We’re at a resort where a golf course is behind our room — although a giant tree doesn’t help the view — and it’s a short walk to the Pacific Ocean.
All in all, it’s not a bad place to end a vacation.
We weren’t sure how it would go when we planned a trip to Oregon. There wasn’t anything specific about it that jumped out as a must-see, and our vacations in recent years — London, New York, Los Angeles, Nashville — have been built around being in one place.
Even when we have gone a bit further afield, we’ve always come back to where we started.
This trip, however, was going to be a couple days in Portland, a couple days in Bend, a night in Ashland and the last couple days in Gleneden Beach, where we are now.
It has taken us from Portland in the northern part of the state, through Corvallis, into the mountains to Bend, near the California border to Ashland and now the coast.
It has meant a lot of driving — I’m not sure anything in Oregon is near anything else — but we were greeted by a mountaintop as our flight arrived, wandered around Portland and saw young baseball players at the start of their professional careers in Salem.
We also learned that there is something of a controversy over the name of the University of Oregon mascot. Let me state that Suzi and I are firmly on Team Puddles (or is it #TeamPuddles?).
He is also literally Donald Duck in Oregon gear.
All of it has been better than we could have imagined.
The mountains have been the fulcrum for our entire visit.
We’ve either been driving toward them, driving in them, staying among them, driving out of them or in the shadow of them.
And the funny thing is that not only are the mountains different from each other — some capped with snow, others covered with trees, still others more desert-like — the areas around them were also different.
Portland is different than Corvallis, which is different than Bend, which is different than Ashland.
Crater Lake is in its own category.
Even on the last part of the trip, on our way to the coast, we had to make one more pass through the mountains, one final gatekeeper to get through before the coast.
And when we emerged, we left behind a world I frequently had to remind myself wasn’t Colorado and entered one that had pieces of Cape Cod, the Outer Banks, even a bit of the coast between Los Angeles and Malibu.
Although the mountains were beautiful, after a while, they took on the quality of eating ice cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner — a bit too much no matter how much you like it.
The thing about the beach is that it feels infinite.
While you can see land or houses as you look down either side, you almost never see the end of the beach.
Looking straight ahead, there is the sensation of nothing beyond the horizon, even though thousands of miles away from where I stood is a coastline somewhere in Asia.
I wonder if there’s a beach there, and if anyone stands there, wondering what’s beyond what his or her eye can see.
The best time to go to the beach is anytime there aren’t a lot of people there, whether that’s the evening, on a cooler day or even during the winter, which we used to do a lot when we lived on Cape Cod.
During the busy times, between sunbathing, swimming, games, sand castles and whatever else, everyone is competing for space.
But when there aren’t a lot of people there, everyone gets their own piece of infinity. The beach can be whatever they want it to be. They can be lost in what they’re doing, and if they like, the waves can be the only sound.
Suzi and I went to the beach in the afternoon, and then again at sunset, which between being on the West Coast and it being the first day of summer, wasn’t until about 9 p.m.
What they call the “marine layer” at the beach and we call “fog” everywhere else had started to settle in.
A woman sat on what looked like a large piece of driftwood. There were a few other couples on the beach, and a group of young people who arrived at about the same time as us hung out together.
There’s an expression on Cape Cod that basically goes, “Once you get the sand in your shoes, you will return.”
During the afternoon, Suzi and I were standing on the beach, contemplating who knows what, several feet back from where they waves met the sand before pulling back.
And then, even though I mostly had my back to the water, I sensed that the tide in that one moment was coming in higher. I have fast feet, but not fast enough to keep the water from soaking my sneakers, socks and jeans up to the ankle.
I wound up wearing my slippers to dinner back at the hotel — they’re nice slippers and it wasn’t formal, so no one was going to notice — and when we went back to the beach, I didn’t wear socks with my freshly blow-dried sneakers.
But I had definitely gotten sand in my sneakers, so that means we have to come back to Oregon someday, right?
But before we entertain thoughts of coming back, there’s one more day of vacation to attend to.
Suzi’s talking about taking the free yoga class at the resort. There are bikes and plenty of places to ride. Maybe I’ll go to the driving range or putting green.
There’s a concert on the lawn.
We’ll almost certainly go back to the beach.
But whatever we do, I’m really hoping we give this unexpectedly grand vacation the finale it deserves before we make one more long drive, this time to the airport so we can return to the reality of home.