How I Crashed Spring Break

All my adult life, I’ve had this fascination with Spring Break.

This is probably because when I was the proper age to enjoy Spring Break the way it was meant to be enjoyed – which is to say, drinking until the wee hours of the night while surrounded by busty coeds while on vacation someplace warm – I was instead in a serious relationship with the woman who would become my wife (and later, unbecome my wife). Bizarrely, she did not share my enthusiasm for Spring Break, so I never did find myself on South Padre Island or in Lake Havasu or Palm Springs or Panama City, and the closest I ever got to a wet t-shirt contest involved transferring clothes from the washer to the dryer, not nearly as fun as the type I had in mind. Years later, after we were married with children, I’d find myself glued to MTV for their annual Spring Break weeklong specials come early April, living vicariously through the current crop of college fellas. The settings were exotic, the music was loud, the bikinis were tiny, and the debauchery was off the charts. The wife put up with this because she considered it a harmless midlife crisis at the ripe old age of 28, I suppose.

I have no idea whether MTV still shows those Spring Break specials because, I’m happy to say, I outgrew them. But I still…still…have a “thing” for Spring Break, even if it’s a considerably tamer and watered-down version of the Bacchanalia I once yearned for. And that is why, when my parents hauled the kids out to the Oregon coast on Monday for their annual Spring Break ritual (three nights in a beach house and lots of good food and fun), I decided to crash their party and get in on some of that action myself, for one night, at least. OK, I didn’t technically even “crash” it because they knew I was coming, but it sounds more rebellious when I phrase it that way. I figured I might as well take advantage of this down time and also was itching to get away from the noise and turmoil caused by construction on my townhouse, and a trip to the coast would do wonders for my soul (not to mention my hearing). Tuesday morning I hit the road, and after a two-hour rainy drive down to Lincoln City arrived just in time for the clouds to part and the sun to shine magnificently. I rendezvoused with the family, who weren’t at all surprised to see me (can we just PRETEND I crashed it??) before heading further down the coast to Newport for a stop at the South Beach Fish Market, which once upon a time was called the Lighthouse Deli and voted as having the best fish ‘n chips in Oregon. They were awesome then, and are still awesome now. I was on my own since they had already eaten lunch and were eager to hit the beach, so I took my time coming back, making stops at several scenic lookout points and wandering through Depoe Bay, home of the World’s Smallest Harbor.

Best fish 'n chips in Oregon? Quite possibly!

Or so they claim. It’s not quite as impressive as the World’s Largest Frying Pan up in Long Beach WA, though.

I timed the trip almost perfectly, so that it was nearly Happy Hour when I got back to the beach house. (Spring Break, remember? Gotta make sure there’s alcohol!). We had lasagna, salad and bread for dinner, and then walked down to the beach for a magnificent sunset. The kids and I then built a bonfire – I’d always wanted to do this, and had some firewood in the garage that I brought along precisely for this reason. Soon, the fire was blazing, which helped to take away the chill. We may have sang Kumbaya. We may even have done a bit of tribal dancing as the flames flickered in the darkening sky, but I’m copping to nothin’. We would have stayed longer, but it started raining suddenly and without much warning.

Hmm. It never seemed to rain on those MTV Spring Break specials. 

Audrey demonstrates the fine art of tribal dancing around the fire.

It’s okay. Oregon is no Florida (where my kids went for Spring Break last year – hmm, now why didn’t I think to crash that trip?!), but it’s got charm and beauty a-plenty.

In keeping with the theme, I did stay up very, very late – not falling asleep until close to 3 AM. That’s only because the day bed I was sleeping on had an uncomfortably thin mattress and creaked every time I took a breath, but it still counts as a late night!!! 

This morning the fam and I headed to the Chinook Winds casino for their breakfast buffet. While there Rusty, ever the fountain of knowledge, talked about how weird it was eating breakfast in a place that wasn’t America. Because it’s a Native American casino, you see. They own the land and so this means the land isn’t technically in America. I told the boy I own the land my townhouse is built on and wondered if that means the 1500 square feet I inhabit also isn’t technically a part of America. He talked about things like reparations. I don’t know, it didn’t make a lot of sense and truth be told I was too busy digesting my omelette to give it a whole lot of thought. Afterwards I wanted to check out the casino so I did. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I only had a few dollars in my wallet so I was forced to only part with $5 at video poker. Then I fed $2 into a slot machine on the way out, and hit a jackpot for a little over $16. So this is how the high rollers live, I thought, and cashed out my winning ticket. OK, so it may not be much, but this is the second time in a row I walked out of a casino with more money than I had going in. Little by little, I’m earning back the money I gave to Vegas on our first trip there in January.

No Spring Break would be complete without alcohol!

After breakfast we went back to the beach house. It felt really good to be back in America again. Boy, how I’d missed my country ’tis of thee! By now it was really pouring rain, and getting time for me to head back home, so I packed up my stuff, bid my kids and parents farewell, and made the return journey home. I took the scenic route back, driving up Highway 101 along the Oregon coast before crossing the Coast Range into Portland and then, finally, Vancouver.

All in all, I had a great time! It might not have been the Spring Break trip I envisioned fifteen years ago, but so what? Spring Break is Spring Break. And I’m getting too old for that shit, anyway. I think the magic would be gone the first time some hot coed called me “sir.” Besides, Tara totally does it for me, and I’m not just saying that because she reads my blog.

Tuesday afternoon was a perfect day along the Oregon coast.
Wednesday? Not so much.
But we had quite an amazing sunset about half an hour before the rain started on Tuesday.

Published by Mark Petruska

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

20 thoughts on “How I Crashed Spring Break

  1. Stunning pictures Mark. I love the Oregon coast. It’s one of my favorites! I remember those fish and chips. They are delicious. It’s one of the places we always go to whenever we are down there. I’m thinking we are due a trip to the Oregon coast. It’s been way to long!

    Glad you had fun…you Spring Break crasher you!!

    10 more days huh? Time is just flying by!!



    1. I’ve always wanted to try their clam chowder – but I’m too busy scarfing down the fish ‘n chips! One of these days, I’m sure.

      I’m lucky because I end up at the Oregon coast 3 or 4 times a year, easily.


  2. ” the closest I ever got to a wet t-shirt contest involved transferring clothes from the washer to the dryer, not nearly as fun as the type I had in mind.”

    Bwhahahahahahaha! Mark, that CRACKED ME UP! You are HILARIOUS!

    OMG, you would have loved living in Florida like I did for 20 years, because Spring Break is HUGE down there. Come to think of it, Spring Break is 24/7 in Florida!

    Glad you had a great time, buddy!

    And Mark? These photos are freakin’ AWESOME. WOW!!!! They’re ALL awesome, but that one of ‘Wednesday’ took my breath away!

    Well done!


    1. My dad was in the Air Force, and he very nearly ended up stationed at Panama City – this would have been right when I was headed into my senior year of high school. Man alive, that would have been so much fun!

      But alas, my whole life would be completely different. I’m glad things worked out the way they did, even if it does mean living vicariously through MTV specials.


  3. You’re SUCH a rebel: crashing the party, bringing booze, lighting fires — if that doesn’t define “rebel,” I don’t know what does!

    As for me, next week is my kids’ Spring Break. I’ve booked a room at a hotel/casino in glorious Sparks, Nevada (10 minutes from my home) for two nights.

    Oh, there will be partying…

    (If by “partying” you mean “watching the kids swim all day while I sit at a table with my laptop doing work.”)

    But it will be a blast nonetheless…



    1. Thank you for realizing what a rabble rousing rebel I really am! It takes one to know one, apparently, as your Spring Break sounds every bit as WILD as mine!

      You could at least take them to another haunted hotel, Mikalee…


      1. Hell no. I now know how NOT fun that is with my son. In fact, I now have a magazine article to write about both the Mizpah and the Gold Hill in Virginia City. Guess what I’m planning these trips around? That’s right: Weeks WITHOUT my children!

        And yes, we’re both SO living on the edge…



  4. those last few scenic shots are amazing
    yet I love the fun family shots too 🙂

    I’ve never done a spring break in all my 56 years
    but hey, ya never know

    I came by from Ron’s to tell you how much I liked the photo of your cat, he really does appear to be guarding your daughter


  5. Great pics! I love how you crashed Spring Break…quite the rebel, aren’t you?

    I also wanted to tell you I loved the picture of the calico kitty guarding your daughter that Ron posted today! Stopping by from his blog to say hey!


    1. Thank you, Peggy! I do have quite a reputation as a badass now, huh? I suppose I’ll have to trade in the Hyundai for a Harley and everything.

      Glad you enjoyed the photo of Sydney. She’s quite the badass herself sometimes.


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