Seattle and the Oregon Coast - Stop and Smell the Chowder
November 3, 2017
The heat of the day quickly waned with westward sun drifting beyond the monolith of Haystack Rock. My skin shivered from the chill of ocean spray in the wind.There was no escaping the crescendo of the waves gaining greater momentum with the tide. Yet there was a calmness to reflect on the shores of Cannon Beach. I looked out to the giant rocks that make up the Needles and took a deep breath of salt air. The waves thrashed, but they stood tall amidst the chaos.
I felt the same way only hours before standing against the rush of tourists and locals in the Pike Place Market. This was the first stop in my short trip to Seattle on my way to Portland. Getting there early didn’t seem to matter on an Saturday morning. The vendors watched from behind their storefronts as the crowds moved in every direction except together.
Looking at the market map was almost as intimidating as the giant crowd. You could easily spend a day looking through shops for stuff you don’t need and must have. It was surprisingly quieter the deeper you went down the halls and stairways. Lamplight Books collection of old pulp magazines drew me close with vivid cover art. I’m a sucker for all things pulp.
There wasn’t much time left to spend at the market, but I was told I had to try the award winning Pike Place Chowder. Looking at the line stretching down and around the alley peaked my curiosity. Each minute was precious, but sometimes you need to stop and smell the chowder. It was time to chill, which I did with a refreshing blood orange ginger beer from Rachel’s next door.
The line moved along steadily thanks to a simple menu of chowders. It seemed a majority of people were getting samplers, but I wanted to stick to the classic original in a bread bowl. A seat opened in the crowded patio just in time. The creamy smell hit me straight in the heart with memories of growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area. The clams were perfect in chewiness and size in a flavorful slightly salty cream base that soaked into the fresh sourdough. There’s hardly a better meal for a gloomy Seattle day.
My belly was full and I was ready for a scenic drive down the coast. Just because you know where you’re going doesn’t mean you can’t lose yourself for a while. Actually, it’s the perfect time to do it. Driving through the lush green forest of Washington and Oregon felt like I was being recharged with a fresh battery to deal with all the struggles that were sure to come with life.
One of favorite go-to road trips has always been following the Pacific Coast Highway 1 going North and South. You’d think there wouldn’t be much more to see that’s different just a state or two away. At least that’s what I thought. Drifting from one picturesque small coastal town to another felt like a drive-through art gallery. Soft palettes of aged white paint on dry docked boats against striking backdrops of the northwest pines and Pacific blue. The coastal views dared you to not stop in awe at their majesty.
There was no helping me once I found my feet in the cold sand. Time didn’t matter. Stress didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was enjoying the view of sea before me. I thought about taking a picture, but it wouldn’t matter. It couldn’t capture what I felt at that moment quite like just keeping my camera down and enjoying a unique moment in time.
The sun set as I left the winding back road to the straight shot on to Portland. Mt. Hood stood on the horizon with the last bit of light shining on its snowy peak. The highway started to fill as I got closer to the city. I wasn’t expecting to hit much traffic, but I appreciated it in a different way. Sometimes life slows you down for a reason. You can thrash around in the chaos or go with the flow.