Coming from Kansas, it seems almost cheap to be able to camp on a beach. This mystical environment that is only the stuff of dreams for Midwesterners, impossible to reach for the most part of our lives. Laughable, even. To have it shoved in our faces by chance, it’s almost too much. Definitely too easy.
Close quarters, and the sand sometimes smells like pee.
I love Clam Beach.
Waking up with the ocean mist surrounding our tent and our neighbors still asleep around us, we took off early since we hadn’t officially paid to stay at the campground. Heading north on the 101 at 6:30 am, we decided we were Oregon bound. But then we passed the exit for Patrick’s Point a few miles down the road, and decided to stop by.
Sitting on the rocky seaside cliff in the park, I realized this was not my forte. The ocean seemed lonely and unforgiving below, bringing my own insecurities to light.
Regardless, the waves seem to dance with one another in coordinated chaos. Exploding off the face of cliffs like fireworks at seven in the morning. Seagulls and pelicans populating the scene, creating miniature movements in contrast to the permanent picture of the ocean against the cliffs.
I did do a lot of writing on paper, tucked away in a spot in the shade next to the sea. Ben went walking, and really enjoyed the place. We came here the last time we visited California as kids.
Scoping out the campsites at Patrick’s Point for showers, I proposed staying in the area another night. This place been good to us, we might as well soak it up. Ben agrees, and we go and spend the day at Clam Beach by our campsite. Getting some much needed relaxation and sunshine.
Later, I grab burritos in town, and Ben grabs a bottle of wine.
Stopping by the post office, I overhear the workers talking: “I hear that they are having a lot of earthquakes in Kansas and Oklahoma… word is that’s it’s because of fracking…”
We end up at the campsite again around three in the afternoon. I take some old notebooks out to the beach with me, and read through my musings from ten months ago. I am astounded by how much I’ve changed, and also what has remained the same. I am inspired to keep digging deeper.
I drop my notebooks and shoes off at the car, and take off on a barefoot beach jog.
Which turns out to be a radical experience.
I realize that running right by the tide is where the sand is most packed down, makes for excellent traction.
I hesitate to jump in the ocean, because I know next to nothing about marine environments. We found jellyfish in the Arctic Ocean this summer, and if they can survive up there, they are probably everywhere.
So I let the ocean splash against my legs, and I chase the birds that have claimed this spot of sand as their own.
But finally, I realize it’s been a week since I’ve had a shower, so I jump in. I’ve warmed up from my jog, and the Northern Pacific waters don’t feel so bad at all.
I continue on my jog, completely covered in saltwater, heading for the cliffs off in the distance. I almost get knocked off balance by a wave that just seems to keep coming. A little woman sitting on a log ahead sees me and her eyes crinkle into a smile.
Of course I got a little lost on the way back, as the danger of a beach is that everywhere looks exactly the same.
An hour later and a little bit sunburned, I meet my brother back at the campsite to set up the tent, and fix dinner.
There’s a hippie van that pulls up soon after with the advertisement, “Quit school” in bright colors, next to a painting of a guy smoking a joint.
We’re cooking dinner on the propane stove, making box fettuccine alfredo, just like we always did on camping trips with our parents growing up. We add a can of green beans and carrots, and call it beautiful.
Ben drinks wine around the campfire with Jacques and two college kids traveling up from LA. I make tea and fall asleep.
The next morning, Jacques offers French Press coffee from the back of his van.
And since my brother does not drink coffee, I take on that burden and offer up my empty mug to be filled. Jacques is also frying bacon and eggs on the little stove inside, preparing it all on a porcelain plate for one.
“Excuse. I’m going to take my breakfast now.”
So French. All of the mannerisms. It blows my mind. I really thought he was visiting from Europe.
I head to town to write for the day, and my brother stays on the beach.
I get a lot of writing done, I’m working on five projects right now, and it’s been a bit overwhelming all week, but today I finally realized how to handle all of them. And got a good start on all of them, and a plan of action for the next few weeks.
I also finally got a start on writing my letters back at the beach.
At the campsite before bed, it seemed like everyone was doing drugs. To our right were a few California hippies who worked at a marijuana dispensary, and talked about nothing else for the entire night. And down a ways to our right were a group of shaking, twitching kids about our age, who were talking about “tweakers” and “tweaking” and “tweaked out” and were way too on edge for my taste. They were more paranoid than me, which is saying something. I tried to stay away from them.
We made couscous, black bean and spinach burritos. Which were pretty good, but would have been even better had we invested in hot sauce.
Falling asleep, it smelled like shit.
“Can you go check the bathroom, bro… and make sure the bathrooms are not overflowing or something?” All I could imagine was a stream of shit flowing into our tent in the middle of the night.
“Um. I’m NOT going to check the bathrooms. That is a CRAZY thing to say,” my brother confirms, and we start laughing as we try to forget the choking smell. The the shit stream breeze wafting over our way makes it almost impossible to fall asleep.
We realized at this point that it was time to leave our little oasis campsite, and we would head to Oregon in the morning.
Today I woke up, and went for another barefoot jog on the beach. And then headed to town and took care of some logical things, and now we’re headed for Ashland, Oregon on the advice of some college kids Ben met.