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Abandoned Bandon birthday bash a blast

Unless you want to spend a quiet day ice fishing for your birthday, don’t get born in January.

Oh, there are a few other wicky wacky things you can do, like browse seed catalogs or hunt for kindling. I know, I could be an aging peepsicle in Duluth right now, or even Cleveland, so I’m not complaining exactly. It’s just that my birthday comes around each year the same time everyone else turns out the lights. This year’s example follows.

The Pacific Ocean doesn’t change much throughout the year. In case you haven’t seen it, it’s a big, churning body of undulating saltwater with waves and tides that ebb and flow upon beaches and beach bums year round. So, why wouldn’t a birthday celebration at the coast be just as nice in January as July? I’ll tell you. It’s because the ocean doesn’t give a rip.

So, we sailed to Bandon for my special day. I knew the atmosphere might sing with emptiness, but I planned a fun birthday despite empty gloom. We drove through the mostly deserted streets of Old Town and noticed restaurants had signs on their doors that read, “Happy birthday, Peggy. Don’t even think about eating here.” Truthfully, there were at least four eateries with blackened windows and ghosts peeking through the panes. With each birthday I attain a new level of exaggeration, so buckle up.

My chocolate connection, Coastal Mist, was shuttered, even though their website lists winter hours. This came as a shock, because they had just announced with no small fanfare their new offering of gelato on Facebook, to which I’d replied, “Yes! Just in time!”

Didn’t anybody in Bandon know it was my birthday? Not until I began to announce it.

Things began to shape up once we arrived at the Table Rock Motel. Two sisters behind the desk, Doreen and Rachel, were fabulous. The rooms are spotless and quiet (so was everyplace, except one plaintive buoy) and rates were incredible. These folks know how to do winter. As in, book a night, get the second for half price. Bandon’s Gorse Festival is in a couple of weeks. Gorse is not a Celtic ale or German vegetable dish, but an obnoxious weed. The festival, however, does revolve around walking through town drinking outlandish bloody marys. How I wish I had more room here. The special rate at TRM lasts through February.

I might have known we could rely on Foley’s, the friendly Irish pub, to be open. Their fish tacos are the best in town. We had a satisfying jaw-wag with Alan, the Scot server, who gave us tips for the high road in Edinburgh. One jolly boy at the bar laughed for a solid 47 minutes. I asked Alan to tell him that my great aunt, Agnes had a stroke laughing like that.

When I returned to the room, those wonderful ladies had snuck in and left me a birthday card and Table Rock Motel mug stuffed with candy, which I now cherish. The candy is a fond memory. I left them one of my books. Hopefully that won’t turn the benevolent tide.

The following night, we made reservations at Edgewaters for 7 p.m. and secured a table by the window, no problem. After we were seated, I realized our view was black. I was born in January. It’s bedtime at 7. But the mahi-mahi was grilled to perfection and our waiter, Derek “Chubby” Chubb, was a chatty character with no off switch, which suited my party mood. He tried to cajole the only other diners sitting near to join him in a rousing verse of Happy Birthday to me, but they filled their mouths with bread and turned leeward.

The following day shone sunny and glorious. We stuck around as long as possible, enjoying a satisfying beach amble, then returned home to freezing fog. Don’t get me wrong. It was a wonderful birthday, and WinterRiver Books there now carries mine!

Peggy Dover is a freelance writer. Reach her at pcdover@hotmail.com and on her Facebook page.