Yesterday, I returned from a 3-week vacation on the Oregon coast. Ellie and I have made the trip many times since 1999 when my youngest son Will began attending Oregon State in Corvallis on a baseball scholarship. Several times I took Will and some of his teammates 60 miles west to Newport, rented small motor boats, crab rings, and bait and enjoyed the best of times catching Dungeness crabs that we steamed (not boiled) in a large pot with “Old Bay” seasoning that I brought special for the occasion.
As an artist, I come back often to enjoy the coast and take thousands of reference photographs for future paintings. But this trip had more purpose. My daughter Val and her two sons, Liam (7) and Henry (2), have just moved in with us, and I wanted to show them the low-stress, natural beauty of the great Northwest.
Young Henry has one singular interest — trains. So, for Henry, we all caught a ride on the Skunk Train from Willits through the redwoods of northern California. Later we also enjoyed the steam train from Garibaldi along the coast of central Oregon.

I especially wanted to introduce older Liam to fishing, crabbing, and walking through the woods with a trusty Daisy Red Ryder BB-gun. Liam is an athletic, sensitive, intelligent boy, and a loving big brother to Henry, but I knew we needed “man time” together to help ease the thoughts of his parents’ pending divorce.
During stops on our drive north Liam was softening as we got off main roads to visit beaches and harbors. In Trinidad, CA, Liam followed me along the beach noticing washed-up crab shells and asking questions about the crabs we planned to catch.
  “Can they bite you Grandpop?”
  “Nah Liam, not if you grab ‘em by the rear leg next to the shell.”
In Oregon at Port Orford’s fisherman’s harbor, Liam and I walked the beach where he pronounced, “This is the best beach I’ve ever seen.” When we reached Florence, I took Liam to the little fishing pier at the end of the sand dunes where he said, “This is just like heaven!” North of Florence we stopped at the Heceta Head Lighthouse where Cape Creek empties into the Pacific. It was there, while Liam and Henry were dropping rocks into the creek, I taught Liam how to choose and fling good “skippers.” After only a few attempts he had proudly flung a 10-bouncer.