January 13-14, 2022

We decided to go to the coast this weekend while Cel is visiting.

On Thursday afternoon we took a Flixbus to Corvallis, where we met some of Oregon State University's little autonomous food delivery robots and had an early dinner at a campus dining hall, then the Coast to Valley Express right to Newport. That little connector bus was pretty exciting -- the bus driver, probably used to the drive, flew down the windy mountain roads while we bobbled around with every bump. He was really nice, too. Once we got into town, he drove us right to our hotel rather than the last stop on the route and saved us a ten minute walk in the foggy dark.

Once we were in the hotel, we ended up watching Battlebots for several hours on the big hotel TV until the episodes started to repeat. It was like they had put on a marathon just for us.

The next morning, after breakfast (the hotel had a pancake printer??) we stopped at a little antique shop in the Aquarium Village called Pirate's Plunder. We ended up spending an hour in there, and I left with a postcard about the Japanese glass floats that wash up on the Oregon coast after years and years in the sea(outgoing link), a couple McDonald's Beanie Babies, a 2000s futurepop CD (Ayria's Flicker, 2005), and a soft little teddy bear with an ice pack on his head and a "get well soon" bandage on his fuzzy arm. Something about him makes me feel a little better about being chronically ill (and his fuzzy fur is so soft).

Outside, we encountered Nessie(outgoing link), a model of a kronosaurus with a storied history in Newport. The plaque claims she was caught in Yaquina Bay in the 90s, which is definitively false -- but, interestingly enough, there were two supposed sightings of the kronosaurus off the coast in Newport in 1935.

We headed right to the aquarium after that. As always, the Passages of the Deep exhibit (the Open Sea(outgoing link), Halibut Flats(outgoing link) and Orford Reef(outgoing link) tunnels) were my favorite. We sat in there for a while just enjoying being there. It's so peaceful.

There was another new exhibit in the tunnels, too, though -- Duncan Berry's "Thanks Be to the Sea." His woodblock artwork was beautiful, but it was his poetry that really stood out to me. You can see more from the exhibit on his website(outgoing link), Cascade Head(outgoing link) and YouTube(outgoing link).

We also were lucky enough to catch the Cruisin' The Fossil Coastline exhibit while it was in Newport! It features a bunch of cool fossils hunted by Dr. Kirk Johnson and Ray Troll, including fossils from the "hell pig" and "giant spiked-tooth salmon" (creatures I would think came from cryptozoology were they not featured in a respected aquarium), as well as a ton of Troll's cool paleo art. You can see more of this particular iteration of the exhibit at the couple(outgoing link) pages(outgoing link) on the aquarium website and the Newport News-Times article(outgoing link) and YouTube video(outgoing link) about it. You can also check out the book(outgoing link), and keep an eye out for coverage of other stops!

The rest of the aquarium was delightful, too. Of course, the moon jellies are always a highlight. I was particularly enamored, though, with this extremely soft-looking sea star that looked like he was made of sweater material. (Definitely click to view him up close!! I'm obsessed.)

After the aquarium, we headed to the historic bayfront. Going down the block we actually spotted a tag Yuri and I have seen around in Eugene before, which is always the coolest thing.

We went over to the concrete floating barges for the sea lions, where they're all sunning and snuggling and swimming around and barking, and just watched them for a while. The view of the bridge over the bay is so beautiful, too.

We went to Mo's for a late lunch/early dinner. Yuri ordered an oyster shooter, and watching his expression trying to get it down was really funny. For a minute I thought he was gonna throw up, but he actually really liked it! It was just physically challenging to get down since oysters are, well, slimy. Cel got one of the special anniversary beers (Mo's had its 75th anniversary last year!) and was really excited to keep the can, and Yuri had an apple peach cider, and they both got just a little giggly. The food was really good -- the fried zucchini slices, the clam chowder (of course), my seafood alfredo, Cel's fish and chips, and the variety of seafood Yuri got in his combo basket. I do wish we had eaten the marionberry hot (and with the vanilla ice cream) since it's best that way, but we were all so full, so we got some to-go.

Afterward we explored the bayfront, peeking into stores and walking around and having fun.

One of the more interesting things we found on the bayfront is the Misawa Dock Tsunami Awareness and Information Center. It's a chunk of a dock from Misawa that washed up on the Oregon coast after the tsunami that hit Japan in 2011, and it has information about that tsunami, and information about tsunamis and earthquakes in Oregon. You can find all the information on the boards on the Newport Tsunami Dock Foundation website(outgoing link) -- just click around.

We started on our way back to Eugene as the sun was starting to set, and by the time we got home (it took a few buses and a couple hours hanging out in a Corvallis Panera Bread), we were all wiped out. But it was a good kind of tired. It was a really nice trip.

Cel and Yuri stand in front of a plaster sea monster
Yuri stands in the underwater tunnel in front of a pretty backdrop of sealife, smiling under his mask
A snippet of poetry from Duncan Berry, which reads 'The blood coursing through your veins started out as rain generated by massive acts of evaporation and condensation at sea... On planet earth, life literally falls from the skies in the form of water... and the percentage of salt in the ocean... is identical to that in every drop of your blood. Thanks be to the sea...'
Thanks Be to the Sea: A Declaration of Inter-Dependence Poem by Duncan Berry.
Moon jellies floating in a blue tank. Many of them are clustered together in one corner
Diagram of the moon jelly life cycle
A very soft-looking starfish
A starfish that looks like it's made of sweater materials
Cel, me and Yuri standing in front of a model of a megalodon shark jaw, complete with teeth
Yuri looking mock-frightened in front of the model of megalodon shark teeth
Strawberry anemone
Tag of an emo person with the numbers 22 on a rusted metal manhole cover in a worn-down sidewalk
Newport's historical bay, with the sun setting over the bride and a sea lion swimming toward the dock
Newport's famous bay bridge at sunset
Misawa Dock Tsunami Awareness and Information Center, a slab of cement that used to be a dock in Japan. There are many placards with in-depth information on tsunamis and earthquakes
Closeup of the identification plaque on the cement block that allowed it to be identified as a dock from Misawa, Japan
Yuri and Cel jokingly touching the bulge of a giant metal statue of the Hulk. Yuri is laughing, and Cel looks mischevious

March 7, 2022

I spotted a familiar face today -- a little white doggy with red and pink hearts, a little pink heart nose. I stopped in my tracks.

Almost 15 years ago, in 2008, my little sister and I went to Build-a-Bear Workshop with my momma. We made matching white doggies with red and pink hearts, little pink heart noses. One of ours gave a cute little toy puppy bark, and another said "I love you, I love you," and I can still hear them in my head, though I can't remember whose made each noise.

I named my dog Lovepup. He was best friends with Pupperdog, the little brown puppy I had made before Lovepup, the little brown puppy whose little electric heart has finally run out of batteries but whose heartbeat I can still feel. We always hung out with our Build-a-Bears, pretended to teach them, to have lunch with them.

When the time came, I think I donated Lovepup. I don't know -- he could still be packed up at my mom and dad's house -- but I think we donated him. I always thank god we always donated toys and plushies -- friends -- to the community sharing center in my small town, so they would find a friend here, make some other kid smile, instead of showing up at a thrift store. So I know Lovepup is safe, wherever he is right now, but it's been a long time.

Standing in the mall, almost 23 years since I was born, almost 15 years since I first met Lovepup, those feelings struck me. I read the sign. Hearts For You Pup, 25th Anniversary, 2008. His fur was a little different to the touch but it was him. I suddenly couldn't help but tear up. Overwhelming but warm.

The employee let me kiss the little fabric heart (through my mask, but I knew he could feel it anyway) and I thought of him as I tucked it into the stuffing.

Build-a-Bear Workshop 'birth certificate.' Furry Friend's Name: Lovepup Jr., named after Lovepup, stuffed with love in 2008. Date of birth: March 7, 2022
Me hugging Lovepup with a big smile
Me hugging Lovepup with a big smile again
More of me hugging Lovepup with a big smile

August 8, 2022

I spent a full day with Aubrey this week, and it was really what I needed!

We went hiking at a nice spot a ways out of town that we both love and have a bunch of fun memories at. It was really good for me, to be out in the beautiful parts of the world, with someone I care about very much. I hadn't even realized how bad I had been feeling lately, but it was really what I needed. We found an abandoned lawn chair with a sweet note ("If you find this chair, please give it a home!"), ate pretzel rods (pretty much just very fat, long pretzel sticks, which really cracked both of us up), played with the pond skaters (we wondered if they could walk on the land, or if they had to stay in their puddles forever), walked through a meadow, picked some soft sweet-smelling plants along the way while she jokingly stepped on spiny weeds with her boots to make safe spots for my open-toed sandals, pointed out cubical butt rott in the trees (something else that really cracked both of us up). We spotted the place where we'd sat at an old picnic bench before that the forest service must've removed because it was too old, and an odd branch low, strong and long enough that you can sit on it comfortably -- one that we'd sat on before, and that I'd photographed Yuri on a couple years back, and one I'm sure River probably sat on when we went out there to hunt bugs for our zoology project before that, with the little "seat" smooth from how many hikers must've sat on it over the years. We took goofy photos and used a stick to write goofy stuff with a muddy algae puddle on a service road and found matching tiny, delicate feathers on a trail with a lot of recently-hatched eggshells littering the path.

After our hike, we went back into town and got some tea at a place that had opened up since I'd moved out for college. We headed home and played Pikmin 3 for a good couple hours. Playing games together was something we spent hundreds of hours doing as kids, so it felt like home. I took the bus home feeling content, excited that I'll hopefully have time to hang out with her more soon. I've missed it so much.

Me and Aubrey laughing and smiling
A serene photo of a forested creek with a green plastic chair on the bank and a small orange sign at its feet
The orange sign, which reads: 'To whomever finds this hurt chair, could you please find it new home (smiley face with tongue sticking out) Thank you very much'
Aubrey sitting in the chair
Me sitting on the chair
A serene, green photo of a forested creek in summertime
Aubrey touching a branch
Aubrey playing with the pond skaters
Aubrey playing with the pond skaters again
A shaded rocky area off of a green creek
Another photo of the rocky creekside
Another shaded creekside area
Two old cement stumps where a picnic bench used to be
Me standing in the creek under a bright blue summer sky
Me posing next to puddle algae that says 'poop'