Cannon Beach Pilgrimage

Every year, like clockwork, my little family consisting of me, my sister, and my parents, pack up all the food in the known universe and make our way to Cannon Beach, Oregon, for Thanksgiving. There is no discussion of if we’ll go or not this year, but only of who brings what dish and if five bottles of wine are really enough for a four day weekend (five is not enough, it is generally decided).

Southern view from Ecola State Park

A coastline of peace and relaxation.

And so we all journey from our respective homes and meet in late fall in this misty, rainy, evergreen corner of the Oregon coast sometime before dinner on Thanksgiving. It takes two or three trips with the luggage cart to unload my parent’s car (my mother is not known for her frugality with food – we could feed the entire hotel with what she packs in the back of one small SUV). There is good food, and wine, olives and pickles. We eat, we toast and we settle in for four days of bliss with a room facing the ocean.

It’s always been odd to me how well we all put up with the rain on these long holiday weekends. None of us are fond of precipitation in general, but for some reason, at Cannon Beach it is accepted, even welcomed. There isn’t much other weather this time of year, so our expectations are pretty low. Even so, we have very high tolerance for walks on the beach with a face full of rain. Where else but here, where we all run and play on the wet sand like schoolchildren, could the worst weather be nothing more than a side note to some of the most fun we have as a family?

Cannon Beach has been a particular vacation spot on my mother’s side for longer than I have been alive. There is already much family history here, and we continue to make more. We visit the same rustic wine shop every year (even when we finally concede we may have brought enough to satisfy us all) and listen to the stories and advice from one of the best wine experts you’ll ever meet. We tour the art galleries and snatch the free postcards and art catalogs, which some of us will later take apart and post on cubicle walls. There is always a play at the community theater, and we always go, even when the same actress plays the lead year after year. My mother paints, we all read thick books, check the tide tables and decide which portion of the leftovers to eat next.

It is relaxation like no other when we are all here. We can do many things or we can do nothing, and we are as happy with the former as we are the latter. I think that’s why the rain is so tolerable. When you aren’t trying to work against it, cover yourself from it, or run away from it, you can just let it fall. It does no harm, and there is nothing more peaceful than the sound of rain falling on a tide rushing in.

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