Every time I come home, I take my kids on a clockwise circuit of the Oregon coast. You may be wondering why I drive the circuit in a clockwise, rather than a counterclockwise, direction. The reason is because clockwise is superior to counterclockwise; words with the prefix "counter-" before them are always inferior to their sister words without said prefix. For instance, being a counterrevolutionary is worse than being a revolutionary. Counternarcotics don't taste as good as narcotics, and so forth. I feel this is obvious.
The circuit departs Portland, hits the coast at Pacific City, jaunts north to Tillamook, then finishes in Cannon Beach before returning to Portland via a different highway. I always do this particular circuit, and have regularly done it since I was in high school. I don't branch out to hit other Oregon coast destinations for two reasons.
First, other Oregon coast destinations are less magnificent than the destinations I've chosen for my route -- this is unsurprising, since most of my life choices are maximally magnificent, except for every time I try olives; I know that olives taste like body odor, but sometimes I inexplicably think they suddenly won't. I am consistently wrong about this.
Second, I am a bit of a creature of habit. At Burger King, for instance, I always order a #1 combo. If I were ever to enter a BK and find that they had changed the numbers to which particular combos correspond, I would suffer a panic attack and have to be soothed with a foot massage and steady exposure to Linda Ronstadt songs. So, after following this Oregon coast circuit a few times during my high school years, I now find myself unwilling to try something new and visit, say, Seaside.
I did actually go to Seaside once as a senior in high school to attend some sort of state-wide high school leadership conference, which culminated in a large dance at which I was sandwiched by two young ladies who may or may not have been borderline-inebriated, and whose interest in me likely arose solely from their impaired judgment, and who then proceeded to dance uncomfortably close to me in a manner of which my mother would not approve, which of course forced me to lie about having tuberculosis, all of which has cast an undesirable pall over the idea of ever returning to Seaside.
Pacific City is home to a large sand dune. Sand dunes only serve one purpose, and that is to be climbed by humans. It's not clear what sand dunes did for the millions of years before humans appeared. Probably just sat there, big and dumb, and sometimes a lambeosaurus would lumber by and pee on it. My kids and I climbed Pacific City's 250-foot dune, and once at the top Grace breathed a huge sigh of relief and said, "Phew, now we're safe from a tsunami." I explained that tsunamis are quite rare, and that there is typically plenty of warning before one strikes, but Grace refuses to believe that tsunamis do not simply lurk offshore, waiting for little children to play on the beach before pummeling them with otherworldly force. This type of macabre thinking may be partially explained because last year I made Grace listen to the Jesus & Mary Chain when we went to the store to get salsa.
I was pleased that after climbing and running down the dune twice, the kids weren't overly sandy. I have strong feelings about sand in my car. If you would like to understand more concerning my feelings about sand in my car, click here.
Tillamook, Oregon is where Tillamook cheese comes from. If you have not experienced Tillamook cheese, stay away from me because you are only partially human, and therefore at least partially zombie. Tillamook cheese is, in fact, an element, but they left it off the periodic table because all the other elements opposed its inclusion, or else they said they'd stop being elements and holding organic matter together and making things radioactive. You can understand it like if Corey Fogelmanis started attending your school, then you would feel overshadowed by his effortless charm and stop going to school. Which is a decent reason, actually, to try to attend the same school as Corey Fogelmanis, so you'd have an excuse to drop out. Now, returning to my thesis, Tillamook cheese is the elemental glue that holds the universe together, or, at least, the elemental glue that holds grilled cheese sandwiches together.
When we pass through Tillamook, we do very little apart from make fun of the Tillamook High School mascot (The Cheesemakers, which prompted Halen to muse that "I bet they lose at EVERYTHING,") and visit the Tillamook Cheese Factory. Although mostly my blog is useless and banal, here is an actual nugget of critical information: the Cheese Factory's visitors center is under construction until the summer of 2018; they have erected a temporary visitors center, but it's wildly inferior to the real one. However, the temporary visitors center still has both cheese samples and Tillamook ice cream, so we all just shrugged and rolled with the punches. My kids all ordered ice cream cones that were 1-3 times too large for their little stomachs, so I ended up consuming my own double scoop chocolate-coated waffle cone plus roughly 1.5 additional double scoop chocolate-coated waffle cones into my significantly larger stomach. It was pleasant in every way. Grace wanted a Tillamook t-shirt, but I encouraged her to avoid fixating on such transitory things when at any moment a tsunami could carry us all away to our watery graves.
The unschooled Oregon coast traveler may believe that there is little of interest between Tillamook and Cannon Beach. But that is incorrect, and you'll never be on Jeopardy! or get a job or find a life partner if you think that. In fact, Highway 101 between Tillamook and Cannon Beach is home to Rockaway Beach and Nehalem, both of which locations have been memorialized in song. Although the Ramones allegedly wrote "Rockaway Beach" about a beach in Queens, not in Oregon -- according to all known primary and secondary source material -- that doesn't stop me from believing that the song is actually about Rockaway Beach, Oregon, and that the Ramones are actually my uncles on my father's side.
"Nehalem" comes from Everclear's breakout album, Sparkle and Fade, and is only mildly interesting. Moreover, it may be a factually incorrect song, as the lyrics say, "They say you're leaving Nehalem," which implies that people actually live in Nehalem, which is doubtful if you've ever driven through. While we passed through Nehalem, I offended Grace by making fun of her fear of tsunamis in a Japanese accent, which I concede is both culturally insensitive and bad parenting. I take full responsibility for my errant actions and resolve to be a better example to my fans, and also to invent an app that prevents earwax buildup.
Cannon Beach is a slower-paced beach town for a slightly more mature crowd. Sometimes my parents go there with their dog, and I've heard my mom complain about the town's complete lack of a dog-friendly skating rink that projects music videos from 1983-1986 on a large white sheet hanging at one end of the skating floor, and that scatters bacon bits on the floor for the canines to enjoy. Neither me nor my children know how to roller skate, so we just went for a walk on the beach, and there was a set of tidal pools with volunteer marine life specialists standing there explaining things to people as they checked out the marine life. And I thought, "America is amazing. Where else would you find earnest young college students standing in the ocean in waders, instructing ADD kids on the stages of sea anemone battles?" All those "America-is-in-its-death-throes" doom prophets need to go to Cannon Beach and touch some anemones and talk to the girls in waders and then they'll think twice about moving to Canada, where they don't even have enough Wal-Marts.