Where do you go on vacation when you live in a vacation town?

Summer vacation is something of an anomaly when you live in a vacation town. You are working in the community when everyone else is coming here for fun. It is a real-life Bizarro world and if you follow the logic, when you are on vacation, you should go someplace where everybody else is working.

But that wouldn’t be very much fun.

So that’s why we took a vacation to other places where people go to vacation.

Traveling with a dog­ — Lucy the min-pin — adds another layer. One hotel we stayed at made us sign a $300 wee-wee clause. When you’re a dog owner you’ll sign anything.

First stop was Eugene, where we ate braised lamb and pita sandwiches at Albee’s NY Gyros and walked Lucy for hours before she emptied her bladder.

We lunched in Grants Pass, with its “caveman” motif (I still don’t know what that’s about) and main street banner reading “It’s the Climate,” hung in 1920, conceived and paid for by local road contractor John Hampshire.

We first visited Ashland in 1991 when it was a sleepy little village. It’s changed — today it is a mini-metropolis filled with beautiful homes, streets, stores, scenery, along with high fire risk and heat. No, we didn’t see a show. We worked to train Lucy to be a cafe dog, and she performed admirably, cozying under our feet as we sipped Americanos and read the Ashland Daily Tidings.

Cruising I-5

In Oregon you learn that if you’re going to travel I-5 to Cali, do it in the early morning or late afternoon when the heat moderates.

Oregonians warned us: “Vacationing to the state of California is known to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.” But hey, there is life after Tom McCall. While we thought we might wilt along I-5 through Weed, Redding and Chico for Highway 20 to Mendocino.

Mendocino is a Sunset Magazine destination known far and wide for its sturdy headlands, swirling ocean waters and Andrew Wyeth homes. A getaway from urban life? Not always. When we were last there, it was 1991 and the tiny city was filled with film trucks as Hollywood types lensed the Julia Roberts film “Forever Young.”

A quarter-century later, we didn’t see any film trucks but every restaurant and cafe was packed, reservations mandatory. A cabin for rent in the center of town was the perfect place to bivouac, as Lucy enjoyed a private courtyard and we soaked in the hot tub.

Goodwill

Lucy was our goodwill ambassador wherever we went, though we kept a close hold on her leash as we strolled those daunting and dangerous cliffs with swirling waters hundreds of feet below, creating a dizzying Hitchcockian whirlpool missing only the Bernard Herrmann score.

Mendocino is a portrait of a vacation town, replete with an international clientele, including two visitors from our old stomping grounds of New York City. They seemed baffled we had no itinerary — theirs was a winery visit, a garden tour and every potter along the coast.

We had been warned about the long distances from California to Oregon along Highway 101, but it was something we had to experience. We spent a tiring but glorious day trundling up the coast, bypassing Eureka, Crescent City and Trinidad as we headed north. Bandon, Coos Bay, Pacific City, Bay City — all went by faster than you can say “beach bill.”

By end of day we pulled into the Best Western and signed our promises to keep Lucy well behaved or else. Florence is a wonderful small city with boats and bars and a bay. We dined at the spectacular Bay Depot — we were advised to make reservations months ago, and we did — and returned back to the hotel to either watch the tail end of the Democratic convention or “The Real Housewives of Melbourne,” I’m not sure which.

Back home

My takeaway was a perspective on where we live — the South County, Seaside, Cannon Beach and Gearhart.

On my return, standing in a long line at the Pacific Way, I didn’t think, “I wish this line would hurry up, grrr, c’mon.” Instead I waited patiently. Another peculiar local experience I’ve come to enjoy: stopping the car in the middle of the road and chatting with pedestrians through the window. I think they call that “tarrying.”

My wife considered it the ultimate victory when I returned to Gearhart and accidentally left my cellphone at home.

I understand why some people would go on vacation when all the others come to town. And maybe it does make sense to go into the city when it’s a hot weekend and everybody else is at the beach. You might be able to elbow some of those out-of-towners in Portland off the line at some of the city’s trendier restaurants. You might be able to have a quiet night without firecrackers, surreys and surging crowds.

With Hood to Coast around the corner, we’ll just blend in with a nod and a wink. We’re getting our summer vacation right were we live, Fido by our side.

 

R .J. Marx is The Daily Astorian’s South County reporter and editor of the Seaside Signal and Cannon Beach Gazette.

Bear and fish from the Grants Pass, Ore., community art project greet visitors along the city's main street
Bear and fish from the Grants Pass, Ore., community art project greet visitors along the city's main street
Mendocino is the quintessential vacation down ... Watch your footing!
Mendocino is the quintessential vacation down ... Watch your footing!

Summer vacation is something of an anomaly when you live in a vacation town. You are working in the community when everyone else is coming here for fun. It is a real-life Bizarro world and if you follow the logic, when you are on vacation, you should go someplace where everybody else is working.

But that wouldn’t be very much fun.

So that’s why we took a vacation to other places where people go to vacation.

Traveling with a dog­ — Lucy the min-pin — adds another layer. One hotel we stayed at made us sign a $300 wee-wee clause. When you’re a dog owner you’ll sign anything.

First stop was Eugene, where we ate braised lamb and pita sandwiches at Albee’s NY Gyros and walked Lucy for hours before she emptied her bladder.

We lunched in Grants Pass, with its “caveman” motif (I still don’t know what that’s about) and main street banner reading “It’s the Climate,” hung in 1920, conceived and paid for by local road contractor John Hampshire.

We first visited Ashland in 1991 when it was a sleepy little village. It’s changed — today it is a mini-metropolis filled with beautiful homes, streets, stores, scenery, along with high fire risk and heat. No, we didn’t see a show. We worked to train Lucy to be a cafe dog, and she performed admirably, cozying under our feet as we sipped Americanos and read the Ashland Daily Tidings.

Cruising I-5

In Oregon you learn that if you’re going to travel I-5 to Cali, do it in the early morning or late afternoon when the heat moderates.

Oregonians warned us: “Vacationing to the state of California is known to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.” But hey, there is life after Tom McCall. While we thought we might wilt along I-5 through Weed, Redding and Chico for Highway 20 to Mendocino.

Mendocino is a Sunset Magazine destination known far and wide for its sturdy headlands, swirling ocean waters and Andrew Wyeth homes. A getaway from urban life? Not always. When we were last there, it was 1991 and the tiny city was filled with film trucks as Hollywood types lensed the Julia Roberts film “Forever Young.”

A quarter-century later, we didn’t see any film trucks but every restaurant and cafe was packed, reservations mandatory. A cabin for rent in the center of town was the perfect place to bivouac, as Lucy enjoyed a private courtyard and we soaked in the hot tub.

Goodwill

Lucy was our goodwill ambassador wherever we went, though we kept a close hold on her leash as we strolled those daunting and dangerous cliffs with swirling waters hundreds of feet below, creating a dizzying Hitchcockian whirlpool missing only the Bernard Herrmann score.

Mendocino is a portrait of a vacation town, replete with an international clientele, including two visitors from our old stomping grounds of New York City. They seemed baffled we had no itinerary — theirs was a winery visit, a garden tour and every potter along the coast.

We had been warned about the long distances from California to Oregon along Highway 101, but it was something we had to experience. We spent a tiring but glorious day trundling up the coast, bypassing Eureka, Crescent City and Trinidad as we headed north. Bandon, Coos Bay, Pacific City, Bay City — all went by faster than you can say “beach bill.”

By end of day we pulled into the Best Western and signed our promises to keep Lucy well behaved or else. Florence is a wonderful small city with boats and bars and a bay. We dined at the spectacular Bay Depot — we were advised to make reservations months ago, and we did — and returned back to the hotel to either watch the tail end of the Democratic convention or “The Real Housewives of Melbourne,” I’m not sure which.

Back home

My takeaway was a perspective on where we live — the South County, Seaside, Cannon Beach and Gearhart.

On my return, standing in a long line at the Pacific Way, I didn’t think, “I wish this line would hurry up, grrr, c’mon.” Instead I waited patiently. Another peculiar local experience I’ve come to enjoy: stopping the car in the middle of the road and chatting with pedestrians through the window. I think they call that “tarrying.”

My wife considered it the ultimate victory when I returned to Gearhart and accidentally left my cellphone at home.

I understand why some people would go on vacation when all the others come to town. And maybe it does make sense to go into the city when it’s a hot weekend and everybody else is at the beach. You might be able to elbow some of those out-of-towners in Portland off the line at some of the city’s trendier restaurants. You might be able to have a quiet night without firecrackers, surreys and surging crowds.

With Hood to Coast around the corner, we’ll just blend in with a nod and a wink. We’re getting our summer vacation right were we live, Fido by our side.

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