Friday, June 19, 2015

Easel on, Oregon

I think "yurt" summarizes my Oregon experience exceptionally well. For one thing, the word itself rolls right off the tongue: yurt, yurt, yurrrrrrt. Also, it is a super cool structure and (dare I admit) quite comfortable. When I was first searching for lodging in this state (on Airbnb - they should underwrite me), I skipped the yurt. It was not on the coast and, well, I have never been much of a camper. Luckily, I returned to the listing because the location was both rural and only 40 minutes from the ocean, not to mention - in my price range. What the heck!

The thing about this quest is that I never know what I am getting into until I arrive. In Oregon, I really lucked out. Bradley Vineyards rise up a gentle slope, the bright green vines welcoming with wavy wands. I parked next to the Tasting Room, a small wooden building fronted by a rose garden. The yurt was a short walk through trees. It is, indeed, a "tent", in that the sides are canvas and the "windows" roll down and zipper shut. Otherwise, it is a lovely little house. It has wood doors, a wood floor and wood walls around the bathroom and bedroom. The rest is open with a big circle of sky at the top, wood stays pointing up to it in a grand gesture. The outside walls are reinforced by lattice, as are the windows.  There is electricity and plumbing, a kitchen with sink, refrigerator, microwave and coffee maker.  The living room boasts a big couch, chairs and an old record player with albums. Now this is my kind of camping!!

Not only that, the views were absolutely beautiful! After unpacking, I sat at a picnic table and watercolored a farm across the valley. The breeze was soft and fragrant. Cows grunted and lowed from a nearby pasture.

The next day I woke up to a cold yurt - only 50 degrees! I plugged in two electric heaters and quickly whipped on clothes. Today I would find the perfect coastal landscape. As I walked to the car with my lunch and Charlie, I met Bonnie. She and her son own the winery. She said that the lighthouse closest to us was nice but on sand dunes; to find rocks I needed to go South. I took note and drove to Reedsport, where 38 meets 101. There, I stropped at TJ's Bait Shop. I wanted another opinion on where to paint. The older gentleman did not look at me as he answered, "If I were a painter, I would go North, to the Sea Lion Caves." He was wrapping something with electrical tape. When I asked where to get the best cup of coffee, he offered me Folgers from his pot in back. Nice!

It was a beautiful drive north along the coast. I saw a sign for the Caves and parked in a "pull over" before the entrance. Lo and behold,  there was a stunning view of the ocean with rocks far below. I set up my easel on the grassy ridge and got to work. A young man on a riding mower stopped to see what I was doing. I asked if it was public land and he said no but it was fine for me to be there. I spent three hours focusing on the landscape, then packed up shop. The wind off the ocean was cold!

That wraps up state number 44. I can hardly believe I have only 6 left. California promises to be interesting. Here I go!

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