east side, west side

(Or...a dry, mostly sunny week: part two.) I woke up at about 5:30 a.m. on Thursday morning, still on east coast time despite staying awake nearly twenty hours the day before. I had some time to reflect on the Captain Cook Inn before willing myself to fall back asleep. CCI is an example of an "autel," a hybrid of the words "auto" and "hotel," apparently in use before the word motel (a cross between "motor" and "hotel") was coined in the 1950s. Originally called "Neel's Autel", the CCI was completely renovated in the early 90s. And it is charming inside and out...flower boxes line the windows that face each of the twelve rooms' parking spaces, and inside you'll find nicely painted arch doorways and pedestal sinks. But I think the bed and showerhead might have been the originals. And the walls were paper thin.

But it had a lot of character. We stayed courtesy of the "Blackfish Café Package," which included two nights and thirty dollars to spend at the nearby Blackfish Café for the going rate of one night at most of the oceanfront hotels throughout Lincoln City.

On our way into the city the night before we'd noticed a restaurant with serious breakfast potential: Pig 'n' Pancake. The P 'n' P is a local breakfast chain (one in Portland and another four scattered along the Oregon coast) that makes a mean sourdough pancake. Like Mexican food, the west coast just does breakfast better.

Sufficiently carbed, we headed to Tillamook, about a 45-minute drive north and slightly inland. Tillamook, of course, is home to Tillamook Cheese. On the outskirts of town is a visitor's center, where you can take a self-guided tour of the facility (for free!), hovering above factory workers, sample cheese curd, have ice cream for lunch (which we did, of course), and buy some fudge for the ride home. There's a small grocery section where you can buy curd and other cheese products you're not likely to find at your local supermarket, as well as all sorts of cheese-related products and paraphernalia. For around $3, Neal and I shared a waffle cone sundae with Caramel Butter Pecan and German Chocolate Cake ice creams. Yum.

On our way back to Lincoln City, we took a short detour to Pacific City, known for this geological formation visible from the coast, sand dunes, and the Pelican Brewery. The rock (also known as "Haystack" or "Chief Kiwanda" Rock) appeared to be floating along the crystal clear horizon. It was totally awesome, dude. We took off our shoes, rolled up our jeans and enjoyed a walk along the beach and a very short distance up the side of the dune. From there we watched surfers paddle out in relatively calm waters, waiting, we assumed, for larger waves, and families with dogs running up and down the side of the dune. We supplemented our ice cream lunch with appetizers and beer at the Pelican Brewery before continuing south to Lincoln City.

I'm a little embarrassed to admit it, but back in Lincoln City, we spent some time at the outlet mall (I got a Columbia jacket for less than half of its original price!) and along the slightly more quaint strip of shops along Highway 101, taking advantage of Oregon's lack of sales tax. We freshened up in our hotel room before crossing the highway to have dinner at the Blackfish Café, probably one of Lincoln City's nicer restaurants. The food was good but unusually rich for seafood. Neal and I shared an appetizer of calamari, probably unnecessary before our incredibly filling dinners of tuna and salmon on beds of cheesy starches and buttery vegetables.

We walked off some of our dinner along the beach as we watched the sun set. The water was at low tide, exposing tidepools and, in theory, all sorts of interesting critters, although mostly all we noticed were lots of mysterious clearish bugs that resembled particularly spastic grasshoppers, jumping at random, often landing backwards. They were mostly absent from the drier sand.

Anyway, it had been awhile since I saw the sun set over water. I don't know what it is I like so much about the ocean, and even more mysterious is my preference for ocean sunsets versus the sun rising over the ocean. I used to think it was something about the Pacific Ocean and the west coast in particular (and it is a little bit of that), but I had a similar experience one summer staying on France's Ile d'Oléron, watching the sun set over the Atlantic (low tide and all). On the way back to the parking lot, we noticed somebody had written "Rebecca" in the sand, as if to personalize this particular sunset for me.

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