Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Zen of the Non-Destination

Melvin's recent recaps of our travel though Colorado, Montana and Washington (part one and part two) mentioned that I proceeded on to visit family in Oregon. Looking through my photographs, it seems like my folks and I didn't do much of note, at least in comparison with the itineraries Melvin and I map out.

More pushpins than, say, Helena but I am making a point.

There were some feature destinations but upon reflection, I realized that the non-destinations were more satisfying personally.

To illustrate my point, I juxtapose pictures of my step-mother at Oregon Garden, an 80-acre botanical garden we visited in Silverton, with my dad tending a raised bed near his home.

Oregon Garden

Oregon gardens

I don't mean to imply that my day at Oregon Garden with my stepmother was anything but enjoyable but our conversation in the car was more intimate. How marvelous driving behind a tractor-trailer, loose hay swarming us from the flatbed—I wondered if there would be anything left when the truck arrived at its destination.

I am almost certainly overstating my thesis but hear me out. When my father announced that he planned to entertain me by providing a tour of his day-to-day life, my stepmother gently admonished him. Perhaps it was a dodge. Repackaging a ride-along while he ran his regular chores would not be out of character for my father.

Whether his intentions were sincere or not, driving around town with my dad was fascinating and illuminating. For example, we visited several discount stores unlike any I had seen before and, my father's son, I was disappointed that I would never get to shop in them. I bought some snacks for the flight home to quiet my desire.

We went to the local Fred Meyer a couple times, once to recycle bottles and cans. As I have already revealed, my dad is mindful of money and it did not surprise me that he would redeem beverage containers for the deposit. But that isn't what he did.

Instead, he handed the plastic bag and contents to a woman waiting to use the redemption machine. "That's what I do," he said quietly when he got back to the car, as if charity of any size might have come as a surprise to me either. People can write or email or tell you over the phone about their lives but none of that can compare with seeing them in person as themselves.

My father and I also took a day-trip to what was both destination and non-destination. After driving 65 miles to the coast, we had a late breakfast at Green Salmon Coffee and Tea House in Yachats, where the salmon was pink, the coffee strong and both really, really good. Living in Brooklyn, I don't often get to see hippies living in their natural habitat—and to think, I used to be one.

Dad and I back-tracked to Smelt Sands State Recreation Area, a beautiful and rugged and potentially treacherous landscape forever marked (literally) by the deaths of two Eugene high school students in 2011. Continuing north across the Conde McCullough designed (1936) Yaquina Bay Bridge, we took a walk on the comparatively calm Nye Beach in Newport.

Yaquina Art Gallery and the Newport Visual Arts Center are located near the main beach access. At the latter, we saw Dorothea Lange in Oregon, which included many images I had never seen before. Lange is best known for Migrant Mother, also taken for the Farm Security Administration.

"Service station; US 99 road sign, Grants Pass, Josephine County," 1939.

Our next stop—by way of a RV park where my father and stepmother used to park their RV—was Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area.

"Yaquina Head Lighthouse, 1938" courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management.

The picture below was taken looking right from a parking lot constructed on the rotary around the mound shown in the above photograph.

view from Yaquina Head to the north

Before driving home, we had supper at the Chalet Restaurant and Bakery. My father is an aficionado of the family-owned diner—I use the term loosely—and this was a prime example since it had a couple dozen flavors of pie. Melvin and I might be a tad more discriminating but all three of us are birds of a feather.

Smelt Sands, Yaquina Head and the art galleries were by definition "destinations" but the whole day was a nostalgic tour of my father's day-to-day life on vacation in and around Newport. He was inviting me along, just not in real time, showing me the places he loves, showing me himself. The zen of the non-destination.

Our other day-trip was even more of a non-destination. We lost track of our intended route (as opposed to "got lost") and ended up at another diner known to dad. We stopped into the Benton County Museum where we saw Something Old, Something Blue but mostly shooted the breeze with the guys at the front desk.

"something blue in nature"

We had lunch at the Historic Old School Café at the Children's Farm Home School. The facility was founded in 1925 to provide homes to orphans, neglected children and children whose families could not take care of them. Under different management, it now provides "short-term, on-site psychiatric services for young people requiring 24-hour support for emotional and behavioral challenges."

Of course, we saw a baseball game—this is Baseball Byways after all. Using four pitchers, the Eugene Emeralds combined for their first no-hitter since 1968, their last year at Bethel Park, where the team was originally known as the Larks. ("Show us your Larks.")

The first of four pitchers throws the first pitch.

I had hoped to visit historic Civic Stadium, where the Ems played for four decades beginning in 1969. However, the stadium—built for high school sports in 1938 with assistance from the Works Progress Administration—burned to the ground in late-June. Three boys, ages 10 and 12, received five years probation in an out-of-court settlement for the arson.

"End of an era...." Image courtesy of @Jim_Meacham

My father, stepmother and I went to Eugene on the day I flew from Great Falls. You can add non-chronological to non-destination. This paragraph is a non-conclusion, but I think you get the point.

No comments:

Post a Comment