SEASIDE - Ellen Hansen talked about her helicopter ride for two weeks beforehand. When she took the ride, the great-great grandmother, who will be 100 in October, was delighted.
Her only regret was that it didn't involve skydiving.
"I wanted to go up in a plane and jump off, but I guess they wouldn't stand for that," she said. (Members of her family weren't quite sure whether she was kidding.)
Hansen's trip was part of a Suzanne Elise Assisted Living program where residents have a wish fulfilled.
She was born in Esterville, Iowa, in 1905 and lived in North Dakota until she moved to Astoria to join her husband, Blaine Hansen in 1935. She raised three children, kept an immaculate house and worked at various tuna-packing plants for 34 years. After her retirement, she moved to Warrenton, where she walked or took the bus everywhere. She never learned to drive.
"I love to walk; I did a lot of walking," said Hansen, who spends most of her time in a wheelchair. "That's what I miss now, when I can't." Her life was punctuated by trips to Portland for shows and ball games, two vacations in Hawaii, and a cruise - although that was not a success.
"I was so seasick," she said. "I would never go on another ship."
Hansen misses independent life, but said her daughter, Lois Hoyer, takes good care of her and visits her often and Suzanne Elise is a nice place to live. She enjoys the exercises, visiting singers, birthday parties, and trips like a recent journey to see the world's largest Sitka spruce. Her advice for a long life is "hard work and keeping active all the time."
Staff member Michelle Maffet, who flew with Hansen, said she looks and acts much younger than she is and called her "as sweet as the day is long." Hansen's friend, Miriam Cate, another Suzanne Elise resident, described her as a wonderful person, but the type who doesn't stand for any nonsense.
If Hansen doesn't like something, she'll say so, Cate said.
Gary Turel at Seaside Helicopters donated the flight, which went to Cannon Beach to look at Haystack Rock, then took in the Goonies' Rock, the Tillamook Lighthouse and other sights, then back up through Seaside, including Tillamook Head and parts of Astoria.
"She was almost speechless," said grandson Blaine Hansen, who went on the ride as well.
Hansen was eager to tell the other residents of Suzanne Elise about her experience. Before she boarded the bus back, she smiled and said, "That's the smoothest ride I have had."