Love Is In The Air. And Chowder, too.

A few days ago I got a hankering for a really good cup of clam chowder, so I did what anybody would do to satisfy that craving: made a 240-mile round trip to go get me some.

What? You wouldn’t?!

One of the things that attracted me to Tara was the fact that she once drove 72 miles for a corn dog. Clearly, this is a woman after my own heart.

And okay, fine, there was more than just the clam chowder at the end of my destination. There was sand and surf and salt air. The ocean. Fun shops to browse through. And the world’s largest frying pan. I’d been longing to take a trip to Long Beach, Washington for some time now – and with a kid-free Saturday looming large, decent weather (meaning overcast and drizzly), and an iPod full of tunes, the open road beckoned this past weekend. I decided to hit the road at 9 AM sharp. I stopped in Astoria a couple of hours later to walk along the Columbia River for a bit, before proceeding across the 3.5-mile long bridge that connects Oregon and Washington. I arrived in Long Beach about 11:30.

The unique and cool thing about this place is, cars are allowed on the beach. If you’ve never done so before, let me tell you – driving across the sand is a blast! I had my window rolled down and the breeze in my hair made me giddy with excitement and the sense of adventure.

And cold, too. Brr. February on the Washington coast? A tad chilly. I quickly rolled the window back up.

But still, it was a great way to spend the day. I took a walk along a section of the world’s longest beach (yes, it really is) before retreating to my car to watch the waves crash to shore. I spent an hour or two reading and relaxing and enjoying the scenery. Back in town, I hit a few stores. And when 4:00 rolled around, I headed to a bar and grill called Castaways Seafood Grille for a couple of cocktails. And that clam chowder I had come so far to have. It was delicious, I’m happy to report. And then I added fish ‘n chips to go along with it. I always crave those when I’m at the coast. Properly full, I headed back to the beach, and fate smiled down upon me by providing just enough of a break in the overcast to surprise me with a sunset. It was unexpected, and magnificent.

I then made the long trek back home in the dark, arriving back at Casa Petruska eleven hours after I set out. It was pretty much the perfect day.

I say “pretty much” because Tara wasn’t with me, and she was the one missing ingredient. But while she wasn’t there physically she was there in spirit, and we texted and talked throughout the day, anyway. Next time I go, we will go.

I’m also a little sad that we aren’t together for Valentine’s Day, which is ironic because I never cared much for this day. I used to refer to it as a phony holiday invented by greeting card companies looking to make a fast buck, assuming there were kickbacks involved between the chocolate and flower industries, as well. God, I’m such a romantic. But I realized that this attitude only existed when I was single, or married to somebody who complained that the flowers I gave her weren’t nice enough or delivered to her work. Is it any wonder I greeted this day with cynicism?! I have since discovered that when you are in a relationship that makes you happy, you want to celebrate Valentine’s Day with the person you love. So, the distance between us feels greater than usual today. Add in the fact that today is our official five-month anniversary, and it’s even worse.


Next year we’ll be celebrating together. And, Tara is coming up for another visit on Friday, and staying for eight days and nights. We’re celebrating VD a few days late with a dinner in Portland on Sunday. This helps soften the blow.

It’s going to be a fantastic visit, and brings us ever closer to the day when she moves in with me for good. Every day will feel like Valentine’s then.

Aww. What do you know? I am a romantic bastard, after all.

The Astoria-Megler Bridge spans the Columbia River and connects Oregon and Washington.
That there's the world's largest frying pan in the background.
Well worth the 240-mile roundtrip.
Don't know who these people are, but I don't care: I love this shot.

Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

26 thoughts on “Love Is In The Air. And Chowder, too.

  1. …so now that you’re a “romantic bastard,” I guess I can’t count on you to enjoy today’s post highlighting V-Day gift ideas for the jaded, cynical and bitter — right?

    I mean come on: A stuffed sperm?!?! A cockroach?!?! I’m sure Tara would LOVE either one…


    Actually, it seems Brett is on a one-man campaign to change my feelings about the holiday: He surprised me this morning with a trip he planned for us to San Diego in a few weeks. How effin’ romantic.

    (Just kidding, of course…)

    Anyhow, your pix and post made me even more excited to go to San Diego — I miss the sand and surf, too! It looks like you had an amazing time…and AMAZING chowder.


    XOXO and all that crap,



    1. Nothing says love like plushy semen, right? Any blog post featuring a stuffed sperm has got to be enjoyable. I’m a-headin’ right over to read.

      San Diego sounds like a blast – I’ve never been there. I bet they have excellent chowder, too. Maybe you can bring along your plush, stuffed sperm and use him as a flotation device in the hotel pool. That guy was just built for swimming, I’m sure.

      Happy VD to you and Brett!


      1. We aren’t even allowed to swim in our man made lakes – due to drought, the bacteria counts for “swimmer’s itch” is too high. Nothing like moving from the land of 1000 lakes to this!


  2. So, it was my love of corn dogs that attracted you to me? Weirdo….

    I can’t wait until we plan our own trip to the coast. And a cabin in the woods. And a beach in Mexico.

    Happy Valentine’s Day, my love.


    1. More like the picture you sent to me of you eating the corn dog…

      Err, kidding. Lol. I’m excited for all those trips! Hell, I’m excited just to hang out with you in the house.

      And I love that you’re my Valentine. 🙂


  3. Mark the photos you shared of your day at Long Beach are wonderful!

    And OMG…that last one is freakin’ STUNNING!

    *three VERY loud cheers*

    Truly, the photo is beautiful!

    Having lived in Florida and visited Daytona Beach a few times, I know exactly what you mean about being able to drive your car on the beach.

    “If you’ve never done so before, let me tell you – driving across the sand is a blast! I had my window rolled down and the breeze in my hair made me giddy with excitement and the sense of adventure.’

    Isn’t that a BLAST???

    “Aww. What do you know? I am a romantic bastard, after all.”

    I am too, buddy, so I know exactly how you feel.

    Wishing you and Tara a faaaaaaaabulously romantic eight days together!!!!!


    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the photo(s), Ron. And also got to drive on the beach…although, I’m thinking the Florida coast is just a tad different from the Washington coast (read: I doubt you froze!).


    1. I need to learn how to make a really good bowl of chowder so I don’t have to drive so far next time! Then again, the whole day was a blast, so maybe I should just leave it to the experts, after all.


  4. So you know how much I love sourdough pancakes? Almost as much as Ironport…and you’ll notice I wrote ‘almost’. Anyway, you know that restaurant in Astoria and Seaside…the one with the pink pig? Yeah…that one. It was worth a drive there for sure! That was until I found out there is one in Gresham or somewhere on the east side of Portland.

    Now, all I have to do is walk across the street! Woot!

    So excited to see you both next week. Have a great weekend and a safe trip up here. I’m just so darned thrilled for the two of you. Words escape me!!


    1. Ahh, yes – the Pig ‘N Pancake! I’ve never been there before, but driving past it the other day, I couldn’t help but wonder why not. After all, they serve pig, which I’m sure includes some form of bacon. AND pancakes. Nothing beats that!

      Looking forward to seeing you too, Tracy. Gotta make up for the visit-that-wasn’t in November! And I also love that you’re so happy for us. I must be doing something right, if you approve of me dating your daughter. 🙂


  5. That sounds like a magnificent trip and one that was good for the soul. I’m sorry you weren’t with Tara this year for Valentine’s Day (never been one of my favorites either) but celebrating at a later date seems to be a popular theme this year.

    I love the way you write.


Add Your Two Cents!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: