All my adult life, I’ve had this fascination with Spring Break.
This is probably because when I was the proper age to enjoy Spring Break the way it was meant to be enjoyed – which is to say, drinking until the wee hours of the night while surrounded by busty coeds while on vacation someplace warm – I was instead in a serious relationship with the woman who would become my wife (and later, unbecome my wife). Bizarrely, she did not share my enthusiasm for Spring Break, so I never did find myself on South Padre Island or in Lake Havasu or Palm Springs or Panama City, and the closest I ever got to a wet t-shirt contest involved transferring clothes from the washer to the dryer, not nearly as fun as the type I had in mind. Years later, after we were married with children, I’d find myself glued to MTV for their annual Spring Break weeklong specials come early April, living vicariously through the current crop of college fellas. The settings were exotic, the music was loud, the bikinis were tiny, and the debauchery was off the charts. The wife put up with this because she considered it a harmless midlife crisis at the ripe old age of 28, I suppose.
I have no idea whether MTV still shows those Spring Break specials because, I’m happy to say, I outgrew them. But I still…still…have a “thing” for Spring Break, even if it’s a considerably tamer and watered-down version of the Bacchanalia I once yearned for. And that is why, when my parents hauled the kids out to the Oregon coast on Monday for their annual Spring Break ritual (three nights in a beach house and lots of good food and fun), I decided to crash their party and get in on some of that action myself, for one night, at least. OK, I didn’t technically even “crash” it because they knew I was coming, but it sounds more rebellious when I phrase it that way. I figured I might as well take advantage of this down time and also was itching to get away from the noise and turmoil caused by construction on my townhouse, and a trip to the coast would do wonders for my soul (not to mention my hearing). Tuesday morning I hit the road, and after a two-hour rainy drive down to Lincoln City arrived just in time for the clouds to part and the sun to shine magnificently. I rendezvoused with the family, who weren’t at all surprised to see me (can we just PRETEND I crashed it??) before heading further down the coast to Newport for a stop at the South Beach Fish Market, which once upon a time was called the Lighthouse Deli and voted as having the best fish ‘n chips in Oregon. They were awesome then, and are still awesome now. I was on my own since they had already eaten lunch and were eager to hit the beach, so I took my time coming back, making stops at several scenic lookout points and wandering through Depoe Bay, home of the World’s Smallest Harbor.
Or so they claim. It’s not quite as impressive as the World’s Largest Frying Pan up in Long Beach WA, though.
I timed the trip almost perfectly, so that it was nearly Happy Hour when I got back to the beach house. (Spring Break, remember? Gotta make sure there’s alcohol!). We had lasagna, salad and bread for dinner, and then walked down to the beach for a magnificent sunset. The kids and I then built a bonfire – I’d always wanted to do this, and had some firewood in the garage that I brought along precisely for this reason. Soon, the fire was blazing, which helped to take away the chill. We may have sang Kumbaya. We may even have done a bit of tribal dancing as the flames flickered in the darkening sky, but I’m copping to nothin’. We would have stayed longer, but it started raining suddenly and without much warning.
Hmm. It never seemed to rain on those MTV Spring Break specials.
It’s okay. Oregon is no Florida (where my kids went for Spring Break last year – hmm, now why didn’t I think to crash that trip?!), but it’s got charm and beauty a-plenty.
In keeping with the theme, I did stay up very, very late – not falling asleep until close to 3 AM. That’s only because the day bed I was sleeping on had an uncomfortably thin mattress and creaked every time I took a breath, but it still counts as a late night!!!
This morning the fam and I headed to the Chinook Winds casino for their breakfast buffet. While there Rusty, ever the fountain of knowledge, talked about how weird it was eating breakfast in a place that wasn’t America. Because it’s a Native American casino, you see. They own the land and so this means the land isn’t technically in America. I told the boy I own the land my townhouse is built on and wondered if that means the 1500 square feet I inhabit also isn’t technically a part of America. He talked about things like reparations. I don’t know, it didn’t make a lot of sense and truth be told I was too busy digesting my omelette to give it a whole lot of thought. Afterwards I wanted to check out the casino so I did. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I only had a few dollars in my wallet so I was forced to only part with $5 at video poker. Then I fed $2 into a slot machine on the way out, and hit a jackpot for a little over $16. So this is how the high rollers live, I thought, and cashed out my winning ticket. OK, so it may not be much, but this is the second time in a row I walked out of a casino with more money than I had going in. Little by little, I’m earning back the money I gave to Vegas on our first trip there in January.
After breakfast we went back to the beach house. It felt really good to be back in America again. Boy, how I’d missed my country ’tis of thee! By now it was really pouring rain, and getting time for me to head back home, so I packed up my stuff, bid my kids and parents farewell, and made the return journey home. I took the scenic route back, driving up Highway 101 along the Oregon coast before crossing the Coast Range into Portland and then, finally, Vancouver.
All in all, I had a great time! It might not have been the Spring Break trip I envisioned fifteen years ago, but so what? Spring Break is Spring Break. And I’m getting too old for that shit, anyway. I think the magic would be gone the first time some hot coed called me “sir.” Besides, Tara totally does it for me, and I’m not just saying that because she reads my blog.