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Columnist Sharon Nesbit longs for of the day when drives through the Cascades and hugs between friends become 'normal' once again.

SHARON NESBITThings I want when I get out:

Tuesday night is/was chicken-fried steak at Tad's Chicken N' Dumplins. I know about the chicken and dumplings they are famous for, but my favorite there has always been the Tuesday night special, chicken-fried steak, wonderfully crispy and slathered in cream gravy. I suppose, when you think about it, my cholesterol count has improved in coronavirus isolation.

But when I get out of here and get there and get to my table with a view of the Sandy River, chicken-fried steak is what I will order. Cholesterol be damned.

I always go the other side of the mountains this time of year to make sure the Cascades are all present and accounted for. So I planned a trip to Bend to see my cousin and eat at McKay's Cottage. But the drive takes so long I need a public restroom on the way — clean, shiny and virus free. Sadly, it is not to be had. So, stay put mountains, I will be along soon.

I am also hankering for a drive to Newport for fresh crab at Lighthouse Fish and Chips. And for fish and chips, too. Last fall I made one more early winter trip there to enjoy their fish and chips, which I regard as the best on the coast. Every time, I say to myself, they can't be that good. And every time when I take the first bite I nearly cry for joy.

I could use a ramble down Main Avenue in Gresham, meeting and greeting people and lunching at Sunny Han's.

And likewise, a wander through downtown Troutdale welcoming everyone back to ordinary life. We have all been stricken by this plague in one way or other and now we need hugs.

I want to drive the Historic Columbia River Highway to The Dalles. Curses on those who went to the gorge and pushed the barricades aside, going where they weren't supposed to. Their actions forced closure of much of the road last weekend. One of the gifts I thought I still had in isolation was a solitary drive in the gorge to look for trilliums and spring plants along the roadside. I like to get my head straight on a crooked road.

I wouldn't even mind a trip to the post office to stand in line with a package. I also could use a trip to Sandy for Joe's Donuts, a walk in the park without worrying about distance and a drive to the Willamette Valley to see what's blooming.

Or sitting outside at a table at McMenamins drinking a beer with 30 or 40 others and raising this question: Is it possible to brew beer without wearing a baseball cap? Maybe it is the brewing equivalent of a hair net? Regardless, a beer and some friends to enjoy it with would be pleasant.

I understand we are living through the hairiest event of our lifetime, that we are still finding a way back to what used to be normal, and not even certain that we will get there.

I miss normal a lot.


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