“, “a cave of wonder and enchantment“, with sea lions as the “original hard rockers” who “rock a capella style” in a veritable “sea lion jam session“.

With such superlatives, we were undeterred when the ticket seller said she could not “guarantee that we would see many sea lions”.  We paid a reduced entry fee and took the elevator on the 63-meter descent into the cave.  There was not a sea lion in sight, neither in the cave nor on any of the rocks surrounding the cave.  There was, however, a film that showed the hundreds of sea lions usually in the cave for those lucky tourists who had come at the right time.  I kept saying to Hans Einar “it’s really amazing when there are sea lions here” and “I remember the place being full of sea lions” and “just imagine this enclosed space filled with hundreds of barking sea lions”. He smiled and put his arm around my shoulders to comfort me and my dashed childhood memories of the Sea Lion Cave.

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7. Bandon, Oregon

For the last part of our road trip before our return to Seattle, we decided to take it slow and proceeded along the beautiful Oregon Highway 101 coastal road.  Our first destination was to Bandon for some rest and relaxation (road trips are tiring!).

En route to Bandon, we passed through many small and beautiful towns and I could easily imagine John Steinbeck and Charley plying these same roads.  This is a part of America where towns still have their own character and we went many miles without seeing a strip mall or a Walmart.

One of those towns, Port Orford was particularly noteworthy for us with The Crazy Norwegian’s Fish and Chips restaurant.  While we did not stop for fish and chips, I liked the description of its interior by a reviewer on triburban.com:

“The inside of the Crazy Norwegian is very um, decorated.  Imagine cramming in all your Norwegian grandmother’s memorabilia in one room and you’d be close to what this place looks like on the inside.”

The same could be said of our barn at home but that’s a story for another blog!

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Imagine cramming in all your Norwegian grandmother’s memorabilia in one room and you’d be close to what this place looks like on the inside.

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6. Hoopa, California

In Hans Einar’s quest to learn more about the American Indian heritage and my quest to visit with friends, our next stop took us to Hoopa (also written as Hupa) and the Hoopa Valley Tribe.  Rhoby, the sister of my good friend Kristy, has lived in Hoopa for nearly 40 years.  Knowing that she is deeply committed to the Hoopa Valley Tribe culture and traditions, I though it would be a great place for Hans Einar too.

We booked into the Tsewenaldin Inn, the only hotel on the reservation that sits close to the highway, conveniently located next to the Hoopa Tribal Museum and the Lucky Bear Casino.  We both had a déjà-vu feeling about the place and realised that it reminded us of hotels we had stayed in while we were “in the field” in Africa; a bit old, a bit worn, not everything working quite as it should, but, in the end, provided a comfortable and reasonably priced place to rest our weary bodies.

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5. Redwood National Park

Our next destination was to see the giant trees of the Redwood National Park.  We stayed overnight at Grant Pass and its Lodge at Riverside, seduced by the hotel’s offering of “an evening wine reception and fresh baked cookies.”  Who could resist a lodge that offers fresh baked cookies?  On our way to the hotel, we stopped at a small roadside service station and succumbed to the offer of a milkshake.  Expecting something along the lines of a McDonald’s pre-fabricated shake, imagine my surprise when we were asked to choose from a list of ice cream (real ice cream!) flavours and watched as the server filled a steel mixing pitcher with large scoops of ice cream and real milk and attached it to an original multi mixer!  And the milkshakes were great; they even had small chunks of ice cream that got lodged in the straws so we had to blow them out to continue drinking.  What a treat!

The real deal

The real deal

Our stay at the Lodge at Riverside was lovely and the wine and cheese reception followed by fresh-from-the-oven gooey chocolate chip cookies were worth the trip.  This was just a prelude to a lovely dinner at the Twisted Cork Wine and Tapas Bar where we were served by a waitress from Marseille.

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Road Trip 2013

This year, Hans Einar and I decided to take a trip to the Pacific Northwest region of the US and Canada.  For him, the anthropologist, it was a destination for learning about the American Indians (or, as Canadians refer to them, the First Nations).  For me, the nostalgia buff, it was to be a trip down memory lane with a visit to Portland, Oregon, a city that was my home from age 4 until 6 days before my 10th birthday, when we immigrated to Canada. And then there were friends and other sights to visit in-between.

Mum at 80

Our trip started separately, when I left Hans Einar at home to spread the word of health promotion to young nurses and flew to Houston to visit my parents.  It was a short trip but a special one.  The highlight was a “surprise” birthday party for my mother to celebrate her 80th birthday.   Mum has been a docent at the Holocaust Museum of Houston since it opened in 1996.  Every time I visit the museum, I meet staff and docents who tell me what a wonderful woman my mother is, how kind and knowledgeable she is and how proud I must be of her (which I am).  I wanted to allow all those people to celebrate her and I wanted to be there.  Suzanne Sutherland, the Museum’s Director of Visitor and Volunteer Services and a good friend, was my partner in crime (she made it all happen).  On Tuesday, 17 September, Mum walked into a room full of colleagues, docents, friends and family who yelled, “surprise”and, from that moment on, Mum cried…

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Vancouver, British Columbia

A 2-and-a-half-hour drive from Seattle took us over the Canadian border and up to Vancouver.  Our primary destination was the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) on the beautiful campus of the University of British Columbia (remember my husband, the anthropologist?).

Anthropologist in his element...

We were lucky enough to arrive just in time for a tour given by Bill McLennen, the museum’s curator.  He has worked at the MOA for 37 years and will retire at the end of October 2013.  Bill led us through the special exhibit “Speaking to Memory:  Images and Voices from St. Michael’s Residential School”.  The Indian residential school system was implemented in 1879 by the Canadian government to eliminate the “Indian problem” by absorbing the Aboriginal population into the dominant Canadian identity by imposing Christianity, English or French language and the abandonment of cultural and family traditions. This exhibit tells the story of St. Michael’s Indian Residential School that was operated from 1929 to 1974 in the village of Alert Bay on Comorant Island.  During the late 1930s, Beverley Brown, a student at the school was given a camera and photographed her friends and classmates.  She recently donated the photos to the MoA archives.  Many of the children were not identified when she donated the photos.  The photos are now hung with a transparent sheet on top.  Felt pens are available in the exhibit and individuals are encouraged to write in the names of the children they recognise.

Children at St. Micheal's Residential School, Alert Bay, British Columbia
Children at St. Micheal’s Residential School, Alert Bay, British Columbia

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