Bertha Cooper

Think About It: Tripping the light

We, that would be my husband and me, decided it was time to get out of the house, to go someplace with different scenery and mostly different food. Our last trip — not counting Seattle hospitalizations — was January 2020 to Seaside, Ore., to celebrate husband’s 93 birthday. We decided to go again to Seaside this time to celebrate being alive.

Readers of this column will recall that husband had some serious medical issues during the pandemic — unrelated to the pandemic — that gratefully turned from possible life-ending to life extending. COVID-19 was a concern for us, just not the main one.

We, like many of you, feared getting COVID for the last 20 months. We still do, but we decided Seaside couldn’t be any worse than Clallam County that confirmed 60 active cases of COVID the weekend of Oct. 9. We will still take precautions because COVID can still kill the vaccinated with underlying conditions.

Stepping out

We manage road trips by stopping every hour to stretch and walk a bit. We have certain spots between here and Seaside all outdoors unless we need a bathroom break. One of our favorites is a small mall area in Raymond. Like many fast-food places here, McDonald’s was only open to drive-through.

We wandered into a Thriftway market to find a bathroom which turned out to be the highlight of the driving part of the trip for my husband. The market was huge with wide aisles and easy to find items. The produce was fresh and appealing, and husband fell in love with the bakery goods. He was so enamored by the market, he thought I should write a column about the market.

Seriously? One of the key differences between my husband and me is that he could spend hours going up and down the aisles while I do my best to organize so I am out in as little time as possible. The difference has served us well in our long marriage.

But I can no more imagine writing 800 words about a market than 800 words about the life journey of a geoduck. Alas, I devoted 67 words to express my love for him and his weird love for groceries.

We arrived at the hotel and checked into a room on the fifth floor with a panoramic view of the ocean and a tiny kitchen just right for not cooking. We weren’t put off by the “pretend” fireplace, but I was put off by the empty beer bottle on the lanai.

The sliding glass doors were smeared with fingerprints most likely made by a child trying to get out to the lanai. The tiny dishwasher held dirty dishes. Oops.

The obvious cleaning oversights made me wonder about the unseen but I found fresh linen on the bed and in the bathroom. I called the front desk person who sent someone up immediately, cleaning rag in hand. He came back twice with extra dishwasher pods and the second time with a card for breakfast on them.

Our Seaside hotel experience wasn’t different from our experience in Seattle hotels. Hotels and fast-food establishments simply are having trouble finding employees. Stay-overs like us have learned not to expect service during our stay.

Overall, it worked fine because we understood, and the existing staff were friendly and responsive. Requests receive near immediate response. We let small things go like shampoo in the conditioner dispenser and I commiserated with the jolly general manager of the hotel on a shared elevator ride.

Walking the boardwalk

Seaside has a boardwalk that stretches over 2 miles between the row of hotels and homes and the beach. My routine included a before breakfast walk which my Fitbit described as “brisk” and a longer one in the afternoon on the boardwalk or beach.

I passed people who mostly made eye contact and a friendly greeting. People were either single walkers, couples my age or younger without children and young families with children too young for school.

Oh, and I should mention that most beach-goers had dogs that were having the time of their lives.

One or two board walkers went beyond a simple greeting. More than once, I observed a man probably in his late sixties who sported a white beard, was bundled in a winter coat and scarf and wore thigh length bright green shorts and some sort of tam.

He greeted and spoke in sentences to everyone he passed. His wife, I assumed, didn’t seem to mind which I doubt would have mattered to the man whose eyes twinkled with every word. He and I crossed paths one morning. I knew he could not resist saying something. Sure enough, he greeted me with the force of his cheerful personality, “Good morning angel, how are you?”

“Just fine, thank you,” I laughed knowingly.

The best walk was with husband, who was using a walker for support while he regains the strength of his legs and his heart. He did well but the walker fared poorly.

Aggregate concrete is not walker friendly and by the end of the walk, the rubber cushions were worn off the stationary legs causing the direct metal contact to make a horrible noise, enough to ruin the serenity of any walker or beach goer. One bicycler suggested while passing, “tennis balls work,” which seemed like a good plan.

We turned to the internet. Who knew that Rite-Aide sold replacements for walker cushions? We do now just like we know the limitations of walkers on pavement.

We felt safe in Seaside. Every indoor establishment required masks to be worn and everyone did. We saw no protests unless we watched the news. We were soothed by the friendliness and the rhythmic ebb and flow of the ocean.

For a moment we were in a place where everyone was civil, even friendly; no one yelled at someone else. The noisiest protest on the beach was my husband’s walker no longer willing to walk the boardwalk.

We returned home with an extra stop to shop at the “Market” feeling satisfied we had a good first outing. Good for the heart. Good for the soul.

Bertha Cooper, a featured columnist in the Sequim Gazette, spent her career years in health care administration, program development and consultation. Cooper and her husband have lived in Sequim more than 20 years. Reach her at columnists@sequimgazette.com.

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