The first half of our vacation was all about reconnecting with old friends in a place familiar to us, a place where we (along with Tony Bennett) left our hearts – or at least part of them. This second half is about visiting family and experiencing new places.
We spent time with Steve’s son in Seattle and welcomed his wonderful new fiancee (we like her . . . a lot!) into the family. Now we’re exploring one of the San Juan Islands in Puget Sound, where Steve’s daughter and her family make their home. Each phase of our vacation has been over-the-top, but I must say that this is the best part – being with my two favorite little girls in the whole world. After not seeing the girls for 11 months, we’ve been so happy at how quickly they warmed up to us, and already we’re dreading the inevitable good-bye in just two days.
Inbetween the two worlds, we rented a car and enjoyed time alone along the magnificent Oregon Coast. Without trying, comparisons between East and West Coasts come naturally.
The water in the Pacific comes down from Alaska and is cold, even in the summer, and often people are on the beaches in the daytime wearing sweatshirts and jeans. We didn’t bring enough warm layers and my bathing suit has never left my suitcase. The mountains in the West have rugged, craggy peaks and are much younger. Several conflicting adjectives fill my mind: awe-inspiring, harsh, barren, massive, dry, grand, unwelcoming, and majestic.
The West Coast culture is organic and tends toward the newest trends, constantly evolving and re-inventing itself. In California, a current quirky issue is to ban foie gras – to Save the Ducks and their livers. McDonald’s Happy Meals are illegal in one of the Bay Area counties because they are deemed to be the culprit in keeping American children fat.
Everything in the East seems to be exactly opposite. The Atlantic water comes up from the South and is warm. Summers are hot and it’s incomprehensible to imagine a beach vacation in July without jumping in the ocean. The mountains are older, among the oldest in the world, and display layer upon layer of shades of blue, fading into the distant horizon. The ranges are genteel, soft, inviting, and pleasantly rounded. The foliage is lush and a vibrant green. As a culture, Easterners value tried and true tradition.
I feel at home on both coasts, as different as they are. I love them both.