No photo can compare to the real thing when you are talking about the Oregon shore. It was hard to see all that beauty and not want to capture it. On my Exploritas trip to Lincoln City, Oregon, there I was, snapping away at the ocean views like any other tourist trying to take the quintessential shot that would always connect me to that time and place. This was my longest exposure to the Pacific Ocean and I'm done for. I've truly got not only the Pacific Ocean bug but the travel bug! I may have retired all of eleven months ago, but only now do I feel deeply renewed, like I let out that one great big breath that truly signals relaxation and release. Although I am something of a homebody, I discovered I need to get out and about to new places more.
The official name of the junket was: Women: Learning, Walking & Writing on the Oregon Shore. All of those elements spoke to me, but I have to admit the biggest draw was simply the beach scenery. Ever since I was a kid, the oceanside has been a magical place. Growing up on Long Island, my family frequented Jones Beach for swimming and fishing. There were three or four summers of Girl Scout camp in East Hampton, as well as weekends and sometimes even weeks in Sag Harbor at a dear friend's summer house. Although I love to swim in the ocean, I've become more of an off-season beach nut. Give me a deserted beach anytime, and I am simply happy to be there, walking, observing the waves, beachcombing.
As for the creative writing element of my trip, that too was fun. One of the exercises asked us to draw a floorplan of a house we lived in, and then to freewrite from the memories spurred. Being rather visual, that really worked for me. In another exercise, we listed beaches we had been to and then wrote about one or more of them. We were also treated to presentations from Oregon authors, among them Michele Longo Eder (Salt In Our Blood, Dancing Moon Press, 2008, winner of the the 2009 WILLA award for creative nonfiction) and Ron Lovell (Murder in E-flat Major and other Thomas Martindale mysteries, Penman Productions). Mr. Lovell passed out opening paragraphs from famous mystery writers such as Tony Hillerman and Agatha Christie and had us try mimicking their styles. There were also sessions devoted to family history and memoir writing.
We stayed at the Inn on Spanish Head, a lovely hotel right on the beach. The view from my balcony was fantastic at any time of the day or night. The food, as on any other Elderhostel trip I've taken, was terrific. Exploritas is no longer just for for oldsters. Under their new name of Exploritas (explore + veritas/truth), the once 55+ age requirement has changed. As long as your are age 21 or older, the door is open. There were two mother/daughter pairs in our group of twenty-four, but most participants were at least middle-aged. As in other trips, many friendships were forged. We inspired each other in both conversation and writing. I'm a big believer in women's circles. Time away from the home front with other women is always inspiring; decompression and rejuvenation sure to follow. I'll be saving my spare change for another Exploritas trip in the near future!