Last week was absolutely crazy for me. I flew out to Orlando Florida last Monday at 4:30 am for a meeting that next day.. and flew back to Portland that following morning. The rest of the week was absolutely hectic at work, so I wanted to do absolutely nothing this weekend but catch up on sleep and relax. When Ian’s sister-in-law (and soon to be my sister-in-law) texted me Wednesday afternoon, just as I had landed in Portland, and asked me if I wanted to play in a beach volleyball tournament with her this weekend.. I felt exhausted just thinking about it. Her team needed one more player to be able to compete this weekend, so she reached out to me hoping that I would join in. I felt awful. All I wanted to do was relax.. but I knew how disappointed she would be if I turned down her invitation. Not wanting to make up my mind right away, I waited for Ian to get home after work to talk about it and decided to turn down her invitation. After travelling all week and working overtime, I thought it would be best to give myself time to rest.
Well, a few days later, Friday night to be exact, she texted me again asking me to reconsider my decision. They were unable to find a fourth player and would need to pull out of the tournament if I could not play. I then decided at almost 10 pm that Friday night that I would suck it up and just play, I mean, how tiring could it be?
Saturday morning, Ian and I woke up around 6:30 am.. and I told Ian that I had changed my mind about playing in the tournament and that we would need to quickly find a hotel or Airbnb to sleep in that night (to avoid having to wake up at 4:30 am on Sunday). After looking on google & airbnb.com I was struggling to find anything that was either available or cost less than $300.. until I looked at the room availability at McMenamins Gearhart Hotel and saw that they were booked up but had a note suggesting that you call their hotel anyway.
I almost didn’t call them, but I am glad that I did! When I called the hotel, the lady working the front desk notified me that they were booked that night but then she paused and said, “hold on… let me check something”. Five minutes later, she returned to the phone and notified me that there had been a cancellation and that one room was available! Ian and I had wanted to try staying at a McMenamins hotel for a while now, so we were stoked when we found out that they had a room available AND that the room was cheaper than any of the other hotel rooms in the area – SCORE!
Off to Astoria!
After booking our hotel room, we quickly got ready, packed our bags, and headed off to Astoria. We hadn’t been to Astoria since January (see my Astoria Guide from January) and were excited to head back to explore more of Astoria.
Our first stop? Obviously our favorite coffee spot in Astoria – Street 14 Café! We had actually already picked up coffee on our way out to Astoria, so we settled for grabbing a slice of their zucchini bread.
One of my favorite things about this cafe is the atmosphere. The decorations are cozy and unique. Locals and tourists sip on beverages while reading or chatting with loved ones. I love hanging out and people watching here 🙂
After Street 14 Cafe, we headed out to Fort Stevens after chatting with a local resident about nearby dog parks. To our surprise, there are no dog parks in Astoria but there is one not even 10 minutes away in Warrenton. I wanted to take Winston to the beach to get some energy out of him, so I ended up taking him to a secluded area of the beach that was recommended to me by a lady from Astoria. It wasn’t quite a dog park but it was a safe place to let Winston run around without anyone really around.
And I am glad we decided to visit the beach! We all had a blast running around the beach with no people or cars to worry about.
I couldn’t help but snap a few photos while there.
McMenamins Gearhart Hotel
After running around on the beach with Winston, we headed over to our hotel to check in.
McMenamins hotels are dog-friendly, so Winston got to join us in our beach weekend for an additional $15 added to our room, which is actually extremely fair! Ian checked us in to our hotel while Winston and I were checking out the lobby. Winston was exhausted from running around on the beach but was so excited by all the people who wanted to pet him. I swear he lives for attention.
Seeing that McMenamins not only has a line of hotels, but also pubs and movie theatres here in the PNW, you can find their beer and wine showcased in their lobby. They also offer a beer 101 package that you can add to your stay which includes: two taster trays of McMenamins handcrafted ales & a growler filled with a beer of your choice (the growler is also yours to keep. Not only do they have a beer package, but they have:
- NYE Package
- In this package you get a dinner at their restaurant & a NYE party with live music w/ breakfast provided the next morning in their restaurant.
- Valentine’s Package
- Includes: a bottle of Edgefield sparkling wine, two keepsake flutes, dinner, & breakfast the following morning.
- Hammerhead Package
- Includes dinner & breakfast the following morning
- Add a Little Romance Package
- Includes a bottle of sparkling wine, two keepsake flutes, massage oil, & chocolates
I don’t know about you guys, but I love the concept of offering different packages or experiences to guests. Ian and I did not try any of their packages but I think they sound like a lot of fun. If you are interested in learning more about their packages, you can do so here.
Once we were checked in, we headed over to our room to drop off our bags and get Winston settled in before heading off to dinner. I immediately feel in love with the room’s unique style and warmth. Call me an old lady, but I absolutely loved the wood panel walls!
Once Winston seemed to feel more comfortable in the room, we decided to test leaving him for a few minutes alone in the room before heading out for dinner. To our surprise, Winston just slept on the bed while we were walking around and exploring the hotel.
I could not get enough of the historic photographs and paintings that lined the halls of our hotel. In fact, you can actually read about the history of this hotel here. Had I had more time at this historic hotel, I would have wandered the halls looking at each and every photograph.
While we could have eaten dinner at the hotel, we wanted to go back to Astoria to enjoy food and beer at our favorite brewery in Astoria, Buoy Brewing.
On our drive out from the hotel, we had to pull over and snap a picture of all of the elk hanging out on our hotel’s golf course. It was incredible! A few of them pranced around while others gathered together to eat. We couldn’t get over how large they were!
Dinner in Astoria
From our hotel, it took us about 20 minutes to get back to Astoria. I was a little nervous during our ride back to Astoria that Winston would be having separation anxiety without us, but Ian was confident that he would be fine.. and it turns out that he was right.
Once in Astoria, we found parking near Buoy and headed on inside.
From the outside, Buoy looks like a warehouse, but it has such a beachy laid back feel inside. If you have already read my Astoria Guide from January, then you already know how much Ian and I adore this place. The food is great, the beer does not disappoint, and the atmosphere is so fun! You can enjoy your meal with gorgeous views of the ocean or look below the glass floor to see sea lions hanging out!
Since this place truly is a gem of Astoria, it is often times pretty crowded. We thought we could beat the crowds by arriving at 4 pm for dinner but we weren’t the only ones with that thought. We had a 45 minute wait, so we decided to run over to Vintage hardware before it closed at 5 pm.
On our walk over to Vintage Hardware we were stopped by commotion coming from the water and soon learned that a boat parade was going on! It just so happens that the Astoria Regatta celebration was taking place while we were there. It was the regatta’s 125th anniversary! How neat!
People were cheering, boats were honking their horns, and everyone was waving at one another. It really was a fun experience to be a part of.
People were watching from everywhere on the pier.
After a few minutes of walking, we were at Vintage Hardware.
Inside there is an eclectic collection of furniture, decor, photographs, random hardware, etc. You could probably spend hours in here looking at everything.
Unfortunately, just a few minutes after walking in, Ian and I received a text from Buoy notifying us that our table was ready, so we were not able to spend much time there However, we did manage to find rustic deer drawer pulls that we plan to repurpose into coat hangers.
Seeing that we were on coast, Ian and I wanted to have some of Buoy’s seafood. We opted to split a cup of their clam chowder and ended up trying out their fried oysters topped with jalapeño jelly and goat cheese. To be honest, I was a little nervous about the fried oysters, but they ended up being really good!
Unfortunately, the clam chowder and fried oysters were actually extremely filling.. so by the time my food came around, I was no longer hungry. I ended up having to box up my tuna melt sandwich, which was recommended to me by our waitress, and honestly felt grossly stuffed. Word of the wise, if you are going to order appetizers.. maybe don’t order an entree on top of that. Buoy’s serving sizes are huge! The food is pretty darn good though, so it can be difficult to restrain yourself 😉
After dinner we decided to head back to our hotel to check in on Winston and relax for a few minutes before heading to Seaside to meet up with Alex (Ian’s brother) and Leah (Alex’s wife).
We probably rested for a total of 20 minutes before we were back in the car headed for Seaside.
Winston stuck his head out of the bridge we were on and it was the cutest thing ever. He’s such a curious pup 😂
Once we were on the beach, we met up with Alex, Leah, and two of their friends (that I would soon play beach volleyball with). The final game of the day was wrapping up, so we decided to all watch it. Man were those guys good!
After the game, we all hung out on the beach for a while and brushed up a little on our volleyball skills. It has been around 10 years since I have played volleyball competitively.. so I was definitely in need of brushing up.
The sunset on the beach was absolutely gorgeous and the water was surprisingly warm for being on the Oregon coast.
I love watching waves, so I thought I would throw a short clip of the waves I watched on here for you all to enjoy 🙂
Winston seemed to be a big fan of hanging out with us on the beach. As for the ocean water? Not so much. Ever since he was a puppy he has been afraid of waves.
As it became darker outside, you could see bonfires appearing all over the beach. Alex had brought wood with him to build a bonfire, but seeing that it was already almost 10 pm and we had to be up early, we all opted to head back to our respective lodging to get some rest before playing in the Seaside Beach Volleyball Tournament that next morning.
By the time we returned to our hotel, we were all exhausted and plopped ourselves in bed. Ian and I stayed up watching tv for a little but Winston was out for the count right when we got back to our room.
He fell asleep with his head on Ian’s leg and it was the cutest thing.
Game Day – My first Beach Volleyball Tournament
The next morning we were up bright and early at 7 am to pack up our room and get ready to head out for our tournament. I was still full from dinner at Buoy, so I opted for starting off my day with McMenamins coffee.
In our hotel room, there were two coffee cups set out for us with a note for us to help ourselves to coffee in the hallway, so you bet I did! It felt so cozy walking down the hall in my pajamas to fill our mugs with coffee. I think I also loved being one of the few guests awake and getting coffee.
I also loved looking at the paintings hanging in the stairway area near the coffee station. UGH everything at this hotel was cozy and cute. How many times can I use the word cozy in one post? Who knows!
While getting ready in the morning and enjoying my coffee, I noticed Winston hanging out behind me and decided to capture the moment with a mirror selfie. Normally I find it a bit cheesy when people take mirror selfies.. but I could not resist taking one with my main man (or dog) Winston. He really is my best friend ☺️
After getting ready and packing our bags, we headed downstairs to check out.
Had I been hungry that morning and did not have a beach volleyball game to play in, I might have enjoyed breakfast at our hotel, but that was not the case. Maybe next time!
Once I was on the beach, my nerves began to kick in. Girls, boys, men, and women were walking in with Wilson bags and their teams alongside them. People were ready to play. I began to get nervous.. was this tournament going to be more intense than I had thought?
Ian, Winston, and I walked to the court I would be playing on and began settling in. My teammates then met up with me soon afterwards and we began warming up. Drinking coffee beforehand may or may not have been the best idea because I felt hyper and a little jittery from my nerves. Once it was time to play, my hands trembled and my heart began to pound. It had been a few years since I had competed in a sport. Remember, you are here to have fun.. this is not a competition, I kept reminding myself as we started our first game. That mentality quickly changed though.
We entered ourselves in the novice division for the tournament, which was the lowest division available out of 9 available adult divisions. The Novice division in the tournament was deemed as “entry level”. Above the novice division was the B division, B as in for beginners. Unfortunately, there were quite a few people there that did not seem to understand what entry level really meant.. because we were playing against teams that had been playing beach volleyball for quite some time…
Before I knew it, my entire team began to play stressed and at times a bit intensely. What was supposed to be a fun day of playing beach volleyball turned into an intense tournament where we had our a**es handed to us. I am going to be honest, it was not fun. The teams we competed against never really smiled, laughed, or looked like they were having any fun. They were there to win.
After 4 hours or so of playing without anything to eat, I was over the tournament. I was there to have fun and try something new but I didn’t feel that this was everyone’s intention.
Despite being a little upset about how things were going, I still enjoyed being cheered on by Ian. How he ended up sitting through a total of 8 hours of my beach volleyball tournament, I do not know. He truly deserves an award for cheering me on all day.
After we were entered into a new bracket, we managed to win our first game and then lost our second. We didn’t do so great at the Seaside Beach Volleyball Tournament, but I definitely learned a thing or two from this experience:
- Always bring sunscreen when you are going to the beach
- Don’t be hard on yourself when you are trying something new, in fact, be proud of yourself for getting out of your comfort zone
- If you find yourself getting cranky, get yourself something to eat
I may not have played very well this weekend but I am so proud of myself for trying something new! Will I play in a beach volleyball tournament again? I do not know. 8 hours of playing volleyball was a lot, let alone, beach volleyball. I might consider playing it casually.. but I don’t know if I will play it competitively in the near future. Who knows. I may change my mind 😉
And that just about sums up our last minute beach weekend!
Now, a few questions for you:
~ Have you ever played beach volleyball?
~ If you could go anywhere last minute, where would you go?