Friday, July 28, 2017

Memories at Manzanita

It didn't matter that we weren't leaving for the beach until six in the evening. We were just happy to be leaving on Friday, two days earlier then we had originally planned. We were packed snugly into a fifteen passenger van, utilizing every spare inch for all that we would need for a week of fun at the beach. As we drew nearer to our destination and the anticipation grew greater, everyone looked around for familiar landmarks. Someone sighted Haystack Rock and there was a debate in the car as to who saw it first. Our first glimpse of the ocean was just as the sun was beginning to set. Kayleen sat beside Leisel and me chatting excitedly for the last hour of the trip, sharing her exuberance with everyone in the back seat. We passed the 8 mile marker and before we knew it, we were parked outside the B's Nest.

How is it that a place can feel so much like home? A little cabin not far from the beach. You can see the beach from the front yard and at nighttime, hear the rushing of the ocean from the bedroom windows.

Mom, Jonathon and Charae set about instantly to make clam chowder. It was ready in time for a 10:30 dinner. Everyone else set up the beds and unpacked the groceries, stuffing loads of goodies into kitchen cupboards. We discovered that Austin had done the only manly thing a guy can do when he packs for himself...he had forgotten his toothbrush. Dad took Austin into town to purchase one. They came back boasting that they had been the first in the family to walk to the beach.
Dinner was preceded by the ritual passing around of our beach brochure. Dad and Mom had planned the schedule for that week with the right amount of fun and games and the perfect amount of relaxation. Every tradition was on the list: taking a picture by Haystack Rock, breakfast at Wayfarer, and multiple trips to Astoria.

No one is very eager to rise that first morning of vacation. There's nothing more appealing when you escape to the beach for a week then to just relax around the cabin and walk the beach during the day. We have come to the unanimous agreement that cabin days are our favorite ways to spend our time.
Being the first one up in the morning, I was charged with the not so easy task of waking everyone who wanted to go to the coffee shop. Everyone has their specific times that they want to be woken. Some people require a second round and others a third before they finally wake up. An hour later, everyone was finally ready to go and we headed to Bread and Ocean Coffee and Bakery.
We took the path along the beach on the way home and set about to prepare a breakfast for the family.

Ah, that day of first times: the first morning at Bread and Ocean, that first walk on the beach, that first family cinema in the evening...our vacation had begun.

With his growing interest in the Navy Seals, Austin had ambitions of doing the sugar cookie one of the days while we were at the beach. Something about sitting in the water getting wet and then rolling in the sand afterwards and running four miles seemed like the "cool" thing to do.

After walking for a bit beside the ocean, we headed back through town for a milkshake. Cones and Candy had finally opened back up again after being severely damaged by the tornado in October.
As has been tradition in the past, each evening, Dad took one of his kids out for a coffee to talk and walk the beach together. It was Kayleen's turn that day.

I thought that night, the most pleasant sound to go to bed to must be the sound of happy talking and whispering as everyone gets ready for bed.

The next day, after attending the church service at Calvary Bible church, we took the 45 minute drive to Astoria for the Sunday Farmer's market. Before we strolled through the crowded streets to view the different vendors, we headed for the food court. Everyone checked out the different food vendors and decided what sounded good for lunch. When we had all finished, the next tradition was to purchase kettle corn from our favorite stand. 

A rather sudden change to our plans occurred early Monday morning at four when Annie woke up with the flu. Leisel and I jolted up in bed and mom came upstairs soon afterwards. Within half hour, Jonathon and Ania were the only Spafford's who had not woken up. Caring for Annie had become a family affair. Austin peeked his drowsy head from beneath the covers and speculated that this could be a minor case of food poisoning; it seemed like more of an effort to console his own mind then ours :)

We finally all made it back to bed and a sick Annie attempted to go back to sleep. Morning didn't come for everyone till eight o'clock, which made it a bit of a later trip to the coffee shop. Austin and Ania joined us for coffee that morning and we convinced Dad to come along too. Mom and Charae stayed home to care for Annie. We enjoyed our various coffees and juices sitting on a log looking out on the beach. I remember mentioning that it would be so pleasant to come home to a breakfast, and sure enough, Charae had breakfast ready for us when we came back. We enjoyed a leisurely meal together minus one member of our family who slept in the upstairs bedroom too sick to rise. Everyone was discussing various modes of flu prevention at the breakfast table, downing teaspoons of cider vinegar and vitamin C packets. Austin had made a stop at the Little Apple that morning to pick up some peppermint tea for Annalise.

Later that day, mom stayed back to make ice cream while the rest of us went into town to do some window shopping. We couldn't pass up getting a single scoop of ice cream after taking in the scent of waffle cones wafting through the window of Schweitert's ice-cream.
 Later that day, we relaxed on the porch reading a round of Agatha Christie's "A Murder is Announced". The book was passed around the group, each person voicing the different characters in the story.
Four o'clock on the dot, the reading stopped for a very important call. Marzano's pizza had just opened and we were the first to call in an order for four large and two mini gluten free pizzas. Annie was not well enough to eat any of it but she joined us as we ate out on the porch. As the weather was just so sunny and perfect still, the 6 older kids and Mom and Dad took a quick walk to enjoy the beach at evening time and take in the sight of the sun setting over the ocean. The ocean felt like such a familiar sight to Leisel and me who had been out sailing on it two weeks earlier.

Annie was finally back to feeling herself. Mom had made her drink a cup of Austin's peppermint tea the night before and she felt well enough to join our cinema that night of"Magic of Ordinary Days". We waited on pins and needles for someone else to fall ill. Austin felt psychologically sick at times, fearing that he too was coming down with the flu. We were all feeling like we might be able to go through with our original plan to go to Wayfarer the next morning when Ania informed us Monday night that she had suddenly become nauseous. We put our caravan to Canon Beach on hold.
But the next morning, I got up and found Ania as chipper as ever!
Our plans were back on! 
We had the most amazing breakfast at Wayfarer, compliments of Jonathon ☺
We also did some in town browsing and were able to visit the original home of Sleepy Monk Coffee. Charae purchased a bag of our favorite Monastery blend for the family :)

Back at the cabin, everyone sat reading their various books, our favorite "beach" music playing in the background ...I was finding the story of Les Miserable to be quite intriguing, while Ania gave us updates on the progress she was making in Oliver Twist. Charae was reading through her second Agatha Christie.  Austin, a most dedicated student determined at the beginning of the summer that he was going to work a year ahead in Math. When he told Mom that he was going to bring it to the beach, she wasn't sure whether he would ever actually do it. He surprised both of us by his dedication. On several occasions while everyone else was reading, he took out his book and worked through Algebra lessons. Annie, who can never stay focused on one thing for very long, rattled on about various random subjects that came to her mind. Some people enjoyed reading on the beach....though it usually turned into a nap in the sand 😊

....We later concluded that Annie's flu was the result of a reaction to milk. (A bowl of creamy clam chowder and a 20 oz milkshake can have that effect on you when you haven't had milk for months 😊)

Several members of our family were convinced that rising at the crazy hour of 4:45 would be the perfect opportunity to watch the sunrise. The report that we got from them when they returned made the rest of us glad that we had staid back in our warm beds. The sun didn't rise till 6:30 and they sat freezing on a log for almost two hours. We made a trip to Nehalem that day and visited two antique stores. Jonathon came away with a 1950 typewriter and two cast iron pans to add to his collection.
We stopped at Buttercup for some burnt chocolate homemade ice cream. Ania got a free second scoop after her first scoop decorated the pavement. We decided to stop and see Frants (our Danish friend from last year) on the way back. It was definitely of the Lord, as he was in the process of moving.
 Austin, who had been waiting all day for it to get cold enough for a fire, began stacking wood in the furnace. The water for tea started boiling and everyone slowly gathered into the main room to begin our evening. Our cinema series for this trip was "Our Mutual Friend".

Rain...waking up to precipitation on the ground gives such a cozy atmosphere to being at the beach. It makes a mug of sleepy monk coffee all the more inviting and sitting and reading in the cabin a cozy choice for the day. We went to see the Peter Iredale shipwreck at the the Fort Steven's State Park. The ship was washed ashore in 1906 and became permanently embedded in the sand. Near by was the Battery Russel, another interesting historical sight. 

It was Austin's turn to spend time with Dad that day. Austin had wanted to bike the length of the beach which ends at the Manhattan Jetty, so Dad had rented two fat tire bikes. When they were finished with their bike ride, Jonathon decided to take me for a ride. He didn't tell me beforehand though that the "purpose" of this trip was to compete with Austin and Dad... I let him know that he had picked the slowest biker in the family as his companion. We rode the 12 miles in less then two hours. The biking was a lot harder then it looked. As Jonathon put it, "There is absolutely no coasting on the sand; it's uphill both ways" ;)
We came back in time for the local farmer's market. Dinner that night was at the beach...a campfire in the sand roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. The sausages had that signature crunch of sand that is such a part of eating at the beach :) The campfire was made by our professional pyromaniac who has mastered the art of making a fire without a lot of smoke. It wasn't cold that night but the warmth of the fire felt good! We watched the sunset while fishing boats sailed out in the distance.

It was our final day, but no one was allowed to talk about that. We were going to enjoy this trip to the fullest. Saturday was one of those nondescript days where nothing out of the ordinary happened and yet it was so memorable! I suppose it is because family time is what makes the vacation doesn't matter what you do. 
It hardly seems worth mentioning: an evening as a family, sitting out on the porch talking amongst ourselves. But those times are some of my favorite memories, everyone just relaxing together, chit chatting, sharing laughter, talking over plans, and reliving memories.
That night, we had an Acquire match. There are too many members in our family now for us all to play solo, so we had to team up. Charae and Annie's team took the championship.

We've gotten the cabin cleaning process down to a science. By noon, we had everyone packed up, the car loaded, and the place in shipshape. We made one last little visit to Bread and Ocean. The weather was overcast that morning...I wasn't sure why it had to be so inviting the day we left ;)
It's special when a trip like that ends and you're ready to start it all over again. There's a feeling like it only just began. No one was ready to leave. Dad took us on one final drive through town and we said our goodbyes to Manzanita till next time.

...Austin never did the sugar cookie ;)

Dad always has his camera ready to capture memories wherever we are. This year at Manzanita he took 1,000 pictures (enough for a family slideshow ;) 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

4th of July Festivities

For as long as I can remember, the 4th of July picnic at Red Sunset Park has been a tradition for our family, and you just can't argue with tradition. So when it was suggested that we skip it this year, there was an uprising amongst the three littles. You don't mess with tradition in this family. 

We were blessed with the perfect weather for a 4th of July picnic...not too hot and not too cold (though perhaps warm enough to induce a water fight later on in the day :)
The Spafford's drove up shockingly early to the picnic, arriving before the lunch had begun (which has not been tradition in years past :) 

There was plenty of time to visit with everyone, entertain the "little people", and enjoy some of the sunshine we had been blessed with. Everyone gathered together for a brief talk and sing before we ate our lunch.

We got home an hour before everyone was supposed to arrive at our home and rushed around to get all of the decorations up and the food ready....our group totaled 26 people this year.

While the barbecue was heating up and the bratwurst sausages were grilling, we played games of corn bag toss and boccie ball. Cheers could be heard coming from one side of the yard where a group gathered to toss corn bags, while another group carefully calculated the distance their boccie balls needed to travel! 

The call for lunch came and we all lined up for a 4th of July barbecue of bratwurst sausage, macaroni salad, watermelon, and multiple choices of dessert :)

The lunch was only just over when I was given a look from my friend that said it was time to start the water fight, cause if we didn't start it, who would? ;)

The buckets came out and all three of our spigots of water were turned on full blast...

We solicited some help from our cousin in tackling some less enthusiastic spectators into the fight. Numbers of buckets were emptied on them and they were initiated into the water fight.

There are some things that are just staples to a 4th of July picnic and a walk in the neighborhood during the fireworks display is one of them. For years, we have not seen the need to purchase our own fireworks since we have a perfectly splendid view from our property of everyone else's fireworks!

It didn't matter that we were all a little sleepy from the events of a busy day. It didn't seem right to end the evening after our walk! Someone suggested a truck ride, and the remaining members of the party piled into the back of the truck. It had been a perfectly warm, sunny day, but after the sun went down and we started off down the back roads, we realized how chilly the night air was. A cold wind blew into our faces. But it didn't take away from the beauty of the night sky, full of stars or the enjoyment of traveling down the back roads at night :)

On our way back, someone mentioned that a cup of hot chocolate sounded most pleasant.
I took out the sugar and cocoa as soon as we got home and Sarah whipped up seven mugs of hot chocolate. The gathering of people had dwindled down to seven, the perfect number for a game of ten dice. 

Another 4th of July has passed, filled with innumerable things to thank our heavenly Father of the greatest of them being the fellowship with believers in Jesus Christ! 

Also...I finally finished the Alaskan Cruise slideshow ;)