So we’re now in Newport. For those of you who may have lost track, that’s the third of our trip locations (5 total). We drove in to stories of uncommonly good temperatures and sunny weather. According to folks around here, the past couple of weeks have been rainy and overcast, so it seems that the Arizona sun has followed us to Oregon for a little R&R as well.
While in Newport, we’ll be staying at the Newport Belle Bed & Breakfast, an old paddleboat that has been converted into a 4-room B&B. Run by Michael, his wife, and his Scottish terriers (his first-mates), it is a charming little place with a lot of personality. The room that we acquired is their most popular and faces west, across the bay bridge and into the Pacific. The room is a little small (what would you expect on a boat?) but wonderfully cozy and fun.
I mentioned before the reports of warm temperatures. Clearly that is a relative term. During the drive down, we stopped off at an outlet mall and the wind was so fierce that it made us both chilled. We decided to look through the mall for a warm fleece/jacket thing for Emily (I, foolishly, had left mine in the car and was too proud to go back and get it). One of the stores that we wandered into held a number of small crafts, fun wall clocks, and random knickknacks. The chilly weather and homey atmosphere of the store put both Emily and I in a nostalgic mood and we both realized (again) how much we miss chilly autumn evenings in a cozy house…
So we drove the rest of the way down to the B&B only to find that our room wasn’t ready yet (we were an hour early). The proprietor suggested that we check out a marine science center maintained by Oregon State University, just across the parking lot so we did exactly that! Much like an aquarium, it was focused more on academic research and local environmental concerns. Yet, it still had the touch-tanks with fishes and anemones and whatnot. Finally, we went back to the boat. By this time, the wind was raging and as Michael showed us up to our room (it has an outside entrance) he had to shout to make himself heard. The riverboat is moored right next to the quay, as far back from the bay and open water as possible, but Emily and I could still feel the boat rocking gently in the wind. So much so, actually, that later we found ourselves noticing the lack of it on dry land!
Taking a recommendation from Michael we headed off to “Historic Newport Bayside”. I put the name in quotes because Michael conveyed that what’s there now is hardly historic. Arriving, we could see what he meant. There were a few commercial fish processing plants, but much of the bayside had been taken over with craft shops, souvenir shops, and restaurants. We didn’t really mind all that much, though. It had a familiar feel and it didn’t take us long to make the association – Sedona. A lot of the trinkets had the overly artsy feel of the stuff you can get at Sedona. Walls of look-alike pieces with featurettes about the artist and such.
After a while we began to get hungry and started looking for food. For those of you who know me, it should come as no surprise that I wasn’t especially excited about the smell of the fish processing plants and the prospect of seafood. Yet, as we walked up and down the bayside, we saw nothing that offered alternative hope, so I set my mind to trying to pick out a place that might offer a nice, safe, plate of fish and chips. I figure some bland halibut wouldn’t do too much harm. After stopping by a couple of places that were full out the door, we finally saw a place that looked promising and available, it had large windows facing the bay, and a nice atmosphere. Upon getting the menus, though, we almost choked on our waters. The price of the plates were easily twice as expensive as I would expect to spend in any other place, even in a tourist trap like “Historic Newport Bayside”. We were committed, though, so we ordered fish and chips. I got the halibut and Emily the salmon. What was served to us were certainly recognizable as fish and chips, but hardly deserved a third of their price. The fryers clearly needed to be cleaned – the batter was burned with that dirty-oil smell wafting off of them. The fries were limp and exuded the same odor. Happy food was not to be. Yet we were entertained. As we sat, munching on our food, we noticed a small flotilla of sail boats coming around a headland from deeper in the bay. A number of them were happily scooting along the water, clearly in their element. 3 or 4 of them, however, were not doing so well. They were listing over heavily and had trouble maintaining a straight course. A couple of times we were certain that the sailboats were going to capsize, but they simply leaned over so far that the sail was effectively horizontal with the water and the wind stopped pushing them over. For anybody who might be interested, what happens next is that the nose of the boat grabs the water and it turns sharply into the wind until the boat can right itself, with the wind running in parallel to the sails. This must have been a source of great relief to the mariners on the boats who, I have to presume, had to change their shorts after disembarking.
After dinner, Emily and I decided to try to walk off the grease that we had both ingested. Emily’s friend Larissa had just recently returned from a vacation on the Oregon coast and suggested Agate Beach as a Newport beach that was beautiful. By the time we got out there it was past 7, the sun had retreated behind some evening clouds and the wind was brisk (though hardly the typhoon it had been before). It was cold. Emily complained bitterly. By her reckoning, she hadn’t been that cold in years and years. While my experience in chillier climes may be a bit more recent, I agreed and we turned around just a 10 yards from the water and headed back to the car. We’re now enjoying the sound of seagulls and a mild breeze as I type and Emily gets even further ahead of me in the new Harry Potter book…