Thursday, August 2, 2012

A northern Oregon coast reunion

July 27-Aug. 2, Manzanita, Oregon

For the past nine years, my husband and I have joined our son-in-law’s family in an annual “camping” experience at the Oregon coast. For seven of the past years, we rented an ocean cottage and joined in the campground activities knowing we had the comfort of a home to retreat to each night as we were not interested in tent camping. Last year, for the first time, we added our motorhome to the gathering of tents and one trailer. David, his two brothers and their wives, our three grandsons and their four cousins, two other grandmas, and our dogs and their three “dog-cousins” are the annual attendees. Contrary to most of our RV trip planning, we made the reservations for this state park late last fall, so we have planned most of our other summer activities around this event. After flying from Southern California to Oregon and spending a few days with their other grandmother, we picked up Mindy,my step-daughter, and the three boys in Corvallis for their first trip in the motorhome, a three-hour ride to Manzanita. Mindy and three-year-old Tyler were also happy to have their own refuge from tenting in our queen-sized guest bed in the motorhome. 

three boys with ice creamthree amigos

Our campground, Nehalem State Park, in Manzanita, is a very busy family-oriented park tucked in the sand dunes next to a great walking beach. The big attraction for the kids is to ride bikes and scooters all around our area of the park and this year they added the excitement of making forts in the sand dunes. The five dogs had great fun for a few romps off-leash at the beach—even though Oregon has a leash law on the beach, many owners take advantage of the fairly remote areas to let their dogs play in the surf.


Of course, their other favorite activity is hanging around the campfire and roasting more hot dogs and marshmallows than they can eat. This year the challenge for the older boys was who could roast the perfect marshmallow—all golden on each side, with no burn marks. Good thing they failed a few times as my favorite marshmallows are the burnt ones.


The kids also had magnetic lawn darts and ladderball games to amp up the competition. With age differences ranging from three to thirteen, it wasn’t always easy to keep things fair and a few tempers flared over the scorekeeping.

With our arrival late in the afternoon on Sunday and our departure mid-morning on Thursday, our time together seemed to pass by too quickly. Each night one of the brothers hosts dinner and then one night we all go to Mo’s Seafood Restaurant, most famous for their clam chowder, in Cannon Beach. Before dinner,  a stroll through the shops in Cannon Beach with a stop at the saltwater taffy shop that offers free samples is a tradition.

One day the brothers all golf, another day we explore Manzanita, and another day is usually for the walking the beach at Oswald West State Park,  where they used to camp as kids, but is now closed for camping due to falling trees.

This year, with one bike seat and older kids, most of the crew was able to ride bikes into the town of Manzanita, which is only just a little more than two miles from the park half of which is on a bike path. The charming town of Manzanita has the attraction of a good ice cream stop at the “Coffee, Donuts, Ice Cream Shop,” and the lure of a small kiosk which sells marshmallow guns.

tyler wanting his ice cream backmindy sneaking a bit of ice cream

For the adults, there is an amazing bakery, Bread and Ocean, which I have always been in love with, even to the point of imagining buying it (it’s been for sale for the past two years) and running a bakery for my final stint of the working life. The bakery features almond and poppy seed rolls, a variety of artisan bread including fig walnut and pain au chocolat with dried cherries, and creative breakfast offerings such as wild rice waffles with lox and creme fraiche or sweet potato biscuits with gravy. My big disappointment this year was to visit the bakery at around 3:30 p.m., just a half hour after its closing time for the day. Maybe it was fate that I was not able to talk to the owner/manager about the possibilities of ownership.

The Bread and Ocean Bakery Logo--from internet source

I was also able to resist visiting Syzygy, my favorite women’s clothing store in Manzanita. Life on the road with a small closet, and my reduced income as a retiree, has helped me suppress the urge to indulge in new clothes. I did, however, get a chance to go to my favorite little market downtown, Manzanita Grocery and Deli, where I found some Layer Cake wine for my upcoming birthday celebration. I guess I was inspired by a campsite just down the road from us that included wine-tasting in their camping experience. About five couples get together every two years and, in the interim, they collect special bottles of wine just for their bi-annual gathering. When I stopped to take this photo, they invited me over for glass of some delicious Washington Syrah.

wine table

After great meals of grilled hamburgers and potato salad, an Italian sausage spaghetti and Caesar salad, Mo’s chowder and various other seafood entrees, and a make-your-own tacos spread, our four days together came to an end. Our gathering happened to end on the eve of my birthday so we were lucky enough to all enjoy some delicious chocolate cake that my step-daughter Mindy surprised me with on our last night around the campfire.


The hardest part for the tent campers is packing up, but the challenge for us is getting in enough final squeezes and smooches from our eight, six, and three-year-old grandsons. (I always threaten to leave lipstick marks on their cheeks.) Although it is hard to say goodbye, we are grateful to be a part of the Oregon beach camping memories that will forever be theirs.

1 comment:

  1. This is just a beautiful post. Gorgeous photos of the water and that fabulous moon. What lovely memories you are making for everyone including yourself. Love the wine tasting idea and the bakery. This sounds like a place I would really like. I can see why you all had such a good time. Happy Belated Birthday!!


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