Posts Tagged ‘beach’

Campsite at Kalaloch Campground Our first camping trip of the year—and extra-special because our son who lives in Japan would be coming. In fact, it was planned especially for him. We had done a lot of camping and hiking when he was young, taking two-week camping trips every September (one of the advantages of homeschooling) to places like British Columbia, the California redwoods, Yellowstone Park, and a wide range of sites in Oregon and Washington. He had also camped a lot in Boy Scouts. But now, with trips home mainly taking place around Christmas, he missed spending time in the great outdoors.False Lily-of-the-Valley

We did a lot of planning, trying to find a place that would be dry in May, a bit of a challenge in the Pacific Northwest. However, as the time drew near, forecasts were mostly positive, so we set our sights on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. Kalaloch Campground—right on the Pacific Ocean—sounded good for our first stop, once we learned how to pronounce it (Kah-lay-lock). And it turned out to be a good choice.

Vine Maple, KalalochWe pulled into the campground mid-afternoon Saturday, relieved to find many campsites still open (First come, first served can be scary at a popular campground.). The beachside places were all filled, but we found a lovely, large site with plenty of room for the trailer and a tent for our son and a local friend who had come along. Lots of privacy and a Middle Earth feel to it. Surely elves lurked nearby. Sunshine filtered through twisting, mossy branches onto ferns and wildflowers as we set up our camp. A fresh sea breeze blew enticingly, and a feeling of peace settled into my soul.Kalaloch Beach

Soon we were down on the beach, drawn by the surf’s roar. The wind blew us along the rock-strewn, sandy beach, causing us to zip up sweatshirts and pull up hoods, despite the sunshine. We walked and we talked and we enjoyed being out in nature, away from computers and work and all those other things that crowd our lives. Just the four of us and the mighty ocean. We admired agates, watched gulls glide by overhead, noted the scraggly pines above the beach, all bent in the same direction.

Gulls and bent trees, KalalochThe ocean is so big, its motion ever-changing yet ever the same. I feel connected to eternity by the ocean, a tiny part of something great and wonderful. To share that with a son I rarely get to see was the best Mother’s Day gift possible.Sunset, Kalaloch Beach

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Newport, Oregon, Nye Beach We sit in the comfy chairs on the third floor of the Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport, Oregon, gazing out at the gray sky and the rolling white caps. It’s our 36th anniversary, and we came to celebrate in this wonderful book-filled hotel. But my mouth hurts from the tooth that had to be extracted yesterday, and husband is coughing from the cold he caught recently. In our younger days, this might have ruined our special day.Sylvia Beach Hotel

However 36 years give one a little perspective. Seagulls soar past the windows, pushed by the wind. The sun peeks out briefly to light up the waves. Husband sketches a beach scene; I write these words. The ocean beats a constant rhythm into our souls. We are at peace.

Life needn’t be perfect to be good. So many times our expectations prevent us from enjoying the blessings we receive. We want the perfect job, the perfect wedding, the perfect spouse, house, and kids. But life has more glitches than a new computer system, and perfection is a rare commodity here on earth.

Newport, OR beach with gullsMy husband’s uncle had a stroke. While Uncle John partially recovered, he remained weak on one side and had difficulty speaking. A former outdoorsman, he took up painting with his good hand. He made the most of what he had. And whenever he was asked how he was—or many other questions for that matter—his answer was always “Good enough.”

And what’s so wrong with “good enough?” We all have things that keep our lives from being perfect—whether health issues, money problems, disagreements with family or neighbors, job hassles, whatever. We can spend our days bemoaning our problems, or we can accept what we are given and make the most of it. We can enjoy the blessings we are given.dark clouds at beach

The waves keep pounding onto the sand, an ever-changing, but ever-the-same pattern. Dark clouds promise rain. We sit side-by-side, staring out the window, sharing the beauty of the moment. Thirty-six years. Years filled with smiles and tears, joys and frustrations. Not perfect years, but definitely “good enough.”

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Newport, Oregon beach rocks I love all sorts of walks on the beach: romantic strolls with my husband, energetic hikes to a distant jetty or dune, meandering ambles with a new friend. When our kids were small, I loved watching them as they scrambled around, picking up every shell and turning over every stone in search of something wonderful. However, introvert that I am, nothing quite beats being alone on the beach with a camera.Footprints on the beach, Newport, Oregon

Newport, Oregon: ocean and cloudsEarly morning is the best time; sunset is great, too, if the colors are bright. Any time at all is still nice. Today it was morning: a still morning early enough that the breeze had not yet begun, when the sun rose brightly over the hills, and the freshly washed sand pulled me toward it with magnetic force. After a lovely rest in the Emily Dickinson room at the Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport, Oregon, I was ready.Newport, Oregon: rocks and buildings in mist

Being alone brings a certain freedom. I can sing praise songs aloud with the pounding of the surf both my background music and my disguise. I can stop to watch a bird circling above or stand and drink in the peacefulness of the ocean as long as I want, with no worries that someone else may wish to move on. I can turn aside for whatever catches my eye—a cloud formation, a small pool’s reflection, a tiny shell, or even just the pattern left in the sand by the rushing waves and beating wind. I can take a hundred pictures, trying to capture the essence of the scene, the special beauty of that particular moment.

Newport, Oregon sand patternsFinally I must wander back to join the others, to eat breakfast, to plan our day. But those moments alone on the beach with my camera have given me images to share, as well as a peace inside that is all my own.

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Ocean Park, WA--pine trail “Pine Shore Trail” the sign read. I saw it as I walked down from the conference center in Ocean Park, Washington. The trail veered off from the wide path that led straight to the beach. Where did it go? I had to find out, so I followed the sandy track into the woods, through gnarled beach pines and huckleberry bushes into a land of wonder.mossy trail, Ocean Park

Sunshine stretched long fingers through the trees, lighting up the soft green moss that began to take over the trail. Pines spread twisting limbs overhead, making shadow patterns on the ground. The trail meandered through the woods, sometimes narrowing to so indistinct a thread that I feared I might lose it. But then it would widen again, and I would continue on, eager to see what lay around the next bend.

Pine Shore TrailThe shining green and gray wood felt like something straight out of Middle Earth. I trod lightly on the spongy ground, half-expecting to see wood elves peeking out from behind the trees or a sleeping dragon bedded down in the moss. I followed the path until it disappeared into a grassy lake of water, left from previous rainstorms. Then I wandered a bit through the woods and finally back to the main trail. I left the magic land behind, but, like Merry and Pippin in Fangorn Forest, I grew just a bit younger after drinking in the mossy wonder of that place.Light through the pines

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Ocean Park dawnThe sky was turning from black to deep blue when I stepped outside the retreat center where I was blessed to spend time with a couple dozen of the nicest writers I know. The moon’s brightness faded as day softly arrived.Ocean Park dawn

Pastel pinks and oranges tinged the eastern sky as I padded down the sandy trail to the beach. The sky above turned pale blue. Past the trees and the beach grass, the ocean pounded out its rhythm while gulls flew overhead and a flock of sandpipers skittered away at my approach.

Ocean Park, WAColor rose higher in the sky and spread far past the eastern edges. Waves and wet sand reflected the dawn. The empty beach lay silent before the sea, whose vastness breathed peace into my soul.

I stepped where many had walked before, and yet the freshly washed sand held no trace of their presence. It spread before me in wavy patterns, new and untouched, awaiting my footprints. I prayed that the marks I left behind would be true and my path straight.

Morning arrived in beauty. I greeted it with joy and songs of praise.  Ocean dawn

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I love the visiting the beach—walking on the smooth, wet sand, my troubles drowned out by the roaring of the ocean and the crashing of waves upon the sand. I love the way the sky reflects in the pools of water left behind at low tide. I love looking for treasures stranded on the shore—shiny agates or the rare whole sand dollar. And I love watching the clouds journey across the sky, so full of majesty.

Clouds are great to watch anywhere, but they always seem more impressive at the beach. Perhaps that’s because the sky grows wider at the beach, with no tall trees to break up the view. I imagine it must be similar on the open prairie, but we don’t have much in the way of prairies in my neck of the woods.

Beach clouds also have the advantage that they are constantly changing. Since their very existence begins with water evaporating from the ocean, it only makes sense that they would be extra-volatile so close to their birth. Like a tiny baby they exhibit many moods, from screaming tantrums when they pile up into thick, black stacks to happier moods when they drift in smiling cumulus patterns across that broad sky.

I love beach clouds—except when they open in downpours that drive me from the sand back indoors where I can only stand and watch from the window. Even then I know that if I just wait long enough, the rain will stop and the beach will once again invite me out to enjoy its beauty.

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Family is one of the most important things in life. I’ve heard that many times, and I really believe it. But often I get so busy that family gets ignored, particularly family that doesn’t live in the same house. I intend to call or visit, but time flies, while I crawl along, loaded with the chores of everyday.

Last weekend I spent time with family. My brothers, husband, sister-in-law, and I took our father to the beach for two nights to celebrate his upcoming 90th birthday. It was the first time I’d been to the beach with my brothers since we were kids. And it was wonderful!

We spent a lot of time remembering adventures—and misadventures—we’d had when we were little. “You know,” one brother said. “I can’t blame any problems I have on my childhood.” So true! We had a good childhood. Our parents weren’t perfect (although they didn’t make any more mistakes than I did with my kids!), but we always knew we were loved, and that they would be there for us anytime we needed them. That sense of security made childhood a safe place to explore and learn and grow.

We walked on the beach once the sun cleared out some of the clouds—at least all of us did except for my dad. Legs no longer steady enough for beach walking, he sat by the picture window, content to watch the crashing waves and kaleidoscope sky.

If any man fits Paul’s description in Philippians 4:12, it is my dad: “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…” He has been widowed twice, survived four types of cancer, been on three-times-a-week dialysis for years, and yet I rarely hear a word of complaint. “The secret to happiness is not feeling sorry for yourself,” he told me.

I’m so glad we could all spend the weekend together. It’s good to be with people who know and love me just the way I am. Not all families are like that, I hear. I feel so blessed!

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Oases are places of rest and refreshment in the middle of the desert.Western Oregon lacks deserts, and therefore, also lacks oases—at least in the literal sense. However, two weeks ago I heard a sermon about oases, given by Dr. Lou Foltz, and the ideas have been simmering in my brain ever since.

 The message was, basically, that the church is an oasis of sorts, where we find spiritual refreshment. However, we can’t live in the oasis. We have to go back out into the desert to live, work, and help others, bringing them also to the oasis.

 That made me think about the oases in my life. Certainly, for me at least, the church is an oasis. I feel revived when I leave Sunday services, inspired to be a better person, and encouraged in my sometimes feeble attempts to serve. But church is not my only oasis. Home is another. When my children were small, home could be a chaotic place, but it was still a place where I could be myself. Now the nest has emptied, and home is a relaxing place, where I think and write, or put on loud music and dance, should the mood strike me.

 Natural places are also oases for me. I love getting out in the woods, walking on the beach, watching the sun set over a lake. The singing of birds and the rustling of leaves in the breeze fill me with peace. I learned long ago that I need my woods time to survive emotionally—and perhaps spiritually, as well.

 But then there’s the second part of the sermon. We can’t live in the oasis. I might like to be a hermit at times, but that’s not what I’m here for. I believe I’m here to help others—through encouragement, through practical gestures such as bringing food to a neighbor, through my writing, through the whole way I live my life. And so I must remember that those oases are not my goal, but simply way stations where I can renew my strength to continue the journey—even when that journey leads me through dry and dusty places.

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Yaquina Head

One of Oregon’s well-kept secrets is that occasionally the sun does come out, even at the coast. We chanced upon one of those rare spring days while staying in Newport for a belated anniversary getaway. So naturally we spent much of the day outside, walking on the beach and exploring nearby Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. (Yes, that really is the official name of the place.)

 A minus tide had opened up more tide pools, and we explored these, discovering anemones, starfish, mussels, barnacles, snails, and tiny fish that darted into dark corners when we came close.

While my husband sketched the lighthouse, I tried—mostly unsuccessfully—to capture a photo of the perfect breaker. Then we sat quietly for a bit, watching the cormorants on the rocks and murres crowded together high up on a cliff, preparing to nest. A ranger explained how murre eggs are tapered at one end, so that they don’t roll off the cliff, since murres don’t build nests for them. What a precarious way to live!

 Later we moved on a short distance to Quarry Cove, a manmade cove where harbor seals like to raise their young. We didn’t see any baby seals there, but did watch two adult seals laboriously make their way up onto a rock to sun themselves. Seals shoot like rockets through the water, but on land they lose all semblance of grace. It almost hurt to watch as they thrashed and rolled, trying to move on the rock. Poor things!

 And finally back to the hotel to watch the golden-red sun sink quietly into the ocean. A perfect day at the coast!

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Beach Clouds

Had it really been months since I’d been to the coast? It almost felt like coming home as I walked down the street to the roar of surf in the distance. The open sand and expansive sky beckoned me. Amazingly enough, the sky arched blue and clear overhead. Only a few wispy clouds drifted above the ocean, and a thin layer of gray hovered over the hills behind me, still hiding the early morning sun.

 Slowly the earth turned, and the sun began poking through the dark layer of clouds. Fingers of light stretched across the sand. Brightness shone out from behind the darkness, reflecting on the wet sand. Hope shining through pain, bringing peace with its beauty.

 Later, clouds began to move in from the east. Altocumulus clouds, puffy little bits of gray-white, spread across the sky like patches of cotton. Rain would likely be coming—the forecast had predicted it—but these clouds only brought more beauty. Calm, dry weather is a precious thing on the Oregon coast, and I basked in the glory of sun, clouds, and ocean. The cool air, the smell of sea, the play of clouds and sunshine: all brought with them a love too great to be overwhelmed by any darkness.

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