Living it the beautiful Pacific Northwest, we are just a few hours away from the Pacific Ocean. Going to the beach has provided a lifetime of memories and good times spent with family and friends. One of the little rituals we have enjoyed over the years is stopping off at Karla's Smokehouse in Rockaway Beach on the Oregon coast. If you don't know what you are looking for, you'll drive right past it, but Karla's is a true Oregon treasure.
We've taken our children there, and everyone but Sharon has shared the Karla's experience with all of their friends and family as well. (Sharon thinks there is no good use for fish and that God made a mistake when he created them.) A few years ago, during the week before Tyler and America's wedding, Tyler and I shared the Karla's experience with the Ruggieri's who were visiting from Illinois. We were running late (Karla's closes up early), and I called the smokehouse from the car. I explained what we were doing, and they stayed open until we got there are were able to share one of our favorite rituals with our new family members.
One summer when the kids were younger, I decided to play hooky for a day and go to the beach. I came downstairs and told the kids and Mike, "I'm going to the beach for the day. Who's coming?" Cricket chirping. Really? "Okay, then I'm going by myself. See you later." I picked up my purse and keys, and headed for the front door. As I was climbing into our white minivan, Tyler (13) came flying out the door, "Wait! I'm coming!" He climbed in and buckled up, and we began backing out of our steep crumbly driveway. The front door flew open again and out comes Blake. "Wait! I want to drive!" Blake had his learner's permit, and I thought this was a good idea. I was wrong!
He was doing a good job once we got on the freeway, because it was a fairly clear time of day, but when we hit the twists and turns of highway 24, that was a different story. He was having such a good time that I didn't want to curb his enthusiasm, and he did almost kill us once. We eventually arrived at Rockaway Beach in one piece and pulled up to Karla's. We hadn't brought anything else to eat with us, so we decided to just get some smoked fish, pop, and chips, and call that a meal.
This was the first time we had been to Karla's on a Wednesday afternoon, and we were in for a treat! Wednesdays are smoking days, and the fish had just been pulled out of the smokers. The pink salmon and snowy halibut was warm and dripping with juice. It was like eating bacon, alot of it!
We took our treasures down to the shore and ate one of the best meals I've ever had. Was it because it was from Karla's, or because I was on a surprise holiday with my two teenage boys? Maybe it was a bit of both. Sharing rituals and having traditions makes memories that just seem a bit more vivid.
We scorched ourselves in the sun and decided that we didn't want to go home, so we went to Safeway and bought deodorant and a toothbrush. We found a motel with a swimming pool, and I called Mike to let him know we weren't coming home. He was ... annoyed.
The next day we went back to Karla's to replenish our stash, and spent the day on the beach enjoying the sunshine and one another. When we were rounding the corner and headed for the driveway, I called Mike again to say we had decided not to come home, were staying at the beach. We listened to him complaining while we pulled into the driveway, and walked into the house.
Best. Hooky. Ever.