There’s a school of thought that the infamous “they” proclaim which says the way you are on New Years Day is what shapes the way you’ll be the entire year. That, among other reasons is why I like to wake up rested, sans hangover, on New Years Day. I’m hoping the same mindset goes for the 4th of July – the way the 4th is spent will shape the rest of the summer. If it’s true (and being that I like to occasionally make up my own silly superstitions and pass them on so others will become similarly superstitious), then Rob and I are in for a summertime treat.
Our 4th of July started out with sunshine and ended with sparklers. We had a perfect day – simple, humble, and just enough of our own festivities to make the day special. The sun woke us up later than usual (thank you, Sig, for not barking at 5:something in the morning!), and proceeded to draw us up the Oregon Coast towards Cape Perpetua. The almost 3-mile hike is straight uphill with switchbacks completely up and down. It helps that the mountain faces the south, thus blocking the Arctic Ocean winds, but doesn’t make the climb any less strenuous. Climbing only a couple feet behind Rob, my face was level with the small of his back and I could clearly see the sweat soaking through his quickly-turning-darker-shades-of-green shirt. At one point the sweat turned to stink.
“Oh, well I don’t have any deodorant on,” said like that was totally normal.
“Why wouldn’t you put on deodorant this morning when you knew we were going hiking?”
“Because I’m clean.”
Notwithstanding the climb, it brought us to a view that can only be described with a noise. A gasping “wow” under the breath might suffice. Or maybe a low whistle would do. But if I had to use words, I would only need one: freakingamazing.
We stayed at the top for a while, sitting on stone look-out fence, quietly chatting but mostly not, hoping to see a whale and soaking in the sun with un-SPF-protected skin. The sea was not nearly calm, but from way up high it looked like dark, etched glass. The lava-rock cliff beneath us showed millions of years of growth with succulents and wildflowers singing with bees and birds doing their biological jobs, despite the national holiday. The tropical view made a contrasting picture with the mountain pines standing like tall, skinny guards bordering the horizon. It made us long for a tropical drink and a bowl of chili at the same time. A zucchini salad at the bottom of the mountain would have to do. With our pasty Oregon skin starting to burn, and stomachs starting to growl, we made the trek down the mountain, and a beeline towards the nearest picnic table.
Eating with bamboo forks right out of the bowl, we devoured the salad. And not just because we were hungry. The combination of grilled zucchini, sweet cranberries, tangy goat cheese, and pop-in-your-mouth pine nuts made for the perfect outdoor travel lunch. One of my favorite things to do in the summertime is grill zucchini with olive oil, s&p, and a sprinkling of dried oregano; it’s a great side dish, or even a snack. But this way may be my new favorite.
Like I tend to do in cars, I fell asleep on the ride home. We had hotdogs and hamburgers for dinner, and lit our sparkler centerpiece after dusk, waving the wands around like little kids. At that moment, Sig was probably the most mature out of the bunch. It was a 4th for the books.
Grilled Zucchini Salad (serves 2 hungry hikers)
- 2 med-large zucchini, sliced lengthwise
- ¼ c dried cranberries
- ¼ c toasted pine nuts (I toast mine in a dry pan over high heat)
- 3 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
- few leaves of basil, chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
On a large grill-pan, heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil. Prepare the zucchini by drizzling the other tbps of olive oil, oregano, and s&p over the slices. When the grill is hot (the oil will shimmer like the sun reflecting off the ocean), place the zucchini on the grill cut-side down. Leave to grill – and do not bother – until brown grill-marks appear, about 5 minutes. Flip zucchini and grill until the veg is just tender, but still has bite. Set zucchini aside to cool.
When cool, slice the zucchini lengthwise again (now, there should be 8 slices). Slice those into bite-sized pieces, like little triangles. Pour into a bowl, and add the cranberries, nuts, and goat cheese. Mix well, taste for seasoning, and top with basil.