Tuesday, April 17, 2012


The open road calls...

Being spontaneous is much more exciting and adventurous for people who are disciplined and orderly and routine.  I find there are people who tell you to be spontaneous or claim that they are spontaneous, but those people, to me, are usually just undisciplined procrastinators who would rather play than work.  Taking off for the beach on a whim is just a cute way of saying, "I didn't feel like dealing with the responsibilities of life so I avoided them another day by running away."  Okay, that was harsh.  But really, for people like me who live by their to-do list, doing something spontaneous borders on the edge of daring.  In fact, just writing about what I'm doing today makes me feel just a tiny bit bad...as in, "Oh, yeah, man...she be bad."  You know...when being bad is cool and good?

This morning I was up just after 6:00 as usual, doing my regular routine of laundry, tidying up after those who stayed up later than I did the night before, making Kate's lunch, going for a run, etc., etc., etc.  I was in the middle of making Kate's lunch when I heard Jeff get up.  Today is his day off, so I was surprised to hear him up so early, especially after our wild weekend adventure that gave those of us involved a huge adrenalin rush in the middle of the night and left us with a surreal, dream-like feeling the next day.  Sorry I can't give the details, but let's just say some pleasant spontaneity was greatly needed after the unpleasant surprise the night before.  So as I was wondering why he was up before 7, I heard him call down to me from the top of the stairs, "Do you want to go to the beach?"

I looked out the window.  It was pouring.  "Today?" I asked.


"It's raining."

"That's okay."

I actually like the beach when it's stormy, but only if I have a hotel room or a cabin to return to after a wet and windy walk to get warm and dry by curling up next to a fire and reading while watching the wild waves through the window.  If it's a day trip, there is nothing worse than a rainy beach and having to sit in the car for a 2-hour drive home in damp clothes and foggy windows.  So I ventured, "Overnight?"

"Yeah, I'll make the bank deposit and then we'll go in a couple hours.  We'll spend the night and come home tomorrow before 7 because I have an appointment tomorrow night."

"Um, okay," I agreed, and I turned to Kate who was looking at me in surprise (we are not a spontaneous family) and said, "Well, I guess I'll see you tomorrow night.  I'll leave you some money and you can buy lunch tomorrow.  There's a big container of the pasta Justin made last night for your dinner.  I'll text you if I think of anything else."

Then I continued on with my routine, folding the next load of laundry, cleaning out the fridge...and then throwing some stuff in a bag, grabbing a coffee for the road and heading out under the suddenly dry sky.

By the time we got to the beach, then rain had stopped and the sun was shining...no joke!  We couldn't believe it.  The forecast had said 100% chance of rain and it wasn't just not raining, it was sunny!  We first began looking for a place to stay, but then I said, "Forget the hotel...it's gorgeous out there!  Let's just hit the beach now and find a place later in case the weather changes."  So we did another spontaneous thing...parked the car and ran down to the beach and walked for miles with no plans or destination in mind.  We explored the tide pools and climbed the rocks.  We talked and took pictures and held hands as we walked.  Jeff remarked that everyone is equal at the beach:  The rich professionals who owned the gorgeous homes hugging the coast, the poor who slept in their cars at night and beachcombed by day, and us---those who didn't have a lot but wished we did so pretended we did---all wearing beach clothes and sporting wind-blown hair and rosy cheeks as we wandered back and forth along the ocean's edge, our paths crossing in total anonymity as to who was the billionaire and who was the beggar and who was the one in between.

Note to self:  Putting hands in pockets of
hoody makes one look pregnant!

Speaking of billionaires and beggars and those in between...we began discussing where we should stay and where we should eat, as dinner time was drawing near.  This is where Jeff is not adventurous.  He is predictable and plain.  He wants a reputable chain hotel, at least 3 stars, and a safe and expensive retaurant.  I like to be pampered as much as anyone, but I also quite enjoy adventuring out to find the quaint, charming and unique, especially when those three words save you about $100!  I was quite content to do the old-fashioned beach experience---little cottage on the coast and a cute cafe tucked away in the trees off the main street that served a great clam chowder, homemade bread and good coffee.  So now we disagree, but we're having such a wonderful time that both of us are willing to defer to the other in order to maintain the peace.  As we're driving past various hotels and restaurants while simultaneously checking Google and Expedia on both our phones, we finally strike a deal that pleases us both:  We will stay in the adorable vintage cottages I found that were built in the 1940s and remodeled, and we will go to dinner at the beautiful seaside restaurant where Jeff can have a full dinner and an ocean view.

When we booked our cottage, Jeff kept asking the desk clerk if the cottage was clean, and safe, and modern.  She smiled nicely and assured him it was.  I nudged him and whispered to stop asking silly questions and then showed him the bowl of saltwater taffy on the desk and offered him a piece.  That kept his mouth too busy for any more questions!

We pulled up in front of our blue-shingled cottage with a white adirondack rocking chair next to the little glass-windowed alcove over the door that protected the entry from the wind and rain, neither of which were bothering us today!  Jeff unlocked the door, stepped inside and said, "It smells damp."  I walked in and said, "Oh, it's adorable!"  Jeff walked around the corner and said, "The floor slants."  I turned the corner and spied the tiny little bedroom and bathroom and said, "It's perfect!"  The walls and cupboards and ceiling were all whitewashed beadboard.  There were vintage tiles in pale green for the kitchen wall and green milk-glass knobs on the cupboards.  The white shelves were open with scalloped trim with white dishes neatly displayed.  There was a tiny round table with two chairs by the window, a love seat in front of the fireplace, another white chair with a wicker seat and lots of windows with white wood blinds.  Around the corner was a bed with a white wooden headboard and made up in all white sheets and blankets, with a fluffy quilt at the foot of the bed in a deep ocean blue.  Two tiny white night stands with cute little lamps flanked the sides of the bed.  Little pegs were on the wall to hang our coats and there was a tiny closet off to the side.  The bathroom was all white too, with its own window and a pedestal sink and white wood-framed mirror, old-fashioned light fixtures and green tiled floors.  It was like the ocean...clean and white with splashes of deep blues and sea-green and the beige of seagrass.  It was quaint, charming and unique...and very affordable.  I was happy.

We changed clothes and walked the little beach path to the restaurant and got a table with a view.  It is Dungeness crab season, so I ordered crabcakes from the appetizer menu and a side of veggies (sauteed brussels sprouts, tender roasted pearl onions and asparagus, my favorite).  Jeff ordered the Dungeness Chicken Florentine...a chicken breast stuffed with crab, swiss cheese and spinach and all the trimmings.  It was delicious.  We started our meal with a shared clam chowder and then ate slowly, enjoying our food, conversation and the view.  Jeff was very full when he was done eating, so it was his turn to be happy.

The sun was still shining at 7 at night, so we changed clothes again and went back to the beach to watch the sunset.  There was another couple walking the beach.  They looked like Portland art students...young, mismatched second-hand clothes, straggly hair, little dog, bottle of wine for sharing.  They wandered slowly and aimlessly together and apart with their dog weaving between them.  There was a man who was clean-cut standing immobile with his jeans rolled up and his feet sinking in the sand, holding a can of soda staring straight out over the sea watching the sun slip away.  He told us he always comes home from work and heads out to the beach to watch the sunset.  It's his unwinding routine.  We watched the hot-pink sun literally drop before our eyes right behind the sea, then we walked for awhile until the sky turned lavender.  Back in the cottage, I had brought popcorn from home, so we made popcorn and sat side by side on the loveseat in front of the fire with our laptops and planned our dream trip to Europe for awhile and then just read until we were sleepy.  We turned on the heat and opened the windows so we could let the sea air and the sound of the ocean lull us to sleep.

Perfect end to the day.  Spontaneity has never felt so serene.  We both racked our brains and tried to remember if we had ever done something like this before and both of us agreed it was the very first time.  Maybe that's why it was so special.  If you do it twice, is it really spontaneous?  I don't know.  I'll have to try it again one day and see!

The classic "take a picture of yourselves at arm's length"


  1. Delightful! I want to know where the cottages are.
    What a wonderful way to unwind and get a new perspective on life.

  2. I love the cabin. I want to go there. (My next trip to the beach). So happy that you were able to get away. I wish it could have been for a couple of nights instead of just the one. xo xo

  3. You made me laugh! I guess I am more like Jeff and Kevin is like you!!!! I love the salt water toffy to keep him from saying anything else!