Taking Time to Smell the Roses . . . And Eat Some Sea Food!

  • By Brenda Buckingham
  • 05 Sep, 2012

This past month has been a month of highs and lows of exhaustion and elation.  After putting on our first “Pickin’ on the Prairie” Antique Show on our farm, we were very happy with the outcome, but also terribly worn out.  Knowing full well in May that this would be the case, I began planning this vacation.  Since our boys are older, ages 17, 19 and 20, most hotels wanted to charge them as adults and wanted us to rent not one, but two hotel rooms.  This was simply not in the budget.  So, we were thrilled when I found a wonderful beach house online in Newport, Oregon for the same price as one hotel room.  It had three bedrooms, a full kitchen and laundry room and two bathrooms.  But the best part was, it was only a matter of feet from the beach.  This vacation was bittersweet.  While I am proud of the young men my boys are becoming, I know realistically this may be the last vacation we will all take together as a family . . . though I am certainly hoping it isn’t.  With jobs, school, church, dirt bikes, garage bands and girl friends, life gets hectic and getting everyone together, even for dinner, is sometimes a major feat.

When we finally found out that all three boys were able to go, I was giddy with excitement.  I suppose some people wouldn’t look at our vacation as very exciting.  We slept in late, had long walks on the beach and down to the quaint waterfront villages throughout the area.  We spent hours watching the silly sea lions play “king of the dock” and ate way too much.  And we did it all while traveling in a comfortable mini-van thanks to my parents.  Our truck, as you know from previous posts, is still not running and our Prius . . . well, it is a Prius . . . which is just too small for 5 people on a long trip.  The mini-van was roomy, had comfy captains seats the boys loved and still had “acceptable” gas mileage.  We have gotten spoiled with our Prius giving us over 50 mpg, but 22 was still much better than our truck would have done.  We are very grateful my parents let us borrow their Dodge Grand Caravan.
In Portland for the first night, we went to the zoo on our way out of town.  The Portland Zoo is a great zoo and we had a lot of fun watching the animals . . . Ron and the boys all decided we should own a white cheeked gibbon.
This is a goofy little monkey that makes this incredibly load noise that sounds like an air raid siren.  I, of course, was the voice of reason so we will not be adding monkeys to the list of animals at Past Blessings Farm!  Between Portland and the coast, is a sweet little town called McMinnville.  Ron’s step brother and sister-in-law live there with their 6 kids.  We stopped by and had a short visit with Suzanne and the younger part of their “tribe”. His step brother, Loren, was at work.  McMinnville is a quaint little community. . . nestled in the rolling hills of Oregon with a mixture of dairy farms, wheat fields and orchards all around it.  I can see why they love where they live.
On the coast, the boys enjoyed a whale watching excursion in Depot Bay, while Ron and I stayed behind, enjoying a bag of  caramel corn.  Ron doesn’t handle rocking boats too well.  When they returned, on a day with high winds, all three boys were nauseous, so we were thankful we chose to stay behind and watch!  LOL!  They quickly bounced back.  Our oldest bought a kite and enjoyed flying it on the beach while the other two tried to master the art of skim boarding on the beach. Ron and I both brought our current “reads” with us and enjoyed sitting and reading several times.  Being off schedules was perhaps the biggest blessing of this trip! 
One of my favorite things in Newport, is the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse.  I remember the last time I was there, twelve years ago, thinking how I would love to live there.  Twelve years later, I would still love to live there.  From fabulous bead board walls and ceilings, open wood stairs, wonderful old rope beds and fireplaces, to the amazing views out of the large shuttered windows, it is a dream house for this antique loving girl.  I would need to paint those shutters red, of course, but that would not be a deal breaker for me!  LOL!  The kitchen and pantry are filled with old crocks and treenware.  The parlor has an amazing original ship painting.  But sadly, I don’t think the state of Oregon plans on selling this old lighthouse anytime soon.  So I guess I will just enjoy visiting it whenever I can.  In the backyard of the lighthouse is a great garden.  I loved the trellis and supports made from tree branches.  I am planning for our garden for next year, so I am constantly looking for good, affordable ideas I can incorporate into it.
Ron and I enjoyed leisurely morning strolls down to Nye Beach each morning.  We found some cute shops with the nicest owners and enjoyed getting a morning latte at a cute little bistro as well.   I bought a darling billed pink hat.  Why did I buy a pink hat?  I have no idea, but it spoke to me . . . and it was 20% off!  I returned two days later and bought one in charcoal.  I have never really been a hat wearing girl, but I really liked how it “cleaned me up” on bad hair days!
My honey in Nye Beach
See the old man peeking over the gate?  He was
very happy to chat about all his ocean finds
in his yard . . . he was a retired deep sea diver
and had gathered most of it off the bottom of the ocean. 
Another view of the old deep sea diver’s place. 
He looked rough and gruff but was very sweet.
Me sporting my silly pink hat . . .
which my boys informed me I wear all wrong . . .
apparently I had my bill up way too high.
 I am such an embarrassment to cool kids!
Nye Beach is filled with quaint shops and little cafes
I love the vibrant colors of the old hotels and beach rentals in Nye Beach.
I was amazed by the vibrant colors of the hydrangeas in
Newport.  While we can grow them in Spokane, they
are not as vibrant colored.  I was told if we add acid to
our soil, they will be.  I may have to try that in the future.
The hydrangeas in several of the yards in Nye Beach
were absolutely breathtaking!

On Sunday, we decided to go to Lincoln City, another great coastal town about 30 minutes North of Newport.  We dropped the boys off at the beach while Ron and I went to do the shops.  We decided to park the mini van and walk.  About a mile into our “walk” the phone rang.  The beach weather was rough and the boys wanted to leave.  We told them to walk to a pizza place, called Humble Pie Pizzeria, and meet us.  We had the most amazing pizza and a giant chocolate eclair. By the time we went to leave, it was pouring rain.  When we finally got back to the mini van, we were all soaked.  I had water dripping off my nose and the bill of my little pink hat.  But we didn’t care.  The rain felt invigorating and part of the joy of being on vacation is, it doesn’t matter if you look like a drowned rat!  After that we went “home” to the beach house and Loren and Suzanne and four of their six children, came to visit.  McMinnville is only about an hour from the ocean, so it is simple for them to “buzz down” whenever they want.  We were happy they chose to come spend a couple hours with us.

Humble Pie Pizzeria in Lincoln City, Oregon.
Every inch of the walls and ceilings are “autographed”
with markers by customers over the years.  Not high on
ambiance but huge on flavor!
Probably one of the best pizzas we have ever had!!
Humble Pie’s amazing dark chocolate eclairs!  Yum!!

 We went to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse one of the days, as well.  It doesn’t have the “house” I want like Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, but the views are amazing and there are girls dressed in period costumes that give you the tour.  When we were here 12 years ago, it seemed like we had stepped into an Alfred Hitchcock movie.  We were overtaken by thousands and thousands of flies!  It was so bad we couldn’t even get into the lighthouse.  We fled to the truck as quick as we could, squealing all the way.  Years later, I was a bit apprehensive, but we decided to risk it and return.  The were still flies . . . lots of them.  But I would say there were “hundreds” of flies this time, not thousands.  I have no idea why this lighthouse attracts flies.  It has no particular smell, beyond that of the typical saltwater smell and I don’t see anything that should attract them.  But it was at least somewhat manageable this year and the boys enjoyed “smacking” flies off one another.  Sometimes I think they made up seeing them, just for an excuse to smack each other!  LOL!  The view from this lighthouse is amazing and and as we climbed the very tall windy staircase to where the lit the light, I was amazed that the light keeper would have to climb this far while carrying a jug of oil each night.  In the 1930s, they added electricity, ending the use of the oil and I am sure giving the lighthouse keeper a much needed break!

The classic Yaquina Head Lighthouse
I caught the darling tour guides as they were
“Coming to work.”  I made the one on the left hide
her cell phone and sippy cup behind her back,
as it didn’t really go with her period outfit.
I am thankful she was cheerful and put up with
a demanding tourist with silly requests!
Another tour guide coming to work at the
lighthouse.  We got there before they opened,
so we were the first of the day to take the tour.
Built in 1872, the light to the lighthouse was first lit in 1873
I love the graphic appeal of the winding spiral staircase.
There are 114 steps and when you reach the top, they
give you a button that says “I survived the climb!”
These huge metal barrels stored the oil that
was used to light the lighthouse each night
until electricity was installed in the 1930s.
Each night, the lighthouse keeper would fill
the pitcher with oil and climb the 114
stairs with it to light the lighthouse.
Ron is “demonstrating” filling the oil,
but declined climbing the 114 steps with
the pitcher of oil!
I tried to get a picture of the light and the reflectors
but since there is such limited square footage up there
I couldn’t get a good one . . . just a reflection of me
taking the picture!  LOL!
The views from the lighthouse tower were amazing!
My three boys on the beach directly below Yaquina Head
My boys exploring beach below Yaquina head
These are the stairs going from the lighthouse
down to the beach.  No big deal going down.
But these are also the stairs going back up in
order to return to our car.  We got a lot of exercise!
The views from Yaquina head were breathtaking!

We also went to Devil’s Punchbowl that same day.  I believe it is called that because it truly looks like a punchbowl by the shape of it.  When the water washes into it, it can really spin around, which could be where the “devil” part came from.  There was a darling old truck that sold ice cream out of the back and a winery.  I am not really a wine girl, but I loved the creative ways they used the wine barrels.

Devils Punch Bowl
Taking in the views . . .
I had kind of a “Dory” (from Finding Nemo) moment when
I was distracted, not but shiny objects, but by a cute little
squirrel I chased all over the park.  I finally caught up to
him and was able to snap a picture of him having a snack.
I loved this old ice cream truck.  Sadly, they did not accept
debit cards and we were out of cash, so no ice cream for us!
This huge wine barrel made a great bench!
I love this great woodland garden filled
with wine barrels and lots of rusty finds.
As my love affair with all things rusty continues,
I have now added a rusty wood stove to my garden wish list.

We spent quite a bit of time going to “Old Town” which is the old fishing wharf area of town.  Filled with old buildings, fish processing plants, fishing boats and sea food restaurants, this part of Newport also boasts the first original “Mo’s” which are seafood restaurants found throughout the Pacific coast.  Old Town Newport is very quaint.  From grizzly old fisherman to street fiddlers, there is a large array of people watching to be done.  But perhaps my favorite thing to watch are the hilarious sea lions.  The town of Newport is currently raising funds to redo the dock that these big creatures “sunbath” on, as they have made several of them collapse.  They make the funniest noises and constantly fight for dock space with one another.  You can’t help but smile when you are near them.  Most of gift shops in Old Town were rather “cheesy” . . . neon tee shirts, plastic crabs, etc. but we really enjoyed watching the fishing boats come in. 

The beautiful Newport, Oregon bridge
My boys with the Newport Bridge in the background.
Newport’s harbor is hopping with activity
This huge old tree was just pleading to be
used in a photo shoot!
The majestic coast guard building in Old Town Newport.
Watching the sea lions in Old Town was a lot of fun.
They spent hours playing “King of the dock.”
A face only a mother can love!
Newport, Oregon has the first Mo’s ever.  It is a Newport
icon that you have to visit at least once while staying there.

When the time came to leave, we were kind of sad.  We had enjoyed being footloose and fancy free!  While we take pride in being responsible, contributing members of society, sometimes it is nice to feel free of responsibilities and pressures.  As we packed up our belongings, cleaned up the beach house and finally made our way out of Newport, we were all a bit glum.  But as we neared Spokane, nine hours later, we were filled with a sense of purpose once again.  Of getting back to life and doing what needs to be done.  I am a driven, type-A kind of girl, so I know I really couldn’t do “beach bum” forever.  But, it was fun while it lasted!

Since returning Thursday evening, we have been busy finishing up the bedrooms in the basement for the boys.  While they were technically “livable” we hadn’t done any of the finishing work . . . such as baseboard moldings, hanging closet doors, adding door knobs to their bedroom doors, etc.  So we spent the last couple days of vacation doing just that. On Monday, Ron finally had to go back to work (he was rather whiny when I drove him in to work yesterday morning!  LOL!)  I spent much of yesterday taking Connor school shopping.  School starts today and I can’t believe my baby is now a senior.  Where does the time go?

Our boys are all at crossroads in their lives as they contemplate their futures.  Sometimes, we take one step backwards before we take another forward.  Ron and I fret and worry . . . but then we pray.  We know the Lord has His hand on our boys and, as hard as this is for me to imagine, He loves them even more than we do.  I hold tight to Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord.  Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”  So as our boys grow up and test the waters, perhaps stumbling a bit as they go, I know God has His hand on them and His word does not fall void.  My boys will be fine . . . they are in God’s hands and there is no where better they could be.  That verse has meant so much to me over the years.

Girlfriends, if you are feeling worried and stressed over your children, no matter how old or how messed up they are, give them to God.  God loves our children more than we can comprehend and He only wants the best for them.  Worry is not of God . . . it actually takes our focus off of God and onto the problem instead.  Faith puts our eyes back on God.  Regret looks backward, worry looks around and faith looks upward.  Look upward today, sweet girl and know that God is always watching over you.

With Farm Fresh Blessings,



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