From sea to shining sea

The Pacific is majestic, stretching across the horizon islandless for thousands of miles. Perched above the Pacific in our little “Shag’s Nest” cabin in Yachats, Oregon, I watch the changing tides, the black volcanic rock — oh could that be a whale? — that intrigues me. Hunkering down under colorful wool blankets to read. Vacation brings relaxation, right? On the Oregon coast it brings lots of rain, or as we say in Maine, “You want the weather to change, just wait a minute.”

Similar to the Maine coast, Oregon’s coastal paths are slick and muddy, bordered by verdant jungle so unlike the Tucson desert I’ve come to love. On the coast, a fierce, cold wind may sock me in the face without warning. But that’s okay.

The Pacific coast isn’t as cozy as the Atlantic. No islands no harbors no boats in sight. On Mount Desert Island, Maine, the sea isn’t separate — it uniquely entwines with every tiny community and its inhabitants.

This Sunday morning I’m sitting in a Starbucks in downtown Eugene with my precious new MacBook Air. Dan’s found a cycling group to ride with for a good part of the day before we reconnect with his college guy son, Connor. I’d like to get some exercise, and may head for the river path soon, but rain is always expected here, which in my mind is the worst weather.

Other people do this a lot, go to a coffee shop and sit drink more coffee and sit. Definitely seems vacation-like to me. And there isn’t much to do in Eugene. Even if it’s raining, in Portland, Oregon, there’s alway the enormous Powell’s Bookstore. When Brook and I visited Ethan at Reed we’d head to Powell’s in the evening, each picking a stack of books to peruse in their cafe.

I’ve got the Sunday New York Times. If it starts to rain I’ll need more coffee. Our three days on the Oregon coast was relaxing. Loud surf to fall asleep to, cozy blankets to read under, collecting rocks on the beach.

But it’s a smooth black perfectly round Islesford, Maine, rock — a comfort when I flew to Alaska to see Ethan in 1999 —  that I take on every trip.  One month from tomorrow it’ll be in my pocket, traveling with me from the Pacific, back to Tucson, and back to the Atlantic.

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