Oregon.

I wait, and wait, and wait, and wait. Wait for inspiration. Wait for time. Time seems ever allusive and precious. I always say I need a good reason to post but sometimes, I want to post just to spite time’s taunting forward movement.

It’s been a bittersweet summer, to say the least. Different in so many special and yet, disappointing ways. Special in that him and I have been together and not pining away after each other, waiting to finally be married. Special in that we saw and did things new, things exciting, things soul-changing. Disappointing in that summer just never seemed to arrive. Summer wasn’t defined for me this year in the ways I have always defined it by and cherished it for. Disappointing in that growing up really isn’t so fun when summer rolls around and one friend’s going on road trips and the other is going on sticky, sunny desert camping trips, and you’re stuck in the office, waiting for your meagre three days off to come. And then it comes and then it goes – so unbearably quickly.

I am grateful for my job and for the assurance of work. But stepping into a temporary yearlong position just as the temperatures started to climb and the beaches started calling wasn’t the most fun choice I’ve ever made. Vacation time works in funny ways when you’re a casual nurse and unfortunately for me, I can’t get any time off until the new year. Really, my only time of recharging was a few long weekends here and there and the most glorious four days in Oregon for our anniversary in July. Jesse and I tried to make the most of the time we had, camping when we could, going on dates to Playland, or spending two days straight in a generous uncle’s pool, soaking in the heat and the sun (that one was mostly me, let’s be honest). For my whole life though, I have waited on baited breath for summer, to pile into Dad’s big ole’ truck with Toby Keith pounding through the speakers, and make the long trek to a camping paradise. For me, summer has always been defined by the ten days we spend baking under the desert mountain sun – lazing in the lake and reading book after book after book. It’s been two years now since I’ve been back to our little camping oasis (I’ll admit, last year I didn’t mind) and I miss it very much. I’m struggling to feel content with the summer I DID have. Struggling to remember all of those high moments, sparsely scattered as they were throughout an otherwise unrestful few months. I want to focus on thankfulness, contentedness, and joy in what I have been given. It’s simply a new season for me and one with many growing pains.

Oregon feels so long ago but in an instant, I can feel the edges of my mouth turning up in sweet memory. Jesse and I decided to make the trip on the July long weekend in celebration of our first anniversary, knowing as well that we wouldn’t be going away together again that summer save for a weekend here and there for local camping and Sun Peaks visits. We packed up our Honda and after eight hours of driving, rolled into Cannon Beach, OR, just after dark. We checked into The Wayside Inn where we were delighted to find a simple, clean, reasonably priced room. It wasn’t quite within full view of the ocean but we booked it knowing we would be outside during most of our day and half in Cannon Beach.

That night, Jesse and I met Donald. Donald was the answer to what started as a desperate run around a sleepy beach town after 10pm, wondering how on earth every food supplying establishment could be closed for the night. There was nothing we wanted more than a beer and a plate of wings after such a long drive. We walked into the Warren House Pub, a dark, slightly dingy, but small-town type of welcoming establishment full of locals and spent an hour casting furtive glances at the most hilarious, bubbly, flamboyant man in his fifties before he finally meandered his way over to our seats at the bar. After he got over the initial shock of our being both married and basically “infants”, it wasn’t long before we knew everything about him – his three failed marriages, his current marriage to a straitlaced business man, and their world famous, annual Fourth of July pool party back in Portland. He told us of his late father, the story behind each bedazzled rock he wore on his fingers, his private condo right on the beach, and his love affair with Cannon Beach. Donald took such delight pawing at Jesse all night, who sat politely under his scrutiny, and whispering dirty jokes in my ear, all while buying us round after round of local beer and cheap shots. He was the type of man you meet in movies; the guy buying the bar a double round, calling the bartender by name, and making his rounds to each table to flirt with whoever would pay attention. Donald walked us home and I’m fairly confident he would have jumped at the chance to join us in our hotel room had we extended the invitation. It being our anniversary, we politely excused ourselves to purge our systems of the damage inflicted by his generous wallet in private. By this point, his energy was exhausting.

The next morning dawned bright and early. In between moans of discomfort from our poor self control at the bar the night before, we chuckled about everything he had said and done and marvelled at how people walk in and out of your lives, some leaving the strongest impression though you never see them again. His short stint in our lives felt like both a nightmare and an invigorating and hilarious dream all at once. We dragged our bedraggled, but certainly nonremorseful, bodies down to The Lazy Susan Cafe for the most decadent, rich, and comforting breakfast you could possibly imagine. The atmosphere in the cafe was one of quiet energy and comfort. If there was anything I regret about that first night in the pub, it was having very little appetite to actually enjoy that very sumptuous and flavourful eggs benedict.

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After breakfast, we worked up the nerve (as in, I worked up the nerve), to rent a few surf boards and drive out to Ecola State Park to take in the Sitka spruce forest and spend a few hours at Indian Beach. It was the most beautiful weather of our entire trip, temperature wise, and I could feel the layers of stress and tension melting away with that salty sea breeze in my face and the warm sun on my skin. This was what we came to Oregon for.

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It came as no surprise that when we suited up, Jesse surfed like he’d been doing it all his life while I flailed and swore and looked generally quite foolish. Everything from the paddling, to the carrying the board, to the attempts to peel a way-too-tight wetsuit off my body (which, by the way, took about an hour total… seriously, who decided that an old man in jeans and crocks should decide what size wet suit would fit a woman’s body?) was a struggle. But I could have watched Jesse out there for hours. I wish I was a match for him in that sense because I would have given anything to be out there beside him, revelling in the adventure of cold ocean water and the thrill of catching the wave. He had so much fun and we both earned a warm, lazy nap on the beach for our efforts.

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We spent the rest of the day meandering through the town and getting fancied up for a splurge-dinner. We chose Driftwood Restaurant and Lounge based on their polished looking exterior patio and promises of delicious lobster and steak. Both of us were thoroughly disappointed with our food, the price, the look of the interior, and the customer service. While our waitress was delightful, the steak was a disaster and the restaurant offered little recompense for my plate which had to be sent back twice for an overdone steak and an underdone replacement steak. We are so used to our local steakhouses that reduce your bill significantly for the slightest amount of dissatisfaction, making it worth your while to pray a hefty price for one plate of food. This restaurant was tacky, outdated, and unimpressive. Even Jesse’s properly cooked food offered little excitement. We were disappointed but quickly recovered with a brisk walk on Cannon Beach itself.

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One of my favourite parts about Cannon Beach was the beach at night time. For miles and miles it seemed, there were little families and groups of people emerging from these shingled and clapboard beach houses lined up along the coast, lighting campfires on the sand and settling in for a long night of roasting hot dogs and marshmallows and cozying up to the heat of the fire. If we had known, we would have swapped our overpriced dinner for a trip to the grocery store for some hot dogs and firewood. It was so delightful. Haystack Rock was impressive and novelty enough to make the walk down the beach worthwhile, though.

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Before we packed ourselves back into the car for a few more hours of southbound driving the next morning, we meandered through the town’s shops and ducked into Oregon’s famous Pig ‘N Pancake for yet another decadent and satisfying breakfast. The shopping was a Pie On The Windowsill dream. Oh my goodness. I picked up a few things here and there, including some beautiful little patterned porcelain serving bowls, pounds and pounds of salt water taffy, Cannon Beach can openers and christmas ornaments, and a couple bottles of local award winning wine from The Wine Shack – Puffin Wines pinot grig and pinot noir. We loved this wine! We drank the red wine later that night and just recently enjoyed the white wine on a Friday night with a homemade lasagna dinner. Aren’t you proud, Dad (Ellingson)? Again, the shopping in Cannon Beach with its boardwalk style streets and hole in the wall gift and book shops was another favourite part of the trip for me. I could have gotten lost in the two long strips of shops if not for the lure of three hours of spectacular coastline driving ahead.

Nothing really could have prepared me for the Oregon coastline. Where Cannon Beach was charming and romantic and picturesque, the rest of the coast as you venture further south, was nothing short of brilliant. Every time we rounded a bend along the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway, my breath was taken away. It felt like the ocean and the sky stretched on in to eternity. The Oregon coast is so vastly different from our own coastline, with the expanse of islands stretching between BC’s mainland and Vancouver Island. The sharpness of these rocky cliffs along the highway and the panoramic views of the unending Pacific Ocean is one of the most spectacular views I’ve ever seen in my life.

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Each viewpoint between Cannon Beach and Newport felt like a glorious gift. Jesse took lots of photos on our DSLR and I was the hyperactive child jumping up and down beside him snapping shots on my iPhone. There’s a mixture of the two cameras here. Part of the reason I waited so long to share any photos or what we did was because Jesse insisted on editing his photos first. He never got around to it – not that I’m surprised – so here they are in all their unedited glory.

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When we drove through Depoe Bay, I think I actually let out a squeal and demanded that we stop the car for a quick, justice-doing iPhone photo of the view. The jagged cliffs were just so stunning and remarkable.

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Our drive to Newport was long but rewarding. I can’t even remember how many people in Cannon Beach had scoffed at our choice to venture to Newport, OR. And I’ll admit, after being charmed and enamoured by the delight that is Cannon Beach, I was skeptical. Our drive through Newport’s main city area also did little for my confidence. But really, I cannot even begin to describe the joy that was The Sylvia Beach Hotel. This hotel was made for me and Jesse. The moment we walked in those doors, we knew we were among our people. This hotel’s twenty guest rooms are each themed after a famous author. Only three rooms had private decks so we stayed in “Colette” and then “Agatha Christie” on the second night. The hotel is perched overlooking the magnificent Nye Beach.

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“Colette” was a provencal style room – the makings of a true dream.After we had explored the main beach area and a bit of Newport’s Historic Bayfront, we spent the rest of the afternoon with the deck door propped open, reading to our heart’s content as the light organza curtains fluttered in the ocean breeze and sunlight streamed in from every angle. I was absolutely captivated by this room. It was by far an away, the best money we spent on the trip.

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That night at dinner, we scoured the online reviews and made a second attempt at a glorious seafood dinner. Georgie’s Beachside Grill was the food of angels. Seriously. I cannot rave enough about the food at this restaurant. I consider myself somewhat of an expert on coconut prawns so that’s where we started. Honestly, within one bite I knew we were in for a sensational meal. The prawns were succulent and crispy and absolutely divine paired with a tangy, fresh, pineapple and sweet chili slaw. And if the seafood pasta I ordered for my dinner isn’t on the menu in heaven, I really don’t want to stay there. Jesse had swordfish which melted in your mouth like butter – probably because it was covered in butter. Mmmm. I’m getting hungry just reminiscing about this food. We loved our waiter and met him again at the little fish and chips restaurant we visited for lunch the next day.

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After dinner, we cracked open our Puffin pinot noir and tucked back into our books. The Sylvia Beach Hotel is a place for bookworms, writers, and thinkers. There is no wifi – an intentional choice – and no tolerance for being on your cell phone in a common reading or writing area. On our last day, we did a bit of exploring in the Yaquina Bay State Park where there was a historic lighthouse, whales rolling in the bay, and more beautiful ocean views.

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We tried to brave the wild and powerful Nye Beach winds with our lawn chairs and books but were turned back when the wind was strong enough to rip out the pages themselves. We settled for a cozy and restful afternoon in the Agatha Christie room with the winds rattling the window frames and the warmth of a wood fire burning. The sun beamed in the four huge windows and every now and then, one of us would slip out the deck door and look out over miles and miles of the magnificent ocean, just to remind ourselves it was real and we weren’t dreaming up the scene just through the windows. It was bliss.

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We enjoyed dinner that night at the hotel’s Tables of Content Restaurant where guests join other guests at large tables for a three course meal. We were seated at a table with two other American couples – one couple in their fifties, married for twenty years, and another in their eighties, both widowed and remarried to each other in the last ten years. Jesse and I both agree that our dinner experience there was a favourite memory of the trip. We sat and talked with those two couples for hours. Politics, healthcare, marriage, religion, countries; it was jovial and exciting. The food was delicious and the company was absolutely fantastic. It was an experience we were hesitant about but something clicked with the three couples, despite the range in age, and it seemed our table was buried in conversation and laughter while others seemed more awkward and forced. I can’t rave enough about this hotel and the experience you pay for. It was truly remarkable.

Of course, I’m prone to romanticizing every single element of a trip like this one. Even for Jesse, however, Oregon was a pleasant surprise. The Sylvia Beach Hotel was a once in a lifetime experience that we will cherish forever. It reminded us why trips like these, on local soil, are so valuable and meaningful. Now that we’ve had the experience of a Mexico holiday, these smaller getaways are a priority for us. At least until that big Europe trip… one day.

I wanted to post about this holiday as much for me as for anyone else. We were so blessed to be able to go and I’ve forgotten too soon how refreshing it all was. Looking through the photos again and writing of those standout moments has me all ready to plan and save for the next trip away with my favourite travel partner. More importantly, writing about Oregon reminds me of why we work as hard as we do. Holidays like these are what make life worth living. Meeting other people, finding refuge and solace in God’s spectacular creation, and falling more in love with my husband while we explore what’s right in front of our eyes are all experiences well worth the blood, sweat, and tears that we pour into our jobs. I can’t wait to see what’s next in store for us!

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In Every Season.

God is good. When I am so awfully consumed in selfishness, He is good to redeem me. There was a moment a few weeks ago where a simple mistake brought me face to face with a deceptively small decision. Really and truly, it had the power to alter the course of my life. In that moment, the options were to either interfere by human means to prevent a problem from occurring, or allow life to happen as it may. I was at a loss for words. Thankfully, God seems to pick those exact moments when I stop talking (finally) to touch my heart. I do believe that He never stops trying to get through to us but often times it is the incapacitating instance of insecurity where we are finally humble enough to hear His voice. Such was the case for me. He said, “Trust me.” And I knew right then that God would redeem my mistake no matter how it looked to the naked eye.

I wrote in my journal several days later how much more beautiful God’s redemption of a painfully obvious blunder is than a most perfectly concealed mistake. What’s more, His forgiveness, in plain sight, is far less painful than hiding beneath lies what’s been done wrong. I don’t want to be in the dark. I want to walk in the light, even if it means that everybody can see all the poor choices I’ve made. Unfortunately, it’s just so incredibly painful to be that strong. Again, thankfully, I’ve been learning that strength and a courageous spirit are not what the Lord asks of me. I mean, yes, courage is a true and noble trait and certainly something we must employ in the face of great trial. But when it comes to renewing a right spirit within ourselves, as Psalm 51 describes, God has something entirely different in mind. In the Psalm, David asks God for a willing spirit to sustain him. A willing spirit is sustenance for it leads me in the Light, not in the way of darkness. In fact, David even spoke of the Lord’s desire for a broken and contrite heart in His children. I’m not sure yet what that really looks like but I’m fairly sure it doesn’t entail walking around crying nonstop about all of the junk we’ve created in the wake of our sin. I think, and I could be wrong, that it means He wants our hearts to hurt for the sin in our world and in our own lives, but also to be ready and eager to change. He wants us to be humbled in the flesh and yet lifted in spirit by the joy that comes from walking closely with Him.

In a single moment of confusion, God beckoned me to trust Him, to hide in Him. Even though the past weeks have been full of stressful moments and times of waiting, the surrender has been so sweet. Coming back home to God after you’ve been away for far too long is perhaps the single most glorious homecoming that exists in this world. I suppose I haven’t been gone as long as some and definitely not as “far gone” as I’m making it out to be. It’s true, though, that I am coming out of a dry spell. One of my favourite Hillsong lyrics say something to the effect of, “All of my life, in every season, you are still God, I have a reason to sing, I have a reason to worship.” It’s so delightfully true, isn’t it? In every season, He is still the God of the universe and the King of my heart. He is still good.

Life is good. It’s difficult, yes, but it’s good. What do I know about difficulty… I know. I’m a student on summer break, living in my parent’s home for free. In reality, I’ve never worked so much or so hard in my life as I have the past month and a half. Three jobs is no picnic. Some days, my alarm clock screams its disgusting wake up call at 7:15 AM and I drag myself from the sheets, not to return until significantly past midnight. Some days, I’m lucky if I get to sit down and eat dinner properly as I run from one job to the next. My hands are cracked and sore from scrubbing toilet bowls by day and my shoulders ache from carrying heavy trays of beer by night. On Monday’s, I come home with snot caked on my clothes and patience worn thin. It’s funny though how caring for little ones fills you. Sometimes, one small spoken I-love-you from a darling girl is enough to fill my heart for the week. I also come home on Monday’s with cheeks sore from laughing.

I’ve been reading as much as I can (which, sadly, is not enough) and Jesse and I have made it out for a few little dates here and there. Weddings and functions of all kinds consume my spare days. Mollie and I even managed to sneak in a little tea party, complete with homemade banana bread and chocolate drop cookies:

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My sister’s grad is approaching quickly and with it comes our greatly anticipated Taylor Swift concert. Somewhere in the midst of all the running here and there, I also get to celebrate goin’ steady for two years now with the love of my life. His calm/go-with-the-flow/avoid-confrontation self has been a mainstay for me during such busy times. Of course, it’s also made me want to wring his neck but then, I’ve yet to meet any two people who don’t express some kind of desire to do the same from time to time after knowing each other for nearly three years. I don’t know if I will blog again before our special day but in case I don’t, I won’t end with such violent thoughts. He always asks me why I don’t talk about him on here very often and I suppose it has something to do with the not knowing of how to write about the person you most adore. Put simply, he is the kindest person I know. The best part is that he truly has no idea how kind he is or how respectfully he treats people. He is quick to offer help to anyone, from lending out his truck to carry the contents of somebody’s dorm room, to picking out the spinach from my teeth without me even having to ask. I’ve never known a more respectful man. I didn’t know I could be this happy and I certainly don’t deserve all of the love he gives me. When I get mean and cantankerous (best.word.ever), all he has to do is look at me and my resolve weakens. I want to be a gentler person because of who he is. Two years have flown by and I am full of hope for all we have ahead of us.

Speak of the devil; I have movies to watch and chocolate to eat on this blissful Tuesday evening at my boyfriend’s house. Another reason to be thankful for my parent’s gift of a vehicle? No longer do I wait a week to see him or any other friends who live further than 15 minutes away. Instead I waste away brain cells watching V for Vendetta and pack on the pounds with Toblerone and almond chocolate bars. At least, that’s the plan for tonight.

Friends, you are loved by a redeeming God. The cynics say God is a crutch for weak people to hide behind and I say well, yes, that sounds about right. I am weak. He is the embodiment of peace and fortitude. So, in the whirl of this crazy busy life, you can find me hiding, like the child that I am, within the shelter of His abounding grace.