From the Blogahedron

An Olfactory Adventure

1 Comment General Musings

It’s a smelly world out there.

Debbie & I recently took a trip to do some promotion for “A Musical Adventure”, and that trip turned out to be more of an adventure than I’d expected.

The Rumbling Box

First, a little explanation. When you don’t see well, taking a trip in the car is kind of like being in a sensory deprivation tank. Being in an enclosed and climate-controlled space, the world is reduced to road noise and whatever conversation or music is going on in the car as you go along. It’s very much like riding the bus for me, and I tend to get in a ‘transit zone’ where my thoughts turn inward due to the lack of external stimuli. It’s not a lack of awareness, just a shift in focus.

Often when a long trip is done and it’s time to get out of the car for a while, the world comes rushing back in with sounds and scents and textures. It’s quite invigorating in its way, and reminds me that I should be spending more time outside. Which, of course, means less time writing blog posts.

Around The World in 80 Scents

During our many stops, we visited a lot of businesses of many different types. And even though some of them were in the same kind of business, no two places smelled the same. When you live by senses other than sight, you quickly learn to sense the personality of a place by how it smells. It’s a much more intimate ‘look’ at a place than you get with your eyes, and it’s fun to discover things about a place that very few others may notice.

Here are some of the smelly stops we made.


Tillamook, Oregon is well-known for its cheese. And that cheese is made from milk that comes from cows. And where there are cows…. Let’s just say that it was a bit overpowering and we were glad to get back in the car.

Tourist Chotchkies at Flamingo Jim’s

T-shirt transfers, rubber animals, beach balls, shell art, and the ocean breeze as we wandered through the large collection of outdoor art, looking for a pagoda for our front yard.

Pronto Pups

Fried food, bread, and other tasty treats.

Rockaway Beach, Oregon is the birthplace of the Pronto Pup, and there’s a nice place there that sells them, including a coin-operated kid’s ride where instead of a horse you ride…a pronto pup. No, I am not kidding.

New Clothes and Old Carpet

Softened sounds and the smell of new fabric in an intimate little clothing shop, where I got some new socks and we had a pleasant chat with the lady working there.

Paint, Must, and Husky

The smells of painting in progress laid over the background of an old hotel building made for an interesting spiciness as they came together. And there was a friendly Siberian Husky who thought my hand smelled good.

Yeast, Flour, and Chocolate

Bakeries are always olfactory feasts, and the Beach Bakeshop was no exception. An amazing combination of bread, chocolate, cinnamon and other flavors made this stop an olfactory adventure all by itself.

Comfort Food at the Cow Bell Cafe

The warm, comfortable smell of hearty food and the sound of idle chat among the locals give this place a wonderful air of relaxation and acceptance. And their food’s good, too.

Old Wood, New Sounds

The smell of old wood, spices, and vegetables filled a local co-op, which a hint of coffee as we made our way toward the back room where there are tables & chairs set up. It’s a likely spot for a future show! The scent of old wood is something that always puts me at ease. It must be the rustic in my soul.

Wine and Quilts

The bouquets of a wine shop were softened by the textures and scents of a craft store as they share space in what used to be an old hotel. The hard glass surfaces of the bottles gave way to a close, snuggly feeling as we explored hallways lined with quilts.

Tea First

We weren’t sure about one shop as a place for a show poster, but they listed tea above coffee on their sign so we had to go in. Inside I found a chorus of scents from various teas to herbs, candles, and a hint of old wood and furniture as we discovered another back room where folks sometimes gather for music.

Everything Under the Sun

A shop aptly named The Emporium contains all manner of things from rope and car accessories to pot holders, toys, and gifts. Each room had its own character, and there were a lot of rooms! It was kind of like walking through a scent maze.

Art and Carpet

You may not think a place can smell dignified, but it’s possible. One arts center we visited featured scents of (art) paint, clean but well-loved carpet, and the unmistakable scent of wood that’s old on purpose, like that found in nice picture frames. The nice volunteer we spoke with was quiet of manner, which matched all of the sensory inputs of the space.

Viva Mexico!

A small but lively Mexican restaurant seemed like an exotic safari after visiting places with more subtle scents. The spices and aroma of cooking meat made us hungry, and the lively atmosphere and sounds bouncing off the hard surfaces gave it the feeling of an old marketplace.

Coffee Without A Cup

The only word that suits the coffee shop we visited is ‘intense’. Many varieties of coffee, some of which must have been very potent from the way they smelled. It was as if the scents of outside couldn’t get past the coffee, which made for interesting contrasts both entering and leaving.

Ocean Breeze

Last and most of all, the smell of the ocean and all the sensations that go with it on the Oregon coast. The salt air of course, but also the feel of sand in the wind, the tough and scrubby pines that grow into the most amazing shapes, seagulls, and the ever-present but always-changing sound of the ocean. Anyone who says that the white noise generated by civilization is “just like the ocean” needs to have their soul examined.

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