As if this retirement thing weren’t already going pretty smoothly, this weekend took it to another level.
Three friends and I converged on the beach home of a fourth friend and had ourselves a helluva relaxing time.
The crew: Our host, Tom, plus Bob, Eric and myself.
The location: A secluded spot somewhere in south Tillamook County.
The plan: Arrive Friday afternoon, spend all day Saturday, leave Sunday morning.
The agenda: Have a couple of dinners at home, play some poker, take a couple of hikes, spend some time in nearby Pacific City, play some more poker.
The menu: Grilled steaks, roasted vegetables and a green salad; bacon, eggs, potatoes and waffles; fish and chips; sausage and gravy over homemade biscuits, eggs and hash browns. Lots of coffee and, um, several adult beverages.
What can I say?
Though nothing tops time spent with my wife Lori, there’s an entirely different kind of pleasure that comes from hanging out with dudes — in this case, guys I’ve known for roughly 25, 35 and 40 years.
Tom and I go back to college days in San Jose. After graduation, each of us moved up to Oregon, got married (our wives were college roommates) and went on to raise three children.
Bob and I go back to when we lived in Salem. His son and our oldest boy were born two days apart and we became founding members of a babysitting coop.
Eric and I met when our families were living two blocks from each other in Portland’s Grant Park neighborhood. His daughter and our youngest son were born four days apart.
Each of these guys is a regular in the poker games I host at my place. And because they also attend the annual Voices of August meetup that follows each year’s month of guest blog posts, they already know each other to some extent.
After this weekend, it’s safe to say the bonds of friendship have grown stronger.
It wasn’t all calories and poker chips. There was plenty of conversation — about our spouses and kids; about politics, hobbies and travel; about our working and retired lives (Eric is the only one still on the job) — and plenty of exercise, too.
Friday evening we walked along the beach into a stiff, chilly wind. Saturday morning we tramped through unpaved neighborhood streets and took a longer hike in the sand to Nestucca Bay, where we glimpsed sea lions, seals, a bald eagle and a couple of blue herons.
We followed that up with a visit to Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge (no “patriots” in sight plotting a takeover of government land), where the hilltop observation deck provided ocean views in one direction and green, rolling landscapes in the other.
After lunch and a couple games of billiards at the old-school Sportsman Pub and Grub, where country western alternated with Ted Nugent heavy metal on the jukebox, it was time for another hike.
Bathed in sunshine, we walked along a quiet trail in the Sand Lake Recreation Area, emerging onto a pristine beach.
After that, we headed to an art show at a private residence, an open studio featuring three local artists — two of whom knew Tom from their day/night jobs in Pacific City. We talked with all three, complimented their work, and noshed on snacks laid out on a billiards table. Pretty casual.
From there, it was one more pit stop at Twist, a wine and beer tasting bar where we chatted with Sean, a co-owner, and greeted the resident four-legged host, an aging Rhodesian Ridgeback-Lab mix named Sami.
After that, it was back to the beach home for more R&R (sort of like going from the slow lane to barely moving) topped off by a dinner of appetizers and a game of cards that lasted until 1 a.m.
Gotta say, it was a great weekend in all respects. Guy Time is all good when you’re hanging out with three friends who know you well and in a place where you can’t help but chill.
Already looking forward to the next time we can do this.