August 16, 2010- The Last Day: Part 1-Morning

Kate Murr

Monday, August 16 was a huge “day in the life”.  I’ve struggled to write about it, I think mainly because I’m still struggling to understand all that it held. I think that’s OK now, instead of being “just too bad”, and finally this morning, nearly a month later I’ve decided the best thing to do is to unpack  the day in three parts to try to knock off some of the overwhelm shell and shine light on the clear goodness pieces within.

Part 1- Morning

We awoke in soft beds, clean and excited, with the union of the Columbia and the sea just outside our window. The pedaling the day before as we traveled north over the Cascades from Clatskanie had been exhausting, but we had been greeted at the Cannery Pier Hotel in Astoria by a friendly staff and a golden enveloped note that read: “Congratulations upon your arrival at the Pacific Ocean! We are so thrilled you have completed your adventure. We hope you enjoy your final night in this hotel.  From, The Watershed Committee Board Members.” The hotel was an absolute treat, a thoughtful gift from kind and dedicated colleagues. With its stunning views, light ambiance, and gracious hospitality, our Cannery Pier Hotel experience was completely enchanting.

I woke up anxious, though. I had given us a Facebook deadline for finishing. I needed to contact the Astoria and Seaside press. I needed to finish some laundry. This was the day we were finishing. Should we call our mothers? Were the camera batteries charged?

We enjoyed a lovely complimentary continental breakfast in our room and prepared for the day. The bathroom, with its claw-foot tub and open view beyond the bedroom to big ships, foggy water, and an endless arching steel bridge, became my literal office and I buzzed out phone calls and e-mails, news releases and posts, thank you notes and nervous energy.   The kids and Stuart watched Word World. The laundry soaked.

After breakfast the kids and I took a walk along the pier. We watched gull, tern, and duck comedy. We explored an old boat. We talked about what makes a day as we walked toward a dock where salmon were being cleaned and water was boiling in huge cast iron pot.  We made up stories and pirates for the moored, quiet sailboats.

Back at the hotel as we were loading our bikes, we told our story to the morning desk crew, a few guests who were curious about our orange vests, a woman in the parking lot, the hotel manager and the hotel owner.  While we were always happy to share our story all across the country, on this last day, when I had a definite mission and agenda, the telling and retelling annoyed me.  I goaded myself for being annoyed, willed myself to enjoy each moment of such a special day, and tried to remember to exhale.

By the time the kids finally proclaimed our mantra, “Onward!” and we pedaled from the hotel parking lot, it was noon.  I was feeling panicky on top of anxious, because I suspected it would take more than three hours to eat and travel the 22 hilly miles to Seaside, and I, for some reason, had that self imposed schedule to finish by three, never mind that we had just kept a schedule crossing a continent by simply enjoying the moments and not rushing.  Stuart seemed tense too. We snapped at each other on our way through traffic to the Blue Scorcher bakery, a locally sourced restaurant run by bicycling enthusiasts.

At a stop light we told our story. At the cash register we told our story. At our table the ladies next to us asked to hear our story. And finally, at that insistence, the telling finally stopped being annoying—clearly these ladies were lights, moments were unfolding as they would, we were eating bread made with love, the children from the restaurant’s play corner wore diving masks, gloves, and purple capes.  A great crashing of gifts and time commenced. Read about it soon in Part 2- Lunch.

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