I’ve spent a good deal of years working as a writer and a lot of that writing has been about travel. But travel writing is rarely about the act of traveling. It’s about discovery – of the self and of others. It’s about culture. It’s about the power of place.
My Mexican mother-in-law used to tell me the tale of how she’d been swept away by my American father-in-law and before she knew it, she was living in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She’d say things like, “How could I, the Mexican flower, be expected to live in the North Pole?!” But then she’d go on to tell of how she did, in fact, find life there for herself. “Bloom where you are planted,” she’d conclude to me, during the years I lived there right next to her.
But I couldn’t just “bloom” where I was “planted.” I’d planted myself in the UP and it was my job to uproot and plant myself elsewhere. That’s how I saw it, at least.
No matter how zen-like you are – no matter how much you can make yourself the same, regardless of location – places are different from one another and those differences affect people, whether or not they realize it. The Oregon coast, for me, was my holy land ever since the first time I experienced it. Its beauty blisses me out. It’s drama makes me think. The culture puts me at ease. My love for Oregon made me drag my family across the country to settle down here with me – because if I am a metaphor for a plant, then these are the conditions under which I bloom. My love for the coast put me on a quest to spend a weekend there in celebration of my recent birthday.
I booked two nights on the shores of Cape Kiwanda c/o The Headlands Coastal Lodge & Spa. This is a new accommodations destination on the Oregon coast and a quick glance at their website had me daydreaming, but even the gorgeous photos could do the reality no justice in this case. We arrived to our King Sunlight room late Friday afternoon, just in time to catch a glimpse of Pacific City’s gorgeous sands right before us with dark looming storm clouds overhead.
I’ve been in a lot of different kinds of hotel rooms and this one was exceptional right off the bat. Everything from the lobby’s decor and overall vibe to my first impressions of the room itself had me feeling deeply grateful for the chance to be there.
With massive cathedral style ceilings, our room was more spacious and open than any traditional kind of nightly rental. A big iron tub to the right of the bed further confirmed that our room was anything but ordinary, as did the room’s tablet, which we used for everything from navigational items to the radio. As did the gas fireplace, the open shower, the choice in flooring, the reclaimed wood wall paneling, the tea, coffee, and toiletries provided, the artwork chosen to adorn the space, the careful choice in furniture, the effective but subtle use of the brand’s beautiful trademark image, and the dog bed on the floor for my pups (that came with a special doggy washcloth and dog treats). Headlands isn’t an easy-to-come-by kind of beach hotel – that’s because it’s tastefully luxurious, which is a balance rarely achieved.
But the location itself is anything but ordinary, so it only makes sense that the lodge follows suit.
It was supposed to rain the whole weekend – rain and snow and generally be too miserable to be outside. I was disappointed when I read this before going, of course – when I’d picked the days initially, it was supposed to be sunny on this particular weekend but, you know, weather forecasting. The thing about the coast though is that it really is beautiful rain or shine. So we packed our snow gear, which any sensible over-preparing anxious mom can tell you is also perfect for the beach on a frigid wet day. A storm as sure as the unsettling thunder it brought with it rolled in our first night, but it was a lovely thing to watch approaching and the slamming winds and rains made for an extra cozy evening with the help of the fireplace and deep tub. The next morning I awoke to smears of pinks and blues across the otherwise clouded sky.
And then the sun peeked out. I took Ever and the dogs for a long walk, stopping approximately every foot and a half for shell-collecting.
We went to the Tidepools Wellness Center after our walk for some time in the outdoor hot tub and were only delayed by hail for a few minutes. (I’m learning, through living in Oregon, that hail is usually short-lived.) We stayed in there until we couldn’t take it anymore and even then it wasn’t easy to leave the warmth of the water accompanied by such a nice landscape.
We ventured out for some firewood and came back to the beach with the dogs. Breaking only for a guitar-playing and tea-drinking afternoon rest, we were back out on the beach with a campfire to end the day.
The rain didn’t roll in properly that night until we were already back in our room. We turned on the Olympics and Ever glided around the room, showing off her “figure skating” moves. The next morning was a wet one, but we revisited the hot tub and it’s zen-inducing view.
I don’t know why it still sometimes takes me off guard how rejuvenating a small break in the right place can be, but it’s worth remembering: just like a good massage can iron out the kinks in your muscles, time spent in a place well matched for who you are at your core can smooth down bumps in your psyche. I’m still feeling the buzz of this magic-loaded place and wondering how soon I can get out there again.
Thanks for all of the excellence across the board, Headlands.