Hello. I have just crawled out from beneath an enormous pile of laundry. What does an enormous pile of laundry mean? Nope I wasn’t just really lazy, Tom and I went on our first vacation since our short trip to Seattle last summer. We had planned to go away earlier in the year but, well that didn’t happen.
Once we knew we could go, the plans were pulled together quickly. We decided to head on down to Cannon Beach for a slightly extended vacation of 9 nights and really after all the stress and crazy of the last several months it was something we were really looking forward to. We chose to stay at the Surfsand Resort again as our experience last year was so positive and we couldn’t wait for the weeks leading up to pass which they did, but S-L-O-W-L-Y. The boys remained behind to house/cat sit and to spare them the jail sentence in the very nice but very resented cat boarding place we normally use.
We were leaving mid-week so the hope was that coupled with an early departure time we’d avoid the lengthy border wait times which are a reality when the dollar reaches or exceeds parity with the US dollar. This is great for stretching our travel dollar when we go south but sucks the big one when you’re sitting in line dying to pee or starving/jonesing for a cup ‘o joe. We decided the latter would be better and hoped that our wait while hungry and jonesing would indeed be short.
As soon as we hit the highway heading towards the Pacific truck crossing, Tom noticed that his car sounded a bit different. He had just had the snow tires removed (which had been installed pretty much immediately after we bought his new car) and replaced with the all-seasons that the car came with. He thought maybe it was just he wasn’t used to the noise the regular tires made or maybe the Canadian Tire hadn’t balanced them properly when they were put back on the rims. Regardless we continued on and were met with a wait of around 20 minutes (score!), informed our friendly border guard where we were heading and why and were soon on our way. We made a quick stop for a McDonalds breakfast, grabbed some cash from the US ATM and hopped back on the “5” towards Seattle.
I had decided to make sure I shot more video this trip instead of all photographs. I enjoy looking at pics sure enough but there is something special about video, just the casual conversations it captures as well as the sights and sounds that you can try to conjure up while looking at pictures but not quite recapture. Most of the videos will be combined into a DVD that we can watch in the future, but the plan was also to upload some of them to youtube so I could use them for sharing on Facebook as well as use in this here blog. Leading up to this point the videos were full of innocuous talk about the border wait, the weather (which changed several times from sun to rain on the journey down) and now switched over to the sights as Seattle came into view. I took a brief video showing lake Union and Gas Works park and the Space Needle before turning it off and settling back to watch the city go by my window. Do you see the foreshadowing yet? Could I BE any more obvious?
As we were entering an underpass under the network of roads leading to/from Seattle the sound of the car changed dramatically and we suddenly noticed that people around us were pointing madly at the lower part of the car. Tom and I exchanged a quick concerned look and he realized that he had to get off the highway as quickly as possible as the cars on that stretch were travelling at quite the speed. There is really nowhere to pull over safely in that area, so Tom took the next exit and as soon as he could pull over to see what was wrong. The smell hit us before the sight did, smokey and rubbery. I jumped out quickly and stood gaping at what was left of the rear passenger tire. Tom came around and joined me gaping at it and we both realized how lucky we were that we hadn’t crashed. If someone ahead of us had slammed on their brakes suddenly after the tire blew we could have easily spun out and we wouldn’t just need a new tire yanno? Tom did everything right and kept control of the car and we were so lucky that traffic wasn’t as heavy as it could have been. Even luckier this happened near enough to an exit to a large city and not in the middle of nowhere with no cell reception (which would have been the case later on in the trip had it happened then). Yes a pain in the neck but we were safe and near help, that is what counted.
Tom borrowed my cellphone and called AAA (which everyone should have in my opinion) and I shot this video of the tire.
The Seattle AAA? FABU! I mean the guy was there is what seemed like mere moments after Tom hung up the phone and came to join me by the car again (he had walked to the corner to get the cross streets). The guy was super pleasant and highly efficient, he had the stinky, broken, flat tire off and the spare on in the time Tom said it would have taken for him to get one of the tire nuts off manually. He was totally our hero.
After stowing the stinky tire into the trunk and us loading our luggage now in the back seat of the car we set off to find the tire store he gave Tom directions to. We lucked out again that they were able to fit the car in that same day but warned us it would be around 3 hours or so of waiting. We killed some of the time buying a disposable cell for Tom (nation-wide coverage for cheap) and then to grab lunch. We ended up at the Sport restaurant near the Space Needle as the tire store was only a few blocks away from the hotel we stayed in last summer so we were familiar with that area of town. Obviously we hadn’t planned on seeing Seattle this up-close and personal so soon but we decided to make the best of this unscheduled stop. I mean what more could we do right?
After lunch to kill more time we hung out for a bit in the lobby of Fisher plaza (home of the “Seattle’s Grace” hospital helipad) which the restaurant is attached to (free wi-fi!) and I once again admired their funky lighting.
I am a sucker for funky light fixtures.
And Tom took an obligatory shot of us in front of the Space Needle (see me and my three chins instead of my normal two while leaning forward towards a lowered camera) but whatever!
Around the 3 hour mark we made our way back to the tire store to see if by chance the car was ready. It was no longer parking in the waiting area (good sign!) but it turned out it was only inside still waiting for its turn. We settled into the waiting area to wait the rest of the time out watching a documentary on whisky and prohibition and then some show about Larry the Cable guy and moonshiners (hmmm I sense a theme on the history channel here).
The smell or new rubber was all around us, which while smelling much nicer than burnt rubber is still not the nicest smell ever but it did mean that we would be on our way soon so I was happy enough to smell it.
After an approximate 4 hour delay we were back on the road again, wishing Seattle a hasty but grateful adieu. Right around Tacoma I shot another update, this one in the mirror cos at the best of times my short penguin like flippers cannot get my hand far enough away from my face but in confined spaces it is even worse ;) That and I didn’t want to always be the disembodied rambling narrator.
Tom questioned whether we should go with the original plan to stop in Portland for supplies (better wine selection for instance) as well as his new camera lens but then we figured that we’d already lost out on seeing the sunset so we chanced it that the stores would still be open by the time we got there and headed for Portland. They were (yay!) and we got our wine, the lens and a few other things in town and then hopped back on the road again, this time pointed directly at Cannon Beach. Just before leaving civilization Tom figured it would be prudent to gas up the car and we looked for a place to grab our dinner… no seafood for us that night. A sketchy looking gas station (guy by the pumps creeped me out) and a quick pit stop (shudder at gas station bathrooms but port/storm and all that) and a McDonalds drive through later (yes them AGAIN it was all there was by the time we decided we should grab something) we were on our way.
Then this happened:
Are you kidding me? This detour led us down some windy, narrow and scary roads. Tom said they were “the hills have eyes” kind of roads which led to this tumbler post from the road.
Every now and then we saw the detour signs which thankfully gave a sense that we were on the correct route and we weren’t leading the rag-tag bunch of people in the cars behind us most likely as lost as we were, on a wild goose chase. I called the resort from Tom’s new US cell to tell them we were indeed coming (not no-shows really!!) but would be late due to circumstances beyond our control. She was sympathetic and even offered help if we needed to call anyone which was nice. At this point we were just fed up and wanted nothing more than to be in our suite with a glass of wine in hand.
After a couple more delays once we were on the main road again (more road work) we finally saw the signs to Cannon Beach. We rolled into town a little after 10 pm, checked in, parked and Tom hauled all our gear from the car.
We noticed right away that the room was a LOT smaller than the one we had last year, I guess someone else got the executive suite ahead of us boo! We would find later that we REALLY missed having a table and chairs for dining, coffee table squatting with room service doesn’t work well especially with breakfasts but I digress. Also sadly rather unlike last year, we couldn’t see the ocean upon our arrival but we could indeed hear it. There isn’t a lot of light pollution in Cannon Beach (unlike say Aptos) so it is harder to see anything of the water at night.
Here is a video tour of the room:
We had decided against the run to the local grocery store for breakfast supplies and soda because we were tired dammit and just wanted to relax. We decided that room service breakfast would be so worth it and we would figure out the rest of the stuff in the morning.
We plopped our butts on this here couch….
and put that nasty day behind us with a nice glass of wine listening to the faint roar of the ocean through the balcony glass (cos BRRRRR it was too cold to leave it open!)
Slide show of the first day click >>> HERE