The forecast said 50-70% chance of rain. Perhaps high winds. It didn’t matter. We were going to the beach. Some are drawn to the vast, dramatic vistas of the desert. Some feel more attuned to lush mountains. While we love being out in nature in general, the ocean has a special place in our souls. I long ago realized that, while I love the contrast of the desert, the presence of water is what feeds my soul. Time in the mountains is always treasured, but needs to include water in form of lakes or streams for me to be fully happy. But the ocean, I am so drawn to the ocean, a curious enigma considering I get sea sick and am terrified of big waves and strong currents. I suspect growing up in the Midwest has scarred me for life! After a fantastic weekend camping with friends the week before, we packed up our little foursome and headed off into the weather to get our fix.
We spend a lot of time exploring Oregon’s many state parks. A LOT. So we were beyond thrilled to finally make our way to experience Cottonwood Canyon, Oregon’s newest state park, and check it out for ourselves. Opened in 2014, Cottonwood is a mere 30minute drive off of the mighty Columbia Gorge Highway, sitting scenically next to the John Day river.
We have, quite simply, been really busy lately. Busy at work, busy at the house, busy with friends. Simply busy. While this keeps us, somewhat, out of trouble, it also means we have been able to indulge less often than we prefer in our favorite activity ~ camping and convening with nature.
The waves sloshed onto the shore, as the sun warmed us. Having walked a couple of miles from camp down the beach, we stopped for a rest on a downed log, luxuriating in the absolute solitude. Not another soul disturbed our peace, other than a few pesky sea gulls, but even they seemed more subdued than normal. Aspen took a break from exploring to come in for pets, as Porter leaned back against me, raising his head to the sun, eyes mere slits, the picture of complete contentment. On this uncharacteristically warm, non-windy day, at the Oregon coast in FEBRUARY, life was good.
“Oh crap, she did it again!” Jim hastily rolled down the windows for a refreshing breath of fresh air, intent on dissipating the overwhelming scent of Aspens seemingly never ending gaseous emissions from the back seat. Our little family was heading to the beach for a fantastic three night getaway, taking advantage of a long Thanksgiving weekend. We’d started the day by enjoying a festive family dinner, leaving Aspen and Porter at his parents during dinner. We returned for them only to discover several pieces of drooled upon bits of something. Opps.
The drive west on Highway 26 appears paved in gold. Lined with thousands of trees displaying a dozen shades of red and gold, the wet road reflects the multi-hued colors, creating the appearance of a golden pathway leading to weekend bliss. The sun was setting as we pulled into camp, turning the calm bay as golden as the road ahead of us.
Darkness had fallen by the time we pulled into camp. Immediately greeted by Ron and Dario, talking over eachother, regarding the “situation”. While still at the office I had received the text from Dario advising us that they had taken over our campsite, swapping out with theirs, just next door, but we had no idea of the drama that would ensue.
The silence was deafening. And exactly what we were looking for. Day to day life had, in recent weeks, become exhausting. Yes, a certain amount of angst is simply due to restlessness in our quest to return to the road. But busy days at work, many chores at home, and spending most weekends away from home, the last admittedly self induced, had created an intense need to not just go away…but to get away.
Away from cell service, away from people, away from the cares of the world.
The old guys across the way looked on in awe, somewhat startled to see us donning fake mustaches and posing for pictures with martini’s in hand. Next up, several rounds of ladderball, still with cocktails in hand. Yes, it’s right, we have taken camping to a whole different level!
We recently camped at East Lake, in Central Oregon, for the first time and what a joy! Sitting at 6500ft elevation, in the Newberry Crater, it is absolutely a summer outing, but the gorgeous lake, high desert landscape, and endless night skies, more than make up for the chill in the air.