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Oregon Coast
Obstructed by Aliens
Driving Along the Oregon Coast

by Frank Mazer

hat are these dozens of people doing walking in the middle of this road in front of my car? It's 2:00 a.m. Pitch black. I'm driving a small rented Mazda over the coastal range of mountains from Portland to the beautiful Oregon coast.

cartoon: driving along Oregon road at night

It's a moonless night. Here I am in the middle of the woods. I haven't seen another car for thirty minutes. I'm not seeing well at all. I'm exhausted. I stepped off an airplane late at night after a weeklong visit to family in Florida. Don't get me started on the flight delays, bad weather, and downright bad luck that got me in this situation. I lust for sleep. I'm returning to participate for my third year in a twice-yearly seminar at a retreat on the Oregon coast. It begins Monday morning, about six hours from now.

cartoon: rear view of deer on the road at night

Thus, I'm behind the wheel, squinting foolishly. The radio has been playing static for some time. The window is rolled down for air. It hasn't helped as my mind is drifting to faraway places, and long lost friends. I'm not altogether present on this narrow two lane road winding through the thick tall trees of the Oregon forest. There is a light fog across the road.

I am hallucinating perhaps. My murky mind sees, in the forest mist, the figures of the walking people ahead in the beam of the headlamps. I see enough to tell my foot to remove itself from the gas pedal and slow the car down. I begin to look more closely at these people. I wonder how they got here in the middle of the night.

cartoon: driver behind steering wheel

There is something odd about them. They don't appear to be moving. Are they some kind of alien creatures from the planet Zorgon, here to explore the woods where no one is found in the night? The thought actually takes root in my groggy mind. This turns out to be a good thing as it causes a sudden surge of adrenalin wrapped in fear of alien abduction! It awakens me. They don't seem to have seen me! Thank goodness. Maybe I won't be taken to their mother-ship after all. Or maybe I was already taken to the ship and that explains why I cannot remember where I've been this past hour! My heart is pumping wildly. I do not want alien probes entering parts of my body not meant to be probed. Heck, I'm fearful enough of doctors with stethoscopes. I hit the brakes and bring the car to a stop in the middle of the road, 10 meters from the "aliens".

I blink. I take a deep breath of fresh cold air. I begin to see more clearly. I sit leaning on the steering wheel, breathing hard. I see the dark Oregon forest all around. I see the figures lit up in my headlamps in the road just ahead.

cartoon: a trio of deer

They are deer. Dozens of deer. Standing in the road with their rear ends facing me. I've been staring at the backsides of deer thinking they were two-legged forms of intelligent beings.

I sit there making sure these surreal looking creatures in the mountain mist are actually deer. I'm too tired and sore to laugh. I'm suddenly feeling fortunate that they frightened me. It prevented me from the highway disaster of crashing into their midst on a deserted road in the middle of the night in the mountains.

Now I take a deep breath and consider how to negotiate going through them. Surely they will scatter as I arrive close among them.

cartoon: car negotiating way among deer on road

I'm wrong. I drive into their midst very slowly. Some move aside grudgingly. Some ignore me. I must negotiate my way cautiously among the deer butts. I need to stay on the road, but now I move to the shoulder in order to avoid these deer. Not being a famed deer hunter, I find myself surprised at the height of the deer posteriors looming at windshield level. After about 15 minutes I find clear highway ahead. I increase speed toward the coast feeling fortunate. In forty minutes the road winds and descends down toward the cliffs of the coast as it emerges from the mountains. Soon I make a left turn and I am driving along the coast highway.

The Pacific Ocean lies off to my right and 200 meters below. During the day the beauty of the ocean and the rocks below is breathtaking. In places chimney-like rock formations rise up out of the ocean up to 50 meters. A small beautiful village full of art galleries lurks off the road near-bye. Redwood trees grow along some of the mountains reaching up to my left. I am aware of these sights. I have often stood in places here along the coast with my breath taken away by the natural wild beauty of the surging ocean waves below touching the rocks and throwing spray skyward. In this night I can see only blackness between patches of fog.

After an hour of cautious driving I drive down into the village of Manzanita and arrive at my rental cottage next to the beach. Time allows for one hour of sleep. Dreams of spaceships awaken me with a lurch up in bed in time for going to the morning session.

My knees protest as I shuffle, bleary-eyed, across the little wooden deck. I clump down the three steps to the gravel driveway which makes its way to my small secluded abode, located between tall vines, bushes and some trees about 20 meters from the beach. I hesitate a moment, recalling my first night here three years ago, as I stood near the thundering waves, watching the advance of a mighty Pacific storm.

I drive a short mile to the espresso café. As I enter, I'm invigorated by the thought of the gorgeous young woman behind the counter whose brown windswept hair and glowing sense of humor often greet me on these morning visits. This morning, however, my feet do not cooperate.

My left foot catches on the small final step into the coffee house as I open the door. I stumble forward awkwardly toward a possible crash landing on my face with my feet reacting wildly beneath me. I put my hands out to catch my fall. To my right I see the little reading room with its rack of surfer and photography magazines. To the left I see what I hoped I would not see. I see her watching me. She has seen my entrance. It's too late to salvage any pretense of dignity. My hands on the wooden floor, I push myself upward in sections to stand. I look into her big blue eyes which are smiling.

cartoon: weary driver on floor with girl standing over him

She asks, "Long night?" I chuckle and say, "You have no idea". She tilts her head and says, "Were you abducted by aliens or something?"

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FEEDBACK FOR PATTI

I enjoy your newsletters -and particularly Patti Nickell's article about the 'Pudding Club' in the Cotswold's. An old friend of mine is taking a holiday there this year and plans to try their Jam Roly Poly and Spotted Dick - amongst many!

--- John & Maggie - UK

FEEDBACK FOR JULIO

The way I read this article, you stayed at the "Breeze and Waves". Do you have any pictures of the cottages, and would you recommend to some first time visitors to Caramoan?

--- Richard Simons, Stockton, CA

Hi Richard,

Breeze and Waves was still under construction when I stayed there in Feb. 2010. It should be finished by now. You can see pictures of the resort on this page. We got to stay in one of the small cottages in the picture. I'll recommend it to budget travelers but you might want to look at other options. We chose it because of its location right by the beach. You can try other resorts in the Caramoan town proper (you have to get a ride to get to the beach and the jump-off point to go island-hopping but it's a relatively short distance). There are also two higher end resorts located on a cove and very near the islands: Gota Village Resort (unfortunately there is something wrong with their website right now) and its twin resort Hunongan Cove. Caramoan is a relatively new tourism development so resorts are just now being built.

You can go to this site for a good list of choices for accommodations in Caramoan.

I should add that it might be good to go to Caramoan (and almost anywhere in the Philippines) during the dry season from December to May. June to November are the typhoon months and sometimes typhoons will still come during early December.

Julio

* * * * *

Hi, I'm planning to go to Caramoan this coming May. Would you know the number of Breeze and Waves Cottages? Thanks!

--- Ann, Manila, Philippines

Hi Ann,

Breeze and Waves' phone number is 0908-2911072. Look for Freddie. Hope you have a grand time at Caramoan!

Julio

FEEDBACK FOR WENDY

For Nature's Playground: The South Island of New Zealand

Hi Wendy,

In winter, Heritage Heights Apts. now offers free shuttle service to and from Queenstown 24/7 to guests without cars. We own a 7-passenger 4-wd Toyota Highlander used specifically to taxi guests up and down the hill during winter months. We also run advance purchase winter promotions which include a 4-wd rental.

If any of your readers head over this direction, I will enjoy extending Heritage Heights hospitality!!

Cheers

--- Ailey, Owner, Queenstown, NZ

* * * * *

New Zealand text and pix top drawer! Almost as good as making the trip. ( but one still wants to. . . ) Full of useful detail. Only trouble with the website: It's tough figuring out which feedback goes with which article, and the more there are, the tougher it gets!

--- Ken W., Camarillo CA

Thanks Ken..."álmost" is right, you really have to experience the South Island firsthand. Granted this piece is long, but still all I can think about is how much I left out! I agree abut the relevancy factor re the feedback--it can be confusing...sometimes I have a "Wait a minute...what?" moment myself.

Thanks for writing,

Wendy

* * * * *

Okay Wendy, from now on whenever you book your travel, please reserve space for me. I will carry your luggage, bring you cold drinks, massage your shoulders, and change the film in your camera (oops, I guess you don't have to do that anymore). Wonderful ideas and recommendations. Can you get to New Zealand from Boston in less than a week?

--- Carl A., South Easton, MA

Ha ha ha Carl, you're quite the comedian! But you'd be surprised how short that flight feels. I suspect Qantas isn't the only airline who's figured out that 3 movies, 2 full meals, lots of snacks and a complimentary travel pack (eye mask, warm socks and neck pillow) equals a quiet, well-behaved cabin. It really isn't bad. Just fly direct--pick the shortest flight w/ no lengthy layovers and you'll be fine. Re: signing on as my Super Sherpa...why not? I think you know I seldom travel in anything less than Party mode. There's just that pesky background check...

Thanks for writing,

Wendy

For Excellence Riviera Cancun:

Wendy, I truly enjoyed your info especially since we leave in a week to celebrate my 50th Birthday. Was it necessary to make reservations at the restaurants? Was there a dress code for the restaurants? What would you recommend not missing while there? Was the spa experience worth it? Did you travel away from the resort while there? Thanks,

--- Kim P. Fuquay, Varina, NC

Hi Kim.

Sorry for the delay in responding...you had heavy competition with the holidays. Reservations at Excellence restaurants are not necessary and you will not find a wait. The dress code is basically no bathing suits and flip-flops...with a decided a mix of atmospheres. Mostly the open-air beachside spots are super casual, the rest slightly more formal. Truly, as long as you are clothed, I don't think you'd be turned away anywhere, though most people seemed to enjoy dressing up at night...I suspect more for their own pleasure than any sense of decorum.

The spa experience was worth it, though my favorite part wasn't the actual massage. The precursor was a 45 min. or so rotation from sauna to a series of (kind of wild) water jets which was very different and very cool, not just for women. In its' entirety, and with the serenity of the beach/champagne/strawberries, it was memorable.

We did not travel away from the hotel this trip, but the hotel is very helpful in arranging day excursions to fit your desires and you do not have to book these until you arrive.

Have a great time!

--- Wendy

FEEDBACK FOR NINO

I enjoyed Nino's contribution, since we all read about the frightening terrorist attack. Having travelled somewhat through India years ago, I am continually impressed with this country and the gentle spiritual aspects of this nation. Some day I look forward to going back. Nino has encouraged me. Thank you!

--- Yoka Y., Westlake Village, CA

FEEDBACK FOR RUSH & CHUCK

Dear Mr.s/counselors Brown and Koro,

Thank you for a very informed and succinct article on motorcycle accidents and the law. It inspired me to think about getting a motorcycle, but not have an accident. But, if I do I am now well informed with the basics of what to do providing I do not perish in the accident. Any tips about that too?

--- Unnamed

Dear Rush and Chuck,

I wish I had read your article before our camping trip the Friday prior to President's Day.

My wife and I were in a car accident on our way to a camp ground. We were "rear-ended" and the impact caused our car to crash into the car in front of us. The contents of the truck that we were riding scattered onto several lanes. It's a miracle our two dogs decided to stay inside the car. My wife and I were shaken up badly but despite the mess, I was still able to walk out of the car. I got the license plate of the driver in front of me but, to my surprise, after reviewing the little damage on his car, he then sped off. I didn't know you could do that! The driver who hit me from behind gave me his information and then he too left the scene without saying good 'bye. When the police arrived all I had to go by was the little information I had jotted down which I hope was truthful. What if it was bogus? What if I had written the plate number incorrectly? How would that affect my insurance? What if we were unconscious, who would have written down all that information?

I do have one suggestion if you are injured in an accident. The police asked if my wife wanted an ambulance to bring her to the hospital but we declined the offer. I remembered when I rode an ambulance years ago that it was not a comfortable ride. I was strapped to the stretcher and there were all sorts of medical equipment dangling noisily above me. As long as you are able, it is a more relaxful ride inside a car. Besides, isn't there a fee for ambulance service?

--- Dave S. of Pasadena, CA



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