Mom’s sister Peggy, Peggy’s husband Darryl, their daughter Emily, and Emily’s seventeen-year-old son Josiah arrived Thursday afternoon. After they settled into their guest house and got Peggy and Darryl’s dog situated at the kennel, we met up for dinner at a causal restaurant in Bandon. We needed three tables pushed together for our group. Conversation was lively and featured many stories about the middle generation’s comparatively lax seventies-and-eighties childhoods and a surprising number of accounts of personal injuries, including a recent horrific experience Dave had getting both his contacts stuck to his eyes. (This misadventure led to Sara and Dave spending half the night in the ER, instead of going out for an anniversary dinner.)
Friday: Pacific Ocean, Coquille River
Friday morning, Peggy and Emily met up with Sara, Dave, Lily-Mei, and me to go to Circles in the Sand yet again. It was the last day of this month it was happening, and Emily really wanted to see it. As I told Sara, I would never turn down an opportunity to go to this gorgeous beach. Darryl was feeling ill, so he didn’t come. His symptoms (fatigue and body aches) seemed like they could be covid, but Peggy got him a test and it was negative.
There was a new labyrinth that day. Because the tide was low but coming in, we showed Peggy and Emily the places where you can see sea stars and sea anemones before the water covered them back up, and then we walked the labyrinth. Emily was supposed to meet a friend who was travelling in the area, and they didn’t find each other until after we’d finished, so they talked a while and then I showed Peggy, Emily, her friend, and her friend’s kid the sea caves, but we couldn’t go inside any of them because there were too many people inside them already.
The original plan for the day was for Emily and Josiah to join Sara’s family, me, and North at a swimming hole on the Coquille River, but it was an hour away and Josiah (having come from Idaho) was tired of being in the car and had homework for the Japanese class he’s taking in summer school and then Emily decided to stay in Bandon with him, so it was just the five of us.
We arrived later than we thought we would, just before three, had a picnic lunch, and then we made our way down to the river. It was a scenic spot surrounded by evergreen trees. The river was winding, pebbly, clear, and cold. In the deep spot where people were swimming, there was a ladder you could descend into the water and a diving board, but I chose to enter the water by wading in gradually from a shallower area. I did jump off the diving board later, though. After swimming, we camped out in chairs and towels on both sides of the river, reading and relaxing. (I was reading True Grit, which my book club was going to discuss the day after our return.) It was a pleasant afternoon and Sara, who loves rivers and swimming holes, was happy to have another one in her repertoire.
On the way home we stopped at A&W for milkshakes (Dave and Lily-Mei), a root beer float (North), and some vanilla soft-serve (me). Sara was saving her appetite for dinner because she and Dave were going out for an anniversary make-up dinner (this time with no ER visit). We also picked up a pizza, because North, Lily-Mei and I were going to have pizza at home while Mom and Peggy’s family went out for seafood.
On returning home, we learned from Mom (who had gotten home earlier than we expected) that Peggy and Darryl’s anxious, high-strung dog got kicked out of the kennel, so they had to keep her on the porch of their no-pets-allowed house (after consulting with the owner) and in her crate in their car overnight.
Mom watched a movie Lily-Mei had chosen with us as we ate our pizza. It was a documentary about men who own cats, called Cat Daddies. North had issues with the premise of the movie, that it was unusual for men to own cats and was exasperated for much of it.
Saturday: Coquille River, Pacific Ocean
The main group activities for the day were a crabbing expedition and a family cookout at Peggy and Darryl’s place. North and I did not care to crab, so Sara dropped us off in downtown Bandon where we visited a café and a candy store. From there we walked to a river beach on the other side of the lighthouse we’d visited a few days earlier. North wanted to rest on their towel and read their book, but I wanted to explore, so I left them there for almost two hours, while I rambled about.
I followed the river beach to an ocean beach, but I got there a rather perilous way, walking over a wide expanse of very slippery seaweed-covered rocks. I fell once and banged my left knee. It was only a glancing blow, but it hurt enough that I didn’t even notice that I had a bruise forming on my right palm and my left foot was bleeding in two places until later. It was all worth it, though, because I came out onto Bandon South Jetty Park, a beach very similar to Face Rock, with sea stars and anemones in the rock formations, and a large table rock covered with cormorants, and seal sunning itself on a rock in the ocean.
I decided to walk back to North via the road instead of the beach to avoid further injury, but it curved away from the beach unexpectedly and for a while I thought it wouldn’t go back, but it did, and I was reunited with my child. Mom and Peggy picked us up and filled us in about the crabbing trip. The group did catch some crabs, but they were all female or too small and had to be thrown back. Also, Peggy had found a dog-sitter to take the dog. (It was a better situation for the dog and she was happier there.)
Back at the house, I had a bath in Sara and Dave’s luxuriously deep tub while North and Mom peeled and chopped nine cups of apples from Mom’s apple trees for apple crisp for dinner that night. Then Mom took a nap while North finished the crisp and then North had a turn in the bathtub. They went to bed with a headache a little after five. I read a little and then Mom and I made a salad to take over to Peggy and Darryl’s.
We had a cookout in the big and well-appointed back yard of Peggy and Darryl’s rental house. Lily-Mei played croquet and other lawn games with various partners and Darryl manned the grill. We all ate burgers and hot dogs, sautéed mushrooms, baked beans, potato salad, green salad, and of course, North’s apple crisp. Everyone raved about it, and it was a little sad they didn’t get to hear that until later. I talked to Emily and her brother Blake, who was the last to join the party, mostly about the kids, and to Darryl, about poetry. I learned that Blake also gets migraines and that he takes the same medication that works for North.
Sunday: Sunset Bay
Our big outing on Sunday was to Shore Acres State Park botanical garden and Sunset Bay. Dave, who needed some alone time, stayed behind to do some work on the house, but everyone else went, so we were a party of ten. (I don’t think all eleven of us were ever in the same place at the same time.)
Mostly what was in bloom in the botanical garden was roses, which were abundant. We compared the scents of different varieties (e.g., one I thought smelled like rose-scented soap, one North thought smelled like lemon balm). We also examined the herb garden and saw dahlias and even some azaleas that had a few blooms left on them. In the gift shop, Lily-Mei got a night light made of translucent colored stone, flattened a penny in a machine, and got a passport for her collection of flattened pennies. Mom got a decorative frog for her garden.
We had a picnic lunch at the tables at Sunset Bay and then got our chairs and towels set up on the beach. Blake and Josiah went exploring and apparently climbed partway up the cliffs. Sara and I did some more sedate rambling through rocks and tide pools where we saw many little crabs.
Sara, Lily-Mei, North, and I waded in the water to varying depths. In Sara’s family they have a tradition of dunking all the way into as many bodies of water as they can in a summer. When you’ve done that you “own” that body of water and they keep a running tally. Sara and Lily-Mei own the Pacific now. North and I do not, as that water is quite cold, even in a protected cove like Sunset Bay. I did get almost up to my waist in the water, though, as did North. North and I went back to our towels and read while Sara and Lily-Mei made sandcastles.
Back in Bandon, we had dinner at Peggy and Darryl’s back yard again. Everyone was there except Blake, who had hit the road. Lily-Mei jumped rope, first with Sara turning one end of the rope while Lily-Mei held the other. Then when Sara got tired, Lily-Mei figured out how to turn it with her one hand and her opposite foot. It was something else and I’d just been thinking how I hadn’t seen her use her foot as much as she used to when she was younger.
Darryl made a mild vegetarian chili, a spicy meat-based one, and had meat and spice to add so you could customize. After dinner, we had a birthday cake for my mom. Her birthday wasn’t for nine days, but she’s turning eighty and we had a lot of relatives gathered so it seemed like the thing to do.
After everyone sang “Happy Birthday” and ate cake, Darryl, Dave, and Lily-Mei built a fire. It had been misting while we ate so there was disagreement about whether a fire could be built, but they did it and as I was wishing I’d put on another layer over my long-sleeved tee, it was nice to sit around its warmth. Some people made S’mores, but I abstained as I’d already had one dessert. We said goodbye to Peggy’s family that night, as they were leaving the next morning.
Monday: Pacific Ocean
Sara and her family left for a camping trip the following afternoon, leaving Mom, North, and me in their house with the cats for the rest of our stay. (A cat sitter was coming to watch Shadow after that.) They were busy packing all morning and were still at it when Mom, North, and I left to go to Seven Devils Beach around 1:45, so we said our sad goodbyes. Suddenly, our party of eleven had shrunk to three.
When we got to the beach parking lot, I marveled at how few cars there were. There are just so many majestic beaches around Bandon that this marginally less stunning one only rated several cars on a Monday afternoon in July. It took us a while to find the path down to the beach, as it was partly obscured by grass, but it was near a pebbly creek that ran into the ocean. Mom and Sara got settled with their books and I took off to explore. I walked for an hour and fifteen minutes, with the goal of reaching some big rocks in the far distance. The beach was almost completely deserted. Along the way I saw and photographed kelp in different shapes, crabs living and dead, and interesting patterns blown into sand or eroded from rock.
When I got back to Mom and North, North was ready to go and I had hoped to stay another hour and half, so we compromised on forty-five minutes. I’d had enough of walking, and I could read my book elsewhere, so after a snack of cherries and pistachios and some conversation, I spent the rest of my time wading the in water. It was cold but not much colder than Sunset Bay. I waded in about hallway up my thighs. The waves looked tempting, but I couldn’t quite push myself to dive into them. We’d actually chosen this beach because it has bigger waves than the others and Mom likes to watch big waves, if not swim in them.
At home Mom and I walked down to the dock and read for a little while by the riverside. Then we made a dinner of devilled eggs, baked potatoes with cheese and fake bacon, broccoli, and salad. We watched Spoiler Alert, which North chose. It’s a dramedy about a gay male couple, one of whom gets cancer. You find that out at the very beginning, thus the title, and the rest is flashbacks. It’s good, in case you’re interested.
Tuesday: Pacific Ocean
We spent the next morning at the house and then set out in the afternoon to visit a thrift store because Mom needs a granny dress. She’s joined a singing group called the Raging Grannies and she needs a costume, but the store didn’t have anything appropriate. From the thrift store we went out for ice cream at Face Rock creamery (our third visit to this establishment), and then we dropped North back at the house because we were going to the beach, and they’d reached their limit of interest in beaches too cold for swimming. I had not, however, and neither had Mom. We went back to Seven Devils State Park, and she set up her chair close to the ocean, the better to watch the waves. Since I’d gone south the day before, I went north. I saw many waterfalls and rockfalls near the base of the cliff, a lot of driftwood (including whole tree trunks with roots), a big black bird with an orange beak that might have been a California condor, and the ribcage and spine of a large animal that might have been a seal. The vertebrae were almost as big as my fists.
We went back to the creamery for dinner—mac-and-cheese for Mom and North and a quesadilla for me—plus tomato soup and potato chips. I bought North their second ice cream of the day (huckleberry cheesecake), because it was the last day of vacation.
Wednesday: Coos Bay
In the morning Mom, North, and I packed up the house and Mom drove us to the airport. Mom was on her way to Ashland to visit friends for several days before she’d meet up with the campers and drive back to Davis. North and I were flying back East. On the way to the airport, we stopped at a Dutch Bros drive-through, satisfying North’s desire to try this iconic West Coast coffee chain.
As we sat in the tiny Southwest Oregon Regional Airport waiting to board our first flight (to Denver) I looked out the window at a narrow body of water, probably an inlet of Coos Bay, and behind it a ridge covered with evergreens. No matter where you look in this part of Oregon, it’s like a postcard.
We boarded our plane and then another and then a taxi and in the wee hours of Thursday morning arrived home, where two nights and one day later, Beth would return from Wheeling, where she’d flown from Saint Louis to pick up her car and pay another brief visit to her family, and we’d all be united again, after almost two weeks apart.