I did something yesterday I had never done, but had been planning to do for a very long time: I rented a car and drove to the Pacific coast with the sole purpose of jogging past-life memories and possibly getting a feel for being “on the ground” with the knowledge that the deja vu I had felt the first time I was there was from a real place.
I was not prepared for the reminders of other past lives besides my most recent one; I was reminded more at times of my life as a Tommy than my life in California in the 60s.
My fiance and I took the long way out of the Portland area, through the suburbs on the west side of the hills and before long found ourselves in an idyllic area of rolling hills and hop farms along a stretch called Cornelius Pass Road. It looked an awful lot like the hop farms outside the city of Hereford, and it’s strange to think I live so close to hop country in this life too.
We took Highway 30 across the beautiful forested slopes of the Coastal Range to Astoria, where we stopped for a short time. The first place there we visited was an antique store. There, I noticed a large number of post cards and photos from the Victorian and Edwardian eras very close to a framed photo of a man who appeared to be in a WWI-era US Navy officer’s uniform, so I gave it a look. Sure enough, there was a WWI-era post card of French army life. I got it for $2- practically stole it really. It’s an elaborate fold-out piece in beautiful color with many pieces that looks absolutely excellent for its age; it would have gone for ten times as much on eBay. It got me wondering just how much cheap WWI ephemera I’ve been missing while looking for other items like cap badges and war diaries.
Also in Astoria is the Doughboy monument, which I did not know about until I saw it mentioned on a tourist map at a sub shop where we had lunch.
Further on, as we hit Highway 101, we changed to the playlist of songs from my previous life. The mood became more thoughtful as an intense feeling of familiarity came over me and even though I had never driven that road myself in this lifetime, something felt right about it.
We drove all the way down to Lincoln City before I decided to go ahead and look for beach access, but Lincoln City’s beaches have very little parking unless you’re a casino customer. We decided to back-track somewhat until we found a nice area for beach access. We finally found it after a drive down a stretch called Sandlake Road.
I walked along the beach for a short time with my fiance. I used to go to the beach a lot in my previous life and the Pacific Coast has been reassuringly unchanged with its many nooks that are still unspoiled by development and overcrowding.
As the day faded, we headed back, trying to get to Highway 26 as quickly as possible, but I missed my turn for Highway 53. Somehow, I ended up on 53 anyway (a look at the map tells me I missed the right turn in that town where the road cut 90 degrees). I noticed the road becoming narrower and with sharper curves; I could no longer carve along at 55 like I could on the 101 and after a while of even moderate speeds my fiance began to complain of motion sickness. Then the wildlife showed up; several deer, a raccoon, and three mice all in the space of a few minutes of each other. Luckily, I slowed down enough that they were able to get out of my way.
I ended up at the 26, a bit stunned at having gotten there without knowing how, and we continued our drive home with medieval metal (like Corvus Corax and In Extremo) playing on my .mp3 player through the car’s stereo.
The whole experience was ultimately a positive one, and although I didn’t have any earth-shattering revelations, I feel better for having seen for myself that I can still go back to places like these, that there really are places that haven’t changed much since I was there in an entirely different life.
By the way, I did not take many photos. I’ll post what little I have along with a pic of that post card when I get a chance.