If you see a whole thing - it seems that it's always beautiful. Planets, lives... But up close a world's all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life's a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern. - Ursula K. LeGuin

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Books That Rocked My World

I can't believe its been 10 days since I last posted (sounds vaguely like a confession). My life has been pretty full this past week with both professional and personal issues. There are posts a-brewin' on both ends but in the meantime it feels like a good time for a book meme.

Previously I participated in a meme on influential writers. This vastly different meme is on influential books. As seen over at Academia and Me, this meme asks for you to list the first 15 books you can think of in 15 minutes that have had a profound influence on you. I sat down at a Starbucks yesterday and came up with the following*:

I'm not 100% sure why this book has always felt important to me but at the time I enjoyed stories with multiple siblings (coming from a family of 4 myself) and who doesn't love a sand fairy?

I love being read to and my mother has a great reading voice. I remember her reading the first 2 chapters to me and my sister Amy. Once she had us hooked she said we'd have to read the rest of the book ourselves. I did and then went straight on to The Lord of the Rings. It was the beginning of my love affair with sci fi/fantasy.

Another book I can attribute to my mother. My mother kept a wall of shelves in her bedroom for all of her books. Whenever I was bored or without something to read I would peruse them and ask for suggestions. This was the first in the Dragonriders of Pern series that I read. I loved it and luckily Mom had several more to keep me busy. I still dream of having a dragon of my own one day.

So far all of these books are from my elementary school years. I read Jane Goodall's classic when I was around 8 or 9. It is, I believe, what made me want to be a scientist (ok I wanted to be a palentologist when I was five--also because of a book but I can't remember the name). Jane Goodall's work combined everything I loved: nature, animals, and observation. I also remember her describing how she and her photographer husband were raising their little boy while she was doing her research in Africa. At the time (the mid-70s) such combinations of professional and personal life seemed very possible. I don't study chimpanzees but I do observe family interactions, which is really what Goodall describes in this book.

With this book we move up into my mid-20s, shortly after becoming a mother. This is one of those books that I can remember exactly where I was sitting when I read it because it caused such a strong emotional reaction in me. I remember quoting passages to my then-husband, who apparently humored me.

Around the same time I read this and my lifelong fascination with the study of motherhood was born.

This actually belongs in the days of elementary school. I first read it when I was around 10 or 11--what is now considered a "tween." I remember identifying so strongly with the protagonist--feeling his angst along with him. I've always been a rule follower and the thought of committing such a heinous crime and then living with the paranoia stayed with me for a long time. I decided to re-read it a few years ago and found him so very adolescent.

I am a little surprised by this choice, since To The Lighthouse has been such an important book for me throughout my life. However, this is the book that (a) got me started on Virginia Woolf; (b) I have a strange identification with the character, and (c) it explores gender in a way that has continues to fascinate me.

I mentioned in one of the Fairy Tale posts how I am a big fan of the King Arthur legend and this is the version that really does it for me. Here they are not young lovers but seasoned warriors and friends forced to into battle simply to "save face."

While not my first introduction to Taoism it is one of my favorite texts. It describes an approach to life I have been trying to achieve for 27 years.

Who hasn't been affected by the Chronicles of Narnia? If only Jesus really was a cuddly lion.

As I've mentioned previously, I've kept this book for 39 years because it means so much to me.

My mother gave me this book when I was "of the age" and I've kept it ever since. She didn't give it to me in lieu of "conversation"--we had a lot of those--but I appreciated being able to look things up in between talks (this was way before the internet afterall). I tried to show it to Angel, when he was "of the age" but he was having none of that. For him, talking it out was enough.

A much more recent acquisition, I asked for this book as a Christmas present several years ago. It is my favorite cookbook (Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything Vegetarian is a close second) and is pretty much responsible for all I know about baking. In fact the recipe for my Christmas Morning Cinnamon Buns comes directly from this book.

An odd last choice, but I read this book while on a camping vacation two years ago and it seriously changed the way I think about how we do and should promote health in our society.

If you want to play along, consider yourself tagged. Feel free to list your choices in the comments or if you post them on your blog let us know so we can all follow along.

*I've listed them in the order that I thought of them, which appears to be pretty random

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Fairy Tales, Part III: Sleeping Beauty

I've read two revisionist versions of Sleeping Beauty in the past month. The first, Briar Rose by Jane Yolen, follows a young woman's journey to uncover her recently deceased grandmother's true life story. Her grandmother, who emigrated from Poland to the United States in the middle of World War II, was obsessed with the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty. Throughout the novel we get the grandmother's own retelling of the fairy tale (a far more dark and sinister telling than most children receive) woven into the story of the young woman's journey. By the end of the novel the grandmother's retelling gets reconciled with her true story and we see how fairy tales (and I would add myths here) help us make sense of the incomprehensible and shape our lives. It is a beautifully told tale and I highly recommend it.

The second novel, Beauty by Sheri Tepper, begins with a more conventional approach to fairy tales. The novel is told through the diary entries of the real Sleeping Beauty. It begins in the 1300s but takes us to current day--well the 1990s--and into the dismal future. This novel is a more traditional fairy tale in that magic exists (although it is dying in the future) and we enter the world of fairies. Beauty, in her romps through time and enchantment, tackles issues of environmental genocide, male brutality, women's rights, and aging. Much of the story comes down to a battle of good and evil--we get glimpses of both heaven and hell--and the differences and similarities between magic and religion. Tepper tells us before the novel begins that Beauty is a metaphor for the earth and the novel describes our current destructive path--the killing of beauty--while leaving open the hope of change and resurrection.

I've now read three novels of Tepper and I really enjoy her work. As I may have mentioned before, she is not a subtle writer. She tackles big issues and her interests frequently overlap with my own. She also explores interesting ideas and questions through quirky plots. I enjoy a quirky plot. However I generally prefer a softer touch. Take for example the following passage:
We have been thwarted at every turn by god. Not the real God. A false one which has been set up by man to expedite his destruction of the earth. He is the gobble-god who bids fair to swallow everything in the name of a totally selfish humanity. His ten commandments are me first (let me live as I please), humans first (let all other things die for my benefit), sperm first (no birth control), birth first (no abortions), males first (no women's rights), my culture/tribe/language/religion first (separatism/terrorism), my race first (no human rights), my politics first (lousy liberals/rotten reactionaries), my country first (wave the flag, the flag, the flag), and, above all, profit first.
Lack of subtlety aside, I enjoy her novels and I find the woman to be very interesting. Tepper, who turned eighty earlier this week, is a prolific author. She has published poetry, sci fi and fantasy as well as written horror and mysteries under pseudonyms. Her latest novel, The Margarets, came out in 2007 and it looks like she has another book coming out in 2011. Tepper married and divorced young and then raised two children as a single parent in the 1950s--when that just was not done. She remarried in the 1960s but continued to work for a variety of non-profits including a 24 year stint with Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood, where she eventually became the executive director. She has a history of advocacy--or as she phrased it "a person who wagged her finger under people's chins and said 'Now see here!'" She became a full-time author in the 1980s and currently operates a guest ranch in New Mexico. She's my kind of woman.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Food: Its What We Do

Tomorrow is a promotion test at the dojo. Normally these are done during regular class hours but a bunch of us decided we needed a social event so we are combining the promotion with a potluck cook-in affair. b can't make it--he has to work all day--but today he made a lasagna for me to bring. Actually he made two--a meat and spinach and a spinach. The latter one he made for us to have at home. But since I'll be bringing a meat lasagna and I don't eat meat, I also made a pasta salad. It may be my best pasta salad yet--with asparagus, mushrooms, grape tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, shaved parmesan cheese, basil and chives. I also heard that there was only one dessert coming so I baked peanut butter brownies (recipe from my current favorite food blog, Smitten Kitchen) too. If that wasn't enough kitchen action for one day, b decided to try to make his own waffle cones simply because we had ice cream in the house. Unfortunately he found out a little late that we don't have the right kind of waffle iron. Nevertheless they made for a yummy waffle and ice cream sandwich.

Is it any wonder I keep gaining back those same 10 pounds?

Sweet Deal

Just found out that instead of teaching an evening class with 30+ (its still growing) entry-level masters' students, I will be teaching an afternoon class with 4-5 doctoral students. I enjoy the class I'm not teaching very much but it is probably my most time-intensive class. I've taught this other class once before--and also really enjoy it--so there won't be too much new prep involved but a WHOLE lot less grading. Its shaping up to be a pretty sweet semester.

Fairy Tales, Part II: Shameless Family Promotion

Drax reminded me of The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Anderson. That was one that really affected me as a child. It is both dark and cruel. The fact that someone could get issues of poverty, class, and domestic violence into a Christmas Story is pretty amazing.

Drax is a wonderful writer in his own right--and also my BIL. However his usual fare is a little too dark for my taste (sorry Drax). However a few years back he wrote this--which I quite enjoy--that takes fairy tales to a whole new stratosphere. While you're checking out the wonderfulness that is Drax, don't forget to follow the link on his website to an interview with a very fabulous uncle. In case you get lost, you can also find it here.

On a related note, several years ago I wrote this little myth:

How Winter Began: A Myth

A long time ago there was only one season and that was summer. One day a young boy decided he was sick of seeing nothing but green trees. He took out his entire collection of magic markers and started coloring every leaf he could find. He colored them red and orange, yellow and brown. Pretty much everything but green. Several children gathered around and watched as the trees started turning into living rainbows. Children being children, they couldn't sit idly by. They ran home, returned with their collections of magic markers, and started coloring. Word spread and soon the world was engulfed in a frenzy of leaf-coloring. In their haste and excitement, the children tore leaves from the trees as they colored them. At one point they looked down and saw the lovely patterns the colored leaves made on the ground. An excited cry rang through the air as they scrambled to pick all the leaves off the trees and send them cascading down to earth. When every tree was picked clean, they jumped and played in the colored leaves. Suddenly a large gust of icy-cold wind came rushing by. The leaves were lifted into the air and blown from sight. The children shivered and were afraid the gods were angry with them for destroying all the leaves. They looked up into the sky but instead of seeing angry gods, they saw white powder falling softly. Confused and a little bit nervous, they started to scatter. However, as the powder hit the ground it stuck and started to build. The children played in the piles of cold powder until their mothers called them for dinner. Ever since then winter has come for the children.

That very short story turned into this even shorter poem:










Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fairy Tales, Part I

I've been very interested in the response to my fairy tale question. It seems several of you have not had a great deal of experience with fairy tales in childhood. In spite of that, I was glad to see references to fairy tales other than the usual fare (Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty). Several of you mentioned how grim the Brothers Grimm really are. We think of fairy tales as children stories but they really were originally meant for adults.

I have always loved fairy tales. Several of you were unsure what fell into the category of a fairy tale, and while I think there may be some disagreement out there for me fairy tales are stories that involve the land of fairy and/or enchantment in some way. Fairy tales can include both the dark and the light but, like White Trash Academic, I do have a preference towards the dark.

I received this book on my fifth birthday and have cherished it ever since.

Its a little worse for the wear but then so am I. I actually own several books of fairy tales but it is this the pictures in this one that are in my mind's eye when I hear the stories. I am also a big fan of myths and, like JaneB, the King Arthur legends. To me they are all an extension of my love of fairy tales.

Growing up, we also had an album from Danny Kaye's Han Christian Anderson (and yes, Dr. Bad Ass, he definitely does count). It was an actual LP that I played to death on a tiny kids' phonograph. I remember Thumbelina and The Ugly Duckling the best.

The Ugly Duckling

My favorite fairy tale is Rumplestiltskin. (I was also fascinated by the Princess and the Pea but I think that is because I've always been such a sound sleeper and can't imagine noticing such a small object under so many mattresses). I'm not sure why I loved this tale so much as a child. I think, unlike other fairy tales that have wicked stepmothers behind it all and end with happy-ever-after, the (supposed) bad guy in this tale is a creepy little man. Exactly why does he want that baby so bad? It always seemed so sinister and dark. Also the story really gets good after the young woman is married. It is the one of the few tales that actually talks about life after marriage.

But as an adult, I think the draw is that the story depicts how an imaginary child is so different from a real one. We can promise away the life of an imaginary child to save our own, but if the child is here...if we know what a child means to us...there is no bargin. I also appreciate, as an adult, the real culprits as being the father who bragged about his daughter to gain favor with the king and the greedy king himself--who threatens death and promises marriage--in order to get free gold.

However I remember a part of me thinking that Rumpelstiltskin had been gypped. The queen used her advantage to find out his name, which didn't seem quite fair. It also never seemed right that he struck the deal out of pity. Perhaps he wasn't so evil of a character? It is a complex tale in many ways.

This is the image that lingers in my mind when I hear the story of Rumplestiltskin.

I've been reading updated fairy tales (a description of these will need its own post) lately and it has gotten me thinking about an update to the Rumplestiltskin story. I have a good one in mind (although it seems there have been many many retellings) but alas fiction writing is very low on my list right now and quite frankly I don't think I have the writing chops for it.

I did run across this recently. How have I lived 44 years and not known about these poems? Here is her version of Rumplestiltskin.

by Anne Sexton

Inside many of us
is a small old man
who wants to get out.
No bigger than a two-year-old
whom you’d call lamb chop
yet this one is old and malformed.
His head is okay
but the rest of him wasn’t Sanforized.
He is a monster of despair.
He is all decay.
He speaks up as tiny as an earphone
with Truman’s asexual voice:
I am your dwarf.
I am the enemy within.
I am the boss of your dreams.
No. I am not the law in your mind,
the grandfather of watchfulness.
I am the law of your members,
the kindred of blackness and impulse.
See. Your hand shakes.
It is not palsy or booze.
It is your Doppelgänger
trying to get out

There once was a miller
with a daughter as lovely as a grape.
He told the king that she could
spin gold out of common straw.
The king summoned the girl
and locked her in a room full of straw
and told her to spin it into gold
or she would die like a criminal.
Poor grape with no one to pick.
Luscious and round a sleek.
Poor thing.
To die and never see Brooklyn.

She wept,
of course, huge aquamarine tears.
The door opened and in popped a dwarf.
He was as ugly as a wart.
Little thing, what are you? She cried.
With his tiny no-sex voice he replied:
I am a dwarf.
I have been exhibited on Bond Street
and no child will ever call me Papa.
I have no private life.
If I’m in my cups
the whole town knows by breakfast
and no child will ever call me Papa.
I am eighteen inches high.
I am no bigger than a partridge.
I am your evil eye
and no child will ever call me Papa.
Stop this Papa foolishness,
she cried. Can you perhaps
spin straw into gold?
Yes indeed, he said,
that I can do.
He spun the straw into gold
and she gave him her necklace
as a small reward.
When the king saw what she had done
he put her in a bigger room of straw
and threatened death once more.
Again she cried.
Again the dwarf came.
Again he spun the straw into gold.
She gave him her ring
as a small reward.
The king put her in an even bigger room
but this time he promised
to marry her if she succeeded.
Again she cried.
Again the dwarf came.
But she had nothing to give him.
Without a reward the dwarf would not spin.
He was on the scent of something bigger.
He was a regular bird dog.
Give me your first-born
and I will spin.
She thought: Piffle!
He is a silly little man.
And so she agreed.
So he did the trick.
Gold as good as Fort Knox.

The king married her
and within a year
a son was born.
He was like most new babies,
as ugly as an artichoke
but the queen thought him a pearl.
She gave him her dumb lactation,
delicate, trembling, hidden,
warm, etc.
And then the dwarf appeared
to claim his prize.
Indeed! I have become a papa!
cried the little man.
She offered him all the kingdom
but he wanted only this—
a living thing
to call his hown.
And being mortal
who can blame him?

The queen cried two pails of sea water.
She was as persistent
As a Jehovah’s Witness.
And the dwarf took pity.
He said: I will give you
three days to guess my name
and if you cannot do it
I will collect your child.
The queen sent messengers
throughout the land to find names
of the most unusual sort.
When he appeared the next day
she asked: Melchior?
But each time the dwarf replied:
No! No! That’s not my name.
The next day she asked:
Spindleshanks? Spiderlegs?
But it was still no-no.
On the third day the messenger
came back with a strange story.
He told her:
As I came around the corner of the wood
where the fox says good night to the hare
I saw a little house with a fire
burning in front of it.
Around that fire a ridiculous little man
was leaping on one leg and singing:
Today I bake.
Tomorrow I brew my beer.
The next day the queen’s only child will be mine.
Not even the census taker knows
that Rumpelstiltskin is my name…
The queen was delighted.
She had the name!
Her breath blew bubbles.

When the dwarf returned
she called out:
Is your name by any chance Rumpelstiltskin?
He cried: The devil told you that!
He stamped his right foot into the ground
and sank in up to his waist.
Then he tore himself in two.
Somewhat like a split broiler.
He laid his two sides down on the floor,
one part soft as a woman,
one part a barbed hood,
one part papa,
one part Doppelgänger.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Question

I've been reading fairy tales. I have a post or two brewing on the subject but before I write them I am wondering: What is your favorite fairy tale and why? If you don't like fairy tales, how come?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Getting Back To It

I've been back in SouthLite since Sunday and its been difficult getting back into the work groove. Its been a very long time since I went 10 full days without working. I didn't even think about work throughout the vacation (ok maybe a little on the last day or two). I left everything in good shape so I wasn't coming back to a mess or any problems. In fact, I've come back to a number of projects I am really into and only one or two that are a chore (cough-tenure packet). However I find myself procrastinating in front of the computer. I'm reading blogs, following tweets, and looking up obscure questions on the web (btw, no one has a good answer for why men are warmer than women).

I finally made it into the office yesterday. My students were scheduled to come in and work so I had no choice but to be there. I love working with my students. The three of us cram into my small office. (Behavioral scientists don't get lab rooms and equipment for their students so I literally have to give up my computer and desk space to allow them to work.) They are each working on a separate project and I worked on a third. It makes me feel incredibly productive--like I've cloned myself. By the end of the day I was exhausted.

Today I'm back at home and hope to get a few things accomplished. I think I will reward myself with working on the poem analysis paper if I get one tenure packet assignment completed.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Great Pacific Northwest Vacation Part II: The Cities

When last we left our travelers they were headed inward toward city life. Oregon isn't known for having many big cities and we started with the second largest in the state: Eugene. The drive to Eugene was quite nice and filled with farmland surrounded by evergreens. We saw cows and horses and donkeys and goats. b and I especially like the goats.

I had visited Eugene once before--work-related travel--and had fond memories of it. It is very hippy with a twist of grunge. It is also very green and pretty and the people are incredibly active and outdoorsy. Unfortunately I still wasn't feeling very well. I was on Day Two of a fast (induced by the bad seafood lasagna) which triggered a migraine. Luckily I had thought ahead to bring medication.

I had a feeling Eugene would be a bit too hippy for b's taste and I was proven correct. While he enjoyed the city--especially how incredibly bike-friendly it is--it didn't speak to him. Between his lack of enthusiasm and my poor condition, we ended up without any photos of our time in Eugene. There is a lovely greenway that spans the Willamette River as it winds it way through the city. b and I walked it after dinner counting the number of helmets we saw on riders. [My one complaint about Eugene is the number of smokers and helmet-less riders that we saw--sorry but its ingrained from my training]. We did have a great breakfast (by the third day I was finally feeling better) at a funky little restaurant that caters to vegetarian/vegan diets. In fact, many of the restaurants throughout Oregon were so inclined.

We moved onto Corvallis after breakfast. On the way we stopped to take a hike and see a few waterfalls.

Hiking to the Falls

Less than an hour's drive from Eugene, Corvallis is a very small and quaint city. The downtown is almost entirely original buildings from when the town was built. The Willamette also runs through Corvallis and there's a small riverside park. We had dinner in a local vegetarian restaurant, Nearly Normal's, that seems to be a college town regular. Later we found a lovely bar that not only had Guinness on tap but all my favorite tequilas.

During breakfast the next day--another local veggie-friendly breakfast joint that sadly could not compete with Eugene--b fell in love.

Pitbull-Bull Mastiff Mix Puppy

Leaving the puppy behind, we headed up to our final Oregon city: Portland. I was mildly disappointed with Portland at first. I had been there several times but not in over 12 years. It seemed a lot larger and more built up than when I first discovered it. However by the end of the 2 days we spent there I was charmed all over again. We went to my first true love in Portland right away: Powell's.

If you haven't been to Powell's you really must go. The online site really doesn't do it justice. It is every book lover's dream and I can spend half a day in there easy. For this trip I only stayed an hour or two. In part I was constrained by the number of books that I brought with me on the trip and couldn't carry too many more back home. I did manage to finally find the Books of Great Alta and Briar Rose by Jane Yolen. I also found Beauty by Sheri Tepper off of my summer list. Of course I couldn't stop at the list and got two new additions: T'ai Chi Ch'uan & Meditation by Da Liu and Stories of Illness and Healing: Women Write Their Bodies edited by Sayantani DasGupta and Marsha Hurst. My bedside table is getting very scary looking. I may have to post a picture of that soon. I finished Briar Rose the first night and loved it. If you want reviews, you'll need to follow me at GoodReads.

We had been meaning to try pizza while we were in Oregon. With both of us coming from UpNorth, we confess to judging cities by their pizza and bagels. So far the bagels had been decent in both Eugene and Corvallis but we had not experienced Oregonian pizza. b found us a place aptly titled "Escape From New York Pizza." Not only was the pizza genuine but the decor took me back to my younger days. Next to this exquisite pizza parlor was Kornblatt's, a NY-style deli. We had breakfast there the last day--the bagels were very good but not authentic. Our other culinary experiences in Portland included sushi (something that is just not done well in SouthLite) and some really scrumptious Thai food. Both of these dinners came with some amazing sake. I believe I may give up regular wine completely in favor of premium sake.

My second love in Portland is its International Rose Test Garden. I am a huge fan of roses and, as it turns out, Oregon has the perfect climate for growing roses. You find them everywhere but the ones at the Rose Garden are particularly amazing. In addition the Garden has a beautiful view of the city.

I particularly love the yellow ones

b does not share my feelings for roses. He prefers Japanese Zen Gardens. Luckily there was one right next door.

Haiku Stone*

It was difficult leaving Portland, as it was difficult leaving the coast, but we hope to be back sometime soon.

*Koko ni kite
Nihon no haru hi
Teru gotoshi

Here, miles from Japan,
I stand as if warmed by the
Spring sunshine of home.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Great Pacific Northwest Vacation Part I: The Coast

We are back from the Great Pacific Northwest Vacation (GPNV) and I am very slowly immersing myself back into the regular world. The vacation was fabulous. Honestly spending 10 full days alone with b with no work or life responsibilities would have been more than enough for a perfect vacation but when you add the beauty of Oregon it really was a slice of heaven. One post will not possibly contain all we did and saw so today I'll describe the first half of the vacation--The Coast.

I met b in Seattle where--after a quick bite at Pike Place Market--we rented a car and took the ferry over to the Olympic Peninsula.
View from the Ferry

We've vacationed there in the past and decided to spend our first night on the road in a favorite town of ours--Sequim, WA. On our first vacation together we had decided that Sequim (pronounced Squim) would be our retirement town. It has changed a bit since then and we were pleasantly surprised to find a Vietnamese restaurant for dinner. Service was unbelievably slow (they were a brand new establishment and not prepared for the rush of an almost full house on a Thursday evening) but the food was unbelievably good. We remembered that in this little retirement village there was a motel with a 1970's porn motif. The rooms had a jacuzzi, a bar (complete with vinyl bar chairs and complimentary wine glasses) and a fake fireplace. We were very lucky to find it again.

Fake Fire in Porn Motel

The next day we drove down the Hood Canal and then along the coast of Washington until we crossed over into Oregon. While the Washington coast is very lovely, you don't really get to see it while driving. Oregon, however, is all about beautiful highway views. We stopped at Cannon Beach, where we found an amazing coffee shop, [really the entire Pacific Northwest is about great coffee but this had amazing baked goods too] visited the ocean, and ate some seafood.

Cannon Beach, OR

By this time it was the weekend and we soon found out that my carefully planned campgrounds were all full. b was tired and needed to be off the road so we had our first--and last--experience with a KOA campground. KOA is about "kamping" and not camping. We pitched our rental tent and opted out of the sauna and the pancake breakfast. The next day we continued our journey and drove through sections of the beautiful Siuslaw Forest. More breathtaking views. We also drove by Sand Lake. Unfortunately we didn't take pictures but you can get a glimpse of it here. As you can imagine, it is a huge draw for the off-road vehicle crowd. We did stop at a beach filled with people parasailing.

Parasailing at the Beach

It was incredibly windy and since I was wearing nothing but a skimpy sundress we could stay for only a few minutes. One woman called me brave for attempting the beach in that dress. We continued our drive down the coast and continued to see Campground Full signs as we drove. So we opted for a motel night in Neskowin, OR. The motel was right on the beach facing Proposal Rock.

Proposal Rock

In the morning, when the tide was out, we were able to practice our katas on the beach right next to Proposal Rock. We continued down the coast on Sunday and were prepared to spend another night in a motel when we lucked upon a pretty little wooded campsite in Yachats, OR. It is a small town but two of the three restaurants had live music on a Sunday night. We had cocktails in one and dinner at the other. Unfortunately something in my seafood lasagna disagreed with me and I woke up feeling rather poorly. b drove us down the coast for a while and then stopped at a lovely viewpoint to let me sleep for a few hours. We spent that night in Bandon, OR. I felt a bit better after the nap, so we ventured out for a walk on the beach. On the access road we ran into Stinky the Skunk. b spoke nicely to Stinky and he eventually wandered off in search of dinner.

Stinky the Skunk

The beach itself was lovely but it was another incredibly windy day.

Sea Stacks at Bandon Beach, OR

By this time we were halfway through our trip and it was time to turn east, away from the coast, for our drive back. Tomorrow I'll post Part II: The Cities.