Friday, August 27, 2010

Jane Austen TOMS

My sweet friend Brooke is one of the most talented artists I know (check out her work here). The girl loves painting and everyone at Crave loves giving her their TOMS shoes to spiff up. I asked Brooke if she'd paint mine, and here they are! She included the first line from Pride and Prejudice, which is one of my favorite books. It's also one of the most famous first lines of any novel, ever..."It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man, in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." Kind of a funny line for me to ask to be put on a pair of shoes, but I just love the nod to Jane, and they turned out great!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Two Truths and a Lie

You know the must say three things about yourself, but only two must be true, and your company has to guess which is the lie.

I hate games that require lying. I'm just so bad at lying.

So when Hayley and I arrived for dinner at the Sylvia Beach Hotel and were seated at our table, along with Al, Myrna, Joan, Catlin, David, and Patricia, and were encouraged to play this game for the duration of our family-style dinner, I was hesitant about faking something interesting about myself. ("Can't we just have a normal curiosity-driven question-and-answer sort of get-to-know-each-other conversation, like normal people?" I thought.)

But...I totally owned this game; no one guessed my lie!

I said that I have seen, in person, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton.

When I was grilled about my statements, I elaborated: I saw Obama when he came to Saddleback Church for a civil forum, I saw George W. Bush being driven down the street right after my school group toured the White House (he actually waved to us), and I nearly (literally) ran into Bill Clinton as I walked into the Ritz Hotel in London.

Do you know which is the lie?

It's the first one. I actually didn't come to the civil forum when Obama was there. I was out of state. But I knew all about it, and just talked about it like I had been there. (Who's going to believe that President Bush waved to us in Washington D.C. right after we toured the White House, anyway? No one!)

The game ended up being a great ice-breaker amongst quite a motley crew of strangers, brought together for one evening by our mutual love of adventure, books, and food. I learned that David paints cherubs on harpsichords (?!), Joan has trained four seeing-eye dogs and lived in Costa Rica for a year, young Catlin ran her own business for two years, elderly Myrna has helped plan over 130 weddings (there was only one time when the groom did not show up), and Al has done reporting in China for the Associated Press. It was a fun dinner full of character study, laughs, and great conversation, not to mention delicious food--lobster bisque, salad, just-baked bread, chicken parmesan with vegetables, and fresh local berries and cream for dessert.

A charming dinner in a charming hotel with a group of charming people I will most likely never see was a memorable night!

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Sylvia Beach Hotel

I had previously posted about the Sylvia Beach Hotel and how excited I was to visit it when I went to Oregon this summer. Even with such high expectations, Hayley and I were not disappointed by the charm of this quirky and cozy destination for book lovers.

Garden and porch that welcomes you into the hotel.

A permanent guest.

Street in Nye Beach.

The Sylvia Beach Hotel is located in a historic part of the city of Newport, Oregon, called Nye Beach. Words that would adequately describe the shops, restaurants, and galleries of Nye Beach would include: artsy, vegan, unique, handmade, original, etc. It has an almost Laguna Beachy vibe, only less affluent and not as manufactured. The hotel itself is incredible, sitting on top of a little cliff that overlooks the beach. Each room is themed after a different author, but not in a fake Disneyed-out kind of way. You can tell that the props and decor must have taken years to acquire, making for rooms full of personality and atmospheres that really do capture the taste of their respectful writers' works. Although we didn't stay at the hotel, Hayley and I made dinner reservations for the hotel's Tables of Content restaurant. Dinner is served family-style, and we were excited to meet our evening's company. (More on that in my next post.)

Before dinner, we were able to mosey about the hotel and peek into some of the rooms that guests had not checked into yet. Here are some of the ones we were able to see:

The Agatha Christie Room, the perfect place for mystery solving (there's even a magnifying glass hanging on the door)...

The Shakespeare Room, with enough props to stage any of his plays, and an awesome writing desk if inspirations strikes for some late-night sonnet writing...

The Mark Twain room, with all his books on the mantel....

And, a room I would never stay in...the Poe room, complete with a creepy pendulum over the bed, a sinister raven to stare at you all night, and a walled-up Fortunato...In pace requiescat.

This hotel is definitely on the quirky side and not for everyone, not even for every book lover. There's no Wi-Fi, computers, TVs, radios, or phones in any of the rooms. But there are plenty of books and cozy places to read and coffee and tea are always available. Best of all, there's a library on the third floor with a beautiful ocean view. It's a place that provides escape and inspires exploration.

And I'll be back...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Let There Be Lighthouses

My brother, my friend Hayley, and I just got back from Oregon last night after an epic road trip that took almost sixteen hours and ended with bumper-to-bumper traffic through Los Angeles. It wasn't the best way to end a great trip, but I won't let it ruin any memories for me, which will be posted in installments on here, for your reading pleasure.

The Oregon coast is so beautiful and relaxing. My parents' house is in the city of Waldport, population 2050. (No Starbucks!) The house is ten minutes from the ocean and does not have any TVs. There are only beds and a couch, which creates a clutter-free, simple, peaceful setting. When you open the windows you feel the cool ocean breeze and hear the waves crashing. There's been incredible serenity to every trip I've taken up there. It's a setting that encourages lavender bubble baths, long Scrabble games, and hours of know, like real vacation. My trips are usually packed with destinations and expectations--there's so much sight-seeing, so many museums, and hours of hoofing it all over cities....and as much as I enjoy it, it's exhausting. Last week, I experienced an actual vacation, without agendas or alarm clocks. And it was awesome.

The central coast has its pristine white-sand beaches, but there are a lot of cliffs and rocky and forested parts as well. There are regular little turn-outs off the 101 to encourage picture taking and inspire awe of the beautiful scenery and historic landmarks.

Because of the jagged and rocky coastline, there have been many lighthouses built on the coast over the years. We were able to visit two:

Yaquina (pronounced Ya-KWIN-uh) is the tallest of Oregon's lighthouses and was built in the 1870's (and is still a working lighthouse!). Hayley and I waited in line to walk up the cast-iron spiral staircase to the top to see the lens of the light. The lighthouse is beautifully preserved and the views of the coast from the cliffs on which the lighthouse stands are so pretty, although it was not too clear when we visited. We just hung out and let the moist air whip through our hair and enjoyed listening to the waves crash on the rocks below us.

My calves were burning after all these stairs....

The stair master.

Lens of the lighthouse.

The second lighthouse we visited is my favorite. Heceta Head Lighthouse has the strongest light on the Oregon coast--it blasts 21 miles out to sea! Legend has it that this is also a haunted lighthouse. It's located in a gorgeous state park and requires a little hike to visit.

Hiking in TOMS (and with a hidden latte)...because I can.

The easy hike to the lighthouse is about a half mile, and with each step the views of the southern coast were prettier and prettier...

Forest near the sea's cliffs. (I thought I saw a vampire, but no...)

View of the beach where we started as we ascended the cliff where the lighthouse was.

There she is!

Okay, so we're covering most of the lighthouse in this pic. But it's there!

On our way down the cliff, we took a less traveled trail down to some tidepools and rocks, and ended up almost being swallowed by the incoming tide. (Oh, the perilous sea...)

More to come of our Oregon adventures...