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Tag: shore

Going, going, Oregon

Sick days and surreal days behind us, we’ve exited Oregon — but not before enjoying a few quiet and contemplative hours on its southernmost beach.

After hanging out with David Love and his pit bull, Kitty — during which time my dog waited in the car — I owed Ace some fun, so I stopped at a smokehouse outside Brookings to pick up something to eat, then looked for a scenic place to eat it.

Chrissey State Park fit the bill.

I toted my lunch — smoked salmon, a hunk of cheddar cheese and a bowl of clam chowder — to the beach and found a weathered and washed up tree trunk that was big enough to seat us both.

Smoked salmon is my new favorite thing. It may even be better than cigarettes.

I nibbled and sipped my soup, tossing hunks of cheese and pieces of salmon, including all the skin, to Ace. The ocean roared. A cool westerly wind made my food wrappers, and Ace’s ears, flutter. The sandy beach sprawled before us, empty except for pieces of wood washed grey. The sun, finally, was out.

Between the lulling surf, the warming sun and the full belly, I decided a few horizontal minutes might be nice — and the log was big enough to oblige. I stretched out atop it. Ace sat at the other end. And I fell asleep, just for 15 minutes or so. When I woke up, Ace was still sitting at the end of the log, staring out at the ocean.

Sometimes, I can’t tell whether Ace likes a place or not. If there are loud noises, big crowds, strange sights, he gets a little jumpy. But this one seemed to suit him just fine.

He seemed, almost, to be thinking — about what I have no idea, maybe when are we going to get home, how much longer do I have to spend in this car, what has become of my life. As we near the six-month mark on our road trip, I’m thinking more and more that, exciting as all these new sights and scents have been, he wants some familar surroundings, a routine.

I’ve spent a lot of time wondering if he’s enjoying himself as we cross America — does he give a whit, for instance, about the kind of scenic beauty that Oregon’s coast showed us? Does he care so much about where he is, or only who he is with, and when that person might come through with some dinner?

I don’t know. But there, on that beach, at that moment, he seemed perfectly content.

I was too, and could have easily fallen back asleep on my log bed. Instead we got up and walked a ways and played chase and danced at the edge of the surf, eluding the incoming waves. He darted around and took in mouthfuls of sand, as he does when he’s at the beach.

Then it was back to the car, and just a hop to the California state line.

We stopped in the first town, Crescent City, and spent the night in a room with the most badly stained carpet I’ve ever seen. Ace sniffs out every new room, but he spent even more time on this one — going from spot to spot for a good 15 minutes.

Then he jumped up on the bed with me.

Smart dog.

Another place that’s hard to leave

I’m not sure if it was an overdose of dog friendliness, or the camping experience, but Provincetown wore Ace out.

After a full day of doggie activities Saturday — part of Pet Appreciation Week in the Cape Cod community — we returned to our campsite and turned in early, as in 8 p.m.

Ace, though he was spooked by everything — a car door closing, headlights casting shadows on the tent walls — eventually fell asleep, at least I think he did, because I conked right out and slept through the night.

We were up bright an early Sunday, and the first thing we did, after coffee, of course, was head down to town, score a parking space and hit one of the town beaches — all of which permit dogs and, from 6 to 9 a.m., allow them to be off leash.

Ace sniffed around for a while, then broke into full frolic mode, kicking up sand as he ran in circles, stopping every now and then to crouch into a play stance and bite into the sand. He tested the water briefly, then decided running around in the sand was more fun — especially if I was chasing him.

We play this little game — perhaps it horrifies onlookers — where I double up the leash, making sure the clip part is in my hand, and act like I’m going to give him a whipping. I even say “You’re gonna get a whippin’  … You better watch out … ” When I do that he runs toward me, veering to the side at the last possible moment and I gently swat his hiney with the leash when he goes by. Then he circles and comes back again.

After an hour of that, we got some water and walked into town, stopping at the Governor Bradford, which, like most restaurants with patios in Provincetown — proclaimed America’s dog friendliest city by Dog Fancy magazine –  allows dogs.

Breakfast finished, we headed to the pier, where Ace seemed most fascinated with the old working fishing boats — to the extent that there were one or two he wanted to hop aboard. He was intrigued, too, by the plastic lobsters on the bench/display above. It will be interesting, once we hit Maine, to see how he reacts to a real one.

He did get to sniff a starfish that a charter boat employee was showing some children, and fortunately didn’t gobble it up.

With a dog parade scheduled to take place at 2, sponsored by the Carrie A. Seamen Animal Shelter, we had an hour to kill. Ace was dragging a bit. Possibly I was too. So we walked back to the car. I opened the tailgate and Ace jumped right in and settled down. I joined him, sitting at the end of the tailgate. He shifted around so he could lay his head on my leg and, within seconds, was sleeping. The parking space was $2.50 an hour — so it was a pricey nap — but too nice a moment to interrupt. I think I fell asleep, too.

We awoke in plenty of time to get a good seat for the parade, which only lasted a couple of minutes, but we sat there for another hour with people coming up to meet Ace, compliment him on his handsomeness, and ask what kind of dog he was.

While that happens everywhere, Provincetown really does seem a place where dogs are appreciated more than most — and not just during Pet Appreciation Week.

Worn out by running on the beach and being sociable, we went back to the campsite for what would turn out to be a soggy night.

Mainly to get out of the rain, we jumped into the car about 6 a.m. Monday morning. I stopped for coffee and we drove out to Race Point — part of the Cape Cod National Seashore, 40 miles of pristine shoreline, marshes, dunes, cranberry bogs and ponds.

“A man may stand there and put all America behind him,” Henry David Thoreau once said of the spot we stood in. The rain turned to a gentle, but just as soaking, mist, and Ace went into frolic mode again. I wasn’t in the mood for the whipping game, though. Instead, I stared out into the water, only to see something staring back.

To me, that sealed the deal: I love this place.

Ace’s coat was drenched, and so was my sweatshirt. There was a soggy tent to drain, pack up and hoist atop my car — and I was already cold and tired to the bone. The skies showed no hint of any sunshine ahead. Nevertheless, it was time to get rolling — for while when I looked at the ocean the whole country may have been at my back, when I turned around the other way, the whole country was ahead.

At last, Ace gets some beach time

After two and a half months on the road, Ace and I finally landed on a beach. We love the mountains. We love the desert. But, all in all, there’s no place we’d rather land than at the beach.

No other place — and I’m just speaking for myself now — is, at once, so stimulating and soothing. Give us the sound of pounding surf, the sight of gliding pelicans and the smell of salt water and, of course, access to some air conditioning, and we are happy souls. All my senses, and perhaps even my brain, seem to to work better at the beach.

And this wasn’t just any beach. This was — in what was perhaps my biggest freeloading coup to date – a gated beach community, part-time home to North Carolina’s rich and famous, good old boys like Andy Griffith and not-so-good, not- so-old ones like John Edwards.

Figure 8 Island near Wilmington is a private paradise – not accessible to the beach-going hordes, private enough that celebrities (usually) find solace there, and dotted with mansions that seem to think they’re big enough to defy hurricanes.

Exclusive is what it is — the sort of place I’d be prone to make fun of, unless of course, I was invited in.

Once Ace and I were, we didn’t want to leave.

Ever.

I’d made a point to time our continuing travels so that we’d be able to take advantage of an invitation to visit my former University of North Carolina classmates Steve and Louise Coggins, year-round residents of the island who were holding a mini-reunion for some college friends, most of whom I hadn’t laid eyes on in — as someone felt it necessary to point out — 35 years.

Steve, a lawyer, and Louise, a psychotherapist, are hard core dog lovers, and hard core people lovers as well. Earl, their Cavalier King Charles spaniel, is the latest in a long line of rescues. If rescuing dogs weren’t enough, Steve has also hauled some humans out of the ocean, and I’m guessing Louise, in her job, has pulled a few humans back from the riptides of life they were caught in as well.

They, and the other old friends I reconnected with, seem to remain just about as wacky as they were in college — Louise, who once tracked down Paul Newman on the island and talked him into posing for a picture, in particular. They seem to remain — despite all you hear about the vanishing idealism of my greying generation — just as idealistic and committed as they were then, too. Maybe even more so. If there’s a liberal cause, or a Democratic candidate, you can probably find its, his or her bumper sticker on the back of Louise’s car. (“Who would Jesus execute?” was my favorite.) And, beyond lip service, both she and her husband seem still up for a fight when it comes to what they think is right.

That, to me, was even more refreshing than getting slapped and tickled by a cold ocean wave, though I must report that the ocean is not cold at all. It’s the warmest I’ve ever felt it. (This continues to be the summer I came to believe in global warming.)

Ace and Earl hit it off immediately — Earl being a low key little dog who likes to sit in a lap, or other comfortable spot, and observe the humans, often with a quizzical stare that makes you think he’s still trying to figure out the species.

Ace — though he’s not big on swimming in the ocean, prefering to wade, was in his element, too.

Meaning he had humans with whom to bond — there’s nothing he likes better than having lots of people around to lean on, lay atop and hold hands with.

He seems most content when among multiple friends, kind of like Steve and Louise. Their beach house — rebuilt after Hurricane Fran claimed their first — seems to have a steady stream of visitors coming and going. If it were a bed and breakfast, it would be doing a thriving business. I think there are long stretches between the times only they and Earl are there.

I hung around for two days, evening out my one-sided driving tan and pondering how I might extend my stay. I offered to become Steve and Louise’s live- in gardener — especially appropriate because, at their wedding, I, having gone attired in blue jeans, was mistaken for a gardener. I considered altering the dates of my visitor’s permit, or stowing away on the island, sleeping on the decks of unoccupied mansions during the night, frolicking in the surf by day.

But finally, and with great effort, I tore myself away.

Ace was even harder to tear away. For the first time on this trip, he didn’t come when I called him to jump in the car. Instead he walked up to the front door of the beach house and sat down — not the momentary, ready-when-you-are-sit, but that determined, try-and-budge-me sit dogs do.

But after taking in two days of good friends, good food, good sun, good surf, and a breezy oceanfront porch swing nap that — until Ace came over and started licking my hand — was perhaps the most restful nap ever in my entire history of napping, we forced ourselves back in the hot old car and headed north, headed in search of another piece of my past.

That story is coming soon. Suffice to say that — unlike my college friends, and their principles — it didn’t hold up so well.

Highway Haiku: How the Pelican Got Its Beak

 

“How the Pelican Got Its Beak”

At its creation

Pelican must’ve told God,

“Put it on my bill.”

 

(Highway Haiku is a regular feature of “Dog’s Country,” the continuing tale of one man and one dog spending six months criss-crossing America. To read the latest installments, click here. To read all of “Dog’s Country,” from the beginning, click here.)