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  • Nathan Yoder

Driving to Astoria

Each August I look at the calendar and have a sort of panic moment, as many teachers do. Where has time gone? What have I been doing the past two months? Have I really appreciated this break? This panic typically leads me to take a couple of thrown-together day trips (and this year, socially-distanced excursions) to feel like I've really loved Oregon as I should in the summer. It's silly to feel a pressure to relax, but if you've ever worked in public education, you know that it's hard to find space once that first bell rings.

So now this playlist.

I've made hundreds of mixes over the years, from quickly-assembled jigsaws to carefully-curated pieces. Two summers ago, before one of these August panic trips, I made this "Driving to Astoria" playlist (you can guess where I was headed that morning), and I don't know exactly why, but it is a compilation of mine that I love more than all others. It's imperfect, but it warms me all the same. First, it is timed perfectly (completely by accident) to run the entirety of drive from Portland to Astoria - a sleepy little town in northwesternmost Oregon. I also love how quiet the middle parts are, for those miles of scaling the the Coastal Range, shaded by old-growth giants. There is a lot of cheesy ocean imagery in the songs, but I don't care. Astoria is the town in which I first listened to Jenny Hval's The Long Sleep, and it is where Liz Harris makes art. The Pacific is what inspires C. Diab and Shelley Short's music. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith was raised on the Orcas Islands up in coastal Washington, and To Feel Your Best closes the two hours of music beautifully. At times, I have been tempted to revise this playlist in subtle ways, but have refrained before going through with it. It's not what I would make today, but an artifact which is special to me. I haven't been able to recreate this playlist magic in the two years since making this particular comp, so I revisit the mix from time to time, but only when I drive to the Pacific. I guess for me, it's intertwined with emotions tied to travel and adventure. Feel free to give it an unshuffled spin if you are squeezing in one more *safe* summer trip, and maybe you'll love it like I do.


*Cover image taken from Wikipedia. Definitely not by me.


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