I headed north to beautiful Newport, Oregon, Sunday for my afternoon speaking engagement with the Willamette Writers Coast Branch, taking the coast route where the journey is part of the pleasure.
After a quick stop at the Heceta Head beach for a sack lunch, enjoying this view, I continued northward over what must be one of the most spectacular stretches of Highway 101.
The road winds around precipitous folds of towering mountains, threading through dim mossy woods with brief glimpses of light and water, then opening out onto raw windswept slopes to reveal the endless sweep of rippling gray-blue fringed with the ever-surging white crests.
Birds speckle strands and jutting rocks. Mists stir. Gulls soar, their white feathers catching the light to glisten against a somber sky. Time loses importance. You need to savor the wonder like a taste of rich chocolate feeding the soul.
Spits of rain followed me into Newport but didn’t dim my enthusiasm. The event went quite well. The audience–mostly writers–welcomed me with appreciation for my personal story when I described my long road to publication, which finally culminated in my two Oregon Trail stories, A Place of Her Own and The Shifting Winds.
One man who’d been sitting against the back wall came over after my talk and told me how much he enjoyed hearing my words. He’d been afraid it was going to be a boring how-to workshop and instead found the presentation truly inspiring. This is the kind of response that keeps a writer going.
Afterward I checked in at the Sylvia Beach Hotel, which the writers group graciously arranged for me, a charming old hotel right above the beach whose theme is writers. Each room is named for a well-known writer. They have a quiet library upstairs and books scattered throughout.
On the chance I took a notion to do a little writing they provided a typewriter in my room (shown in the photo below). That’s my laptop in its case to the right of the old Underwood–bookends in keyboarding history.
By dinnertime the weather had turned drizzly and cold, so I dressed down from my skirt and pumps into jeans and walking shoes with a warmer top.
When I stepped back outside to head for dinner, wind had picked up quite a bit. Raindrops appeared small. But there were so many of them, and they didn’t exactly drop. They swept straight at me. My umbrella quivered and flapped so hard I thought it might lift off à la Mary Poppins, but somehow it stayed in front of me and without turning inside out. The only change in the rain came when I passed openings between buildings where gusts hit harder.
By the time I reached a cafe the incessant spray had soaked the front of my pant legs. Thankfully the cafe was warm and I enjoyed fish and chips with fresh local rockfish and a side of coleslaw.
Back at the hotel I thought to ask for a hair dryer, which dried my jeans nicely.
I had a room with a view–and a real plant. It was the Lincoln Steffens Room. Though I must confess I’m not familiar with Mr. Steffens’ work, I loved the room. I spent quite a while in that chair in the corner watching the waves play against the sand as the skies dimmed and outdoor lights came on.
I hoped for better weather in the morning.
Skies looked brighter the next day. The hotel offered a delicious breakfast of pecan pancakes with a variety of fruits and fresh-baked goodies in a dining room with wraparound windows overlooking the water.
After a pleasant visit at my table with Freda and Lorayne of Corvallis and a young man from Germany, I wandered downhill for a lovely walk on the beach.
The hotel looms above the sea on its lofty site atop the cliff. A vigorous climb back up those stairs.
Sun broke through at last and the old hotel looked cheerful in the morning light.
After exploring the town I headed south again, stopping along the way for one last glimpse of Heceta Head and its lighthouse. A delightful trek. My thanks to Sue Lick and Lori Tobias of the Willamette Writers Coast Branch for arranging my visit.