Oregon Coast Part 3: Lighthouse on the Last Day

Mid August 2015

Our last day on the Oregon Coast was stormy… grey… and gorgeous! There is nothing quite like the ocean when it is moody!

We visited one of the most popular lighthouses on the Oregon coast… Yaquina Headlight… on a beautiful shoreline protrusion called Cape Foulweather. This day was just a little stormy… I can’t imagine how potentially terrifying but totally awe inspiring a major storm would be viewed from this point!

  
  
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Dad and the baby bro got a lighthouse tour…

Mom and I walked down onto this amazing balsite rock beach.. the whole beach was round little black rocks that are essentially little drops of lava that cooled as it hit the cold ocean water once upon a time, turning into a little ball of molten rock.

There were heaps of tidepools along the beach… filled with anemones and crabs and little fish…


While we were standing up high on the cape… we saw grey wales surfaces off in the distance away from the shoreline. It was incredible!


 Nature amazes me!! Really!! Especially after a year of being exposed to almost nothing but rocks and dust and dry cliffs and sand dunes or very cultivated trees and grass… it’s amazing to see nature as it is… not enhanced by humans… vibrant and full of life!!!

We had a special dinner out on our last night in oregon, along the marina in newport. We saw fishermen cutting up big tuna and other fish… There were disgustingly smelly and noisy sea lions… Barking like dogs with bad colds and plugged noses… But yet so intriguing to watch… And the marina lit up at night was pretty lovely to walk along… Good way to end the trip!

On our return back to Canada… it was still windy and stormy on the drive back. We drove along miles of windswept coastline where the trees were flattened against the cliffs and hilly shoreline they clung to… where beaches were ever moving and constantly changing as the wind blew the sand along them and waves washed the sand in and out and up and down along the coast. We stopped at a couple beaches on the way back…  Beach number one stays nameless. Cuz I don’t know what it was called 😕

 

Beach number 2 was Manhattan Beach, I think…
  
  

Otherwise… the drive was pretty uneventful. I’m very proud to say that I finally finished reading Shatarum… and if you haven’t read it yet you most definitely should!! Proceed with caution though: it will make you want to visit India. Or travel. Anywhere! I’d been trying to get more than a couple pages into Shantarum for months (and not because it was boring but because I never had time to read it…), but now on vacation, I got to fully immerse myself in the story and luxuriate in a fabulous, imaginative, mind transporting book!

I did have a lot of thinking time on the drive back… trying to decide what to do with my life next. Should I stay or should I go??!!! That was the big question that weighed on my mind. Probably not a good question to have weighing on my mind when I was homesick for my nieces after only 6 days, and had been absolutely surrounded by the love of my family and the happiness of being together with them so closely for 6 days! A very anguished post came out of that. Which will actually never hit the blog. Anyways. No closer to a decision at present :S

But I have decided that I absolutely love Oregon and would most definitely consider it as a future home!!!! And if you’ve never been to the Oregon coast yet, I highly recommend a roadtrip! You can even go all the way down through California if you like!!!

Hope you’ve enjoyed the pics!

xx

Annemarie

Oregon Coast Part 2: Dunes and Devil’s Churn

Mid August 2015

Part 2 of our trip had us spending a couple nights in Waldport Oregon, further down the coast and nearer to the coastal sand dunes of Oregon.

Waldport was a pretty unremarkable seaside town, but it was a great place to stop and spend a couple nights. On our first night we went on a walk to the beach and ended up nearly sliding our way down a very steep and sandy hill…

We found a nature’s teeter-totter, made out of driftwood, that ended with me falling off onto a sharp piece of diftwood and piercing my ear quite unintentionally. What a bloody mess. Really. But such a good laugh and worth the pain!

Relaxing family time spent reading books… cooking dinner together… just relaxing outside in the fresh air…

Day number 4 of the trip, we drove a couple hours drive further south along some incredibly windswept coastline into the dune land near Florence, Oregon.

Beautiful white sand dunes… blue skies… and the faintly blue ocean out in the distance after a strip of dusty green scrub brush…

Rented a 4 person Razor so dad and little brother and I could all be together and went screaming up and down the dunes! Oh it made me miss Saudi a little! Although Saudi definitely doesn’t have these gorgeous ocean views out in the sand dunes! It was a lot of fun… but I must say, this sand is harder to drive in than Saudi sand! Or maybe the Razor I drove in Saudi had a little more power? :S Great fun though!!!

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Next stop was for lunch. Hecita Bay beach… Homemade Burgers on the beach, a couple games of frisbee that definitely ended when I launched the frisbee way up in a tree… And hours spent running up and down the beach… Playing in the waves… Baby bro and I found a sandbar that took us way out away from the shoreline out into the water near where the big waves were breaking before rushing over our shallow spot… Some of the waves were so much larger than we anticipated and before long our clothes were absolutely drenched. And our feet were SO numb… That water must have been imported directly from the Arctic Ocean!!! 😁 great fun tho… So many laughs with the little guy!
  
    


On our way back… we made a pitstop at Devil’s Churn… which ended up being hours of watching the waves crash on the rocks and shower the tide pools with fresh water and liven up all the little beings making the tide pools their home.

The water was ferocious in that area… smashing into the rocks with thunderous roar, sending massive spray up and out onto any unsuspecting individual too close to the edge… giving new meaning to the word churning as the water rushed into a narrow inlet between the rocks, seething and swooshing over the dark black basalt rocks in a rush of white water…

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Some of the waves that crashed into the rocks were larger than others… and it was a bit of a guessing game to know whether it would be a large enough wave with the right angle to hit you with it’s spray… my brother and I got soaked at one point as we tried to pose for a picture with the water just behind us, as instead it rushed over us! But we didn’t get nearly as wet as one couple who posed for a picture and got drenched by the largest wave we’d seen all afternoon… and when they ran away from the water, and stopped again for another picture, an even bigger wave soaked them yet again! Oh the gorgeous unpredictability of nature!


  
 Next up: lighthouses!

Oregon Coast Part 1: Cannon Beach

Mid August 2015

Living on the west coast of North America, one of the most beautiful road trips I believe you can ever do, is to take the Pacific Coast Highway along the Oregon coast. It runs from northwest Washington, Seattle area or the Olympic Peninsula, all the way down through Oregon and California to the Baja Peninsula.

The drive is leisurely and tranquil, windy and hilly, with absolutely stunning ocean views at nearly every turn, and thick old growth forests. It is continuously shades of emerald and azure, with puffy white clouds and foaming waves, dark brown mud flats and soft brown and grey sands.

I went on this beautiful drive with my parents and youngest brother, 6 days of the most gorgeous coastal scenery I’ve ever experienced! The first day was a long drive from home to Cannon Beach, our first stop, in dad’s big truck pulling a camping trailer.


Our first day in Cannon Beach, we slept in, made bacon and eggs for breakfast, using dad’s special camping method which is to first fry the bacon, pour of the majority of the grease and then cook the eggs on top of the bacon in the pan. The result… delicious! The smell of bacon and coffee and pine trees and the crisp morning air… it smells like childhood memories!!!
I haven’t been camping like this in years!!  The smell of the gently sun warmed pine trees at dinner time after we settled into our campsite in Cannon Beach… BBQing food… delicious red wine… and a good book and even better company. Absolutely the most fantastic way to relax and enjoy family time!

Days in Cannon Beach consisted of wandering around the town sipping coffee from local shops… seaside towns are super cute!! I don’t even know how to describe it but they all have a distinct look… lots of raw woods, salt stained siding, pretty little dorm windows and portholes, colorful trim, brilliantly cheerful and vibrant flower pots and hanging baskets everywhere… American flags…

Coffee shops, restaurants spreading aromas of clam chowders and fishy deliciousness, candy shops for all the kiddos, souvenior shops, and… Cannon Beach Distillery! Dad and I had a 10am gin/whiskey/tequila tasting… great fun! What an excellent excuse for drinking so early in the morning! Serious buzz. Kept me warm on that windy beach!!!  Also… the prettiest little wine store I’ve ever seen… wrapped in vines and selling fabulous wines…

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Cannon Beach is particularly famous for Haystack Rock… a massive Rock set out a good half a km from the shoreline… way out at the waters edge when we went to check it out, but at some times in the year, nearly unreachable as the water surrounds it. It is a 235ft basalt rock sea stack, created by lava, claimed to be one of the tallest intertidal structures in the world that can be reached by foot at low tide, and is home to many birds such as turns and puffins, that turn the rock nearly white/brown on top, although at some times in the year the rock is covered with beautiful green mosses/grasses.

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My favourite part of the whole trip… hours and hours spent walking on the beach, building sandcastles or lighthouses with my little brother, running along the waters edge until the icy pacific ocean waters turned my toes numb and I had to walk up in the deep warm sand that gave my quads the workout of a lifetime!!

Tidepools are amazing… and between the Needles and Haystack rock are beautiful tide pools home to all sorts of brilliant sea creatures like starfish and anemones, crabs and small fish.

 

On our last morning in Cannon Beach, I had to get in a morning beach run, and spent a couple hours walking/running in the haze of sea spray and early morning fog that shrouded the beach. I ran for miles with a cluster of rocks in the distance as my goal. The haziness may have clouded my vision so that I didn’t realize it was so much further away than I thought it would be!! But it was stunningly beautiful. And there is no feeling more free than a crisp, brisk seaside stroll, listening to the waves roll in, the wind whistling in my ears sending sea gulls soaring gleefully through the air… it is so healing, so relaxing, so peaceful. I’d recommend it as a cure for any aching soul.

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The beach… the ocean… the freedom… the serenity. There really is nothing like it in the world!

I was pretty reluctant to leave Cannon Beach and carry on down the coast, because I didn’t think it could possibly get more beautiful than this! But it continues to be gorgeous… More to come!!

 

 

3 States, 2 Provinces. Roadtrip!!!

Just an itty bitty roadtrip. A last minute decision.

Destination: Montana! To visit a favorite aunt and cousins!!

3pm Wednesday afternoon… I decided I was definitely going. (Sister dearest had the wee one early so I could take off without worrying I’d miss the big “birth”day!) Got my car ready all by myself… I checked my oil… independently (yes this is a big deal for me!)… topped up my washer fluid… checked my coolant levels and gave my tires a good kick to make sure they were the right pressure… and at 5pm I set off… Spokane was my goal for the night.

The border guard asked me why I was going all that way on my own. Well… one pretty legit reason… I haven’t driven in a year… and I LOVE to drive… especially at relatively fast and crazy speeds…I need to make up for all that lost time in Saudi Arabia when I couldn’t drive!

Plus… I love to drive and sing my heart out in the car with my music just cranked… it’s generally a private mini dance party in my car… And… It’s fantastic thinking time!!! (Which can be a good or bad thing… depending on ones mood and all the stuff one has to process and think about!)

I probably thought just WAY too much about what I was gonna do about Saudi. Should I stay or should I go? I want to go but I love my family and especially adore my two nieces… how am I ever ever going to leave them again?!!! By the time I got to Spokane… I had absolutely no clue anymore what I was going to do anymore!!!

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But… a good glass of wine at the hotel bar always makes everything better 🙂

The next morning… I got up an walked around downtown Spokane which for the record is a really quaint little city!!! Found an amazing coffee shop with a “To Kill a Mocking Bird” theme… bought a new book to read and sat there sipping a latte in absolute peace and relaxation because I had nowhere to be in a hurry.

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IMG_2742Around noon, I left Spokane… to drive through the mountains of Idaho… and up the winding roads of Montanas national parks to Columbia Falls area where an old friend was vacationing with his family (forgot about time change so I ended up being an hour later than planned. Ooops).

Had din dins and a really great catch up with them… and then when it was dark… decided that it would be a good time to leave and drive through twisty mountain roads, super sketchy towns on the reserve… and across the jumping deer filled prairies. (Probably not the most brilliant idea I’ve ever had.) But, I made it safely to my aunt’s house by midnight… the 3 hour darkness drive wasn’t so bad!

The next 4 days were filled with cousin time… an afternoon on the lake… watched a big storm roll in and then roll past while we sat on the dock enjoying a drink and the bit of rain that fell while we waited for it to pass… and then we put in the boat in the water (with the help of some helpful fishermen)… and we just cruised and relaxed on the gently rocking boat… soaked up sun… and then attempted to get the boat back on the trailer… without the assistance of any men… we did it. Crookedly. But it worked 🙂

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Went to Great Falls… wandered the mall… might have found a shop with a ridiculous cat mask that I tried on… watched Vacation which was hilarious… and stuffed ourselves with sushi.

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Oh and my cousins dog had puppies. 7 wriggly little sweet things!!!! IMG_2826IMG_2831

Nothing crazy. Played with the adorable little monster who is my cousins little boy… Enjoyed some great coffee and wine and an amazing pork roast!! It was such a lovely time!!

I haven’t really chatted or hung out with these cousins in a good 2 years and I’ve missed them!!!!! My favourite night with them was definitely the night we soaked in the hot tub, watching the sun set over the gorgeous bit of river running beside my aunt’s place… boys, music, tequila, life, religion talk in the hot tub. It was so awesome! I love these wonderful women!!!! So blessed to call them family!!

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IMG_2899And then… when Monday morning rolled around… it was raining… and I left Montana… this time heading up into Alberta to drive through Canada vs the USA for the drive back home to the Fraser Valley.

I stopped in Lethbridge to say hi to more friends, and then spent the night at my aunt and uncle’s house in  Picture Butte. I also haven’t seen them in ages. And they’re really relatively close to my age… only maybe 8-10 years older… so it was really great to sit and chat with them… played a highly entertaining “farming game” and honestly just thoroughly enjoyed the evening!

Next morning… baby visit to my cousin who happened to give birth to an adorable wee girl on the same time my sister gave birth to my second niece!

IMG_2931And then… off to Calgary! One of my favorite cities in Canada!! So happy that one of my dearest friends from my previous job happened to be there that week so we met up and had a brilliant walk along the bow river with her precious little bubba… so wonderful to catch up with her. She’s always an absolute darling!!!!!

IMG_2941 IMG_2935 And finally, later that afternoon, I rocked out of Calgary… and zoom zoomed myself home… knocking a good 1.5hours off the 9 hours it should have taken me!! 😀 Even with a brief stop in Banff National Park to take in this absolutely stunning view!!! Is there anyplace in the world more gorgeous than in the Rocky Mountains?!!

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So… roughly 3000km, 6 days… probably 6 tanks of gas too (and prices are definitely NOT like Saudi oil prices here)… zero speeding tickets (although I definitely deserved a few!!!)… I completed my whirlwind roatrip.

It’s probably a little mind boggling for people living outside of North America to imagine what it’s like. But honestly… the gorgeous scenery along the way. It’s amazing!! I kind of wish I’d not done quite so much night driving… but then I would have been stuck in traffic all the time and the frustration of that would have significantly detracted from the beauty of the drive!!!

But it’s amazing thinking time. I needed it.

And it’s so free. For a western woman living in Saudi Arabia for a year. A woman who has been driving for 10 years… nearly every day. It’s been hard. And so I appreciate the ability to freely drive 3000 km like never before!!!!!

And… getting to visit so many family members that I haven’t seen in far too long… definitely the best part of the whole trip!!!

The Miracle of New Life

August 7, 2015

The miracle of new life… the birth of a child… one of God’s greatest gifts to us.

12 days ago I left Saudi, indefinitely, so that I could be home with my family for my brothers wedding and for the birth of my new niece or nephew.

Well, I’m so grateful I was home!! I am blessed beyond measure to have been able to witness the birth of my precious, beautiful, perfect new niece… Kaylia Brielle. Born August 7, 2015 at 8:49AM… she entered the world rapidly, opened her eyes wide, started to look around and cried… and now my heart belongs to two absolutely darling little nieces!

IMG_2469 IMG_2455 IMG_2471 Being a palliative care nurse, it is far too often that I see the opposite end of the life spectrum… and today was a breathtaking reminder of how precious new life is!

When I think of the science behind the creation of a child… the millions of cells the divide and replicate and grow to form the perfect little being that was born this morning… it fills me with awe. How blessed are we to have a healthy new child enter our lives?! Chances are so high that something could have gone wrong at some point in that delicate process… yet, thanks to God, she was healthy, and we pray she continues to stay healthy!

My oldest niece, not sure what to think of her little baby sister at first… rapidly adjusted to the big sister role. Although she hasn’t fully grasped how fragile the little darling is compared to her!

Love my family… more than words!

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To Illustrate why I love Vancouver and Whistler…

August 2015

Obviously I’m biased, but I believe I live in one of the most gorgeous places in the world. Every place has it’s own beauty in it’s own way… but Vancouver and Whistler are especially gorgeous…

So, this post is just going to be a whole lot of pictures to help you visualize it all…

Quick note… this was at the beginning of August, just days after my brothers wedding when I took a cousin and my youngest brother to the city and up to Whistler to experience a little of our gorgeous home… the parts we don’t always have time to stop and appreciate!

First up… a day in Whistler, a resort town, Whistler Blackcomb being North America’s #1 Ski Resort… 2 gorgeous mountains with a beautiful village nestled between the two mountains. Walking around the village… taking a gondola up to the top of one mountain… and the Peak 2 Peak gondola ride between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains… a little hike at the top when we finished the peak 2 peak experience… It was absolutely amazing up there! I love Whistler village… so much to see and do even in the summertime… lots of bars and pubs and restaurants… and plenty of shopping too. Mountain biking for the brave hearts… hiking for all the nature/fitness lovers… and the Peak 2 Peak for those of us who just want the view with minimal effort.

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…and then Summit chair to the highest point reachable by ski lift… (and it was COLD up there!!!!!)

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End beautiful day #1.

Day 2… a day in Vancouver… wandering around Gastown, Vancouver’s historic heart, to see the steamclock and do a bit of window shopping…

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we did the Fly Over Canada experience at Canada Place, (the cruise ship terminal, and an events center that looks a lot like a giant sailboat) which you should definitely do if you’re a first timer in Vancouver. It shows just a few of the highlights of Canada’s absolutely gorgeous natural and cultural beauty… Highly recommend.

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Vancouver Convention Center… building with a green roof!!

lunch in Coal Harbor by the Olympic cauldron… Vancouver was the host city for the 2010 Winter Olympics and throughout the city and through Whistler also are things to remember the Olympics… our Olympic legacy.

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…and finally, a bike ride around the Stanley Park seawall in the glorious sunshine and fresh ocean air! The Stanley Park seawall was voted #1 park in the world according to TripAdvisor… even over Central Park in New York!! It is definitely my favorite thing to do when in Vancouver in the summertime… or actually almost any time of year! You can easily rent bikes in the park or at one of the many bike shops in the downtown area just before entering the park… and leisurely or speedily make your way around the 10ish km of seawall biking path.

And freedom… The boats in the harbor… bobbing gently on deep blue water… the smell of pine and berry bushes… and the salty sea air… puffy white clouds in a bright blue sky… zipping around the park on a bike… (There’s just something about being active outdoors that especially emphasizes the feeling of freedom for a girl who just spent the last year in Saudi Arabia, generally not feeling particularly restricted… until I come back to North America and really recognize how restricted I actually was!)

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And that… is the end of a couple gorgeous days on the very South West coast of Canada… in our gorgeous mountains and along the water…