A few Monday mornings ago, I woke up and thought about how nice would it be to eat fresh clam chowder and watch the sunset on the beach. Yes, of course, that all sounded great. But then I started to think about the mountain of the things that I needed to do. I tossed the idea aside and decided, "well, I'll do it tomorrow." Mondays will do that to you.
As it happened, I wistfully checked the weather at the Oregon coast and saw that this particular day was really the only guaranteed day of sun. I didn't think twice. Within minutes, I had a small bag packed and was on my way to borrow my parents' dog for the afternoon. I'm no stranger to spontaneous adventures, but this one had a different feeling of freedom to it. It was just me and my dog, the road, and the radio… Which could also be the makings for a great country song. I’ll get back to you on that one.
Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast is 80 miles and about an hour and a half drive from Portland. It’s one of Oregon’s top tourist spots and for good reason-- Cannon Beach is exactly the picture-perfect, wholesome small beach town that you hope it would be. The streets were quiet as I rolled into town. A few locals and tourists wandered outside of the Cape Cod-style small stores and restaurants that were already twinkling with Christmas lights. Cannon Beach is an ideal day trip in the summertime with perfect, mild weather and endless activities, but the town really does put on the charm for the holidays.
Haystack Rock, the famous landmark, is viewable from the beach southwest of downtown Cannon Beach. Beach access and parking can be found down many of the side streets. Upon finding the perfect beach access point, we happily hopped out of the car and soon Little Bear and I had our feet (and paws) in the sand. It was a whole other world on the coast that day with clear blue skies and it was a far cry from that gloomy week in Portland. Sometime shortly after stepping out onto the sand and feeling the unusual warmth of a sunny day in November, I was really glad that I hadn’t missed this.
I've been to Cannon Beach countless times before, but never by myself. I was struck by how earnestly friendly everyone I met was while I walked on the beach, took pictures, and played fetch with Little Bear. Given, they mainly fawned over how cute Little Bear was as she proudly carried the tennis ball as big as her face and then laughed at how she proceeded to drop her ball repeatedly into the tide pools near the base of Haystack Rock. (Sorry, sea urchins. I tried.) In this day and age of social media it was nice to have normal, real conversations with other visitors.
I won't call this excursion "traveling" exactly since it was only a few hours drive from home. Still, it was an impulse promptly acted on and it just felt good to get out of town for an afternoon. Many travelers wouldn't call this traveling at all and I'd have to agree. All I did was play fetch with my dog on the beach for a few hours, talk to a some new folks, watch the sunset and pick up clam chowder only an hour and a half from home. But somehow, this silly road trip with my dog turned into something more. It reminded me of a quote that has stuck with me for years.
"WOULDN'T IT BE NICE
IF WE RECOGNIZED OUR BEST DAYS
WHILE WE WERE LIVING THEM?"
Driving home from this spontaneous drive to see a sunset and eat clam chowder, with Little Bear snoring in the backseat, I was reminded of why I started The Paper Airplane in the first place. You don't have to constantly jet set off to exotic locations and check boxes off your bucket list, the transformative feeling that travel gives you is more accessible than you think. That feeling can be found even in a place that you've been to countless times before if you manage to see it in a new light. All it takes is saying yes to an adventure, be it big or a small trip to the beach.
As a bonus, my sunset at the Oregon Coast wasn't half bad either.
P.S. I'm starting a new posting schedule and will be sharing travel memories every Monday from now on. Next week's hint? Buon Natale!