Last year when I turned 64 years old, I had planned on writing a post about being 64. You know, like the Beatles song “When I’m 64.” Especially this part: Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four? The blog post didn’t happen. I was still in the throes of healing up from my wrist surgery and other health issues and I didn’t take the time to write all the stuff that was floating around in my head.
So now, here I am a few days past 65, having made it all the way to Medicare age, reflecting back on this year between my last birthday and today, and still wondering if I’ll be needed, wanted, fed, taken care of. After four weeks of celebrating this birthday, I have my answer. See if you can figure it out before the end of this post. I’ll bet you can 😀
My month-long celebration of this year’s trip around the sun began with an evening at the McMenamin’s* in Gearhart, Oregon – an event they call a “special dinner.” The dinner was an all-you-can-eat seafood boil consisting of dungeness crab, mussles, steamer clams, prawns, red potatoes, and corn on the cob, all served up with a Caesar salad and gobs of crusty sourdough bread, then topped off with a local raspberry cobbler and vanilla bean ice cream. Oh yes, to wash it all down, we also had all the beer, red and white wine, and hard cider you could drink. I ate myself so full I thought I’d be waddling out but since the dinner took place over almost 3 hours, the food and drink had plenty of time to settle down. Thank you, Tricia, for this special gift to start my birthday month celebrations off right. I appreciate you!
It was a wonderful start to an amazing month full of celebrations.
The next day after I checked out of the McMenamins Gearhart Hotel, I met up with my friend, Debbie, and her husband at their new house in nearby Cannon Beach. (What a sweetheart of a home you have, Debbie! I didn’t take any pics of it – or of us – to share with you all so I’ll just have to go back for another visit and do it next time.) Debbie treated me to lunch at a local restaurant called Cannon Beach Hardware and Public House… what a hoot! Terrific food served up in a real hardware store! I loved it. I’ve always thought I could live in a hardware store and eating lunch in one was the next best thing. Thank you, Debbie, for lunch and for introducing me to this charming restaurant. It was wonderful!
After leaving Cannon Beach, I drove about 20 miles down the highway where I spent a couple of nights at a campground called Spruce Run, operated by the Oregon Department of Forestry. Fifteen bucks a night can get you a spot right on the Nehalem River where the sounds of water rushing over the rocks and the croaking of tiny tree frogs will rock you to sleep every night. It was wet and somewhat rainy during the time I was there but it was still a nice off-grid/no-signal getaway for a few days. There were only a few others in the campground and it was fairly peaceful and quiet. There are hiking trails and fishing available, and I really want to go back sometime when it’s sunny and warm.
Breakfast at our favorite little “dive,” followed by a visit to four planes from World War II was a weekend highlight with Charlie and Lorna. I loved climbing aboard a B-24 Liberator bomber, squeezing down the little skinny catwalk where airmen walked so many years ago, listening to the roar as the planes giving flight tours took off from the local Aurora, OR airport, and hearing the stories told by ones who were actually there (95-year-old Bill was a nose gunner on the very same B-24 that was at the airfield). Thank you, Charlie and Lorna, for the birthday breakfast and a fun afternoon at the little airport. I had such a good time!
Along the way throughout the month, there have been pretty toes…
gorgeous sunset skies…
and of course, lots of food: a pot of tea, caramel pecan crunch pie, rolled oats and fresh blueberries, homemade strawberry cheesecake, sushi, Vietnamese bun and salad rolls, and more. So much yummy food and drink! Great way to celebrate a birthday month, right?
One of the best things I did for myself this month was to schedule a wonderful massage from Laurel**, a friend I met about 10 years ago through another friend who lives in Ottawa, Canada (it’s truly a small world!). It won’t be my last time with her skillful hands, that’s for sure! So relaxing and regenerating, the time just flew by. (**If you’re looking for an awesome massage, click on the link at the end of this blog.) Thanks for the lunch after my massage, Laurel! It was super tasty!
After leaving my wonderful massage, I stopped at the nearby Mormon Temple Visitor Center (who knew they had a visitor center?) and spent a bit of time with the multi-media displays, learning more about their faith from their perspective. From the outside, the temple itself is quite beautiful and the grounds are truly lovely. There’s always an adventure around any corner, isn’t there? Sometimes it lurks in something completely unexpected, like this stop at the temple. Although I’m not Mormon and I have no interest in being Mormon, it was fascinating to find out a little more about what they believe.
I’m a big fan of birthday freebies! Lots of businesses will give you free stuff for your birthday and sometimes all you have to do is sign up to get their email newsletters (tip: you can opt out of receiving the email every month but they will still send you a birthday freebie message when your birthday rolls around); for others, you simply have to show your identification with your birth date on it and you, too, can have birthday freebies!
There are many lists of birthday freebies on the internet – just google “birthday freebies” and from those lists, make up your own list of freebies that you want to get for your birthday. Some are for the day of your birth only; others give you the entire month to redeem. You, too, can enjoy freebies all month long if you want!
Some of my favorite freebies this month were from Savory Spice Shop (free bottle of something from their shop), Panera Bread (free coffee/tea/soda), Red Robin (free burger), Shari’s (a NW coffee shop/cafe chain – free piece of pie), Black Bear Diner (free breakfast), Starbucks (free drink or food), Native Foods ($10 added to your loyalty account), Pieology (free pizza), Denney’s (free breakfast), and Baskin-Robbins (free ice cream).
I finished up my birthday month celebrations with a couple of nights’ stay (including my actual birthday) at McMenamins Grand Lodge Hotel* in Forest Grove, OR. (Grand Lodge is a former Masonic & Eastern Star property that has been converted to restaurants, bars, health spa, and outdoor soaking pool, with the distinctive McMenamins-style art on the walls throughout.) My son Mark and his partner Nick joined me for a celebration dinner on my birthday night, after which we relaxed in the outdoor soaking pool. It was a very nice evening and I appreciate the two of them coming out to Grand Lodge and spending their evening with me. I spent the remainder of my birthday retreat relaxing by the fire place, sitting outside under the beautiful trees, walking the very green grounds, eating meals in the two restaurants and a couple of different bars, enjoying a pint or two of house-made blackberry cider, and sitting in that soaking pool a few more times. (My McMenamins get-away was funded by the gift cards I collected along the McMenamins Passport trail. Have I said how much I like freebies?) Thanks, Mark and Nick, for coming out to have dinner with me! It was nice to see you both!
But wait! That three days at Grand Lodge wasn’t all peace and quiet! I fed my adrenaline addiction (which hadn’t had a fix in quite awhile) by going zip-lining in nearby Gaston, OR at Tree to Tree Aerial Adventure Park! With guides Cliff and Tyler, I joined a couple from Santa Cruz, CA, in zipping from tree to tree, sometimes many feet above the ground, (including a line that’s 1,280 feet long that reaches speeds of 30-40 mph) and a 40 foot rappel! I lost count of how many lines we did but if I had to guess, I’d say six or maybe seven. I have to say that quarter-mile one was so much fun! I took some video of me zipping down the lines, trees flying by, Henry Haag Lake in the background, hootin’ and hollerin’ as loud as I could, and hope to have it posted soon. In the meantime, here’s my post-zip-line shot…
…and a pic of the two guides, Tyler and Cliff. Great guides, fun guys, very safety-oriented, and oh so kind to this old out-of-shape woman celebrating six and a half decades on Planet Earth. They never pushed me to walk up the hills or climb the ladders any faster than I was already going (which was slower than everyone else 😀 ). I’d certainly recommend them in a heartbeat! They were such a hoot – and it was obvious that they both loved what they were doing. Couldn’t have asked for a better first-time zip-lining experience.
The morning of the last day of June, before I checked out of my room, I made my way to the Iron Works Grill, the main restaurant at the Grand Lodge, and enjoyed a deliciously tasty breakfast burrito accompanied by coffee made from their house-roasted coffee beans. It was truly a great way to end my stay at the Grand Lodge.
So there you have it, the big highlights of my birthday-month events. For all the other little spaces in between, I filled the month with lots smaller celebrations: I went to just about every movie worth seeing and ate lots of popcorn; I celebrated the seventh anniversary of writing this blog (who knew it was going to be around for this long!); and I participated in my first Murder Mystery game at a friend’s housewarming of her new house (I played an Italian man who, it turned out, was the murderer! Ha!). I also bought myself a food-related present (of course!): a vegetable spiralizer… and promptly made some baked curly potato fries (ah… the joys of moochdocking 😀 ). It wasn’t all fun and games, though – a couple of things happened to make sure I still had my feet on the ground: I learned of the unexpected passings of a couple of people who have greatly impacted my life: the first boy I ever fell in love with (I was a freshman in high school and he was a senior; we played in the marching band together – he on a trombone and me on a clarinet), and a woman I was friends with during my time in Reno back in the early 80s (she was instrumental in prompting me to clean up my act and get clean and sober). I visited my cardiologist who wasn’t impressed with how my heart health is progressing, and I fell at the campground when I was camping out earlier in the month, turning my ankle, falling in the gravel, lying face-up in the rain, knowing that no one else was near me in the campground and there was no cell signal, wondering what I would do if I was seriously injured (fortunately, I wasn’t but it sure gave me reason to pause), and how long it would take someone to find me.
All in all, it’s been a grand month, celebrating a milestone birthday with lots of friends and family, and now that I’m 65, I somehow feel like I’ve achieved something I never expected to. (Not 100% sure what it is yet, but I do feel accomplished!) Maybe what it is is that I never want to not celebrate. In fact, I want to celebrate everything, no matter how big or small it is. I think that’s what this month has given to me: a reminder that life goes on, that life is for having fun, that it’s important to remember to take care of yourself, that friends are the glue that holds things together, that family is what you make of it.
Thank you to everyone who made this a special birthday month of celebrations for me, including you who read my writings. I appreciate each and every one of you and count myself blessed to have you as part of my life. I am truly honored to know you ♡♡♡
Join me in a celebration of all that is. Here’s to us!
PS. So who wants to go zip-lining with me??
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*McMenamins is a Northwest chain of restaurants, hotels, distilleries, vineyards, bars and pubs, and soaking pools in locations that include converted old schools, churches, factories… or as they describe it: “an eclectic mix of pubs, historic hotels, movie theaters, concert venues, spas, events and just pure fun.” If you ever get a chance to go to one of their 66 locations, do it. They are all different, even the few that are located in strip malls still bring their own brand of “pure fun” and you won’t be disappointed.
**Laurel has been a massage therapist for many years and she really knows her stuff! My body was in desperate need of some tender loving care and she gave me more than I expected. Click here to check her out if you’re in the Portland, OR area and need some TLC on that body of yours 😀