Before leaving we learned that this was the fourth incarnation of this hotel. Two others had burned down with the third version having been razed in 1972. The hotel’s best feature was the photographs lining the hallways, historic evidence that people partied in the early 60’s, a innocent time before the psychedelics kicked in. There were costumed golf tourney participants and New Year’s Day bashes. I was pleased to see King Neptune making the scene. This made for a nonsensical, amusing diversion. If only I could have found an old timer and gotten the lowdown which proved impossible in the days of social distancing.
A book in the room offered the history of the area revealing renown chef James Beard to be a Gearhart resident. He dug the area’s razor clams. Skimming through book gave me an idea of what we’d encounter if we left the room. I got excited about an old reptile museum only to learn that it too had burned down. Later we found ourselves sitting in a park overlooking a bluff that bordered the ocean. I notice one bench had the name of the woman who spearheaded the park’s creation. She’s been dead since 1975 but I felt a connected to her through her past efforts.
We wandered past people playing pickle ball on a tennis court, ironic because it’s tennis on a smaller scale played with paddles. Minutes later we reached Gearhart’s tiny downtown, a block of about ten businesses with real estate being the main industry. The pandemic seemed to hit a couple of shops hard closing them for the duration. The gourmet coffee shop was just closed Mondays. The desolate business district propelled our return to the hotel.
So what does anyone do with time on their hands that they couldn’t do at home? You have to be able to throw the routine out the window and yet here we were at a place where we could watch golf happening outside our window. Free and copious golf was available all day for our viewing pleasure. I can’t say I took full advantage of this. When we weren’t watching the links, there were opportunities to walk on the nearby beach that allowed vehicle traffic. Then there was all that time spent considering what and when to eat next.
Signs near the entrances to the beach read “Welcome to Gearhart: Where Elk Might Be Your Neighbor.” I made assumptions about elk crowding the beach for early morning swims. The sign lists tips on coexisting with the elk, something I’ve done my entire life by avoiding them especially one morning on a camping trip where we could hear them being shot at. Staying out of their way was a good excuse to sleep later. The sign warned against not getting in the middle of a herd which is what I would have ended up doing.
The best thing to do at the hotel proved to be taking advantage of their bike loan program. It made for a nice afternoon ride offering a different perspective of beach houses with wooden clad siding. I tried to imagine what it might have felt like to experience the usual wind and drizzle despite it being a sunny summer day. On our return, I realized the previous day I had hallucinated and seen two submarines. That day, as we were nearing the seashore, I saw submarines surfacing. Pillars formed a loading zone. A low tide allowed people to walk out to board the vessels. I convinced myself this was real because when I looked away then looked back I could still see it. On the bikes that next day I looked over and realized what I had actually seen were chimneys on the roof of the condo building.
As I put this post to bed it occurs to me that this account of a brief vacation is about as dry as a typical Oregon summer day. It’s all I can muster under my current circumstances. Stick around if you have any interest in art cars. There will be plenty of that in the next few posts. I take pride that even in the mundane I mange to bring the world views of elk backsides, golf art and a hallucination tale. “Corona-fatigue” is raging against my summeritis. I’m doing all I can to battle back. The antidote to Gearhart’s quiet shimmer was a side trip to Seaside for a dinner of oysters and fish and chips. While keeping an eye on the world outside the restaurant window, I was offered a slice of touristy humanity as people ambled past the t-shirt shops carrying double scoop ice cream cones. The view of the man riding on a multi-person pedal car while carrying his infant in a babybjorn was a vision I’ll cherish from this summer. I’m not sure how any of them held on when they took that sharp turn off of North Columbia Street. I was completely distracted by Grandma Herzberg’s giant pizza pretzel poster which looked to be held on by blue painter’s tape. It’s the best I could do knowing I could never digest one. In the end I found out it does a person good to bug out, go anywhere for any length of time. An effort should be made to absorb even a tiny bit of history if only because it makes you feel like a slightly more interesting person.
At this point it should be glaringly obvious that the hotel has remained nameless. Due to the circumstances that made our stay unpleasurable, I decided not to give them any publicity.