“I Don’t Even Know You!”

Time flies, huh?! Autumn is nearly upon us, and all I can say is, it’s about damn time. This hot, dry, smoky summer has been one for the ages, and I don’t mean that in a good way. Rarely have I looked forward to the change in seasons more. Our poor Columbia River Gorge has been bruised and battered by wildfires, and the much-needed rain that is expected to begin this afternoon and last, on and off, for the next five days will bring welcome relief. Even people who normally love summer have been praying for rain. Last night we saw Fleet Foxes play a concert at McMenamin’s Edgefield, an outdoor venue east of Portland that is literally on the edge of the fire zone. The air was thick with smoke and light ash fell continuously through the performance, making it a miserable evening to be outside. In fact, they moved the scheduled start time of the show up half an hour to compensate for the terrible conditions. When lead singer Robin Pecknold said, “Enjoy the rain tomorrow, Portland!” wild cheers erupted from the crowd.

We will, Robin. Yes indeed.

Robin Pecknold joked about “playing a concert in a forest fire” but really, he wasn’t far from the truth!

Tara and I were calling yesterday our “last summer fling.” We spent basically the entire day at Edgefield, starting out with a 12:30 showing of It in the Power Station Theater. I love seeing movies at McMenamin’s because you can eat and drink in the theater. Clowns are much less scary when you’re wolfing down Cajun tots and drinking Bloody Marys, it should be noted. Oddly enough, even though I’m a huge Stephen King fan, It is one of the few books of his I had never read. I liked the film; it was well cast and suspenseful. Looking forward to Chapter Two!

After the movie we wandered over to one of the many onsite pubs there and grabbed a couple of cocktails before meeting up with our friend Kara, who also had tickets for the show. The concert, by the way, was great! I’ve long been a fan of Fleet Foxes and was thrilled when they came out with a new album and accompanying tour this year, after a long hiatus.

Because they started the concert early, we were home by 9:00, which was pretty nice. We were ready to be out of the smoke and ash by then anyway.

Hard to believe it’s been a week since our trip to the Oregon coast with Tara’s family. Her dad, sisters, and assorted significant others (and even a baby!) all made the trek from Nevada to belatedly celebrate Tara’s 40th birthday at a gorgeous beach house overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Lincoln City. We had a great time catching up, though I realized on Saturday night while playing a spirited game of Cards Against Humanity that I don’t really know my wife. Ha. If you’ve never played CAH, let’s just say “risque” is an understatement and certain underlying truths seep a little close to the surface. Actually, it was a blast, and not nearly as uncomfortable as you might imagine.

Sunset Friday night from the deck of our beach house.

Earlier that day everybody else chartered a fishing boat and caught a ton of ling cod, rock cod, and cabezon – plus three dozen Dungeness crab! We feasted that night, lemme tell ya. (We are still feasting, actually. Crab is on the menu tonight. It’s a rough life, folks.) While they went fishing I opted to go for a hike instead, as I’d wanted to tackle God’s Thumb. It’s an eroding basalt cliff overlooking the ocean with a curvy shape that actually does resemble a thumb. Not a difficult hike – about 1.5 miles to get there, but it’s very lightly trafficked and pretty steep at the end. If you have a fear of heights, don’t do it! Wait a minute. I have a fear of heights. New rule: if you have a fear of heights, suck it up and do it anyway. The 360-degree panoramic view from the top is nothing short of breathtaking!

Maggie and Israel showing off just one of the 36 Dungeness crab they brought back.

The worst part about the hike was all the damn mosquitoes in the forest, but I was covered up pretty well and only ended up with one bite. Other than one friendly older couple on the trail right at the beginning, I had the entire hike to myself. The final trek across the ridgeline was a bit scary, but I made it a point to not look down, and when I reached the peak without dying I was thankful I’d done it. Gazing out over the Pacific Ocean, I couldn’t help but feel introspective. I thought about all the times I have visited the Oregon coast over the years, through different stages of my life; how I have felt the sand between my toes during moments of sheer bliss and felt waves lapping at my ankles through times of dark despair, the only constant being the push and pull of the tides. But I gave myself a pat on the back because life is pretty damn good right now. I don’t think I could be any happier.

God’s Thumb. I had to walk across that narrow ridgeline to get there. PS: totally worth it!

It was also a touch melancholic because it’s very likely our trips to the coast will be coming to an end soon, but I am excited for a new adventure just around the corner. It’s been a good run, as they say, but it may be time to move on. More about that in a sec.

A lot harder than it looks – trust me!

Sunday Tara’s family went to the Oregon Coast Aquarium, but we opted to stay behind and spend a relaxing day at the house. Took a dip in the hot tub, listened to music, caught up on some reading. We all walked down to the beach later and Maggie and Israel flew a kite. They gave me a few turns with it, but I was only ever able to crash the kite. It was a complicated dual-line model that required two hands and apparently a whole lot more finesse than I have. I guess my dreams of becoming a professional kite pilot will never come to fruition. Damn.

Monday – Labor Day – we all parted ways. Tara and I were back home around 3:30, and back to work the next day. All in all, it was a great trip and everybody had a blast.

I guess that pretty much gets you all caught up. I’d talk about work, but DEB IS A TRAITOR so we’ll just leave it at that. (Just kidding there, Deborah.)

Our trip to Rapid City is now less than three weeks away, and we are super excited! I haven’t talked about our potential move much because it upsets certain parental figures and nothing is set in stone anyway, but let’s just say I am adopting a midwest attitude in preparation now. Which means I’m eating a lot of corn, acting super friendly toward everybody, and even – damn it, this is embarrassing! – listening to a little country music now and then.

I guess I don’t even know me, either!

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Published by Mark Petruska

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

14 thoughts on ““I Don’t Even Know You!”

  1. Very professional layout and photo montage! I thoroughly enjoyed your God’s Thumb and beach house photos last week. Looked amazing. I’m really looking forward to hearing all about your adventures in the Dakotas. I recommend the night ceremony at Mt. Rushmore if they still do it. Very touching and will make you feel like a true American.


    1. Why, thank you!

      Yes, they still do the evening lighting ceremony at Mount Rushmore, but it’s seasonal and only lasts from Memorial Day to September 30 so we won’t get a chance to see it this trip. But, you know, if we end up living there, there will be plenty of opportunities for that! I remember going back in my high school days and enjoying it very much.


  2. “Autumn is nearly upon us, and all I can say is, it’s about damn time. ”

    Amen! I feel the exact same way, Mark. I am so over Summer; looking forward to my two favorite season – Fall and Winter!

    Awesome photographs! That one of the Friday night sunset is STUNNING! Great slid-show!

    And even me, being someone who has a height phobia, I would have made the trek across that narrow ridgeline to see the view!

    I feel the same as you do about your potential move because I’m excited about my move to New York next year as well. I CANNOT wait!

    Have a great week, my friend!

    P.S. Love your blog header!


  3. I love your new banner. Beautiful! I usually just lazily read your posts from my email inbox and don’t take the time to comment, so I didn’t realize you’d been remodeling. πŸ˜‰

    I thought you and your readers might be interested in this update about the fire: https://wyeastblog.org/2017/09/12/first-look-at-the-gorge-fire/ and this nonprofit (Trailkeepers of Oregon) where you can sign up for a newsletter that will notify you when they have volunteer opportunities to help restore the trails damaged by the fire: https://www.trailkeepersoforegon.org/get-involved/ .


  4. Great time, gorgeous pictures. That new banner of yours is TO DIE FOR! I would like to live in the view of that forever and ever. Okay, and take a few days off to stay in your beach house and enjoy that view as well. Lucky!


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