Just call me ‘Trip Advisor’

Pacific Way restaurant and cafe, a great place for locals and visitors alike.

My childhood friend Claudia was just in town for a visit. We met when we were both in kindergarten. We’re still close in many ways and I went to her wedding, but we hadn’t seen each other in decades. The last time I saw her was 2008 in New York City. Both she and her husband recently retired. Claudia made some bucket list thing for herself to walk on as many beaches as possible, which drew her visit Seaside, Cannon Beach and Gearhart.

I have to say I didn’t really see that much of them during their five day visit. In fairness, I was working a lot of the time. Before they flew out from Philadelphia where they’re presently living, on Facebook Message I sent her links to things I thought they might like to do, like hike Oswald West State Park in Arch Cape. It was clear from our earlier communications that the things I normally do on vacation, i.e. drink coffee, browse bookstores, drink, wasn’t what they like to do, which is to stay active.

After landing at PDX, Claudia and her husband checked into the Ashore after a thrilling drive over the mountain in a rental car. I’d warned of the logging trucks and the elevation. Just before dusk their first night, we traipsed over to the Cove. By the time they left the ’hood it was after 8 p.m. on a Monday night and I was concerned where they might find some dinner.  

The next day they hit Haystack Rock early to catch the low tide. After that, they drove to Manzanita, and after that, hiked Oswald. After that, they had a post hike walk on Arcadia Beach before locating a cozy place to have a beer. I recommended Pelican, Public Coast, Seaside Brewing, Bill’s. I knew they’d be going to Astoria soon and I had beer recommendations there for them as well.

Although I recommended dinners at Pacific Way Cafe and Maggie’s on the Prom, they didn’t seem inclined to go for anything fancy, so I recommended the U Street Pub. It turned out they liked the U Street Pub so much they ate there twice, relishing the shrimp po’ boy sandwich and the mussels in spicy broth. They told me they had a terrific breakfast one morning at The Osprey Café. One day they went to Astoria where they hit Coffee Girl and toured the museum area where Bumble Bee tuna once ruled. They recorded the sound of sea lions on their phone to play back for their grandson who they FaceTimed with every day. They drove over the bridge into Washington to visit Cape Disappointment. After that they returned to Astoria for a nice dinner at Clemente’s.

The morning before they left down on their way to California, their next destination, we walked on Gearhart beach. We entered the dunes at Pacific Way and first walked south to the estuary and then north to 10th Street. It was a gorgeous day. It was like an advertisement for Pacific Northwest living.

Their last night, they came over and ran a load of wash. I was happy to be able to do it for them because I hate dragging dirty clothes around. They planned a final hike on Tillamook Head and the beach at Hug Point. I was still texting them suggestions what to do and where to eat while they killed time before their flight from Portland to Santa Rosa.

“Can you check your washer and dryer for a sock?” Claudia texted from their room at the airport. There’s always something that gets left behind, I’ve learned. When our friend Carolyn visited in July, she left behind a sock and some bikini underwear. Claudia texted her address in Philadelphia, and the next day, one lonely hiking sock stuffed in an envelope, I went to the post office and mailed it.

“Thanks for sharing so many tips where to go and what to do and where to eat and drink,” Claudia wrote me. “It was really helpful.”

“Just call me your very own personal Trip Advisor,” I texted back. As has been true for so much of my life, I always know the best places.

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