It’s that time of the year again.
Twice a year we head to the Oregon Coast for a weekend with just our family. We go in August as a goodbye to summer, and we head there every year in mid-late February to celebrate our dog Bailey’s birthday.
For those who don’t know his story, Bailey came to us as a rescue from Golden Bond nine years ago. At that point, he was a two year old breeder’s dog who’d never been allowed to socialize with other dogs or be inside with humans.
He was a stud dog– and when the owners no longer had a need for his services, they surrendered him to this great non-profit and we met him at a foster family’s home.
It’s like we were meant to be together — and we adopted him right away.
He was a nervous wreck when we first got him; it took me six hours to lure him inside and a full day until he attempted to come upstairs. Within a month or so he started acting somewhat normally, and the years have mellowed him further.
For almost the last decade he has lived with us as a beloved member of our family — and I’ve never met a sweeter, more loving or patient dog.
I swear he’s grateful for this turn in his life.
I’ve made it my mission to make up for those two lonely first years of his life by showering him with love, adventures and a diet laced with varied foods and treats.
The vet says his weight is perfect and he’s in amazingly good shape for a dog his age, so why not little bites of deliciousness throughout the week? How boring to eat the same kibble day in and day out.
And shouldn’t a dog get to try a lot of foods just once?
And then there’s this birthday weekend.
We pull out all the stops to really make his birthday special.
Great meals. Extra long walks on the beach. And lots of snuggling and telling how much he means to us.
When it’s a family vacation on the coast we want, a VRBO in Rockaway is where we usually stay.
While Rockaway Beach doesn’t have the charm of Cannon Beach, Manzanita or Gearhart, it’s possible to rent a house here inexpensively that sits right on the beach and there are very few crowds.
This particular house is so sunny and bright and you can’t beat the view from our living room.
Just open up the sliding doors and you’re just steps from a private stretch of beach.
The first thing I always do after I unpack our clothes and food is add things from my home that make the rental house more comfortable and appealing to me.
There’s a pretty, light-filled kitchen but the wood dining table is scuffed and marked, and the mustard-colored china is not my cup of tea. Ditto the silverware, dark, bowls and unfamiliar pans.
Off you go, rental house paraphernalia– there’s a new sheriff in town and she’s got her own crew with whom she likes to work.
Don’t believe such simple things make a big difference?
Take a look and tell me which table you’d rather sit at and look at for two straight days.
I have lots of cute aqua silverware, and while it’s a mix of new and vintage, it all seems to work together.
I also bring three of four different tablecloths so we can have a fresh one with every meal, and then there’s my favorite glassware, too — a Manhattan or glass of wine just isn’t the same in a crappy glass.
Does bringing boxes of stuff from my house to theirs make me a control freak?
But a happy little freak when I realize I’m not frying an egg on a pan that the the government should probably outlaw due to its peeling Teflon.
And I’m downright cheery when I can serve warm soup or popcorn in something other than the few chipped saucer bowls on hand.
And I’m just grateful when I don’t have to use a washcloth to pull a pan out of the oven because the house oven mitts have too many holes (real potholders are great for trivets, too).
And while we’re at it… what about something pretty for the table, like these succulents?
I bought them right before I went to the beach because I knew that the artificial flowers in the rental would drive me to distraction, and my table would need something.
I’m happy I brought them– they made me smile all weekend.
House now ready to be fully enjoyed, we hit the beach.
The weather held for both days, which meant lots of long walks, playing with kites, and the gang playing football and tag in the cool sand.
And sometimes, just quietly soaking up the rays.
One of my favorite things to do at the beach is to take Bailey for a long walk on the sand.
His running days are mostly over but he loves to smell the driftwood and nose around in the grassy mounds while I look for treasures washed up from the shore.
Usually I find little more than broken sand dollars and the occasional agate but this time I found two beautiful shells.
There was this one — with sharp edges all over it that looked like they’d been dipped in dark chocolate. It looked liked both like a macaroon with burnt edges and a small quilled animal (a maca-pine? porcu-roon?)
And this one.
And this strangely compelling piece of driftwood.
Good luck was happening all over the beach– I talked to one woman who found a pristine white shell as wide as a man’s outstretched fist and another who found a bottle maybe eighty years old.
And no trip to the beach would be complete without our side trips.
Outing #1 was the town of Wheeler for a little bit of vintage shopping.
I love the little antique mall there– I always see so many fun things I appreciate.
Take a look at this frozen food carton with the mountains and gingham background.
As much as I wanted to adopt this party jug, even I had to admit my plaid Thermos collection is large enough already.
I did pick up a couple treasures — like these forks.
I will leave them in the car when I need to eat on the run (I can’t stand plastic cutlery).
I just love the scripted initials on them.
And I added these to my card collection, too.
They’re a bit over the top but granny-chic; I love the font and this photo doesn’t do their color justice (it’s amazing as they must be almost as old as I am).
They’ll go in the car, too. There I keep a small box of cards, favorite wrapping paper, washi tape and scissors — for that occasional “just because” drop off or when I suddenly remember a friend’s birthday on the fly and I need to pull something together quick.
Outing #2 was to Manzanita.
It’s an adorable town with lovely little shops.
I love the shingled roofs and weathered siding everywhere with the occasional pop of color.
There’s also allegedly a great pizza place (I have yet to go) and also a small deli that makes good fried chicken and other great things to tuck into a picnic basket.
And then there’s that gorgeous beach.
This time we saw this nearly thirty foot long trunk that’d washed up.
I’ve never seen such an enormous tree wash up on shore, and it made me wonder.
How did it end up here? Was it local– or was it another thing washing up from that Japanese tsunami?
So all in all a great weekend of comfort food, games, movies, outings and re-connecting, from early morning to late at night.
Bailey had lots of walks, love — and amazing food throughout.
So while we were indulging in the likes of this
he was enjoying his special meals, too.
On the way out of town yesterday, we had one last side trip to make.
The Tillamook Creamery is a family must-do as we head out of town.
I nabbed a few of the cheese samples for Bailey to enjoy on the car ride and the rest of us enjoyed a last treat of our own, too.
Sometimes just one scoop of the right flavor is all you need to make your day.
Fifteen minutes into our ride home, I looked in the back seat.
It looked like the combination of sun, sand and snacks had done their magic.
All three of my kids were out cold.
Beach getaways are the best.