Last week Tuesday I woke up at an ungodly hour and hauled ass to PDX for my flights to Santa Fe (PDX->Phoenix, then Phoenix->Santa Fe) to be trained for work. Little did I know that the Santa Fe airport is about the size of a hotel lobby, with only one gate, and all the planes get unloaded right on the tarmac. That was an interesting surprise. Then they gave me a bright red Jeep and I catatonically drove through the streets seeking sustenance until I got some cheesy New Mexican food at a diner, drove another half an hour south to my Airbnb, and lay on the bed for two hours straight, unable to move because I was so exhausted.

The Airbnb was out in the boonies, but it was lovely and quiet. I think I accidentally offended my Airbnb host by not talking to her ever, but in my defense I was at work most of the day.

As for work, I got to meet many of the people I’ll be working with in person in Santa Fe before I spend the next however many months talking to them on the phone. They’re all smart people, and I ended up working an 11-hour day my second day of work and didn’t even mind.

The food in Santa Fe was superb–lots of red and green chiles, but also some damn tasty healthy food and Indian food I searched out–and the sun was strong and high in the sky. The only thing I disliked was the altitude because it made it very difficult to run, but I suppose it’s good marathon training.

Back I flew from Santa Fe on Friday night to find Portland rainy (rare in summer) and in the 50s–where it stayed all week. How depressing.

I’m acclimating to my office space downtown and to the all-encompassing mental and physical exhaustion that comes from working 8-hour days. It’s not like I haven’t had a full-time job before, and my commute has been much worse in the past (in fact, I biked to work on Tuesday, and it was only a 15-minute ride, though it was cheating somewhat because I was going to a different office than the usual one and one that was much closer to my house).

After this week, it was nice to take today and do a little exploring by the coast.

First stop was Cape Disappointment State Park in Washington, about 2.5 hours’ drive from our place. It was a disappointment because an explorer who ended up there couldn’t find the Columbia River (he was so close!) and was thus disappointed. Though it was too buggy to hike much, we did see two lighthouses and a lighthouse museum. Lighthouse museums are one of my favorite things because a) I aspire to be a lighthouse keeper and b) shipwrecks. Plus, and I’m not sure why this is, the copy written for lighthouse museum displays is always funny, quirky, and absurd. Stories from this one included knock-down, drag-out fights over oyster hunting grounds and the ghost of the first lighthouse keeper’s wife, who flung herself off a cliff in the throes of depression (“melancholia” back then) and may or may not haunt the lighthouse to this day. Ok, so the latter story is not exactly funny, but it does make me glad our research into mental health issues has advanced beyond where it was in the 1800s.

I also bought a $5 ticket for a raffle to win a night’s stay in a lighthouse keeper’s cottage at the park. The drawing is in September.

When we were paying for our admission to the park, I got the opportunity to peruse the brochures on the wall and found one for a garlic festival 15 miles north that just happened to be taking place today! So we drove there. Camo and trucks as far as the eye could see. I had been transported back to hell Ohio! Except Ohio didn’t have deep-fried garlic on a stick, so this was slightly better,

Next stop was Astoria, Oregon, and the fish and chip shop (in a boat) Oprah raved about in the latest issue of her magazine. The fish and chips were tuna, not cod, so less oozy. Delectable. Although if Oprah has ever set foot in Astoria, Oregon, I’ll eat that boat.

No trip to Astoria is complete without a stop at the Astoria column. We could climb it, so we did. They are making bank off that $5 admission to the column–though it is good for the entire year, so maybe we should just go back there every weekend to get our money’s worth.

Flying over Mount Hood
Plane on the tarmac of Santa Fe airport
My wheels in Santa Fe
The backyard of the Airbnb
Bought donuts for the office the day I flew home
The lighthouse at Cape Disappointment
Cape Disappointment Part II
The lighthouse up close–needs restoration
Old bunker used through WWII
Lighthouse museum
Resident ghost
Garlic festival
View from the Astoria column
The column