Imagine my surprise last week when my phone rang and it was an old friend from New York.
“Will!” I practically screamed into the phone. I hadn’t heard from him in so long. Once upon a time, say a dozen years ago, we met through horses. A native and lifelong New Yorker with a lovely home on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Will has a sister who lives in Eugene, so it’s not like he’s a total stranger to Oregon.
“I’m in Astoria,” he said. “Aren’t you kind of close?”
I texted him my address and within an hour he was pulling his rental car into our driveway.
“Coffee, beer, marijuana?” I said. “It’s all legal here. Pick one or have them all.”
He chose coffee, so I brewed up a pot of Sleepy Monk.
Will said he came out to the coast to hike and bird-watch en route to Eugene, where he was headed for a family visit. He’d flown into Portland several days before; already he’d been hiking and bird-watching in the Olympic Mountains with the Audubon Society, spotting Rufous hummers, varied thrush, Stellar’s jay and horned lark.
We offered him dinner and our guestroom, but he had other plans. He’d booked a reservation that night at the Hallmark Resort in Cannon Beach, a place he’d heard a lot about, but had never seen.
“Well, you’ve got to see The Rock,” I said, referring to Haystack. “I think the puffins — or what’s left of them — have already come and gone, but it’s still a must-see.”
We did some catching up. Me mostly asking him about his dating life, since Will is what you might call an eligible bachelor. He said he and the lady he’d been seeing for several years had recently parted company, but there was a new lady of romantic interest.
“Another redhead,” he said, showing me a photo. “This will be my third redhead in a row. What do you make of that?”
We took a walk with my young dog, Lucy, on the beach in south Seaside.
Will entered the water, which I described as freezing.
“It’s practically balmy,” he declared, emerging from the surf. He was so well-prepared, he’d brought his own beach towel. “A few weeks ago, I was swimming off the coast of Newfoundland, so this doesn’t seem that bad.”
In addition to being an eligible bachelor, Will is also a well-to-do nomad. His Facebook posts in recent months have recorded visits to Cape May, New Jersey; Palm Beach, Florida; Hammonasset Beach State Park in Connecticut, the National Museum in Sweden and Zamora, Ecuador.
After what seemed too brief a visit, we hugged and he shoved off. I gave him some ideas where he might have dinner, although he’s so slender I suspect he eats like a bird.
Will texted me a few hours later to say he’d checked into his hotel.
“I didn’t get there for hours,” he wrote. I thought he was going to blame the traffic, but a few moments later he wrote it was because he’d pulled off the highway to hike around. I remember this kind of behavior from our horseback riding days. Will is one of those people who can’t resist exploring a new trail.
“When I got to Cannon Beach, I went directly to ‘The Rock’,” he wrote. “There were literally hundreds of people there. They seemed to be having a transcendent experience, like pilgrims.”
“Indeed,” I wrote back. “They’re drawn by the awesome energy. While you’re there, be sure to soak some up.”
I didn’t hear from Will again until he arrived in Eugene. His family was thrilled to see him and a lot of them were there. He told me in a few days, he’d be driving back to Portland to catch a nonstop flight back to New York. He said me the one thing he regretted while on his visit to the coast was a meal at the famous Mo’s.
“They have one in the Jet Blue terminal,” I said, having frequented it myself. “Have a cup of clam chowder before your red-eye flight and you’ll sleep like a baby,” I advised. I’m pretty sure he took my recommendation.
Come back soon, Will.