The Discovery Channel launched a spinoff of their popular Deadliest Catch program in September 2016. Entitled Deadliest Catch: Dungeon Cove the new series is filmed in and around Newport Oregon, one of the last commercial fishing communities on the Oregon Coast. At the center of the show are Newport father and son, Gary “the Ripper” and Kenny Ripka, real life captains of the Dungeness crab vessels, Western Breach and The Redeemer. A dangerous occupation requiring physical strength and agility coupled with years of experience, fishing for Dungeness crab off the coast of Newport requires crossing the Yaquina Bay Bar, a treacherous experience where monster waves can swell to four stories. According to Gary Ripka, the Dungeon Cove series will “have a lot of interaction with Newport and the Coast,” showing how “the crab fishing affects everyone, not just our families, but all the families of the town. If we do good, the town does good.” For this week’s Listen Up, we’ve shared a YouTube video of the opening theme song of Deadliest Catch, over footage of fishermen battling the elements. Check your local listings and YouTube for reruns of the first season of Deadliest Catch: Dungeon Cove.
Welcomed to the hotel by a sweet, round-faced woman with a shade of no-nonsense efficiency, she answered all of our questions as if “you should know that, silly.” That kind of response always throws me off guard, making the simplest direction confusing.
“Which elevator should we take to our room?”
“Either one. One is slower, but is closer, one is newer and faster but you’ll have to walk further, so you choose.”
I was tempted to ask which was which, but just took the key card and left the desk, stopping by the corner of the desk to pick up a freshly baked cookie for later.
Newport Oregon was our first stop on an impromptu trip to the Pacific Northwest and we were winging it. The only thing we knew about the town was that it was one of Oregon’s most popular summer beach destinations. Over the next two days we would discover that everyone seemed to know one another and “Hey, where you from?” was their familiar greeting to us as if we had “stranger” tattooed on our foreheads. But they always looked us in the eye and waited earnestly for an answer.
Poised between the Pacific Ocean and Yaquina Bay, the stunning natural beauty surrounding this coastal town is complemented by a funky, hardworking, fishing community and an abundance of California sea lions. Shrunk to its true year-round population of less than 10,000 people (and over 1,500 sea lions), the winter beaches were empty and expansive, the shops and restaurants in relaxed mode waiting on local customers and only the occasional outsider. The sea lions and the coffee shop managers were equally content, shaking off their worries and smiling at the winter sun. The attitude was infectious and pretty soon we were convinced that this little Oregonian Brigadoon could somehow hold the key to happiness. Turns out, there was no need to know much about Newport Oregon before we went, it was better to let it draw us in with its honest charm.
In the end, it was easy to choose to stay close and go slow – a newer, faster version of Newport wouldn’t be the same.
While in Newport Oregon we stayed at the Elizabeth Street Inn in a spacious oceanfront room with a fireplace and a small balcony overlooking the water. The perfect location for spending time alone on the beautiful Newport beach during the off season, the hotel was less than 5 minutes by car from the Bayfront shops and restaurants. On a particularly cold and stormy night, we wrapped ourselves in the warmth and fantastic aroma of the casual market-style Local Ocean Seafood Restaurant where we feasted on catch-of-the-day grilled rockfish and a Dungeness crab po’boy.
By day or by night the charm of the Bayfront area of this active fishing community is captivating. Hundreds of California sea lions bark and growl, mount the wharves, take a snooze then plop themselves back into the bay. In the off-season, without the influx of beach-bound tourists, the town hums with the rhythmic hustle of the fishing boats and workers in their colorful overalls and boots processing the day’s catch. Most of the shops and restaurants along the bay are set up in colorful and quirky buildings, some dating back to the mid-1800’s. Mo’s Chowder House (opened in 1946) and its annex are rumored to serve the best clam chowder you will ever taste. The Republic of Candy will draw you in with its anarchist chalkboard proclamations and, oddly enough, there is even an outpost of Ripley’s Believe it or Not in this small town.
Yaquina Head, a preserved rocky headland extending out in the Pacific Ocean is at the northern end of Newport Oregon. The centerpiece of the headland is Oregon’s tallest lighthouse, the graceful and majestic Yaquina Head Light, built in Paris in 1868, shipped to Oregon, and first lit in 1873. The lighthouse remains lit today using its original French-made Fixed Fresnel lens visible for 19 miles out to sea. There are five hiking trails at Yaquina Head as well as teeming tide pools on a black rock beach.
Watching two fishermen on a boat in Newport Oregon as they skillfully repaired their nets with a series of quick rope bends and knots, I was reminded of something I had seen on the East coast six months prior. Elizabeth and I were at craft market in the Asbury Park, NJ Convention Center and tucked into a remote corner of the building we found a twenty-something woman and her boyfriend selling macramé plant hangers and decorative wall hangings. Had we entered a time warp? Or were we discovering a rebirth of this 13th century Arabian hand-knotted art form that for so many of us is a flashback to the peace, love and hippie lifestyle of the 1960’s and ‘70’s?
The macramé fashion resurgence may have started in London in 2011 when designer Eleanor Amoroso fell in love with hitches and knots and created a line of 21st clothing and jewelry. The familiar accoutrements associated with macramé – diaphanous printed tops, bell bottoms, floppy hats and layers of bracelets and necklaces – are now waging a full-on 2017 Boho revolution. Filtered through the likes of Burning Man, Coachella, Kendall and Kylie Jenner, macramé and Boho style have found their way onto the established high fashion runways of Roberto Cavalli, Alberta Ferretti, Shiaparelli and Ralph Lauren, along with newcomers Helô Rocha and Yiqing Yin. The trend has cast its net to capture our imagination with everything from eveningwear to home furnishings to DIY wristbands. Always wistful, this time around macramé is less crunchy-granola and more urbane.
As one of my very first sample hands drolly reminded me, “Nothing new under the sun.” But there is always the excitement of discovering a vintage photo, a swatch of fabric, an incredible color or an authentic texture – like the intricately knotted patterns of macramé – that creates a spark. And when that spark is fanned with fresh perspective it starts a trend that is hot.
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