Vacation to Oregon 2021

My first vacation in two years. Granted, I have gone to a couple of airbnbs in Colorado in between then and now, but in regard to taking a flight somewhere, this was it. Shari, Elisabeth, and I hopped on a plane last Wednesday to make our way to our wonderful friend, Kayla.

I loved getting to spend time with Kayla since we hadn’t seen each other in person since she moved to Oregon last August. Plus, her apartment is decorated in a style I very much appreciate and lean into so as soon as we got there I felt comfortable from the get go. This allowed me to loosen up, be in the moment, and truly enjoy myself and relax. Lots of laughter occurred over the next few days. Kayla is very intentional with where she places items and what items she keeps that her home is so welcoming. Plants lovingly set around each room along with lovely art and family photos creates this calming atmosphere. Her decorating style inspires me for when I move into my own place in February.

And how can I not mention the charcuterie boards that this woman makes? She’s an artist. She chooses great cheeses, jellies, fruit, crackers and breads and she puts them together in an eye pleasing display. Plus, Kayla added pickled beets to her boards when we were there and that easily won me over. I asked her to send me photos of her charcuterie so I could attempt to improve upon my own boards in the future. You ever need tips on how to set one up? She’s your go to.

On Thursday we went to a local farmer’s market where I quickly fell in love with the area. Hands down, this was the best market for flowers and plants that I have ever been to. The market itself is situated in a park and it’s larger than it first appears which is great because it means I didn’t feel crowded at all. This might also be the best market in regard to booth variety and interest as well. At least for me. In addition to the handful of local farm stands, there was a hot sauce booth where Shari and I both picked up some truffle hot sauce. There were a couple of bakeries represented, a cute little tea place that gave me whimsical vibes, homemade soaps, lavender products, salsa, and mustards. The mustard was so tasty in fact, that we all bought something from that shop. I think my favorite booth, however, was Sunbird Scarves, a block printing booth offering scarves, bags, and napkins. The artist, Paula Rice, creates her own block print designs and then prints them on the different fabrics. There were carrots and strawberries and birds and beets. I ended up getting two napkins that I plan on framing and putting up in my new apartment. I’ve been flipping through a design book called Jungalow, that Elisabeth checked out from her library, and when I saw this booth, I knew these prints were for me.

After wandering the market for a bit we grabbed some food and met up with our new friend, Carolyn, who also happened to be visiting the area. What a small world. Carolyn lives in Denver and recently started attending meetup events with us. During one of our chats we learned that some of her family lives a short drive away from Kayla and that she’d be visiting them at the same time we’d be visiting Kayla. So we set up a get together! It was awesome getting to eat lunch at the park with her and her sister and getting to know her a bit more.

On Friday, Kayla was amazing, as always, and drove us 2 1/2 hours to the ocean. I GOT TO SEE THE OCEAN. Needless to say I cried when we arrived. I had a really hard time not leaving the others behind as we walked down from the parking lot to the beach, I was just too excited. In fact, I kind of did leave them behind, sorry ya’ll! I had cancelled my trip to the ocean back in August 2020 when covid first started, so I had been craving that sand and salty water for a year and a half. Thank you Kayla for helping me achieve a goal (#30 before 40). I got my feet in that freezing cold Pacific water and then promptly proceeded to run back to the warmer and dryer part of the beach. Repeat 15 or so times and your feet become numb to the cold. We walked along the beach edge looking for mermaid’s tears (aka sea glass), sand dollars (none to be found), and seashells. I gathered up two pieces of driftwood so I could make macramé art pieces for myself one day and have a small souvenir of this truly peaceful time.

We were privileged enough to see loads of hermit crabs scuttling along their tide pool homes as we wandered. There were just so many of them, they fascinated me. I didn’t know if they grew their own shells or utilized already created shells so I read this article on National Geographic and learned they use other creatures’ discarded shells. They can live to be 40 years old and live in groups of up to a hundred or more. Who knew? These little guys are more interesting than I thought they would be. But you know what was even cooler to see? Two sea otters! They popped their heads above the water a couple of times and then showed us their tails as they swam off to a nearby rock island. How lucky are we? I don’t think I’ve ever seen wild sea otters before. I couldn’t believe it.

The trip to the ocean was just wonderful and lovely and exactly what my soul needed. Every person should get themselves to an ocean every three years or so. It does the heart good and is a pleasant reminder of how small we are. To me, that’s a comforting thought. There are bigger things, like the ocean, out there than me and my problems and that both reduces my stress and makes me feel more connected to all the humans in the world. Maybe if more of us went to the ocean more often, we’d have a better world overall.

You know what else reminds me that I’m part of something bigger? Giant trees. For the first time I got to see red wood trees. RED WOODS! We drove through a forest to get to and from the ocean and it just so happened to have red woods. They blew me away with their width and height. These magnificent woody organisms towered higher than I could see out of the car window. Even when we got out so I could attempt to hug one and to touch its bark, I still couldn’t see the top. According to the California Department of Parks & Rec, many of these trees are between 250-300 feet tall. Ok let’s put this in perspective, a 3 story apartment building is around 40 feet tall according to my very quick research. That means these trees can get to be at least 18 stories tall. Is anyone else shaking their heads in disbelief right now? But they’re not just tall, they’re also wide. That same California website says they can be around 30 feet in diameter. I believe it. It would have taken 4 to 5 of us to fully hug the tree we stopped to gander at. It was all so breathtaking.

I don’t even know what to say or how to describe the beauty of those trees. And they were just on the side of the road as we drove to the ocean! I couldn’t stop saying, “oh my gosh” as we passed giant tree after giant tree. It’s an experience. I’ll definitely have to return to see red woods again sometime.

On Saturday we stopped by a local comic shop before heading over to Kayla’s mom’s house for hang out time, games, and dinner. I got to meet Kayla’s family! I now know her mom, her sister, and her niece. Her sister, Jeslyn, is gorgeous inside and out. She’s funny and smart and I really wish Kayla and Jeslyn would just move to Denver so we could hang out all the time. Jeslyn is a great mom to her adorable little daughter, Lili, who is old enough now to walk around on her own. Lili is so sweet, she loved giving us her toys. She is also inquisitive and just plain happy. We all enjoyed ourselves as we chatted and then ate pizza and played a round of Golf, the card game Shari taught us. I feel so blessed to have been able to spend time with these women.

What it comes down to is that the vacation was full of delicious food, board games, and most importantly, friend time. I felt relaxed and at ease for most of the trip, which is impressive and what a vacation should be like. I felt sad to say goodbye to Kayla but look forward to her visit to Colorado sometime in 2022. As we were about to head to the airport to come home, Kayla even found me two giant acorns that I can use for my Squirrel Girl cosplay. Tch, isn’t she a great friend? She’s a keeper. Shari, Elisabeth, and I made our very long way back to Denver yesterday but it was worth it. We also got to see a really awesome view of Mount Rainier while flying out of Seattle that I went a little giddy over. My vacation may be done but it’s giving me both wonderful memories and the energy to dream up more future vacations. Thanks Kayla for hosting!

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