Escaping the Chaos

I recently managed to spend most of a day free from the political chaos. A banal day. I hope it offers some insight into the banality amidst the chaos. I went on my daily walk early. I left about twenty minutes before seven. That gave me time to add a little length to the walk to burn off some of the dumb calories I had eaten the night before. I ate almond butter straight from the jar. I mention that because it allowed me to start the day on the right foot. I felt good about myself when I got home. Especially compared to how shitty I felt when I left. I forgot my brother needed to take a shower, so when I got home I started my coffee and he told me he still needed to shower. He showers on a schedule, every other day. He hates showers for whatever reason. In the winter it’s because the bathroom is cold when he gets out of the shower. So I took a quick shower while he finished his podcast and then he jumped in. He insists on waiting thirty minutes after getting out of the shower before going anywhere so his hair can dry. Luckily he got out of the shower around half past nine so we didn’t have to leave later than planned. Good thing we didn’t, the trip took a bit longer than I had expected. The night before out trip I downloaded Dan Carlin’s latest Hardcore History. We listened to that as we drove out of the valley toward the coast.

I already listened to the podcast, but mybrother hadn’t heard it yet and it’s kind of perfect for a long drive. I turned that on and we pulled out and headed toward the highway. The drive was serene. My brother seemed to be a good mood, happy that we were finally doing something. That made me happy. The first hour of the trip as we drove through Salem, turned by the casino, and headed toward Hebo was nice. The drive on twenty-two between the casino and Hebo is one of my favorite drives ever. The road is well maintained and gracefully twists and turns through the lush coast range. It’s a glorious drive and I enjoyed myself. We didn’t even get stuck behind any slow cars other than one truck for about two minutes before it turned. The weather was great, it’s been raining for about ten days. The clouds started to clear the day before and it was clear as we drove. My brother took photos of the mountains and hills with snow on them from the car as we drove. He took photos of the old dirigible hangers and the air museum as we came into Tillamook. As we drove through town we passed a guy playing a bagpipe wearing a kilt. It seemed a little out of place and we had a good chuckle about how odd it was. Our first stop was the cheese factory. I’ve been what feels like a million times before. But I like getting the free samples of cheese and picking up a bag or two of cheese curds if I’m nearby so we always stop. My brother took video of the whole cheesemaking process which took a bit. I’m not sure why he did it, he’s done it before so he didn’t need the footage but it’s fine. Then we tasted some cheese, bought some cheese curds, and some aged smoked white cheddar. As I was checking out I saw they had mint tins shaped like their mini cheese loaf buses and couldn’t help myself. I bought one, I figure that’s my little souvenir for the trip. We weren’t going to get to the restaurant until late in the afternoon, so I had my brother get some ice cream to hold him over until then. He’s irritable and anxious when he’s hungry. He doesn’t operate well eating late, so we got in the line for ice cream.

In the ice cream line the trip flexed it’s first minor challenge. I helped my brother pick the waffle cone bowl he wanted and find some good flavors. Then things got hairy for a minute. The server scooped ice cream into the bowl, forgetting the waffle cone bowl. I had to speak up. It wasn’t a big deal, but that and the people milling about, talking over each other made my brother anxious. He had to get out. I finished getting his ice cream for him and met him outside. Not a big deal, but it’s the sort of thing that justifies getting paid to go on a trip like this. We walked to the car, I figured he could eat his ice cream in the car and I could smoke a cigarette before we went on. I had to go back in and get napkins for him though, so my cigarette idea didn’t work out. The trip was back on track though. my brother was enjoying his ice cream and we headed toward our next stop. My brother wanted to stop of the Tillamook Smoker factory store. We’ve never stopped there before, but it was on the way and I figured why not. The factory store is a random room in the factory offices, but they had some cheap meatsticks and jerky. My brother picked up a couple meat sticks and I got a can of that weird jerky chew stuff. I’d never tried it before and it was only fifty cents so what the hell. I tried a pinch and gave the can to my brother. It’s not bad, but I think my assessment from childhood is correct. It’s for like ten year old rednecks who want to feel older and cooler. We had about forty-five minutes of driving after that up to Cannon Beach.

On the way up the 101 we passed a sign that said ‘give your valentine crabs.’ I laughed, it’s not hilarious, but it’s a nice little joke for a sign on a place selling crabs. We got to Cannon Beach and I steeled myself for trouble. The problem is that I’ve never been before and I wasn’t sure how the parking and sightseeing would go. I actually have been before, once when I was a little kid but that doesn’t count right? The problem is that the map makes it seem like you might have to walk a bit to see Haystack Rock. That’s what we came to see. In the end it was easy to see. My brother did get a little bit prickly about the idea of sand. He exaggerates the normal problems with sand into an earth shattering problem. Taking a couple photos only took us five minutes and wasn’t too bad. We drove through the tourist shops in downtown Cannon Beach toward a parking lot I found on Google Maps. It’s up in a state park and it’s supposed to offer a better view of Tillamook Rock lighthouse. The lighthouse is a good distance out in the ocean on a rock, so getting a bit closer seemed worth it. We’ve visited and photographed almost every lighthouse on the Oregon coast. The drive into the park is a narrow road that seems to be one lane but serves as two. It’s a little bit nerve wracking, but we got there fine. We stopped and wandered around a bit while taking photos then we got on the road toward Astoria.

I planned to stop at a candy store in Seaside so that my brother could look for bacon soda. He bought a bottle of Rogue Spirits Voodoo Maple Bacon vodka a couple days ago. It’s good, but it tastes more like maple than maple bacon. I figured bacon soda would mix well with it. My brother’s leg hurt as he was getting out of the car and I could see the long day was getting to him. We spent two minutes at most in the store. They didn’t have any soda. Now I worried about my brother getting anxious before we ate and had our drinks. We had another half hour or so of driving to do. I was getting hungry too. I hadn’t eaten anything other than a bite of my brother’s ice cream and the cheese samples all day. Once we got in sight of the bridge in Astoria my brother perked up and starting taking pictures so I felt we’d be okay. I drove into Astoria, made a wrong turn and had to turn around, but we found the place after a couple minutes. It’s right on the pier in Astoria, so we stood outside and took some pictures while I smoked before going in. We came in a seated, sat, ourselves right by the big windows facing the Columbia river. It’s an amazing view. you can see the ships coming in or out from Portland and sea lions popped in and out of the water. My brother took a video of a coast guard ship coming in. It took a minute, but the server came over and gave us menus. We ordered beers, a delicious cream ale in a giant mug that my brother liked. The lounge serves food, but my brother wanted to get pizza that’s actually from a place nearby. He got a little anxious waiting for the beer while we were figuring out whether we could order pizza in the lounge. I managed to keep him mostly calm. We could order pizza in the lounge, so we did. It took a while to get to us. The first one they made had a hole it, which as a man who makes a lot of pizza I’m sympathetic to. We drank the cream ales, then ordered a second round. My brother got the Fort George seasonal which was a session IPA. Still hoppy, but much less than a lot of other IPAs. It was a delicious beer from the sip I had. I ordered a Strawberry Blonde which was pretty thick and a sort of hazy pinkish color. It was good, but the aftertaste was a bit odd. I drank half and gave the rest to my brother because I was trying to keep my calories in check. A good slice or pizza. Two actually. My brother ate three.

The final step in the plan was to drive up the hill in Astoria to see the famous column. My brother was feeling tired and overwhelmed from the long day. And a little bit drunker than he wanted to be so we almost didn’t go. I told him we could take a couple of quick photos and be on our way so I went ahead and drove up. We took a few pictures and were on our way. The view is amazing from the parking lot, but I wish my brother wasn’t afraid of heights. The paintings on the column are pretty and worth seeing anyway. We headed home on highway thirty which would take us through Portland then onto to I-5 and finally home. The sun was setting as we left Astoria. I hoped was that My brother would take a nap and not feel miserable on the trip home. I also wanted to make it to the freeway before it got super dark. That way I wouldn’t die on a curve I couldn’t see coming because blinded by the headlights of oncoming traffic. I didn’t die and pretty much made it to the freeway before it was dark. My brother spent most of the trip home awake and miserable, so things didn’t go perfect. He quivered and said he wanted to be home for a good chunk of the drive, so I had to both drive and comfort him. We got home about nine and a half hours after we left. The podcast ended as we got off the highway into town. Six hours plus of driving and a pretty good day done. It seems to take a lot to escape chaos, but I managed a few good hours of it.