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Oceanside, Portland

Started: 2011-07-28 08:09:27

Submitted: 2011-07-28 09:24:29

Visibility: World-readable

After having my original travel plans canceled due to an epic hailstorm, and finally making it to Portland two days later, Kiesa, Calvin, and I spent a mostly-relaxing week at Oceanside with my family and my mother's sister's family (minus Bethany, who couldn't make the trek all the way across the country from New York). We stayed in a large vacation rental house a few blocks from the beach in what appeared to be a localized dead zone for all of our cell carriers. The house was supposed to have Internet access, but I had trouble connecting (I could associate with the wireless network, receive an IP address, and ping the router, but couldn't get out to the Internet at large) and, after throwing the breaker to power-cycle the router locked in a cabinet and several phone calls by several members of our party to the people responsible for the vacation rental we learned that Charter had disconnected the connection because they hadn't paid the bill. They quickly paid the bill and service was restored.

Oceanside looking like a hill station
Oceanside looking like a hill station

We visited the beach daily, though it was a little colder and rainier than I'd expected: Calvin liked running into the waves with his cheap plastic dump truck but it was a little chilly for the grown-ups assigned to keep him from running too far. On our first day, I built a pyramid arcology with a sea wall intended to beat off the tide and Willy built a replica of Poverty Point, a mysterious archaeological site he stumbled upon in the American South. Calvin filled his dump truck with sand and pushed it all over the beach but needed help getting it unstuck when it foundered in soft sand.

Calvin and Kiesa push a dump truck through the Pacific Ocean
Calvin and Kiesa push a dump truck through the Pacific Ocean
Pyramid arcology at Oceanside
Pyramid arcology at Oceanside

On Sunday morning I got up early enough to go running on the beach and ran south toward Netarts. I followed the coast into the bay, across the river from the spit separating the open ocean from the bay, and turned around when I hit a jetty protecting a small dock. When I returned to Oceanside the tide was low enough that I could run around Maxwell Point to Agate Beach, rather than resorting to the tunnel dug through the rock. This beach was spread liberally with large rock outcroppings, and the rocks formed crude tide pools below the tide line. I could clearly see the hierarchy of intertidal marine life: muscles in their shells clung to the rock at the high-tide line, and below that large colonies of nine-inch starfish (mostly purple, some bright orange) slowly ate the occasional muscle while clinging to the rocks above small anemone. I reported my tide-pool findings and, once we found proper tide tables (I transcribed NOAA's tide tables for Netarts into my notebook) staged an expedition to the beach the following morning. I was, at first, worried that I'd oversold the tide pools given the enthusiastic reaction to my verbal report but even the beach-savvy San Diego residents in the group seemed to appreciate the marine life. Calvin toddled along the beach and seemed at least to remember the starfish when quizzed later. (Calvin now seems capable of long-term memory, and enters an odd savant mode when quizzed about his memories in which he slowly recites scattered nouns and verbs that seem closely related to what he ought to be remembering about arbitrary events.)

Starfish and muscles on Agate Beach
Starfish and muscles on Agate Beach
Kiesa watches Calvin dump his dump truck on Agate Beach
Kiesa watches Calvin dump his dump truck on Agate Beach

Our primary outing for Sunday was the Tillamook Naval Air Station Museum, held in a surviving wooden blimp hangar from World War II. (I was fascinated by the essentially pro-war propaganda tone of the historical video; the narrator described the hardships and technical difficulties faced by the construction crews but said their "patriotism" and determination helped them overcome all of the problems. I noticed the video had been produced in 2003 and wondered if the tone was a reflection of the invasion of Iraq.) The hangar was impressive: built to hold nine blimps as they patrolled the coast for Japanese submarines and escort convoys, it towered above the planes scattered around the floor. Calvin enjoyed toddling around and I pointed out the various parts of the planes and explained why the planes were designed the way they were. (I especially enjoyed the PBY Catalina but had trouble figuring out where the main hatch was. It didn't help that the waterline on the hull was around my eye level.) We paid a little extra to go outside into the mist and poke around the Super Guppy sitting on the tarmac; we climbed into the tail and walked down the cargo bed to the cockpit and noticed the outline of the Stratocruiser hull still visible in the cockpit.

Willy tries to find the flaps for Calvin in a jet fighter trainer
Willy tries to find the flaps for Calvin in a jet fighter trainer
Nose and cockpit of N422AU Super Guppy
Nose and cockpit of N422AU Super Guppy
Calvin walks through the main cargo compartment of N422AU Super Guppy
Calvin walks through the main cargo compartment of N422AU Super Guppy

On Monday morning, I drove a few miles north to Cape Meares State Park and ran down the trail leading north to the beach, then ran along the beach, past the town of Cape Meares and along the spit separating Tillamook Bay from the ocean. The trail was overgrown and muddy but running downhill to the beach, pushing aside wet fern branches, was great fun. Our primary outing for the day was the Cape Meares Lighthouse. After studying a slug next to the trail, Calvin wanted to see more slugs ("Daddy, I need more slug!") but I couldn't simply produce mollusks through my own personal will, and no more appeared on their own.

Calvin runs down the path toward the Cape Meares Lighthouse
Calvin runs down the path toward the Cape Meares Lighthouse

On Tuesday, Dad, Willy, and I climbed Mount St. Helens. On Wednesday, our last full day on the beach, I skipped the trek to Cape Lookout and ended up taking a walk on the beach.

On Thursday, we packed up and left Oceanside to head back to Portland in time for Kiesa and Calvin's flight back to Denver at noon. (I was originally planning on leaving on Tuesday, after climbing Mount St. Helens, but changed my plans to extend my trip through Thursday and ended up on a different flight from Kiesa and Calvin; mine didn't depart Portland until 19:00.) We drove back to Portland and I dropped Kiesa and Calvin off at the airport, letting Kiesa take my mid-sized checked bag (packed with, among other things, my ice axe and the rest of my climbing equipment). I refueled our rental car, dropped it off, and headed straight for the airport MAX station to catch a ride into downtown Portland. With the help of the map on my phone, I located the Bombay Chaat House, a food truck in a parking lot that claimed to be Portland's best Indian food truck. I looped back to find an ATM, then returned to study the menu and try to make sense of what it was telling me. I eventually settled on an order of paprdi-chaat, which seemed to resemble what I ate at my employer's Holi celebration.

Paprdi chaat

(In the past few weeks, my phone's touchscreen has lost all connection with reality, making it difficult to tap where I want and nearly impossible to hit controls on the edges of the screen. I've been looking at phones with an eye to replacing my two-year-old phone but nothing caught my eye until recently. In my one-day interregnum the previous week I stopped by the Verizon Store in Longmont to check out the brand-new Motorola Droid 3 (which doesn't have my code in it, but is a top-of-the-line Android phone with a sliding keyboard) but wasn't quite willing to switch carriers because I didn't want to head on vacation with a not-quite-ported phone number. I grew increasingly aggravated with my phone as the vacation wore on -- especially as I tried to use it to navigate Portland -- and resolved to replace it at my first opportunity.)

My next stop was Powell's on Burnside. I headed first for the Asian History stacks, carefully studying the books on China, Tibet, and India. While looking at Chinese history, a professor dropped by with two students and proceeded to give an impromptu literature review, praising some books while dismissing others as biased. I took notes on books I wanted to investigate further and picked up several books, including The Question of Hu, which had been recommended by the professor.

I headed down to the coffee shop and tried to figure out what to do with the four hours I had left in Portland, at least some of which would be absorbed by returning to the airport and waiting for my plane. I spotted the Japanese Gardens on my map on my phone and asked Google Maps to tell me how to get there using public transportation. It told me to catch the route 20 bus right in front on Burnside, take it halfway up the hill, and walk the rest of the way into Washington Park. (I've apparently spent just enough time in Boston that I want to refer to the park as "Wash Park", which Kiesa tells me is entirely unacceptable.) I missed the stop in the park and continued west, where I finally got off the bus at a transit center and headed west one stop on the Red Line MAX to the Washington Park stop. I wandered around the park in the afternoon sun, looked at the Shay geared locomotive outside the World Forestry Center (recalling vague memories of having looked at the same engine sometime in my childhood), walked through the Vietnam memorial into the arboretum, and returned to the MAX stop to catch a ride back to the airport. The rest of my trip home was fairly uneventful; after catching a shuttle home I eventually arrived at 01:00 MDT after my vacation.

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