Tag Archives: road trip

#RoadTrip! The Resort, The Vegan, and June-uary #amwriting

Traveling, even in the Great Pacific Northwest can be—intriguing—if one is vegan. Sometimes the food is good, other times not so much. This week we are at Alderbrook Resort and Spa on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State.

road tripNow, we probably wouldn’t have plumped for such a fancy getaway, but my husband has a conference there, and what with him not driving right now, I am along as chauffeur.

Anyway, the restaurant, like most here in the Northwest, does offer a few vegan entrees and I have been well (if unusually) fed.

I will get to the unusual part in a minute.

This place is built in the style of a Timber Chalet, but it wasn’t always so elegant. It was begun in 1909 by Henry Stumer, a Seattle business owner. He had previously owned the Hotel Stumer in Union City (now Union, WA). He and his friends at Seattle’s Swedish Club bought several parcels of beachfront property just east of Union City. The resort is situated on the fjord known as Hood Canal, which is a part of Puget Sound.

Locmap-hoodcanal-ssIt’s a fjord, not a canal, so why they named it that, I don’t know. But there it is, one more thing our pioneering ancestors have to answer for.

Stumer built tent cabins out of frames covered in black and orange striped canvas. They had no windows or electricity, only a wood stove for heat and cooking. The creek running through the property was used for refrigeration.

There was no road when Alderbrook opened in 1913, so guests arrived by boat from Union City or on horseback.

Alderbrook went through many iterations over the years, including a hotel. In 1959, Wes Johnson, a Hood Canal realtor from Hoodsport purchased the Alderbrook Inn. Johnson’s redevelopment plans included an indoor swimming pool, marina, 18-hole golf course, and 70-room hotel. To finance the redevelopment, Johnson sold the vacation cottages individually.

Zoom forward in time to 2022, and Alderbrook Resort is a posh palace for those with money to burn. Greg’s wallet is on fire! So much to do, so many ways to spend money, and so little time. The staff here is marvelous, and there are many activities for families. They have a fabulous spa, a high-end restaurant, yacht tours of Hood Canal, and numerous trails for hiking.

But I’m not into spa treatments, for which my husband’s budget is grateful. It’s peaceful and pleasant to just sit on my balcony and observe the waterfront and the forest around us. I have done quite a bit on my writing projects while visiting here.

I’ve spent a lot of time (and $$$) in the restaurant, where I have terrific views of the activities of my fellow guests.

I’ll just say I’ve seen some stuff worthy of a novel. Here is one people-watching moment that sticks out:

Kimball_BostonDirectory_1868The man and the baby: We arrived on Sunday afternoon. We sat at a romantic table for two for our first dinner, overlooking the beach. It’s the Pacific Northwest, so people come dressed for January in June (or June-uary as June is known here). The lawn chairs were full of guests lounging in their summer finery of Gore-Tex and wool, ignoring the intermittent misty rain and drinking steaming coffees. Off to one side was a young man sitting alone. Beside him was the fanciest baby pram I’ve ever seen.

Seated above it all in the restaurant, I had ordered grilled cauliflower. I was not disappointed in the quality of that entrée. It was seasoned perfectly, with just the right amount of tenderness, and was a delicious, satisfying dinner.

I just happened to look up from my meal in time to see the young man wheel the pram to the side of an enclosed area, park it, and walk away. This baby was very tiny, not more than a month old.

That was not a happy moment for me, as you don’t do that here in the US. I later discovered that the enclosure is an outdoor coffee bar on weekends, but I didn’t know it then. Here in America, you never leave a baby or small child unattended in a public place, whether outdoors or in a car. People will assume it’s been abandoned and call the police and Child Protective Services.

The longest five minutes I’ve ever lived passed while I watched that baby carriage like the hawk-eyed grandma that I am. Then a young man emerged from the coffee bar with a steaming cup. He walked to the pram, placed his cup in the cupholder, and pushed the baby out of my visual range.

I’m a terrible witness. I couldn’t remember if it was the same young man, but they both had red jackets. The author in me went into overload. Perhaps the baby was a doll, and I had witnessed a spy transaction, two men handing off secrets. Or maybe it was a big-time drug deal.

Ooh, the possibilities. Now, if Ellen King Rice will only write that novel!

So back to the food.

peas and vinesOn Monday, I decided to be adventurous. I thought I would try the spring salad with fresh peas, pea vines, fennel, watermelon radishes, and a champagne vinaigrette. I had never thought of eating pea vines, but I’m not afraid to try new things.

That was … interesting. The vinaigrette was divine, and the peas and radishes were delicious, as were the dandelion greens. Unfortunately, while the pea vines were good, they were difficult to get into my mouth without embarrassing myself.

Somehow, I had thought the vines would be cut to a manageable size, but alas, they were five to eight inches long and wiry. Not only that, but they were impossible to cut with the lovely silver flatware set so neatly beside our plates.

I tried wadding them up into little bales and pitchforking them as one might do spinach, but they sprang apart before I could get them into my mouth. Vinaigrette splattered all over my face and glasses.

I had been raised with manners, so I wiped my face with the white linen napkin and soldiered on.

I tried twirling them around a fork – with the same result.

I ended up leaving most of it on my plate, something I rarely ever do.

This supports my experience that punishment food is on the menu in the most unlikely places and is often labeled vegan. Usually, it’s soggy eggplant or limp portobello mushrooms, which are much easier to get into your mouth than my elegant pea vine salad was.

avacado dinner saladToday we are on our way home, where we will indulge in budget-friendly home-cooked meals and other economies for a few weeks to make up for this splurge.

And next Monday, here on Life in the Realm of Fantasy, we will delve into some of my favorite books and see how the authors employed themes to emphasize atmosphere and unite the threads of their stories.


Credits and Attributions:

Baby Pram, Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Kimball BostonDirectory 1868.png,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Kimball_BostonDirectory_1868.png&oldid=463698022 (accessed June 14, 2022).

Map of Hood Canal, Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Locmap-hoodcanal-ss.png,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Locmap-hoodcanal-ss.png&oldid=449541623 (accessed June 14, 2022).

Peas and vines, Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Doperwt rijserwt peulen Pisum sativum.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Doperwt_rijserwt_peulen_Pisum_sativum.jpg&oldid=483824040 (accessed June 14, 2022).

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The Writer’s Holiday

This week we are in Cannon Beach, Oregon, for our annual family pilgrimage. It is the place where sand and sea meet grandchildren and dogs. This year, no toddlers, but one of the older grandchildren is here with his friend.

Sunset_Cannon_Beach_05_August_2019We booked in January, so we got our favorite condo on the beach. Some years we don’t get it, but we always have fun. My sister-in-law and her husband are in a small house a bit further toward the other end of town. The daughter with the teenagers is staying in the neighboring town of Seaside, which is more oriented to teenagers and caters to their idea of fun.

Cannon Beach is a pleasant village, with flowers in every public place, gardens that are maintained by the city. It’s an attractive tourist town, easily walkable, and with a free transit system.

There is a brewery, several coffee roasters, numerous art galleries, and bookstores. On the main street we find a fabulous wine shop, my all-time favorite bakery, and an old-fashioned candy factory that is to die for.

Most important of all, on the corner near our condo is the grandchildren’s favorite toy store of all time, Geppetto’s. No one can walk past it without stopping in. (Shh – don’t tell anyone, but I’m getting the youngest ones their Christmas presents today.) This store has the most amazing variety of board games and puzzles.

Our condo is in the thick of things, so pizza night is easy to arrange, and a great pub is just around the corner.

We usually stay at the north end of town in the same area every year. I have a full kitchen, essential for the vegan on the road, and can walk out my door to where Ecola Creek enters the sea. The creek is wide here at the estuary but so shallow we can wade across.

Amaranthus and Savvy at the needles by haystack rock cannon beach 2012

The best part of this condo is the lovely gas fireplace for when the teenagers come in dripping seawater and sand, with blue lips and chilled to the bone.

They never listen to Grandma. “Come in before you get hypothermia!”

Just sayin’.

The view from our condo is one that never fails to soothe me. Tillamook Head is just off to the north. A mile out to sea, resting atop a sea stack of basalt, the notorious Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, nicknamed “Terrible Tilly,” has had a long history of strife and tragedy. Although long closed to the public, she still stands today, battered and bruised. Her continued existence is a testament to the quality of construction, as she is much stouter than the rock she was built upon.

About Terrible Tilly, from Wikipedia:

Tillamook Rock Lighthouse Cannon Beach Aughust 2014In September 1879, a third survey was ordered, this time headed by John Trewavas, whose experience included the Wolf Rock lighthouse in England. Trewavas was overtaken by large swells and was swept into the sea while attempting a landing, and his body was never recovered. His replacement, Charles A. Ballantyne, had a difficult assignment recruiting workers due to the widespread negative reaction to Trewavas’ death, and a general desire by the public to end the project. Ballantyne was eventually able to secure a group of quarrymen who knew nothing of the tragedy, and was able to resume work on the rock. Transportation to and from the rock involved the use of a derrick line attached with a breeches buoy, and in May 1880, they were able to completely blast the top of the rock to allow the construction of the lighthouse’s foundation.

On October 21, 1934, the original lens was destroyed by a large storm that also leveled parts of the tower railing and greatly damaged the landing platform. Winds had reached 109 miles per hour (175 km/h), launching boulders and debris into the tower, damaging the lantern room and destroying the lens. The derrick and phone lines were destroyed as well. After the storm subsided, communication with the lighthouse was severed until keeper Henry Jenkins built a makeshift radio from the damaged foghorn and telephone to alert officials.

The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1957 and replaced with a whistle buoy, having become the most expensive U.S. lighthouse to operate. During the next twenty years, the lighthouse changed ownership several times; in 1980 a group of realtors purchased the lighthouse and created the Eternity at Sea Columbarium, which opened in June of that year. After interring about 30 urns, the columbarium‘s license was revoked in 1999 by the Oregon Mortuary and Cemetery Board and was rejected upon reapplication in 2005.

Access to the lighthouse is severely limited, with a helicopter landing the only practical way to access the rock, and it is off-limits even to the owners during the seabird nesting season. The structure was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981 and is part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge. [1]

I spend a lot of time on the porch, looking out to sea at Terrible Tilly. The view is soothing, although the Northern Pacific waters are wild and untamed.

The lighthouse that I think of as a friend stubbornly clings to life, providing a home for seabirds. I watch it, sitting in solitude and letting my mind go free, and then I write.

KiteFlying2018When I feel need to clear my mind, I go to the water’s edge and fly my kite. While I do that, my husband roams the beach, watching the seabirds nesting on the God-rock of Cannon Beach, Haystack Rock.

I will admit, we overindulge in treats reserved only for holidays. On days when we have no grandchildren, we visit our favorite restaurants and pubs. Often we go to a play at the community theater.

Each year, when we return home, my thoughts are clearer for having come to this place of wildness and beauty. I feel invigorated for having spent a week in the company of our loved ones.

Winters on this coast are notoriously awful, as witness the battering of Terrible Tilly, but August is peaceful, with mists rising at dawn, sun all afternoon, and stars falling over the vast ocean.

Every year, the moment we arrive back in our inland valley, I long for this place, my spiritual home. In the days and months to come, this week will shine in my memories, a sliver of paradise outside of the pandemic, a quiet time of rest and rejuvenation.


Credits and Attributions:

[1] Wikipedia contributors, “Tillamook Rock Light,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Tillamook_Rock_Light&oldid=1026355176 (accessed August 14, 2021).

All images used in this post are the author’s own work and are copyrighted.

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