On sunsets at the ocean.

perfect shade of pink
Sunset at Long Beach, WA.

I witnessed the most amazing sunset Saturday evening. It had been raining hard all day. It was dark and dreary and depressing.  So when I looked outside and saw this view I had to go outside and experience the splendor. It was raining though. A light sprinkling as I watched the sun make its glorious appearance between the clouds and the horizon.

I love sunsets. You might know this by now if you have read this blog for any length of time. You might have heard this before. I will say it again. I love them. And I love them especially when they are at the beach. It is a religious experience to watch the sunset at the ocean.

An interesting thought occurred to me recently. Not very many people get to see the sun setting at the ocean. I get to because I live near the Pacific Ocean. How many other oceans face West? Obviously there are a few. But it suddenly occurs to me that this wonderful experience can only be experienced in certain places, the Pacific Ocean being one of those places. I am very grateful that I get to experience it.

When we went to Santa Cruz last weekend I really  wanted to watch the sun set at our old beach, Seabright. We kept ourselves busy until that magic hour and then we drove down to our favorite beach. As we drove I realized that it wasn’t going to happen. I had forgotten that Santa Cruz is an anomaly. It is situated on the north end of the Monterrey Bay and so when you look toward the water you are looking south, not west. And sometimes, because of the way the coastline is, when you are looking at the water you look East. It is very odd and will completely confuse your senses when you are there. So I missed the sunset that evening and I was sad.

Santa Cruz had some pretty killer sunrises though. I used to run on the beach every morning and I was lucky to be able to see the sun rise over the ocean. Which is just as amazing as watching the sun set. Maybe even more so because there are fewer people around so you share it with a small group of crazy people like you who get up at an ungodly hour.


The Santa Cruz Monica

Sometimes I wonder
If there is another me
who still lives in Santa Cruz.
The Santa Cruz Monica.
The me who chose to be
A creative writing major at UCSC.
She had guts.
She is the one who runs on the beach at sunrise.
She is the one who surfs The Hook.
She is the one who Is not afraid
Of wasps’s nests as she rappels
The cliff at Castle Rock.
She is the one who
Writes stories about the Sea.
I can feel her when I visit.
Her happy soul bleeds
Through the crack in our worlds.


Where is home for you?

I was born in Spokane, WA and that is where my family lives. That is where I lived until I was 20. I had always been unhappy there and I don’t understand why. I remember one day when I was 19, driving to my friend’s house. I was going to a party. I felt dead inside. I sat at a stop sign, snow falling down around my car,  and I thought to myself, “why can’t I just be happy?” Happiness completely eluded me.

I wouldn’t feel this elusive emotion until a year later, when I moved to New York. I was in a car with my friend and we were driving to a dance club. I felt excited for all the possibilities that awaited me in this new place. I realized, then, that this was happiness. I felt happy.  It was a strange feeling. But it was fantastic.

I found my home when I moved to California. At first I was sorely disappointed with the place. I remember flying  into the San José Airport from the east over desert. I thought, “what have I gotten myself into.” I got used to it really quickly and grew to love it. The weather, the palm trees, the Pacific Ocean. I lived there for 15 years. I found my home in Santa Cruz. I felt like I belonged there. I felt like my soul belonged there. Sometimes I feel like it is still there.

Spokane’s vortex drew me back. This time I brought my husband up to live there. And, again, I still had those unsettling feelings. I felt stuck. I was unhappy.  All I could think about when I lived there was where I could move away to.  I still don’t understand this. I had great friends. I loved being closer to my family. Those things were wonderful. There was just something about the place that made me unhappy.

So now I find myself here in Sandy, Oregon. The day I moved here I felt that elusive happy feeling. That excitement for the adventures that awaited me. I feel at home here. I feel like I fit.

So. Where is home for me? For me, home  is the place where my soul fits. If my soul fits then I can be happy.   

The Coolest Vehicle I've Driven


The coolest vehicle I’ve ever driven was a BMW. It was, actually, a vehicle I owned for a few years. I loved that car. I miss that car. I wish I still had it. I bought it from the family I worked for when I was a nanny in Menlo Park, CA.

They bought a brand new one and offered to sell it to me. I think that they were worried about their child being driven around in the Suzuki Samurai I owned and wanted me to chauffeur her in something more substantial.

I paid the car off bit by bit with each paycheck until finally it was mine. It was a fantastic car. It had a sunroof, a kick-ass stereo. Leather seats. It was a dream to drive.

I owned it for several years until I ran it into the ground. It finally died when I had to commute over the Santa Cruz mountains everyday for my job. The car blew a gasket (so I was told) and it would have been too expensive to fix. I couldn’t sell it in the shape it was in and there were already a plethora of old, broken BMWs in the South Bay Area so it was completely worthless. I ended up giving it away to charity. It makes me sad thinking about it.

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Hiking Cape Horn

susie standing next to the roots

When I first met Susie two years ago I was in a dazed and confused state. It was my second day of living Sandy. I hadn’t had a chance yet to unpack, I was starting my job the next day, and I was standing in the library in the midst of a bunch of strangers who were throwing a welcome party for me. This really cute petite lady walked up to me and said, “So I hear you lived in Santa Cruz!” I stood there, kind of stunned, thinking, “how would she know this?” But said, “Yes I did.” “Me too!” she said. And we went on to talk and reminisce about this place we used to live. During our conversation I sat there kind of blown away by how surreal it was that I was meeting someone in Sandy, of all places, who also lived in Santa Cruz. Susie and I are still co-workers and have become friends over the past couple of years. I’m still kind of blown away that we both used to live there (at the same time, and just a few blocks away from each other!).

All of that to say that she took me hiking yesterday and we had a blast! She knows about all of the greatest hiking spots around the Mt. Hood and Columbia Gorge area. Yesterday she took me to Cape Horn, it’s in Washington on the Columbia River almost directly across from Multnomah Falls.

It’s a pretty mellow 7 mile loop. It actually would make a really great trail run. Apparently “they” spent over a million dollars renovating the trail this past year. They installed tunnels under the highway and a really nice lookout spot where you can sit and eat lunch or enjoy the view.

Susie hummed a really pretty tune as she walked through the tunnel. It was kinda awesome.

There were several spots along the ridge where the views were absolutely stunning. Here is one of them:
the view

Here is another. And another.

The trail winds down the side of the ridge to meadows and tree lined roads

and then down through a slightly sketchy, moss-covered rocky area.

ubiquitous mossy rocks

We had fun chatting about Santa Cruz, Eastern Washington (she was born and raised in Wenachee. Could this shit get any weirder?!?), and being silly. At one point we were swishing through the enormous maple leaves on the ground and she said, with such sincerity, “I wish I could record the sound of the swishing of the leaves.” I was all, “Let’s do it!!” So we did, for posterity:

more photos: