Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Day At the Beach

This week my two little nieces from Texas came up to go to EFY with my daughter of the same age. They stayed a few extra days and we decided it would be nice for them to go to the beach. We have only lived in Oregon a year and have been to the coast twice. Once in October which was miserably cold but we expected it and had the entire beach to ourselves. We had a marvelous time exploring and digging in the sand until our fingers lost all feeling.

The other day was last summer and it was warm and pleasant but a bit windy. The children went up to their knees in the water, pretending to contend with the waves but never really making the commitment to actually swim until they gave up and came back blue-lipped. I think that was last August.

Now I warned the girls that the Oregon Coast was cold and they needed to bring a jacket, and I repeated myself until I felt I was nagging. I finally loaded five of my own children and the two nieces and we drove the ninety minutes to the ocean. The ride began nicely enough with songs and stories but within a half an hour my preteen had smacked my eight year old with a ball in the eye accidentally and everyone was feeling claustrophobic and bored.

We finally arrived and headed toward the beach with the sand dunes. At Bob Straub State Park, you park your car behind a little sandbar and walk up a slight hill to the shore. We trudged up the little mound with our feet buring in the hot sand but as soon as we rounded the crest and began descending to the water, we felt a frigid violent wind whipping around us. Across the water was a black mist from the forest fires hundreds of miles north that gave the entire scene this ominous cast. To add to my sense of unrest, there wasn't another soul on the beach.

As the eight of us got closer to the water, the wind began to become more intense. It whipped up the sand and riveled the scene from "the Mummy" feeling like hundreds of bee stings against my skin. My 13 year old son was determined to deny reality and yanked off his shirt, as though we were in southern California, splashing in the water and trying not to cringe. I laid out a blanket and sat with my 17 year old to review his eagle project while the two youngest began making a sand castle with jackets still on. That's when I noticed that one of my neices didn't even bring a jacket and the other brought a very light one. Both were freezing and wrapped up in the blankets we had brought to sit on. I thought they would lighten up and play in the sand or go for a walk but my teenage daughter and the two of them just huddled and shivered for the next 45 minutes. With gas at $4.30 a gallon I was determined that we were going to get our money's worth. We had picnic supplies and I had hoped we would be there for three or four hours. This was supposed to be fun.

At last one of the children suggested we head over to the cheese factory. In mutiny they all agreed and less than an hour after our arrival, the kids were packed in the car ready to go with no regrets. We got home from our excursion hours early despite my suggestions to visit other attractions with everyone exhausted from being chilled, and spent the last day of their short Oregon vacation, watching movies in our family room.

So much for them seeing the sights. I suppose the point of their visit was to see us but it was too bad our day at the beach wasn't, well, a day at the beach.

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