My parents and I took a day trip to the coast today. It was 75 degrees, clear skies and beautiful out. We stopped briefly at a house in Banks, OR that my parents are rehabbing to sell. It is on 15 acres of wooded land about a half hour from Portland. The air there smells of pine trees, warm berries and drying grasses and even though we were heading to the beach, it was hard to leave that beauty behind.
The beach had no more than 35 people on it for half a mile in either direction. We got sandwiches (as well as an avocado to add to the sandwiches) at the little local grocery store and sat on a bench just off the sand so that we could eat before getting all dirty. This was the same bench that my mom and I sat on last year on our coast trip, we both enjoyed the continuity of that.
Once we hit the sand, my dad went straight to a little rivulet of sea water and started building a drip castle. My mom and I wandered down the beach for a bit, enjoying wading, until the sand fleas started to nibble on us a bit. There was a decomposing sea lion a little ways up the beach, and so the pungent smell of life drifted towards us occasionally.
Later, as we were laying on a blanket, I looked up towards the path where we had left our cooler and the paper bag holding lunch trash and leftovers to see a sea gull gently reach his beak into the bag, pull out a Sunchip and fly away. We took that as our signal that it was time to go.
I walked back down to the water, to rinse my feet off before we headed out, thinking as I walked how much I would like to find a whole sand dollar. The beach was covered with broken ones, but no uncracked shells. Just as I was finishing rinsing off my feet, I looked to my left and saw a perfect, unbroken sand dollar. It was the ideal ending to this year’s visit to the Oregon Coast.