Trip Start Oct 20, 2012
Trip End Jul 11, 2013

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Flag of United States  , Oregon
Thursday, June 20, 2013

    The plan was to spend about a week at an Oceanside park, catch up on writing and painting, and reflect on the past 8 months. Evidently a lot of people had the same idea about the Oceanside parks - they all were booked solid. So we found a little campground/marina that was right off the highway, literally. You have to brake quickly in the middle of a 50 mph bend in the road, turn sharply, hop over railroad tracks and ease down into a parking lot that doubles as rv sites. The place was practically empty, and the distinct aroma of dead crustaceans hung in the air. Outhouses greeted us at the entrance alongside blue plastic barrels with handwritten signs asking for specific items of trash, a 5 gallon bucket filled with sand begged for cigarette butts. An old plywood container on wheels listed toward the water amid small boats and trailers that were scattered around the perimeter, and giant sections of logs delineated the parking areas - a wooden staircase was tucked under a bush.  This was Kelly's and he is obviously Irish - many things have been painted a bright, limey green, including the tops of the picnic tables, the tops of the power stantions, the trim and fascia on all the buildings and even the caps on top of all the pilings in the water.  We had our choice of 13 sites out of a possible 17 - one was occupied by a small trailer that never showed any indication of a tenant. Kelly must have planted that one to make the place look busy. We backed up to the rail that separated us from the water, plugged in [ which was difficult because all of the hookups were on the opposite side of the trailer, unlike every other campground in the world ], and walked up to the office/counter to set up a tab for our stay, which I thought was a clever way to get patrons to spend a lot more than they anticipated. Behind us a large voice joked with some of the patrons, coming from a big guy wearing a big red crab hat. That's mainly what this place is al about - crabs. Kelly will set you up with a crab ring and a fishhead to catch crabs off of his dock, or he'll rent you a boat to go crabbing where ever you like, and if you are successful he'll cook them up for you on the spot to enjoy on the deck. He also has a cooler full of an impressive selection of craft beers to compliment your meal, and it can all go on your tab, no problem !
    Coming from Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay, we are unabashedly proud to be crab snobs. Nothing beats an afternoon of picking through a dozen bay crabs with a couple of pitchers to wash them down, so we are somewhat wary of these red behemoths that are pulled from these unknown waters that fetch $8 per pound. How many pounds could we eat ? Another thing that worried us was no Old Bay and vinegar, just siriracci sauce. Did you have to drown out the taste of these crabs with hot sauce ?  Before committing to dinner, I drove over to Manzanita, a couple towns up the road, and found some Old Bay and vinegar. Besides, Kelly didn't offer up the hot sauce for free. After selecting a couple of 2 pounders from the live well, we grabbed a cold one and found a nice table with a view. The cook delivered the crabs himself, but no bibs or paper towels. He saw the Old Bay and said he had seen others use it, but it clearly did not appeal to him. Well, the crabs were delicious and actually worth $15 a piece for the amount of meat that came out of them. One crab each was plenty and there was no one to tip -  it all went on the tab. Beautiful !
    We were pretty lazy for 3 days at Kelly's, just kind of hung out and watched the crabbers from our bleacher seats on the rail. A big bus rv pulled in on the second day, and Harry introduced himself in the same breath as the racial and political rant that he launched into. This guy needed to vent ! He had just retired as a bodyguard for the mayor of Portland, which you would think was a good thing, but he was very unhappy with the mayor and the way his security was being handled, and the entire US government should be replaced and Obama hasn't done a thing for the black man and " can you believe China is making Cadillacs now ..." I think he got fired. I excused myself for dinner and dove into the trailer. He walked over to the neighbors' camp, whew !
    Mary was in the store with the owners and the subject of bartering came up, to which they exclaimed they would trade just about anything for a gallon of huckleberries. We had no berries, but maybe a painting of their fine establishment would cover our tab, so we put together a scene that included his signature wood slab chairs on the deck and an employee with the logo on the back of his shirt.  I spent most of the third day working on it, and we presented it at the counter the next morning. Unfortunately, the owners don't come in on Sunday morning and we had to try to barter with the cook, who didn't have the authority but was willing to offer one night in trade because " it's a really good painting, I'm sure they'll like it and I can cover that." Thirty bucks - I almost took it. We'll just have to bring it with us the next time, and there will be a next time, because even though this place was kind of raw, everything else was great - from the sunsets over the water and the great crabs to the really nice, honest people and the totally casual, trusting atmosphere.  
    A front was moving in, promising at least 3 days of rain, and we couldn't let our adventure culminate in a damp, dreary week holed up in the trailer, so we pulled back out onto the highway, headed north for about 20 miles and then made the final right turn east towards the Columbia River gorge.
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