Salem Trip: Part One

With Nikki on the 4th (not a great photo, alas)

I got back last night from a long weekend (Thursday to Monday) down in Salem, getting in a good visit with my university friends before leaving for Japan. Departure is in 18 days, so the timing couldn’t have been better, and I got to spend the 4th of July weekend having a lot of fun. Now I’m exhausted and completely partied out, but it was worth it. I’ve decided to split the recap into two parts, because it’ll be much easier to blog about it that way. The 4th itself will actually be in part two, but I wanted a good intro picture and happy times with Nikki just seemed ideal. No matter how haggard I look, with wind-blown hair, no makeup, and red eyes. Thanks, seasonal allergies, I really appreciate that.

Anyway, I took the very early train from Seattle to Portland (by very early I mean 7:30, which meant I had to get up at 5:00) and then took a bus from Portland to Salem. This is not an unfamiliar trip for me, since I went to university down in Salem and have taken the train to and from a few times. Thursday was low key, without any real plans, but I was glad I chose to go down that day, rather than wait, because it made everything easier. I was staying in the guest room at Annie and Alex’s place and had a chance to settle in, which I always appreciate. It was Friday night that really kicked off the weekend.

Party time!

That picture only captures a segment of the people who came over for the Welcome Alexis Back to Salem party. From left to right you have: Josh, Alex, Ellie, Chris, and Ash. I took that photo while we were still cooking the meat and getting everything ready for Indian tacos (Indian as in Native American, which means frybread – if you’ve never had frybread your life is incomplete and you should rectify this appalling gap in your culinary education ASAP). Aside from the food, which was delicious, the party was pretty standard for us. We have a lot of fun when we’re all together, but we aren’t very scandalous, I’m afraid. Some drinking, but nothing too outrageous or exciting. I’m sure you’re all disappointed that I’m not about to regale you with tales of debauchery and close encounters with the law, but you’re just not reading the right blog for that sort of thing.

We did end up playing Apples to Apples, which is always hilarious because we inevitably take the words to their weirdest, or most ironic, extremes. Sometimes this makes us seem like terrible people, but what’s a little psychological trauma between friends, really? I’m not entirely sure Ash has forgiven me and Ellie for being the source of “Barbara Walters” and “Judge Judy” in response to the word “juicy,” but I’m confident that he’ll work through it one day.

But, no matter how fun Friday night was, the real highlight of the weekend was Saturday.

Soaking up sun at Little Northfork

At about 12:30, Annie, Alex, Nikki, Josh, Ellie, and I piled into Ash’s van and headed out of Salem to a place called Little Northfork. It’s a park along a river, about a half-hour out of town, where you can swim and have picnics and do summery things. The weather was gorgeous, in the upper ’70s and very sunny, and we spent all afternoon there. Nikki and I didn’t actually swim, because the water was cold, but the others did. Nikki and I sat on rocks with our legs in the water and chatted instead, while I channeled my inner lizard and basked (with sunscreen, because I burn and want to protect my skin from damage). It was glorious. Despite the SPF 50, I did get a little bit of colour, and it just felt so good to spend time outside like that. The summer so far has been bleak here in the Pacific Northwest, cold and dismal like autumn, and Saturday really felt like coming out of hibernation or something. It was so fab, we were all worn out in the best possible way when we left.

Ellie and Annie. This is normal

I hadn’t realised just how much I was longing for summer (proper summer, not this March nonsense we’ve been having) until we were at Little Northfork. It was one of those things – I got out there and was so content, even though before that it had just sounded like a fun thing to do. Seriously, sun is the best possible therapy, whether or not you think something might be wrong. For that afternoon, nothing could have made life more perfect. I’m so happy I went out and had that day with those people. It was flawless.

Okay, sappiness aside, I’m just going to wrap this up with one more picture. After getting back into Salem, we went to a little restaurant called Adam’s Rib House. It’s a barbecue place that has the most amazing buffalo burgers. If you’ve never eaten buffalo, consider this your second food recommendation of the day. It’s much healthier than beef, very lean, and it’s absolutely delicious. And, if you’re ever in Salem, OR, check out Adam’s. It’s at the corner of 12th and State and, even though it doesn’t look like much, it’s one of the best places in town. Seriously. If you eat meat, you won’t regret going.

Josh, Nikki, and Alex

And thus ended a most excellent two days. I’ll be back tomorrow with the holiday and Monday. While Saturday and Little Northfork may have been the best of it, the final two days were still fantastic and not to be completely overshadowed, even by hours at a beautiful park in the sun.

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