A bit ago, I posted a couple pictures of the garden that I’ve gotten going on my balcony. It’s not the biggest garden I’ve cared for, but it’s not the smallest either… and what matters is that it’s mine, and that it’s still growing beautifully.
So far I’d been mostly just keeping things moving, but earlier this week I felt my thumb starting to itch in that “Hey, maybe it’s actually a little bit green!” sort of way. Not that I was 100% confident, but… my confidence interval was enough that I headed to the garden store and picked up some new friends to take home.
Specifically – A new Sunflower plant, and some peas!
See, my pea plants had been doing gloriously. Brian had been enjoying foraging, and he, Laurel, and myself had gorged ourselves on every little pea we could find this last weekend. Which… honestly wasn’t a huge number of peas, but you know what? That’s totally okay! There were enough for a few each, and that’s what matters.
Now, I had more!
Of note, I feel really sneaky and smart about one specific setup that I’ve gotten going – the sunflower that I picked up? I planted peas all around it! Hopefully it’ll grow up quickly enough to be a stalk for them as they grow too… but even if not, it’ll be a super cool setup, won’t it?
It’s been quite a while since I’ve had someone stay over at my place… Not 100% sure, but it’s been at least a year since I’ve never hosted someone at my current apartment.
Regardless of how long it’s been since I’ve had a houseguest, I was super excited to have someone over. The first week he was here was nicely relaxing, with our days spent with him working from home and me heading into the office, and then the evenings with cooking interesting dinners, hitting the gym, catching up, and finally getting up to speed on all the new movies that’ve been coming out recently.
The weekend though, we had some more time to really get into the party time, stretch out, and have some fun!
On Saturday, we aimed for a bit of city energy – Bouldering, and Shooting range. The bouldering isn’t particularly out of character for me (Ed Note: If Ben had a Character Sheet, it would literally be one of the first lines), but the shooting range isn’t something particularly common… So yay for stretching out my activities!
The morning started, obviously, with Bacon Pancakes. Because that’s how all most of the best mornings start!
From there, the bouldering was lovely – we climbed, we crushed, we ate protein bars. It was good, but not really something to write too much about.
The shooting range was… I mean, I don’t really know what to write about here. We rented a pistol, shot a bit, and felt confident that we knew how it worked. Then we rented a rifle and did the same thing. It was fun, and we both shot quite well if I may say so.
If aliens invade, I am supremely confident that we can in fact climb up a cliff, and then hit our targets roughly in their invading center of mass, quite successfully. We are 100% the ideal defense force for Earth now. You’re welcome.
That evening, we cleaned off the… gunpowder? Is that a thing we have to do? I’m not 100% sure if it was truly necessary, but we did anyways. It’s probably important.
Brian cooked Chicken Parmesan, and it was awesome. I freely admit that it was quite possibly nearly the close equivalent of my previously made Bacon Pancakes. Maybe even a teensy tiny bit better.
The post-dinner conversation was also something not to be missed – especially when it started veering into the slightly crazy tin-foil-hat consipracy theory, regarding which political party may in fact be secretly in cahoots with evil forces, trying to pull the strings on every single action ever taken in the world! To give you, dear reader, a quick hint – it’s both parties. They’re in cahoots! All hooting together! Tin Foil Hats!
Then we went to bed.
On Sunday, we met up with my friend Laurel!
She was down in my neck of the woods already, something to do with a previous horse show that she’d been to, so she stopped by for a quick breakfast before we headed out with her and her pup to get some time on the Oregon coast. Brian’s been to the Pacific before, of course, but the previous week had been hot… and I mean HOT… so the chance to get into the salty mist wasn’t something that any of us was going to turn down.
The drive was, as always, a little bit longer than it felt like it should be. It went quickly though – It’d been a while since I’d seen Laurel, and Brian had never met her, so we all enjoyed the chance to chat and hang out, catching up and learning about new people.
I love getting to go on group trips… it’s something that I really miss about living in Boston. Here in Oregon my friend groups never really felt inclined to mix, no matter how hard I tried to set up group activities. Saying that three people counts as a group seems pretty strange, in retrospect, but… I feel like that speaks to how isolated I’d been feeling throughout the course of the pandemic, and the last year or two before I moved to Wilsonville.
Regardless, it was lovely. We drove through the sun and into the mist, parked, realized I’d directed us to the wrong spot, drove to the right spot, realized that it was still the wrong spot, and then repeated that process a few times until we finally decided on a new spot that wasn’t a wrong spot.
Lunch was made (French sandwiches, as per tradition), and a beach walk was commenced.
I love the Oregon Coast… Don’t get me wrong, I have tons of fond memories of the rocky New England seaside – I love jumping from rock to rock, and scrambling around looking for cool tide pools and washed up treasure. But the wide open sand beached of Oregon are… they’re just something else. They’re gorgeous, and I love the sense that they could go on forever… just fading into the mist in the distance.
Someday, I’m absolutely going to figure out somewhere I can go backpacking on the coast… but until I can finally unravel that web of not-information, I’ll content myself with beautiful strolls along the sand.
Ideally with friends, watching a dog frolic alongside us.
Interestingly, that’s exactly what I did.
We walked, we frolicked, Biscuit ran and barked and was happy, and all was well in the world.
No hyperbole, point of fact. All really was well in the world – it was a really great day, and I was really thankful for the chance to just unwind and relax with friends.
We kept the good-times train rolling even after the sky opened up and it started pouring rain – instead of worrying or getting unhappy, we found a small ice cream shop near the beach, and scarfed down some delicious treats – not just ice cream, but blueberry lattes and chocolate treats too!
And then, we kept it going with a winery! I mean, it wasn’t really a full winery tour or anything, but it was really interesting! Laurel had a nice flight of wines, as a way of helping us pick out a bottle for dinner of course, and I got to learn a bit more about barrels – specifically some of the more common places that they’re from, and what effect the vintiers have been noticing from the various regions. In short – French and US casks are kinda overrated, and definitely overpriced, but they do give a nice finish that some others can’t quite match
Minutia aside, it was lovely. While the winery was pretty cool, I personally really enjoyed a really tangential bonus to the visit – they had a really nice tin roof in the barrel room, which combined with the pouring rain made for the absolutely most relaxing sound, surrounded by the excellent smell of aged wood and wine.
It was nice, and I appreciated being able to rest for a little while in the room while Brian and Laurel chatted with one of the vintners. My knee had been kind of painful since my hike down from Colchuck, and the rain hadn’t helped… so just sitting and appreciating the natural music was absolutely just what the doctor was ordering.
As we finished up, we mobilized and moved on. Threw our gear in the truck, and headed back toward the city.
I can confidently tell you, the drive back to Wilsonville was one of the happiest moments that I’ve had in… quite a while.
Laurel had started up a rather mixed playlist of 90s songs, before pretty quickly passing out with Biscuit in the back seat. Brian soon followed, leaving me alone with my thoughts, the rain, and the highway. It was blissful – seeing the happily tired out friends surrounding me, listening to the rain pattering against the truck, and watching the highway grind by underneath our wheels.
I’ve learned, in recent years, that my personal form of meditation is long drives. Driving fugue is absolutely a thing, and for me it’s a beautiful way for my brain to turn inward and re-organize itself. My body has its task which keeps me from getting too distracted and lets my mind start really wandering on its own.
Combining that with knowing that I’m surrounded by people I like, and who enjoy my company as well, and…
Well, I was very thankful that the drive seemed to last forever.
The rest of the night was nearly as excellent as the drive itself. We ate, we drank, and we had relaxed conversations. I made jambylaya, which paired beautifully with the wine Laurel had picked out and the chocolates that we’d all picked for ourselves. Then we settled into the couch and watched a very fun, if a little strange, movie that we tracked down on Disney.
I don’t recall having a real Spring Break trip last year… If I’m remembering correctly, I did a short Spring Break trip down to Joshua Tree back in 2019, but 2020 didn’t quite lend itself to much traveling…
With that in mind, and looking at how much vacation time I’d accumulated over the last year or so, I realized that I really did need to take some time off to escape from work, from Wilsonville, and from getting stuck in my own head. Thankfully, most travel restrictions on the West Coast have been lifted, and my back’s been feeling a lot better… and I was able to finally make the long trek down to Sacramento to visit my friend Mike and finally meet his girlfriend Michelle!
It was a long drive, and a full week of stepping out of my usual little patch of world. I didn’t really go into it expecting anything specific, but I came out having even more appreciation for my friends, and feeling gloriously rested and recharged. I’m not quite back to my old self yet… but this trip was an amazing change to stretch back into myself, and just… explore.
The whole week
I’ve posted a lot of photos for this spring break trip, but here are a few that (in my mind at least) stand out as some of the best… Sit back and enjoy!