Image Our daughter and I snapped this on a drive along the Cannon Beach highway. The famed Haystack Rock may be seen in the distance.

When you're a journalist, the world doesn't stop, even though you're on vacation.

My family and I left July 20 for a family vacation in Portland and Cannon Beach, Ore. As I was packing the bags, I also was reading and updating the Associated Press story posted overnight by sports editor John Hornberg about a horrific shooting at an Aurora movie theater. I emailed local editor Becky Cooper with some suggestions for local story angles and headed to the Houston airport.

I appreciated from 2,300 miles away how well the team came together to produce Saturday's front page. Although I figured that national story was enough news to last more than a week, local events unfolded differently.

A Facebook friend asked Sunday evening whether we had heard about a bad crash near the Goliad-Bee county line. I emailed our skeleton crew on Sunday, asking them to check on the accident while I went to dinner with my family, friends and relatives at Norma's in Seaside. As I enjoyed a salmon BLT and a cup of shrimp stew, the Advocate team was scrambling to learn more about what would turn out to be one of the worst traffic crashes in Crossroads' history.

After dinner, I learned of the severity of the crash while my family and friends built a campfire on the beach. They roasted marshmallows for s'mores while I pulled out my iPad and tried to help how I could from an Oregon beach house, mainly by pushing to extend our deadlines by almost two hours to get the latest information into Monday morning's editions.

I made it to the campfire for one s'more and a little family warmth as the Advocate team finished the final touches on the front page. At one point, I stood up from my iPhone, stretched my back and stared at the night sky glowing above the Pacific Ocean. "Wow, that's beautiful," I said to no one in particular.

"Yes, that's what the world looks like above your iPhone," our 17-year-old daughter responded, prompting a roar of laughter that lifted much higher than the campfire's flames. As I mentally filed away her comment to use against her at a later date during one of her texting marathons, I also got the point.

The news goes on, no matter whether the editor is on the beach or not. I confess I still spent a little too much time in Bella Espresso coffeehouse enjoying free wifi and a latte. However, I also tried to fully embrace the time I was given to be with my family, dear friends and my wife's relatives in Oregon.

We shared many laughs and lots of love. Our kids heard so many stories about "back in my day" that this phrase became the running joke of the trip. Back in my day, you couldn't see a front page 3,200 miles away on your iPhone. To comments like this one, our 15-year-old son said in his best old-man voice, "Back in my day, the mail came once a week on the Pony Express."

Fortunately, my good buddy, Brent, understood because he's another ink-stained wretch. He didn't mind that I was a bit distracted at his in-law's beach house because he also spent some time on the phone talking with a Willamette Week reporter about a story. We even toured together The Daily Astorian because we both have friends there and can't stay away from the news for too long. While in Astoria, we also rummaged through some antique stores as Brent tried to add to his collection of old typewriters.

In less than a week, 27 people died in two separate horrific incidents. When you're a newsman, you mark time by where you were when big stories occur: I asked my fellow college students on the street for reaction to the shooting of President Reagan; I was on my honeymoon during the early days of the Persian Gulf War; I volunteered in our daughter's elementary school before helping put out an extra edition after 9/11.

Time and the news march on. We can't stop either one. All we can do is grab hold of our family and friends and show them how much we love them.


Our kids and Brent enjoy a chilly evening around a campfire on Cannon Beach.