This past weekend found us escaping the heavy blanket of winter fog that had settled in, to seek out sun, sand, and surf. Often when a low cloud layer sets in to the Willamette Valley like this, it is just the opposite out at the coast, and can be as warm as 60 degrees in late January. In my eagerness to feel the sun's warmth on my face again and soak up some Vitamin-D, I got a last minute reservation for a yurt at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park for a Friday night, and my honey and I picked the kids up from school along with my son's best buddy, and headed West.
We got there around dinner time, and with the vegetables already cut and prepped for dinner, Corey cooked us up a batch of his famous fajitas (my daughter named them Bahas) in no time. We tried watching a documentary on the laptop about Olympic National Park, but after a full and busy day, fell asleep somewhere in the middle to rest up for the following day's adventures.
After a delicious peanut butter pancake breakfast, we drove out to Sparrow Park Road just North of Gardiner. It's a gravel Forest Service road that is popular with locals for four wheelers and beach driving, but on a quiet day, or early in the morning, one can often have the place all to themselves, which we did on this Saturday morning. We hiked out along the creek and scaled some sand cliffs to skirt the area where the tide had come up against the base. It was some wild bushwhacking, and while hanging on a root, one of the kids said they felt like Indiana Jones. We finally dropped down onto the beach and hiked along, stopping for some play in the waves.
The kids ran and splashed, got barefoot and a little wet, and had a blast. It was just what we needed in the middle of Winter.
One exciting find was this small dead shark washed up on the beach. You can't tell from the picture, but those teeth are serious. No wonder they make people so uneasy.
Finally we recognized the place to cut inland over the dunes, and headed up to scale the top of the mountainous sand dune I discovered with my family a few years ago. We followed deer, raccoon, and fox tracks up to the top and looked out at the breathtaking views of the ocean, coastal forest, and dune ponds. The sun kept shining, the breeze was mild, and it was a perfect day to kick off our boots, toss off our coats and play in the sand.
The kids wasted no time building an enormous sand village that stretched all the way across the dune's crest and down the sides. I wondered what the next folks who came along would think when they stumbled across this abandoned civilization.
As if all these adventures, sunny weather, and delicious camping food weren't great enough, the very best part was the good company. Sharing adventures with the people we love is where it's at, and I am fortunate to have a great adventure partner, two amazing kids, and friends to explore the world with. Looking out at the horizon from the top of a mountain of sand, I can see Spring on the way, more sunny days in the outdoors ahead, this rich and full life unfolding, and I am sure that life itself will continue to be a grand adventure.
*Many of these photos are courtesy of Corey Culp