Race to Witch Mountain
End April 20 Column

A Week Away

Regular readers will recall that I decamp to Oregon during Spring Break each year to visit my parents and spend some time on the Oregon coast, usually in or near Seaside (I have also been to Manzanita and Canon Beach in recent years). There I was again this year, with my daughters for a few days (they had to get back to work), then by myself in a condo on the beach at Seaside (Vicki had to work as well).

The depressurization was successful, so successful that I found it extremely difficult to get back into the swing of things on the Monday when I got back. And I am still burdened with things that need to be done that I put off while I was on vacation, and I've now been back for a week.

Still, I wouldn't give it up for anything. As has often been noted by others, more skilled than I am, Thomas Wolfe was both right and wrong when he wrote "you can't go home again." You can't go home for the same reason you can't step in the same river twice; time moves on, things change, people move and die, and the neighborhood you grew up in changes. Mine, now known as Beaumont Village, is still recognizable as the area in which I spent the first 18 years of my life, but only just. The anchor is my parents, still in the same house after 52 years (the house next door to the one in which my father grew up). The five gas stations are all gone, but the school is there, as solid a brick structure today as it was in 1926. Dutch Village TV repair is gone, but Beaumont Market and Beaumont Florist soldier on. The cutesy shopping, the precious restaurants continue their invasion, and the bagel store proves this isn't MY Beaumont village, but rather a new and different one. Better? Could be. I don't live there, so I don't have to decide. I am pleased that there's frozen yogurt at the market, however--a low-call, high satisfaction treat that didn't exist when I was a boy.

I swung in Friday night, staying at Portland's finest B&B, The White House. Great rooms, great breakfast, great hosts. Can't be beat. Period.

Our semi-annual trip to the Pagoda restaurant in the Hollywood district of Portland for Chinese food was disrupted by the fact that-there is no more Pagoda. It's gone. Five decades. Poof. Making way for another bank. Just what the neighborhood needs. At least Powell's, the world's largest used book store, continues to exist in the physical world, down at 10th and Burnside.

My daughters arrived Saturday morning; it was a makeup for Christmas, which was snowed out (Portland's airport was shut down for most of Christmas Week). We all had a good time. The girls went back to work on Monday, while I kissed my parents goodbye, stopped for lunch at the charming and delightful Old Market Pub & Brewery in Portland's Multnomah district with KF, a high-school friend who recently retired from his job at a teacher at our old high school, Benson Polytechnic.

Thence to the Sand N' Sea condos, where I had a room on the ground floor with an ocean view, yards from the Prom. Long walks on Seaside's beautiful beach (despite temps in the 40s, gust winds and vigorous rain). Lots of reading and listening to Radio Nederlands classical music on the Internet, as well as my usual podcasts and BBC Radio 4 sitcoms. Two Prime Rib dinners at Gertles (both of which lasted two days!), and a day without getting dressed (always a vacation highlight for me). Then a quick two days in Portland, including a chat at Starbucks with BM, another high-school friend, and back to the real world.

My friend Kent Peterman recently noted that he is immune to SAD; as a happy native of Portland, so am I. Rainy days do not depress me in the slightest. Actually, we could us a few more here in Orinda.

And here's a quick test. Some of my students have been claiming to be readers of this blog. If you're one of the first four people to come up to me this week and say "Potomac" (you have to pronounce it correctly), I'll give you a Jolly Rancher.