Sand Dunes in Oregon

Fortunately, I’ve had very few “almost drove off the road” moments in my life. One time I was cruising along in Florida and a really big (as in, larger than the palm of my hand) hairy spider ran across my windshield. On the inside. In my efforts to kill it before it killed me, I missed a telephone pole by mere inches. So the little b@&t@*d almost succeeded.

Another time I was vacationing in New Mexico, and I came around this curve just outside of Santa Fe. And there was this field of llamas. Llamas. Seriously. I had never seen a llama outside of a zoo in my entire life, and now, suddenly, unexpectedly, there were dozens of them, staring at me as I swerved. I bet they get that a lot.

And then just last week I was vacationing on the Oregon coast, and for some reason I hadn’t done my homework. Usually when I take a vacation, I read the guidebooks beforehand. I have a well thought out plan. I know what to expect. I do this because there’s nothing more irritating, in my opinion, than coming home from a trip and then discovering that there was something really, really cool I could have seen or done if only I had been paying attention.

But for this trip I was sort of flying by the seat of my pants. I have no idea why, aside from the fact that I seem to have lost all control of any sense of organization I once possessed. But it was kind of liberating.

So on this particular day I was driving along the coast, stopping here and there at overlooks and state parks. I had spent hours gazing at lighthouses and a variety of configurations of waves crashing against rocks. Each view was more spectacular than the last.

Then all of a sudden I found myself in sand dune country. This probably will come as no surprise to people on the west coast, but for the rest of us, the last thing you’re expecting on an Oregon vacation is to be reminded of the movie Lawrence of Arabia. And yet there it was. One dune even threatened to engulf the highway. I felt as if I’d accidentally driven through a wormhole and come out on another planet.

Come to think of it, “almost drove off the road” moments like these are priceless and unforgettable. I just hope that the word “almost” is never left out.

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