When John and I arrived at the Irish Table, we spent a few moments of confusion trying the wrong doors, and once we found our way in, my flustered bewilderment only increased. The restaurant seemed to be very loud – in fact one table in the far corner was full of shouting people.
In yet another of my embarrassing life moments, it took me several seconds (or so it felt) to realize that (1) they were shouting Surprise!, (2) they were not any random people – they were my dear friends Bryan and Jennifer and Jennifer’s boyfriend Neil, and (3) they must have been there for my birthday.
(I apologize for the horrible backlighting of Neil, and of John below….)
Many questions were asked and answers given. It turns out John had the idea of inviting friends for a birthday party back in March, and all of them had been planning and secret-keeping, very effectively, for months.
There was a sixth chair at the table, but when the waiter asked if it should be removed, the answer was No, someone else would be coming – which was surprising, as Jennifer and Bryan are our only close friends on the west coast. But sure enough, a few minutes later, there was a tap on my shoulder. I turned, and was shocked to see Anonymous Guest 1, a person who definitely does not live on the west coast, and who has a huge number of pulls on his time. I think I responded with something like “Anonymous Guest 1! You don’t live on the west coast! What are you doing here?!” Even if I’d known John had planned for surprise guests to come, this is not a person I would ever have expected to show up. But I’m extremely glad he did!
This was the beginning of a weekend that while not at all like the relaxed reading, coffee-drinking, lounging-around time that I thought we would have, was wonderfully busy and full. (It was also the start of my neglecting my camera, despite having it with me almost constantly. I’m kicking myself about all the photo opportunities I missed, but I guess I was so wrapped up with all the excitement that I didn’t often think of turning it on. I did get a lot of photos of a few specific events, of which you are sure to see plenty.)
Dinner was full of laughter and stories, and delicious food – soda bread and a cheese plate and huge salads to start, and for my main course, wild rice, asparagus, wild mushrooms, salmon, and tiny lettuces topped with a lemon butter sauce.
(It was very good – I highly recommend the Irish Table if you’re in Cannon Beach.)
After dinner we walked back to our hotel, where everyone else also would be staying, and spent some time looking over the beach and watching the sun set.
Maxwell was rescued from his crate, and was very happy – so many people! So much excitement!
The sky was much more overcast than it’d been the previous night, but we still were able to see the sun on its way over the horizon.
And of course a high-kicking chorus line broke out. Why not?
We headed back in and spent the rest of the evening watching a movie. Everyone was tired, from sleeping poorly, from early rising for travel, from work – we agreed to meet up the next morning at 8, and said goodnight.
Unfortunately, I was so excited and overwhelmed that despite being quite tired, I again had a hard time falling asleep. I regret to admit that the next morning, I was the long pole in the tent as my dad would say – and although the birthday person may get some allowances, I felt terrible to be running late when everyone else had dragged themselves up and out of bed on time. (sorry again…)
We headed down to the other folks’ room, knocked on the door, and heard a few mysterious shuffles before the door opened. There was Bryan, and …. Anonymous Guest 2? “Anonymous Guest 2,” I said. “What?!” I then saw that yet another person had joined the party – John’s wonderful brother Robert had also arrived!
You may not see too many more photos of Robert, but that’s not because I don’t like him, or wasn’t glad he’d come. On the contrary, I was thrilled and shocked that he was there, and very glad that I’d get to spend some time with him that weekend. (Plus, he lives in Massachusetts and had travelled late into the night to arrive. He wins on furthest journey to Cannon Beach!) But he spent a lot of time with AGs 1 and 2, so I didn’t capture many postable photos of him, since I want to respect the anonymity-wishers.
After hugs all around, we headed out to breakfast at a bakery a few blocks away, which provided tasty pastries and coffee for all.
Then it was off to Ecola State Park, where we got several good views of the ocean and coastline…
… and took some more photos of friends that had gathered…
… while Maxwell camped out grumpily under a bench. I’m not sure what his deal was.
We headed into the forest for a little hiking…
… although unfortunately part of the trail was very muddy, and not all of us were prepared to get dirty, so Jennifer, Neil, and I headed back while the others ventured onward. After the hikers returned we indulged in a little more silliness….
(I’m open to interpretations of Bryan’s expression here… Anyone? Bryan?)
… then headed back to town for more crepes for lunch! As we were standing outside the restaurant, contemplating the menu, I felt another tap on my shoulder, and turned as a deep and familiar voice asked if I knew if the food here was any good. A pair of hooligans in dark clothes, wearing straw hats (with tags hanging down) and bandannas and sunglasses covering their faces were looming ominously. I might have been confused and/or scared, except that the voice was so familiar, and after so many surprising visitors having shown up already, I knew what must be happening. And indeed – when I reached out to pull down the leftmost hooligan’s bandanna, laughing and smiling brothers greeted me.
After more greetings and congratulations on the effective surprise…
we actually had to say goodbye almost as soon as we’d said Hi. Jennifer and I had a spa appointment scheduled (another surprise from John!) and it was time to head off for our lunchtime massages.
Of course I’ll write more (and post photos) about the rest of our weekend in Cannon Beach, but I can’t end this post without another word of thanks to John for planning and executing all the details of this wonderful birthday surprise, and to all of the friends and family who made it all the way to Oregon to celebrate with me. It was awesome, and I am very grateful to all of you.