Coos Bay is a small port town at the south end of Oregon. When we drove to the old downtown from nearby North Bend, where we were staying, we could smell the fresh wood chips from the refinery by the water, which had stacks and stacks of logs in the yard. Eric really liked the logging trucks that drove along with us on the highway, starting in BC and then down through Oregon to northern California. It was kind of interesting, how much I admired the living trees in the forest and how much he liked them chopped down and piled on trucks…
Move left and right for full view travelling to Coos Bay
Continuing on into town, there were several buildings – a few in the Art Deco style – and a small boardwalk with some nautical artifacts for viewing. After parking our car, we walked along the boardwalk to a path by the water, past a young, shirtless guy, fishing. It wasn’t until we turned around at the end of the path and walked back again that I noticed the fishing guy’s many tattoos. And then I saw, on the left side of his torso, the outline of a pretty large swastika covering an area starting just below his armpit down to about his waist. The sight of it totally rattled me. I couldn’t believe that someone would display their racist convictions so prominently and so permanently. I pointed it out discretely to Eric, and then Fisher, catching on to my unusually secretive tone, asked me about it. The tattoo ended up providing us with a talking point, as Fisher has never heard about Nazism before. I guess in hindsight, with Trump winning the election just a couple of months later, it wasn’t really as shocking as all that. Wait a minute… yes, it still is.
After our stroll and history discussion, we walked over to the shops and restaurants area. One of our favourite places in town ended up being Joey’s Arcade. For a flat rate of $8 each, Fisher and Milo could play any of the many arcade games, or the Xbox games on one of two giant screen TVs, for as long as they wanted. The staff, all heavy-set men with beards, were friendly, and at the end of our second visit we had an interesting conversation with Joey about the upcoming election. He said he envied the fact that we were Canadian, and hoped that somehow Bernie Sanders could still squeeze onto the ballot.
A couple of doors down was a really cool coffeehouse called So It Goes, which we went to a few times as well. And while we didn’t actually have coffee there (because we don’t drink coffee), the tea and snacks were pretty tasty.
Another place that I really liked was the Blue Heron Bistro, a German restaurant owned by a Dutch man who had emigrated to the U.S. after the Second World War. The decor was kitschy, traditional German style with animal trophies on the walls as well as posters and mementos of a time long passed. The owner had written a couple books, which had for sale, about post-war Holland and running his restaurant. I purchased one of them to read, and maybe pass on to my dad who was also born in Holland during the war. The food was pretty good, and reminded me of the German-style meals I had eaten occasionally as a kid, being of Swiss and Dutch descent, and with Eric’s Austrian family. It must be said, however, that the schnitzel wasn’t nearly as good as Eric’s mom’s.
One more thing I wanted to mention was the movie I had gone to see on my own one evening, when I had reached my stress limit with the kids (and Eric, poor guy), and left our motel room in tears. The theatre was close-by, so I decided to go see whatever was playing and ended up watching Pete’s Dragon. It was, admittedly, an unsubtle kids’ movie, but I enjoyed the forest scenery, much of which looked like the old-growth cedars on Vancouver Island, and the last scene where the main characters are hiking along the mountains. It turns out the movie was filmed in New Zealand, which added to my excitement of travelling there (here). But when the credits were rolling, a song came on called, “Something Wild”. I liked the catchy instrumentation pairing a piano and violin, and the simple lyrics were sweet. But when the chorus played, that’s when the tears started all over again. They went like this:
“When you’re lost out where the lights are blinding,
Caught in all, the stars are hiding,
That’s when something wild calls you home, home,
If you face the fear that keeps you frozen,
Chase the sky until the ocean,
That’s when something wild calls you home, home”
I still tear up when I hear that song (I downloaded it right away) thinking about the overbearing stress I felt living where “the lights are blinding”, and how we chased the sky (oh, that breathtaking Saskatchewan sky!) to the ocean because something wild called me home (home being, of course, my self)… which reminds me of the tattoo I saw on a guy’s hand at a sushi restaurant in Seaside, Oregon, that spelled out HOME SAFE, one letter on each finger just above the knuckle…
Funny how everything’s connected, isn’t it?