Monday, July 27, 2009


Every year, on our anniversary, Curt and I make it a point of escaping from normal life (and the kids) for at least 24 consecutive hours. It hasn't been easy wrangling people we trust to stay with our kids, but we know making our marriage a priority is a huge key to being successful parents. This year on our anniversary we were socked in with a snow storm, so we went out to dinner and waited for our getaway.

Our friend, "Aunt Kathy" Dillon, is visiting us from Chicago. She loves the kids and insisted that we go away for at least one night so we didn't say no. We took her to church with us on Sunday morning, came home and ate Chicago-style, Costco dogs, and then started packing. Curt decided a few weeks ago to be spontaneous and not make a reservation, but does pre-planned spontaneity qualify as being planned or spontaneous? We threw the tent in the Jeep just in case we couldn't find a room and enjoyed the beautiful drive across the Coastal Range.

The first place we stumbled upon was Whispering Winds Motel in Lincoln City. It was a tiny 1970's motel directly across the street from the ocean that had been carefully renovated with a wonderful combination of old-school charm, funky, modern, and beach cottage. From the colored glass in the doors, the white-picket porch, lantern, hand-painted cottage number and adorondak chairs just begging to be relaxed in, it was inviting on all levels. Choosing the first place was a little TOO spontaneous for Curt though, so we spent the next hour driving along the beach-front periodically stopping to check vacancy and price, but nothing compared to the Whispering Winds Motel. We giggled as we sheepishly circled back and claimed cottage number 15 as our own.

Cottage 15 was C-O-Z-Y! The interior was completely covered with wood - wood walls, wood ceilings and wood floors. The ceilings were 70's style low, which closed in the rooms and made them feel more warm and inviting. It had a full kitchen and sitting room and then two stairs that stepped down to the tiniest full bath and coziest little bedroom just wide enough to fit two end tables and a queen-sized bed. It was quiet, small and perfect for a romantic getaway. We loved every inch of it.

After we got unpacked, we headed into town and grabbed coffee and a pastry from the Cyber Garden Cafe' (which Curt incorrectly labeled the Gerber Garden Cafe'). It struck us both as high-larious and for the next 26 hours, laughter became the common thread. We laughed and laughed. Joked around. Teased. Flirted. Acted immature and cracked up over it. At one point Curt was actually crying because he was laughing so hard. It was wonderfully refreshing.

I wanted to take him on the Cascade Head Trail hike that I took the kids on in May because the view from the top was so beautiful. Without kids, we made it to the lower viewpoint in next to no time. We marveled at the strange weather. In Lincoln City, just a few miles from the trail, it was 59 degrees and socked in by a heavy cloud cover. At the bottom of the trail, it was mid-60's. By the lower viewpoint we were probably in the 70's and at the top of the mountain, we were dripping sweat with temps at least in the 80's. From the lower viewpoint we watched the clouds swirl up and over a miniature peak. We caught glimpses of Lincoln City through the clouds. Oohed and aahhed over the blue skies and the rugged Coastal Range that was not shrouded in clouds. Occasionally a brisk wind would pick up and send the clouds literally twirling in circles. They blew around and through us. We could have watched them for hours, but decided instead to hike all the way to the top of the upper viewpoint. We gained over 600 vertical feet in less than a mile and climbed above the clouds. It felt like we were flying in an airplane. Above the clouds to the right. Bright blue, cloudless skies to the left. STRANGE!

We didn't know that one of the oldest spruce groves in Oregon makes its home at the top of Cascade Head or that you can access the amazing view via a logging road and hike in on a much less strenuous and shorter trail from the top. We meandered into the spruce grove and it was like entering the enchanted forest from The Princess Bride. It was magical with the late afternoon sun filtering through the moss-covered trees. I half expected a woodland fairy to come flying past us.

We forced ourselves to head back down to the Jeep and pulled into Roadhouse 101 at 8 p.m. for dinner. You can eat dinner at 8 p.m. when you are child-free. Curt toasted to "life in Oregon" and we both agreed that our day was one of the most fun we'd had together in a long time.

The next morning was a repeat of the day before with heavy cloud cover and chilly temps. We went out to breakfast, which is one of my favorite things to do and something I do very infrequently. Came back to Cottage 15 and reveled in the uninterrupted silence and solitude as we spent time with the Lord. When we left Whispering Winds at 11 a..m., I forced myself to put shorts on because I knew it was hot in the valley and I didn't want to sweat too much in the car on the way home.

We left Lincoln City and drove up Highway 101. Found the logging trail that leads to the top of Cascade Head and joked about the uncanniness of how we ALWAYS seem to find a curvy, windy, gravel, one-lane road with steep drop offs every time we set off on an Oregon adventure. We hiked back to the same spot we'd visited the day before, but this time the trail ambled through the spruce grove. It was flat and easy and we'll bring the kids back.

We stopped in Neskowin with the intention of playing on the beach, but it was completely covered in clouds to the point that we could hear the ocean, but couldn't see it. We gambled on the weather being better in Pacific City and drove the handful of miles up the coast to Pacific City's Cape Kiwanda. Sure enough, the cape was just tall enough to drive the clouds up and over it, opening up the tiniest section of sunshine and warmer weather. EVERYONE visiting the coast was in that tiny patch of sunshine. Kids building sand castles and squealing in the cold water. Families exploring the tide pools. Adults laying out in the sun. Surfers catching big waves. Dory boat drivers doing what dory boat drivers do. The huge sand dune was covered with explorers, while the rugged cape was sparsely dotted with the few people brave enough to proceed past the sharp drop offs.

We climbed the sand dune and read the "Caution. Danger ahead. Steep drop offs. Proceed with caution" sign at the entrance to the Cape. Since we were child-free, we decided we could be adventurous. We spent the next hour and a half exploring the nooks and crannies of the cape, ending up at the farthest point way out in the ocean with huge waves crashing against the rocks below. One small slip, and we would be goners. The cliffs and drop offs made my heart race, but the view gained from peeking over the edge was amazing enough that we kept climbing. Kept peeking. Kept marveling at the magnificent beauty of God's creation. The ocean is mesmerizing. Dangerous. Exciting. Powerful. Untamable. Beautiful. In some respects, a lot like how I picture God the Father.

We finally forced ourselves to head home. Drove into the cloud cover of Pacific City and watched the temperature drop from mid-70's to 59 degrees. Bought a cappuccino and a loaf of warm bread at the Grateful Bread Bakery and shivered as we took our first bite. We weren't 2 miles out of town, when the temperature started sky-rocketing. 20 minutes into our drive, it was in the high 90's. The air-conditioning in the Jeep is broken, so we felt every degree in the temperature change. It got so hot that we pulled off to the side of the road and splashed around in the Little Nestucca River. By the time we arrived in Newberg, an hour and 15 minutes from when we left Pacific City, the temperature was 104! A 45 degree change in temperature. Talk about STRANGE!

While we were gone, Aunt Kathy spoiled the kids rotten, taking them to the movie theatre complete with popcorn and drinks. She gave them waffles with ice cream for breakfast and took them to McDonald's for lunch. They watched movies. Played games. Read books. Got new flip flops. On every level, she spoiled and loved them and I think they were a bit sad to see us come home.

Life doesn't slow down though. Poor Aunt Kathy got locked out of the house and Paige smacked her face on the play-land stairs. We jumped right back into parenting, chores, and laundry, but our getaway was wonderful! I can hardly wait for next year.

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