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Travels with Brian

Travel staffer Brian Cantwell, his wife and their two cats traversed the Oregon shore in a rented motorhome. Read their adventures here.

April 12, 2010 at 5:00 PM

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Love it or hate it, Seaside does its job well

Posted by Brian Cantwell

The retro postcard-style mural in downtown Seaside sets the tone.

SEASIDE, Ore. -- Before we get much farther down the coast, I have to ask the litmus-test question: Do you love Seaside or do you hate it?

No matter. It serves a function, and does it well. Seaside is the old-fashioned family-fun beachtown that should be part of everybody's childhood, and if you grew up in the Pacific Northwest, Seaside probably was.

We visited it Sunday morning, and decided to love it.

Saltwater taffy shops, still there -- but with passion fruit and raspberry-lemonade among the 70 flavors now at The Buzz sweet shop, which claims "the largest selection of candy on the Pacific coast." Crowds still gathering outside the window at Tom 'n' Larry's to see the man wrestle an Incredible Hulk-size serving of fudge into submission with a wooden paddle. The Funland game arcade, there when I was 6, and still there -- with no chance of being replaced by a Chihuly museum.

The Buzz candy shop has more than 70 flavors of saltwater taffy.

We hadn't stopped in Seaside and strolled the Broadway main drag for years, but when we spent an hour there on sunny Sunday morning, I turned to my wife with some surprise and announced, "Seaside is looking a lot better than the last time we visited." Not many vacant shops downtown. Some new and unusual shops, like Beach Puppy, doing a hot business selling doggie T-shirts with inscriptions such as "I do BAD things" and "Does this T-shirt make me look fat?" Crowds of visitors filling the sidewalks and hanging on the beach this Tax Day week.

Sandcastle kits on a Seaside sidewalk.

Maybe it was the RV experience, turning my usually sophisticated spouse into a Woman of the People, but she ended up gushing about Seaside, and beach towns in general. It was hard not to be infected by the general happiness of the crowd, or by the gusto with which diners attacked their flapjacks as we walked past the windows of the Pig 'n Pancake around Sunday brunch time.

Boys waxing their boogie boards, framed
by the Seaside promenade railing.

The candy store did offer one thing that disturbed Barbara, though.

"They sell chocolate-covered bacon! And that kid over there is eating some!"

It was a theme Hitchcock and Stephen King played with skill: Among innocence, horror.

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