Cannon Beach has always been one of my favorite places. A small town along the northern Oregon Coast. It can be a great place to get away for any amount of time. Last week it was my escape for just one night. Getting down to Cannon Beach often takes between four and five hours from my home east of Seattle. A long drive which has the ability to clear the mind. People also talk about how heart aches become healed by the sea. Experience told me that walking along the edge of the Pacific Ocean would help place things into perspective. After some long weeks, a change of pace was in order. The place would be best with some familiarity, so Cannon Beach was the spot. It was Friday morning when everything had piled high enough to encourage a trip. Following a couple phone calls, the plan was put into place. My overnight bag was thrown together, the laptop was packed, and by early afternoon I was on the road. Cerebral palsy seems too often require some thought when heading out for a break. However, having been down to Cannon Beach many times, made it a great place for a last-minute getaway. The routine was in my head before pulling out of the garage. My first stop would be grabbing coffee in Longview, then pick up a pizza in Clatskanie, and onto The Hallmark in Cannon Beach. It was all mapped out.
It had been a while since heading out of town alone. The time was right to attempt clearing my foggy mind. With Easter coming on Sunday, it would be a quick overnight get away. My idea was not only to gain some space, but also get some writing accomplished. The plan was to make my first stop for coffee in Longview. Dutch Bros coffee would be the destination of choice. Dutch Bros doesn’t have many coffee stands around Seattle, so it has become a treat when driving anywhere south. Pulling into the stand left me with something unusual when purchasing my drink. During my experience of purchasing coffee from a coffee stand, tipping can be challenging. With cerebral palsy the use of credit cards has always been simpler than using cash. It is challenging with shaky hand to deal with cash in any situation, which can often make tipping uncomfortable. But, for the first time, a coffee stand had me covered. Dutch Bros ran the credit card I handed them, then handed me a tablet to complete the purchase. The tablet wasn’t too small, but easy for me to manipulate. On the tablet was a row of four good size boxes, again providing comfort because even with cerebral palsy the boxes were big enough to press with ease. With my mind calm from the arrangement, I pushed to give a tip, closed out the purchase, and down the road I continued.
Cerebral palsy can make even the most common interactions challenging. The exchanging of cash can feel awkward when fumbling to find the amount in mind. The tip amount for my coffee being placed on a tablet to select wasn’t entirely new. The process has seemed to pop up on more screens when completing a purchase. However, I hadn’t seen it in a drive through situation before this trip. The encounter felt so cool that I wanted to try experiencing it again. The following day as my trip home began there was another Dutch Bros in Astoria, which sits at the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon. Just as it had taken place the prior day, my card was run and the tablet appeared. It brought the same comfort felt the day before, as I touched a box to leave the tip. The tablet was super easy to manipulate and no trouble was felt handing the tablet back inside. The tablet situation at Dutch Bros made getting coffee so much easier on my disability. The ease of physical manipulation put my mind at ease, allowing me to engage in small talk with reduced anxiety around the physical exchange of the transaction. This seemingly simple change in process would have me always choosing Dutch Bros if we had more of them in my home area.
Heading out of Longview on my way down to Cannon Beach, the next stop was Clatskanie. Clatskanie was probably three hours into the trip. One of the Fultano’s pizza locations is in the small town, so I pulled off to get a pizza. Fultano’s has been one of my favorite places to get a pizza, they have one in Cannon Beach, but my thinking was it could be crowded on a Friday night. Plus, after a few hours of driving, Clatskanie seemed like a good spot for an extended break. I went in to order my favorite pizza in a size much too large for one person. The pizza was eaten for dinner and breakfast the following morning. It took them about twenty minutes to prepare, which gave me time to walk around stretching my legs out. The big box containing a yummy pizza was brought to me as I sat in a booth. Walking toward the door, the process of opening the door, and moving through brought some concern. My plan was to turn around and back into the door, then guide the box through as my back pushed the door open. Hoping the plan would work, I approached the double doors cautiously. As concern mounted with an oversized pizza box in hand, a gentleman just coming into the pizza place kindly held the door for me to slide past. With little more to do than thank him kindly, I was through the doors safely, and headed for the final stretch of road to the beach.
The Hallmark Resort sits on a bluff just south of downtown Cannon Beach. Cannon Beach is a relatively small town along the Oregon Coast. Driving through the town can feel like you’re on the set of a movie. It’s a small main street lined with unique shops and good restaurants. Driving along the street always brings back good memories of prior visits. After slowly rolling through town, I took a right, heading up the steep driveway of The Hallmark. Having stayed there many times, I was familiar with the routine, stopping to check in at the main desk. I was greeted by a kind woman who was familiar to me, though I didn’t know if the familiarity was mutual. However, the process of checking in was unique and left me wondering if she was familiar. Upon arriving cerebral palsy had taken a slight toll on my body. There was some fatigue making physical functioning more challenging. Writing anything would be more difficult and the higher counter would add to the challenge. While the woman took my name, and began the process, as I prepared for some challenging moments. The following moment surprised me, leaving me in thankful amazement.
The situation seems more profound if the woman didn’t recognize me, but either way it was a first. Beginning the process, she brought out a piece of paper to be signed and initialed. It was part of checking in that was familiar. Signing and initialing wouldn’t be the challenge, it was printing my license plate number that got tricky. But, after pointing out where my signature and initials were required, she pointed at my car to inquire if it was mine. After letting her know it was, she told me she could see the plate number, and would take care of righting it down. All she needed from me was to sign, initial, and provide a credit card with ID. It was no problem, thankful for her willingness to write the license number down, I signed, initialed, and handed over the two cards. This was when things became really interesting. After processing the cards, she handed them back to me in a way no one ever has. Instead of presenting them to me for me to grasp, by setting them on the counter, or holding them out toward the center of my chest, she placed each card directly into my right hand one at a time. My right hand naturally went forward anticipating a grasp from her hand or the counter, when all of a sudden, the card was in my hand. I placed the card in my wallet and went back for the next. Again, she managed to place the card into my right hand without me doing anything. It was one of the coolest and kindest things I’ve had someone do during a transaction. I have no idea how she got each card to almost magically find its way back into my hand, but she did it twice. While driving to my room I was struck by the attention to detail and care it took to make the card hand-off so easy. It left me feeling so positive and thankful for her kindness.
There has always been something exciting about getting away for a bit. Even if the escape only lasts a few hours, it can still refresh our minds. Cerebral palsy can add some challenges to travel. However, those challenges aren’t enough to stay away from enjoying life. It always makes me smile to find little things making the journey more enjoyable. On this trip, it was the surprise of getting coffee. The change of a seemingly simple process of completing a transaction can carry an impact. Being handed a tablet to use made getting coffee so much easier. It also helped me feel more included because of the ease. My interactions became fuller as I could make small talk at Dutch Bros, rather than worry about fumbling with anything. Then, as I checked into my room, someone took extra care to make the process easier. Someone was willing to help with writing and make sure my cards got back into my hand easily. The trip was already off to a good start before entering my room. Life doesn’t always help out in these little way, but when it does things seem more enjoyable. Getting away can ease the mind, especially when we encounter helpful things and caring people.