The healing power of the ocean (and beer)

On Sunday, my husband, Happy Dog and I went to the beach.  I am thrilled to report that Happy Dog enjoyed a glorious Oregon coast day without getting carsick.

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Not only are we are fortunate enough to live in one of the most beautiful, fertile river valleys in the U.S., whose farmers produce four of my favorite things (wine, lavender, blueberries and mint), we’re only 1-2 hours from the coast, depending on where we go.  Sunday we chose our current favorite:  Pacific City, home to Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area and Bob Straub State Park (named for a former Oregon governor), the Pacific Dory Fleet and, most important, Pelican Pub & Brewery.

pelican pub & rock

There are undoubtedly lots of other places in the world where one can drink beer on the beach with their dog, but there’s no way you can beat the view from the Pelican.

Plus there are always plenty of other interesting things to watch:  surfers, migrating whales, stand-up paddlers, dories coming and going, dune-boarders, kites flying, skimboarders, hang-gliders and beach dogs (as illustrated above), to name a few.

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Simply put, it’s where I go when I visualize my Happy Place.

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My husband and I only learned to appreciate beer quite recently.  We were in Newport on vacation a few years ago before we moved to Oregon.  The November weather wasn’t particularly conducive to a warm, enjoyable stroll on the beach, but luckily, Newport is home to Rogue Ales Brewery.  We looked at each other and said, “Let’s go taste some beer!”

Rogue Ales

And thus we evolved into a new phase of our life together.

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Part of our beervolution has included volunteering for the past two years at the annual Oregon Garden Brewfest.  The Brewfest is one of the garden’s biggest fundraisers–if not the biggest.  We pour beer for folks to taste.  This year I poured for Flat Tail Brewing in Corvallis, and husband poured for Fish Brewing Company, from Olympia, Washington.

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I learned a lot about hoppy beer that day, and I’m starting to be able to taste the differences between beers.  I feel very sophisticated.  I’ll never be the beer snob my brother is, but still.

Boy, I really went off on a beer tangent there.  I really didn’t mean for this post to be about the healing power of beer so much as the healing power of the ocean.  So, back to Pacific City.

We started with a walk at Bob Straub State Park.  We were pleasantly surprised by the lack of people–it being Labor Day weekend and all.

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Not only was it a holiday weekend, it was also 1) sunny and 2) above 70°.  But the year-round lack of crowds is one of the most beautiful things about the Oregon coast.

We also enjoyed the offerings of Bubble-Blowing Woman:

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Some people just know how to have fun, don’t they?

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We then headed north to the Pelican–at which there’s a pretty generous public parking area–and discovered where the hordes of beach-goers were.  Not only was the parking lot full to overflowing, the main road and side streets were choked as well.  The beach itself was a parking lot with several thru lanes.  There were people and cars everywhere.  And unfortunately I was the one driving.  We did, however, finally find a spot on a narrow side street just a couple blocks from the brewery.  It took about fifteen minutes, but in the big scheme of things–like, say, compared to New York City or Washington, DC–I guess I can’t complain too much.

We thought we’d maybe get something to eat, in addition to the beer, but there was a 90-minute wait for a patio table.  And, as neither of us had thought to bring our phone along, we had no way of being notified when a table became available.  So we settled for sitting on the edge of the patio and enjoying our beer and the ambiance.

All this is leading up to the pinnacle experience in my day, which was so simple as to be almost ludicrous.  After finishing our beer (and boy, did we make it last), we went for another walk–this time among the hordes.  But believe it or not, when we got down to the water’s edge and started walking south, it really wasn’t as crowded as it looked from the patio.

At this point, there’s something you need to understand about me:  there is nothing–and I do mean N.O.T.H.I.N.G.–that makes me happier than walking on the beach, except walking barefoot on the beach, which is something I don’t do very often because of the plantar fasciitis I mentioned a couple weeks ago.

beach feet

And, as you can see, depending on where we’re at, there are other reasons I don’t walk barefoot on the beach.

On Sunday, however, all the stars aligned, and I took off my Chacos  and walked.*   And suddenly, magically, everything was OK.  Unemployment, pending bills, dwindling hormone levels, the bald patches on puppy’s face that I would learn on Wednesday is demodectic mange, the traffic and lack of parking–it was all completely irrelevant in that one magic moment.  I realized I was Present.  I was There.  I was in the Vortex.  I felt completely blissful–like that time I was on painkillers when I had an ovarian cyst and we had to cut our vacation short so I could get home and have surgery.  I knew everything would be all right.

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There’s that Vortex again.

Sunday was one of those incredible days that, for whatever reason, I only get to have occasionally.  Why is that?  Why shouldn’t I have these blissful, magical days a lot more frequently?  Do I somehow think I’m not deserving?  That days like this should be parceled out as infrequent rewards or dangled in front of me like a carrot on a string?  I don’t buy that.  I can’t buy that.  I truly believe I could have as many of these days as I choose to have, but for some reason don’t.

That’s what I need to figure out.  That’s what I need to work on.

(*If you have plantar fasciitis and have never tried Chacos, treat your feet to a pair.)

Photos:
Pelican Pub & Brewery courtesy yourlittlebeachtown.com
Spongebob Squarepants courtesy Nickelodeon & kidtoons.tripod.com
Vortex courtesy crestock.com

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2 thoughts on “The healing power of the ocean (and beer)

  1. Heather,

    I think you found the keys to the vortex! First it was pain killers, then it was beer! I am posting this comment from Pacific City … here with Paul and our own Happy Dog. Paul is in the store picking up tonic water and we plan to enter the vortex later this evening. 😉

    Nita

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