On a random note, the NFL season kicks off in exactly 100 days. It can’t get here soon enough! I just don’t follow any other sports these days. Except for women’s mud wrestling, of course.
Anyway, just thought I’d throw that out there. Along with a let’s go, Broncos!! It’s never too early to take up the chant.
So. Memorial Day weekend. It started with a plate of snails and ended with an octopus. In the middle we had a long discussion with a toothless man who loves owls, found a great way to chill wine fast, and nearly got thrown out of a casino. In other words, your typical Mark and Tara style of debauchery.
Coming Out of Our Shells
Friday night was pretty adventurous, food-wise. It was National Escargot Day, so we had to eat snails for our food challenge. Tara was leery, but I assured her that with all the butter and garlic she’d enjoy them. We found a French cafe on Hawthorne that sold escargot as an appetizer, so we ducked in there and ordered a plate. Sure enough, they were tasty, and she ended up liking them. Afterwards we stopped in at Navarre, a Spanish/Basque/Italian restaurant that specializes in small plates. We’d been there a few months ago when we met up with friends and enjoyed it so much, we decided on a return visit. The place was crowded and we ended up sitting at the bar, but it was Friday night, after all. Among the items we ordered this time was a braised rabbit with cubed bacon and mushrooms. I’d never eaten bunny before, so it was my turn to be culinarily adventurous. You know how they joke that unfamiliar food items taste like chicken? In the case of rabbit, not only does it taste like chicken, but it also looks like it, too – and has the same consistency as white meat. It was really good, too. One more thing I can cross off my food bucket list.
Saturday we hit the gym early, then Tara went into work for a few hours. We took advantage of a Groupon with an evening movie at Cinetopia – Star Trek: Into Darkness. Believe it or not, it was Tara’s first Star Trek movie ever. I asked her if she was familiar with the series, and she said she loved Star Trek: The Next Generation. Well, I did too, but Picard is no Kirk, you know? Fortunately she was familiar enough with the characters, meaning she at least knew Spock was the one with the pointy ears. We both enjoyed the film quite a bit.
Next Stop: The Pacific Ocean
We had decided a few days earlier to take advantage of the three-day weekend and plan a mini vacation on the Oregon coast. Just one night, but it would give us the opportunity to relax and mentally recharge. The ocean has a calming effect in that regard. We were also eager to find the beach house where we’ll be getting married in September.
We set out mid-morning on Sunday. The drive was uneventful for the most part. At one point we passed a fruit stand selling fresh cherries, so I pulled in there. When we stepped out of the car, the cherry seller’s eyes lit up. “I love owls!” he declared enthusiastically, then proceeded to tell us a rather lengthy tale about his owl collection that veered eventually into his childhood. It was my fault for wearing a t-shirt with owls on it, I guess. It was his fault for not flossing, because he was missing at least 90% of his teeth. But hey, he was harmless enough, once you got past the incessant rambling. Once we got into town, we headed south to Newport, where we stopped at an Arctic Circle for lunch. Tara was pretty excited, since this Utah-based fast-food chain only has a handful of locations in Oregon. The food was pretty good, I have to admit. Our next stop was the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, which was closed for tours due to budget cuts, but we had fun walking around there anyway, and picked up a stuffed octopus in the gift shop/interpretive center that we promptly named Henry, after the first lighthouse keeper in the 1870s, Henry Hill. Tara decided Henry should accompany us on all our adventures from now on, and I was on board with that idea. It’ll be fun posing him for pictures in exotic locales.
We got to our hotel just in time for check-in at 4 PM. At that point we realized we hadn’t brought a cooler to chill the wine, and Happy Hour was fast approaching. What to do, what to do?! Tara came to the rescue with an ingenious idea involving a sink full of ice cubes and water. The wine was chilled in record time, and we enjoyed a few glasses while admiring the ocean from our private balcony. After a walk on the beach and some more wine, we headed over to Pier 101, our favorite restaurant in town, for dinner. No snails or rabbit this time, but we did have their amazing clam chowder and some really great seafood. This place never disappoints. Back at the room it was overcast and misty so there was no sunset to be had, but we still had a relaxing time watching the gray fade to black.
Odds Are, Traffic Will Suck
Monday morning was perfectly relaxing. We had the sliding glass door open to enjoy the crashing surf, the gas fireplace was blazing, and we sat on the couch enjoying fresh-brewed coffee and
All too soon it was time to check out. We drove to the Chinook Winds Casino for their breakfast buffet, and then decided to hit the floor to rid our wallets of some extra paper that was weighing us down. We posed Henry for a picture atop a game, and that’s when an angry-looking woman who resembled a bull moose came marching over and told us that photos were forbidden on the gaming floor. She then actually rolled her eyes at our blatant stupidity and stormed off to inform security that we had Broken The Rules. Well, I’m not one to hold grudges. I knew she was just doing her job (though her attitude was terrible) and let it go, but Tara does not forgive and forget so easily. There might have been a minor verbal altercation between her, the moose, and the much-nicer security guard. Tara decided the casino wasn’t going to get a dime out of her, and waited for me outside. Turns out she was the smarter of the two, as I ended up dropping $24.65 in record time. Oh, well.
It was absolutely nasty outside: windy and rainy, more like February than May. But we had one final stop. We drove down to the beach house we’ve got rented for two nights in September. We’d tried twice the previous day, but it was booked for the holiday weekend and we didn’t want to disturb the guests. We just wanted a quick peek out back, because there’s this great spot on the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean, and we wanted to see if it would work as a spot to get married. Well, there were still cars in the driveway, but Tara decided to knock on the door and see if they’d let us check out the backyard for two minutes. They were gracious enough to allow us, so we walked out back in the wind and driving rain and stood in the spot where we will be married in less than four months. And I’m happy to report, it’s perfect. There’s a wooden deck with benches overlooking the ocean, and a little yard adjoining it that should accommodate our small party of guests. I think it’s stunning.
Hopefully the weather will be more cooperative in September.
It was time to head home then, so head home we did. With about 10,000 other people who’d decided to take advantage of the holiday weekend by spending it on the Oregon coast. We crawled along the single-lane highway out of town as traffic inched ahead maddeningly slowly. It never really broke up until we were 1/3 of the way home, either. But eventually we did get home, back to reality. Just in time for a massive downpour with thunder and lightning. We spent the rest of the evening kicking back, watching TV.
All in all, a fantastic weekend. Here are some more pics.