I love the beach. I love everything about the beach. I love the sand, the salt water, the waves, the sun, the shells, the sand crabs, the rocks, the crash of the water as it hits the shore – I love it all! I’ve lived more than half my life in Southern California where the beach is king. Or queen. It rules. It rocks. It’s far out, man. I just love the beach.
So this past weekend, when Dinah Dog and I were invited to go along with our friends, Seth and Tricia, for a weekend of camping at the beach with them and some of their friends, we accepted the invitation without hesitation. Ok, so there was just a wee bit of hesitation because we were gonna be ride-alongs and that’s always a recipe for some interesting times – was I up for that much of an interesting time? Apparently so. Read on.
And that’s where the adventure started. South Beach Campground in Newport, Oregon, here we come, ready or not!
Seth and Tricia have two of the cutest little kids anywhere – Cole and Ella. Cole is four years old and Ella is three. They both love the outdoors and camping and the beach, so it seemed like we had a match made in heaven – the five of us and the dog, going to the beach, camping. We piled the tents, cook stove, marshmallow roasting sticks (gotta have those!), sleeping bags, chairs for everybody, food for the weekend, Dinah and her ramp, and all of us humans into the Expedition and off we went. Boy, were we gonna have fun! Beach, here we come!
We arrived Friday afternoon in the pouring-down rain. Set up the tents in the pouring-down rain. Fixed dinner in the pouring-down rain. You get the picture – it was pouring down rain! By evening, Seth and Tricia had ditched their tent and moved into a yurt that had become available, (probably someone cancelling because of the pouring-down rain) but it was a non-dog-friendly yurt so Dinah and I were going to have to stay in our little tent, in the campsite, in the dark, all by ourselves. We felt like we were being abandoned in the rain. Well, I don’t know if Dinah felt that way or not – I think she was just wet and cold – but some little part of me sure felt that way, even though I knew we had hundreds of campers all around us. So much for fun at the beach.
It was cold and we were wet. It was cold because we were wet! I don’t think I’ve ever spent a more miserable night than that Friday night at the campground at the beach in a tent that condensed moisture on the inside so puddles formed all along the outside walls, with a dog that smelled like wet dog who was cold and wet because she’d had to sit in the rain while I put the tent up and who couldn’t get dry or warm, sleeping in my wet sweatshirt because my jacket isn’t rain-proof and I got drenched setting up the tent, with wet socks because my shoes aren’t water-proof either, in the dark, with the rain beating down loudly on the tarp I had strung up over the tent between the branches of the tree, just in case the water-proofing on the tent’s rain fly wasn’t really rain-proof. I really can’t even describe how incredibly uncomfortable and miserable it was in that tent! Words fail me… but maybe you can imagine a little bit of it. Dinah Dog and I were pathetically just plain miserable.
I tried to fall sleep by imagining that I was sitting on a warm, sunny beach, with a good book in my hand and a cold drink by my side, Dinah running after a crab skittering down the sand. And every time I woke up because my feet were wet or my head was cold, I’d picture the images in my mind once again and back to sleep I’d fall. For a little while. I think the night must have been 42 hours long.
I woke up early in the morning to find Dinah shivering on her blanket – she was still wet from the day before, even though I’d used a blanket to try and dry her off a little. I wrapped her in my sleeping bag and rubbed her fur to warm her up before heading over to the other camp to heat some water to put on her food to warm her up from the inside out. Except that her food was in the car that Seth and Tricia took over to the yurt site the night before. So instead, I poured Dinah a bowl of multi-grain Cheerios and covered them in warm water – and boy, howdy, did she love those Cherrios! She probably wishes I’d lose her food more often!
As soon as everyone was up and at ’em, the first thing we did that Saturday morning was to take a trip into town to find a laundromat so I could dry out all my clothes and the sleeping bag and blanket. An hour later, and wearing some now warm and toasty socks, it felt sooooo good to have dry feet! I even managed to get my shoes dried out a little, too. Life is good!
The sun gods smiled down on us for the rest of the day as we visited the Hatfield Marine Science Center (which is part of Oregon State University), where we all got to touch sea stars, sea urchins, and sea slugs. Oh yes, and feeding Squirt the Octopus is always a fun sight to see! I bashed my head on a small two-person submarine display while I was trying to look into a window to see if two people could really fit inside or not, and then spent the rest of the day trying to stop the bleeding and trying not to throw up, because if that happened, then I’d have to insist on some medical care and since I don’t have health insurance, I really didn’t want to go there. Fortunately, this injury turned out to be the only one of the weekend!
We stopped for lunch at a nearby local park where we made sandwiches and ate chips and let the kids run off some steam at the playground while we sat in the sun and enjoyed the warmth. Then we piled back into the vehicles and headed for the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse with its spectacular views and fabulous history. The family who stayed there even had use of a magnificent pump organ! I could hear the sounds of the pipes resonate throughout the multiple levels of the lighthouse as we poked our heads into all the nooks and crannies of life lived on the edge where the ocean means the land. If you ever get a chance to visit the Oregon lighthouses, make sure you visit this one – the displays are fabulous and the ranger volunteers knowledgeable.
After a trip to the lighthouse garden (and the rest rooms!), we headed north once again and aimed ourselves towards the Kite Festival in Lincoln City where we watched kite flyers with acrobatic kites perform synchronized kite sky dancing to the music of Queen, and saw kites bigger than anything we could have imagined. There was even a trio of kites in the shape of whales that were life-sized! The kids all enjoyed playing in the sand as the adults looked on.
The evening found us back at the campground, enjoying a glass of wine or a margarita over the campfire (except for me – I didn’t want to drink any alcohol with my slight concussion), and talking about how nice the day had turned out, considering the weather report had said there was a 70% chance of rain! We were so happy the weather people got it wrong! Tricia and I wanted to see the sun go down over the beach, and since no one else wanted to join us, we headed out for the last few minutes of the sunset – we weren’t disappointed, either, as the colors were brilliantly gorgeous… don’t you agree?
The rain returned in the very early morning but soon cleared up and we headed back to the beach to look for some sea shells. We found sand dollars, mussel shells, scallop shells, clam shells, dead crabs, and the empty hulks of little sand crabs. Being a minus tide, the water’s edge was way far out, and left in it’s retreat a number of shallow pools of water full of tiny baby shrimp. There was plenty of open space with hard-packed sand to walk on and search for gifts from the sea.
After returning to camp, we packed up the car, and pointed ourselves north, aiming for home, but not really in a hurry to get there. We stopped for lunch at the Brewers on the Bay located inside the Rogue Brewery in Newport, overlooking the bridge that spans Yaquina Bay. Considering that the sun gods had decided to bless us again with their presence, we had a gorgeous panoramic view of the little marina and the bridge as we ate our lunch… and a tasty lunch it was, too. (I highly recommend it if you’re ever in Newport, Oregon.) We continued on our homeward journey after lunch, stopping at a couple of glass-blowing establishments. (Oh, how I wish I was still blowing glass. I’m just going to have to do something about that, I guess.) The kids especially got a kick out of watching the glassblowers make something out of the molten glass – fascinating! And of course, we had to get a bag of saltwater taffy. No trip to the Oregon coast is complete without it. Sticky, gooey, yummy – what more can one say about saltwater taffy?
Our drive from Lincoln City to Canby was uneventful, unless you were the driver, of course, as all the rest of us managed to doze off and catch a short (or long) nap. Thank you, Seth and Tricia, for inviting us along on your camping trip. Some parts of the weekend I don’t ever care to repeat (if I’m never that wet and cold again, it’ll be too soon!) but for the most part, it was a fun and certainly very eventful and event-filled weekend. Camping has always been one of my favorite things to do and I hope we can do it again sometime soon!
I still love the beach, even though this weekend was a bit different (ok, a whole lot different) than any other weekend at the beach that I’ve ever had in my life. Life is still a beach!