I went home this past week to visit my parents and to take my kids down memory lane with me during a trip to the Northern Pacific Ocean.
Here is how it went down… It was Beau, Knight, Ann Marie, my lil 4 year old granddaughter and myself. We started in Denver, flew to Seattle, where we took the light rail train from the airport to the Seattle/Bainbridge Island Ferry, crossed the Puget Sound on the big boat and went to the house I grew up in located in Kingston, WA.
The first adventure was the kids went in the woods behind the house to see what REAL trees look like. My parents have lived in this house for 45 years. The Douglas Fir and Cedar trees that were there when they first built their house were enormous back then, and now, they are even more impressive. The ferns, moss, the underbrush just unbelievable. The kids surely thought they died and gone to heaven.
Later that day, we walked to the beach that I had spent nearly every summer day. This is not a sandy beach like you might think. It has rocks, barnacles, oysters, fish, two freshwater streams that you can follow way up into the forest which by the way…the forest goes all the way up to the beach shore. When I grew up, I swam here, I got cut on barnacles here, I caught flounders here, and I found REAL arrowheads here. Later in life during my not so tame and innocent days I snuck out of my house in the middle of the night and met up with friends here! Yes great memories that I am happy to share with my kids (except the sneaking out of the house part..).
The next day we woke early and headed out to the Pacific Ocean. Not Long Beach, Washington or Ocean Shores, Washington – I hardly call those great oceans to visit. They remind me of a colder version of Huntington Beach, California. I mean it is fine for spending a day in the sun and playing in the sand, but this to me is NOT the ocean.
When I was small we would go camp out on Rialto Beach just outside of Forks, Washington. This is the most violent yet unbelievably peaceful ocean beach I have ever been to in my life. As you walk toward the beach you first notice large flat round rocks everywhere. Most are no smaller than 6 to 8 inches in diameter and every one of them is flat, no more than an inch thick. Next up is the giant stripped of bark bare logs stacked on top of one another like toothpicks. White from the ocean bleaching effect and ALL placed there by the beast known as the Northern Pacific waves. Once you climb over the jungle gym of logs you are finally able to see the ocean. The beach on the other side of the logs starts with the large flat round rocks, and slowly you notice the flat round rocks get smaller and smaller until you are in pebbles and then sand. The ocean waves are enough to take your breath away – literally. The sound immediately alerts your senses that this place is more dangerous than you can ever realize.
The senses overload is beyond anything I can ever replicate in any place I have ever been. The only way to describe it is like being in the most violent and peaceful place all within the same moment. Breathtaking…
Then almost as soon as the trip started, it ended. And I had to say goodbye. It happened to be Father’s Day. Having visited the place of my childhood- where I remember my dad walking on the beach with us, encouraging us to keep going as we walked more than a mile down the beach in order to go through the giant rock with a hole carved through it by the ocean, where we camped in sleeping bags in between those crazy logs placed there by the ocean….
It has always been difficult to “chat” with my dad. He doesn’t say much and you never know how to read him or even how to have a conversation with him at all. This time I tried to tell him how much I appreciate him giving me those memories, how much it means to me to be able to share with my children the same moments he shared with me all those years ago. I could hardly get the words out, but this trip I really wanted him to know. Then I said goodbye and cried in the car on the way to the ferry. My dad is not in the best place and I have never been more sad about it….
The trip was great with bitter sweet moments. I have cried more since I have come back than I have in 10 years total (people I am NOT a crier – I like to have a cast iron heart on purpose to protect my soul). I can hardly wait until my heart casts up again and I can be done feeling….
I guess if I could tell anyone in the world where they should visit before they die – Rialto Beach, Washington, you won’t regret it!