Sunday, July 20, 2014

Heceta Head to Florence. People: Emma. Paul. Luke.

Dancing = Joy.
That's the conclusion I reached after this leg.  In my hierarchy of activities, surfing has traditionally sat at the top of the ranking in terms of creating the most stoke.  However, it was so much fun dancing in Florence that I was stoked for the entire next day about it and it made me question if surfing is rightfully at the top.  Now, this is an unfair comparison as the dancing had a top notch band, fun crowd, and a great partner, where the surf has not been perfect.  Maybe I should try to do this comparison after a big winter swell, but anyways it was an incredibly fun night dancing.
I decided a week before this leg that I should try to stay on a hotel at least once a week.  For quite a few years, my father, sister and I (and more recently my nephew) have held a weekly family video call to catch up - so a hotel would allow me to have an internet connection to keep joining the call.  It also is helpful to dry out gear (I'm a bit fanatical about trying to keep my gear dry and as clean as possible - it lasts longer that way and keeps you warmer... I like to extend the life of my gear as much as possible).
I had stayed at Washburne state park the night before in a beautiful setting but with an interesting dynamic.  Randy, who highlighted that he had been homeless for 16 years, was camping there as well (with his tricked out tricycle and all sorts of things like two phones, IPad, canopy chair, guitar, etc) and kind of 'owned' camp - he did the intros to the hiker biker site, where things were, etc.  He seemed like a good guy, extremely loquacious - though he was also surprisingly aware of others' reactions.  At one point, while I was packing, he had brought out the weapons he used to protect himself and his things (large Bowie knife and a small aluminum bat).  After about 20 min of talking, he suddenly said he was taking them back to his tent because he noticed that I was looking at them every 5-10 minutes.  I was impressed with his awareness of that as I had not even noticed I was looking at the weapons periodically.  
David was the only other person camping there that night - he was Polish/Georgian and had *walked* from Brooklyn and was planning to kind of do a loop around to many of the national parks in the West. [Forgot to take pictures of Randy and David and it seemed to fit better here versus separately in the people entries].
I left the camp and realized I didn't plan my food well (made a pasta dish the night before that I enjoyed but didn't pack breakfast or lunch).  Earlier in the trip I was carrying enough food for a few days, but the route has lots of grocery stores so I cut it down - a bit too much in this case.  There were no stores after the park, so i bought food from a tourist attraction on the ride the next day - breakfast was an ice cream cone, lunch a chocolate chip cookie... Not very healthy or even that enjoyable (to be having those things for meals).  I was glad to get to Florence and decided to spend the night there - went right to the farm stand and bought some fruit.  Leads me to the people section.
Emma (pictured in the group photo and dancing photos) - Emma is real-deal tough and does really cool things.  She picks blueberries (as a laborer at a commercial blueberry farm, not as a vacation volunteer or anything) plus works at a farm stand.  She's about to work at an under-privileged school in Chicago with CityYear (a program I had found out about many years ago when it first started and I was sadly no longer qualified to participate).  We went to a place in Old Town Florence because we heard the music - once inside it was surprising how good the band was (more on that below). Emma learned how to swing dance pretty much right away and then we had an amazing time dancing.  People in the bar kept coming up and letting us know how much they enjoyed our dancing.  It was such a good vibe in the place.  It was neat hearing about Emma's plans as well - I predict lots of cool adventures for her given all of her interests, toughness, and outgoing personality.
Paul J. Biondi (pictured in the group photo, with goatee) - Paul is an accomplished professional musician who currently lives in Eugene but he lived in Florence for a bit and stood by Florence regularly to perform while visiting family. He played with the Blues Brothers (after James replaced John) and many other big musicians.  He pulled together the band that was playing in Florence from his contacts - so that helped explain how a small bar in the small town of Florence would have such a super pro band.  They could really swing! Their music just made one want to dance and I think everyone in the place was jazzed to hear such good music.
Luke (pictured in the group photo) - Luke is a jovial fellow from Eugene and it was his anniversary that night with his wife, Veronica (who was also really friendly and nice).  He came over to tell Emma and me how just watching us dance from across the room made him happy. 


  1. Thanks, Alyson! It was so nice to get an unexpected night of dancing in during the trip.