By Neal Lemery
When I was a kid, Nat King Cole made this a popular song, and the lyrics still seem to sum up summertime on the Oregon coast, with an increasingly strong emphasis on the “crazy.” My good intentions this year were lots of reading on the deck, working in my flowers and vegetables, and plenty of time for friends, taking it easy.
Summertime is paved with good intentions, yet the calendar has filled up with friends and relatives who live in other states “just dropping by”, numerous parades, festivals, concerts and fairs, and a steady pace of casual get togethers. The idle hours of reading on the deck by my flowers has become a rare hour here and there between all of the scheduled and unplanned activities. The dread of being caught in bumper to bumper traffic on the highway and too many people at my favorite haunts has cut into my summer plans, motivating me to cross off a number of calendared “fun” to dos. Instead, my reading chair on the deck is my refuge, my hiding place from the mob.
We paid the price for a visit to a friend’s open garden tour with an hour and a half of stop and go traffic on a Saturday afternoon. What were we thinking? We even skipped our customary treat at a local dessert shop as that would have required making a left turn. This is, after all, “No Left Turn Season” and tourists are definitely in their “bubble of oblivion”.
My classic example of “no thinking” this summer occurred in front of me on the Wilson River Highway, with both lanes completely crammed full and traveling at 25 mph. The out of state car ahead of me suddenly skidded to a stop and pulled a U-turn, forcing the oncoming car, and me, to burn rubber. In their frenzy, they had to back up in order to fully turn around and head in the other direction, oblivious to the chorus of our collective repertoire of swear words.
I fantasized about a robotic State Trooper flying a drone, forcing them over with tractor beams and issuing a multitude of traffic tickets. Can I apply for a “tourist tax” grant to supply that needed addition to local law enforcement?
A friend calls the syndrome “tourist brain” and swears there is scientific evidence in support of that psychological condition. I know the local anecdotal evidence is overwhelming.
I wonder what all the emergency responders call it, but I probably couldn’t repeat their phrases here.
A long overdue class reunion challenged me to deal with a restaurant on full tourist overload, and spurred me to politely discourage a gaggle of out of town visitors intent on their ice cream cones at the Creamery. I’m not up for dealing with 10,000 people clamoring for sugar on a summer day, preferring a quiet conversation on the deck with some iced tea, no parking lots and lines. After all, I’ve planned ahead and have a nice stash of ice cream in my freezer.
It’s time I take a deep breath, and look at the calendar. Time is on my side. It’s only a few weeks until Labor Day. That Tuesday is our traditional visit to our favorite beach, as we celebrate “Take Back the Beach” day, my favorite summer holiday. We might even be bold and make a left turn.