The Oregon Coast

We used to live on the 15th floor in a beige building. Now we live in a 1947 teardrop trailer in the woods. Yep, we’ve down sized.

Discovering Myrtlewood, Tillamook and finding the perfect taco

You would have thought it was Memorial Day weekend at Nehalem Bay State Park. Every campsite was full and with such close quarters, I felt we knew everyone around us personally. We could smell their campfires, what they were making for dinner, we could even hear their conversations. Adventures to nearby towns, beaches, and hiking trails made it all worth it.

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Flo at camp Nehalem. We have all kinds of configurations depending on weather, space and length of stay.

I love the signs found in these small coastal towns. A lot are hand painted with great designs. Funny though how I never found a sign shop. There was a Myrtlewood sign that caught my eye. Remembering that Tim (of www.TimsPens.com) told me that my first folded pen handle was made of Myrtlewood, I wanted to check out the store. Ray and I found all kinds of products made of Myrtlewood—from hand-turned bowls and kitchen utensils to wall decorations, furniture and raw materials for artists. The store smelled wonderful and we walked away with a few small treasures.

When you hear the word Tillamook, what do you think of? I think of big blocks of cheese and that’s it. What surprised we when we visited the Tillamook visitor’s center (next to the factory) was how much cheese they made: 170,000 pounds a day and how they sourced their milk from over 150 farmers. They test each batch of milk and don’t accept milk with antibiotics. We ate a lot of cheese that day and a good deal of ice cream too.

Don’t you know that there is a perfect taco just around the corner? That is if there is a food truck serving tacos. If your name is Ben, or know me well, you know I love a good taco. We found a taco truck in Tillamook so good that we went for an early dinner and ate it there for lunch as we left Sutton and made our way down to Port Orford the next day.

What reception?

Staying at a campsite like Nehalem has it’s downfalls. But it also has internet access. The campground at Sutton Lake did not. And it was a rude awakening. We know that when you are camping, you should be convening with nature but when we turned off Hwy 101 to Sutton we went from service to none. No biggie, other than I am trying to fill my upcoming lettering class (www.bit.ly/SCCAlettering) on Santa Clara.

We did have electric, and water was about 25 yards away. We were nicely tucked in a cedar forest with a small creek running through our camp. We’ve found that two nights are just enough anywhere we’ve stayed, sometimes three is better but we just don’t know until we get there.

Having a field day in Eugene

Before leaving on this adventure, we asked people for advice, where to stop, and things to do on the road. We are still taking requests so feel free to email us.

Our new friend and co-conspirator of Flo’s rebuild, Clint Marsh, advised us to get a hotel room once a week while traveling. It would allow us to really stretch out, eat a decent meal (did he not know that I have a nose for tacos trucks?), do laundry and watch a little tv. We should have listened for two reasons: 1) when it’s predicted to rain for 4 days straight, even a turkey knows to get out of the rain and 2) I think I’m starting to get delusional. I am loving camping so much, I think I can make a lifestyle out of this. Insert sound of record playing screech to a halt here. Here is my thinking…We have everything we need and everything has it’s place. We can put up camp in less than an hour and there is so much of the world to see. It’s inexpensive and if we stay in one place for awhile, we could become camp hosts at a campground. They oftentimes have satellite TV and I could put on art activities for all ages throughout the week. I know I would attend an art class while camping. This sounds like heaven to me. If you know me well and agree that I am losing my mind, please call my mother I think she is putting together an intervention.

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I’ve lost count of how many beaches we’ve visited. Who wouldn’t want to live life on the road when there are days like this with unlimited amounts of the state crustacean of Oregon—the Dungeness crab—to eat?

So to escape this crazy thinking, Ray suggested we drive into Eugene for the day and check things out. Perhaps because we only spent a few hours there before heading back, but Eugene was not the civilization I thought I would find. My first clue was when I realized I was still dressed better than most people on the street despite the fact that I have acquired some pretty interesting clothes on this trip and the combinations are hilarious.

And when we went looking for a place to make a picnic on the University of Oregon’s campus, we found ourselves in the bleachers at Hayward stadium. These two beach bums walked in like we owned the place, sat down, made a few leftover chicken salad sandwiches from stuff we found in the cooler (no, they were not premade, we are still unrefined campers at this point) and watched the NCAA World Championship Track and Field practice. We missed the competition by one day. So I guess you could say we had a field day in Eugene. And we continue to find ourselves in interesting places, doing unexpected things.

Bah Humbug in the rain

Our last night in Sutton was nice. Ray built a roaring fire with the wood we couldn’t carry with us. There are strict rules about not transporting wood as to not share critters and things as you travel. And when we woke, we packed up camp and reviewed where we’ve been since leaving DC in late February.

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I look forward to hanging our map on a wall and highlighting where we have been.

After a few stops in North Bend and Bandon to take pictures, acquire more funny clothes, and finally taste the Dungeness crab we’ve been after (it seems that Northern Oregon has been having issues with contaminated crabs), we made it to Humbug Mountain Campground as the rain started. Ray reminded me that people in Oregon do everything in the rain, otherwise nothing would get done. We have been fortunate not to have any rain while in the Pacific Northwest until now. Yep, two weeks of beautiful weather from Northwest Washington to Southwest Oregon. Now we have 4 nights of rain forecasted causing us to put up and take down camp 4 times in the rain. This should be interesting.

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Here’s Flo in the rain. She’s almost small enough to fit under the canopy. The side tent serves as a changing room and dry storage space when we aren’t trying to escape from mosquitoes.

Remember the tight quarters I mentioned at Nehalem? Well “Sarge,” the grumpy grandpa that kept yelling at his well-behaved grandkids for who-knows-what was a saint compared to the two crazies staying next to us in the camper-that-I’m-convinced-is-their-permanent-home. Phew! Ray and I turned it positive by kissing each time they cussed each other out. I felt like we were on our second honeymoon.

Keeping in Touch with our Future Selves

Despite we week we have had after last week’s epic adventures, two great art things happened: The Art of Lettering workshop I am teaching in Santa Clara, California on June 20 has enough students that it’s a go and Elsewhere Studios awarded us an artist residency for the entire month of August. If you know of anyone who lives in Silicon Valley and would like a day of lettering, please have them sign up ASAP. While we will be in the Redwoods, we are taking signups until a few days before. The class is already full of some of the best graphic facilitators in the industry and we are asking educators, facilitators, and others who aren’t in this field to join us because it’s really all about lettering. I ask participants to fill out a fun and easy lettering self-assessment so I can customize the class to their needs.

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I’m excited to share lots of Neuland swag and lettering tips with some of my favorite visual practitioners in the world. I’m blown away by the participant list. And there are a few spaces left!

I love that month-long art residencies are the bookends of our adventure. We started at Arts Letters and Numbers in Averill, NY (near Albany) and we will end our adventure making art again at Elsewhere Studios in Paonia, Colorado. Ray will continue his portrait project and I will begin to meld my work from ALN: fine art and Flow with my work at Caetani: letters and technology. My hope is to get some beautiful letters drawn that are considered fine art and continue to build an online curriculum for those wanting to learn lettering for their work. When we were accepted for the residency, they asked for our bios, artist statements and headshots to include on their website. We looked at the ones we shot in Averill park and thought it would be funny to shoot similar ones but in the environment we are in now. Just a few hours later we came across this swing at the dunes in Sutton and reenacted the scenes.

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Hmmm…which photos should we use for our bios? Maybe it’s time to clean up for a real photo shoot.

Redwoods here we come!

I’m posting early this week because we are headed for the Redwoods. We likely won’t have internet service (and were not planning on using it anyway). It may be a week or so before I post again. I look forward to that report.

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