Going Up the Country

Based on a road trip to Seattle ten years ago, I haven’t been able to stop talking about the Pacific Northwest. Claire had never been, so we thought we’d borrow my mom’s hybrid (because of which we fit right in…one out of every three cars we saw was a Prius…that’s not a real statistic, but you get the point.), leave the kids and all responsibilities behind, and take a trip. Our main destinations were Portland, Astoria (where The Goonies was filmed), Port Townsend, and Seattle. We grabbed some reading material, The Golden Compass and Freddy and Fredericka (both of which we highly recommend), filled up the twelve-gallon tank and were off. We neglected to grab the road-trip theme song, Canned Heat’s “Going Up the Country,” which was the only way in which our trip was lacking. I made up for it by singing The Goonies theme song. Claire joined in on occasion.

Somewhere along the way we started noticing and making fun of street signs. In some parts of Oregon, they have a $97 fine for not wearing your seat belt. We couldn’t figure out why they didn’t make it an even $100. In other parts, the fine is $94. In Washington, it’s $101. OK, that’s not too funny now that I think about it. Anyway, all the driving was part of the fun.

We met an interesting character in Portland. While Claire was driving, I googled “Portland falafel” and a place called Fat Kitty Falafel came up. We finally found the place. It was a little falafel stand, owned by a fluffy fellow who hung out with his headphones on. He was from New York and the guy was sure talkative….The falafel wasn’t bad either.

On the way home, we realized our time alone was drawing to a close and stopped in Yakima, Washington for dinner and a movie. The movie: Oceans 13 (which we really enjoyed, by the way). After the movie, we noticed a girl with two kids in the parking lot who was obviously very distressed…something with her boyfriend, with whom she lives, who is the father of the two kids, and who, it turns out, has not been entirely faithful. We offered to help…even pay for a motel. All she wanted, however, was to borrow our phone. Claire did not bring hers, so our phone meant my phone. She wanted to use my phone, which would certainly mean touching my phone, which would certainly mean smudgies. It was easy to see that I was being tested — what is more important, your phone or another human being? Well, if only by a mere fraction, I passed the test. I handed her the phone and looked away. I was expecting a reassuring look from Claire confirming that I had done the right thing and that she was proud of me. Instead, she just looked really worried. The girl got her boyfriend’s voicemail, left a nasty message, and gave me back iPhone unharmed. We don’t know what happened, but she finally decided to drive home. We can only hope she was able to calm down and figure things out.

The Northwest is truly beautiful. I wasn’t a bit disappointed. If you ever plan such a trip, be sure to include Seaside, Oregon. Special thanks to Mom for the use of her car and to Claire’s mom and Shauna for watching the kids.

Goonies House
The Goonies house in Astoria, Oregon.

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