West out of Corvallis on Highway 26 toward the Oregon Coast, one passes through the small town of Alsea. There is an old gas station here, the kind that simply says “gas station” and no more. The man working the pumps is amused that we are unfamiliar with the rental car and how to unlock the gas lock. Actually there is no lock so he bemusedly watches for a few minutes as Will searches the dash panel high and low before winking at me and telling me that he is already filling the tank.
One always wonders how someone comes to be in a particular place. Alsea is a one gas station, one convenience store, a few houses, and nothing more town. But, the gas station fellar and the mechanic both loved it there. What is to love? This is not the main highway to the north. It is quiet, off the beaten path, and subject to a few tourists only in the few short summer months when the sun shines. I turns out the the mechanic had come from Montana, the gas fellar from Colorado. Here they both found quiet and a job that paid the bills. Maybe, that is all any of us really wants.
Ozzie wonders whether this found happiness in the remoteness of Alsea is feigned or real. What am I looking for? Is contentment to be found out of the way where life passes you by? Or, is true happiness to be found in the mix that is life?
I suppose that there are two kinds of people in this world. those who are happy with what they have and those who are not. Then, again there is probably a third category of those who are bi-polar, jumping back and forth between happiness and misery. The two mechanics in Alsea represent one end of the extreme, happy in what they have, content to live each day as it comes, occasionally finding a little laughter in the ignorance of tourist who hapopen upon their gas station. As for the rest of us, we will keep looking.
Most Corvallians (Is that what you call them?) head directly west to Lincoln City, preferring the glitz of a city with hotels, restaurants, and shops in which to buy kites and the such. We bypassed Lincoln and went directly to Waldport, a much smaller and distinctly less developed tourist spot. South of Waldport, the coast line again becomes beautiful. Long stretches of sandy beach give way to volcanic outcroppings. One such spot is Devil’s Churn. This narrow defile of basalt rock compresses the waves so that the waves have no where to go but up into the air like a geyser.
Well, this is where the log roll comes into play. Most travelers along Highway 101 south from Lincoln City quickly pass Devil’s Churn by. The road south of Newport winds in and out of the forest , climbing and descending on cliffs and valleys formed from a volcanic eruption millions of years ago. If you don’t keep your eye on the road you can end up in the forest, or worse, off the cliffs and onto the rocks below. This is what happened to