Random Thoughts of Dan Haag, Memories of the Manzanita Visitor Center – Tillamook County Pioneer
EDITOR’S NOTE: Regular Columnist (The Littoral Life) and Pioneer contributor Dan Haag makes a job change – from Coordinator of the Manzanita Visitor Center to Trails and Outdoor Recreation Coordinator for the Visitors Association from the Tillamook coast. See link to this story below It’s a natural fit for Dan, after all, he wrote the book on “Cultural Adventures” in Tillamook County, and he dispenses some good-humored information at the Visitor Center. for eight years. We thought Pioneer readers would appreciate his memories of his last day at the Visitor Center on September 19, 2021.
By Dan Haag
Some random thoughts and memories from my last day at the visitor center:
– As the desktop window views disappear, this one doesn’t suck.
– In the past 18 months, I haven’t had any of my volunteers here with me. I missed them.
– I always loved being in the building on Halloween and watching the local kids walk up and down Laneda Avenue, even last year when I had to hand out candy with barbecue tongs.
– To the person who recently dumped the men’s bathroom floor: May your underwear be infested with angry mosquitoes and biting lice in perpetuity. The same goes for the person who left a bag of dirty diapers hanging on the front door handle two summers ago.
– I liked chatting with people from all over the world. The British were always loud and charming, the Australians outgoing and ready to have a good time, the Japanese extremely polite. My favorites were the Germans, who loved to talk about hiking, beer and didn’t laugh at me because I was practicing my rusty German language skills (well, at least not face to face).
– Americans have an unfair reputation for being bad tourists. While I have certainly met my fair share, I will also say that the majority of people I have met on a daily basis in this country – even during the pandemic – were kind, respectful and fun. I especially liked the Boston family who were here for a family reunion. I couldn’t help but laugh at the way they kept slaughtering the word “Neahkahnie” and they were brought to tears by my over-the-top attempts to imitate their accent.
– Two of my volunteers recently passed away, Jan Markle in 2018 and Denny Hennessy in 2021. Jan was one of the most charming, generous people I have ever met. Denny was a ball of energy with a thunderous laugh. I miss them both terribly.
– I once found myself in the middle of a police chase here. I was talking to an elderly couple in Philadelphia when I saw a man rushing frantically past the building. Seconds later, Agent Sims roared down the street with his lights flashing. The man ran around the visitor center several times looking for a place to hide. I ran to the front door and locked it just before he tried the handle and he hid behind the shed in the back patio. Officer Sims pulled into our parking lot and I stuck my head out and motioned for him to get behind the hangar. A brief foot chase around the building and adjacent houses ensued, Officer Sims emerging victorious with the man in custody. He had been involved in a series of burglaries and auto thefts. I unlocked the front door and returned my attention to the elderly couple, apologizing for the commotion. They laughed and told me it had been the highlight of their trip so far.
– I never got tired of seeing the range of emotions on people’s faces when they checked out a beach wheelchair, especially if they had never been able to get out on the beach at that time of their life.
– The Christmas season was always fun, especially when our resident Santa, Dave Dillon, passed by the visitor center and brought big smiles to kids and adults alike. I also loved that Nehalem Bay Fire & Rescue would bring Santa to the Holiday Kids Fair every year in one of their platforms, with flashing lights. Santa Claus got out of the truck to thunderous applause.
– Kay Covert will always be missed and forever grateful for his influence on my life.
– Lilo, my old black Labrador, loved coming with me to the reception center. There was no one on this planet who was immune to its charms. Once I was trying to calm a man who was angry that he had been given a parking ticket and Lilo ran over to see what was going on. She slowly approached the man and leaned against his leg. “I don’t like dogs,” he said, but quickly calmed down and stroked her gently. She also helped comfort a little girl who had separated from her parents on the beach and a little boy who fell and cut his leg. This puppy was a sure-fire winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
– The strangest request I have ever received? A woman called me hoping I would intervene on her behalf with a local hotel after deciding not to stay there or pay the rental price. The reason: “God told him that the view from the room was not blessed.
– Right after the 2016 tornado, traders lined Laneda Avenue with brooms and shovels, working together to clean the sidewalks and the street. Incredibly, almost everyone had reopened by the end of the day.
– My first year at the Visitors Center, I gave a talk to a local group on tourism. Three people in the front row fell asleep.
– One summer, I was sitting at my desk when I saw a man carrying a microwave near the back door. He looked left and right and I had a suspicion that he was looking for a place to throw an old device. I caught his attention and he lifted the microwave, nodding towards the patio. I shook my head and heard him say “Oh come on! Confused, I stuck my head out and asked him what he needed. “I’m just looking for a plug-in so I can cook my dinner. I’m driving all the way to San Francisco and I don’t want to stop at a restaurant. He offered me a Hot Pocket in exchange for electricity, so it was quite difficult to refuse.
– Why do I love this city so much? Because when I go down Laneda to pick up mail or have my lunch, I often lose track of how many people I’m trading waves with back and forth.
– The scavenger hunts offered by Oregon Beach Experiences were always great. They would come and have to take a selfie with me or ask me to tell them about the famous “Treasure of Neahkahnie”. I always invented something funny, like when I told young boys that gold had been hidden in the mountain by aliens. I really hope this rambling story didn’t end up on YouTube.
– The Manzanita City Council and its staff, past and present, are some of the most dedicated people I have ever had the pleasure of working for.
– I recently read a comment on a local Facebook group page that our small businesses exist only to serve tourists, not locals. I couldn’t disagree more. We have businesses that donate some of their sales to local conservation groups. Our grocery stores kept their doors open and locals were fed and offered food delivery to the trapped during the pandemic. Everyone – from hotels to restaurants to retail – regularly donates items or money to local events, sports teams and causes. They annually sponsor the Farmers Market and arts and culture programs at the Hoffman Center. If that doesn’t serve the locals, I don’t know what it is.
– So here we are at the end. What a fantastic ride it has been. Thanks to everyone who drove everywhere. In the words of my favorite Traveling Wilbury, Tom Petty: “I don’t have to be ashamed of the car I drive. I’m just happy to be here, happy to be alive.
Dan Haag joins the Tillamook Coast Visitors Association. as coordinator of trails and outdoor recreation https://www.tillamookcountypioneer.net/dan-haag-joins-tillamook-coast-visitors-association-as-trails-and-outdoor-recreation-coordinator/