Monday, July 21, 2008

cape perpetua redux

This past weekend we rectified three accidental oversights, of the life-getting-in-the-way of Life variety: we went camping (it's been four whole years since our last tent sleep in the great outdoors), we introduced our boy to the ocean (at age 2! we have been amiss. our home is but an hour away) and the husband took one (but just one) vacation day off of work (after a year of more work than is good for anybody).


We've done more camping on the Oregon Coast than anywhere else in this great green state, so heading westward was, by default, the easy decision. The girl wanted Forest the husband desired Sea and the Oregon coast has the singularly beguiling combination of offering both. Fairy forests and ferns and old growth Firs and mossy carpets and a short trudge beyond: rock edges and sea sprays and driftwood.


Let it be known that I do not much care for the beach. So raw and salty and severe. I feel the weight of every lonely moment I've ever had chaffing my skin. And maybe, maybe I wouldn't feel this way on another beach. Maybe I should make clear that most of my coastal experiences have been in Oregon, craggy and windswept like some setting from an epic piece of British literature: the howling and roaring competing with heartbreak for loudest sorrow.

"the sea holds too many memories and all the sad ones end up here" -- my daughter

But I don't dislike it entirely. And I was absolutely game for our destination. But our destination, a non-reservable state campsite, just south of the central coast: solidly full. Oh dear! We turned back around, north on the 101, stopping in at every ground, hoping.


The national park site at Cape Perpetua had at least one tent site free. Hurrah! We made small talk with the camp manager. Most camp hosts are the monstrous motor home sort, the yappy dog and whirligig sort, the Good Sam sticker on the back sort. You know. But this woman is there with her husband and children (8!) in a converted old bus turned living quarters, summering in Oregon from New Mexico (New Mexico!). The husband double checked, so just that one last site remaining? And she said, Well, we do have this one other possibility. An old ampitheater area, you can't drive all the way in, it's really private, there's a fire ring, but no grate and no table, would you be interested? Would we? Yes!


It was such a relief. In one moment we went from feeling worried that we might not find a spot at all to ending up with a place so perfect we could not have expected better. Relief and gratitude.


And it was a lovely long weekend. Restorative and peaceful and invigorating and tiresome (that good tiresome that builds ones muscles and evens out the bumps beneath the camping pad).

my breakfast

We did all the usual: hiking and campfires and smushy attempts at sand castles. There were tired boy meltdowns (what happens the day after little legs hike for many miles) and stories read (at bedtime, something they both love and which characters and voices are as comfortable in my mouth as my own teeth: Winnie the Pooh. bah! to Disney for not being as respectful to this beloved Milne bear as he deserves) and a big girl so busy with the kind of creativity she's so so good at (like the long dry vine she fashioned into a hoop, secured with duct tape, and then made up 'hoop tricks' for hours).

they hike

I had plenty of quiet pondering time. Rocking in the camp chair, back and forth, at fireside thinking things like how much more fitting it would be, in the falling night chill, to share furtive sips of some warm hooch, or something with particular warming properties, from out of a flask from beneath the folds of a Pendleton blanket. But since I have neither flasks nor Pendleton blankets, it's common fleece and cold beer and no furtive passing anyway, just the kind of worn down, low-grade sparring that comes from being married nearly a dozen years and camping with two children.

camp coffee

I did a little reading of my own. Henry James' Daisy Miller, which I have not, I don't know how, ever read. I adore James and his descriptions and flouncy characters, a striking and fitting contrast to our voluntarily primitive surroundings.


Of course, it had been so long since our last camping trip that the routine felt stiff and new. I forgot a good lot of items that would have made the experience just that much more enjoyable. Like socks. It was entirely too cold at night for my feet to be bare and I'm so glad my guy thought better than I did and I was able to bum a pair off of him on night two. The temperature dropped down low enough that my sleeping bag failed to keep me warm. Of course, this might be due, in part, to my still night nursing boy and half-uncovered torso, my avoidance of tight spaces which keeps me from zipping up the whole way. It's a shame space is always such a premium, because I'd much prefer camping with a pile of quilts and blankets than with a thin bag crammed into a stuff sack. There is something about the nylon tent and the slick camping pad and the sleeping bag on top that makes for a slippy slidey sleeping arrangement, which, I confess does not exactly suit me. I might come up with a new set-up for next time (next time!).

setting out

But on the whole it was just right, just what we needed. I don't know if you're adept enough at reading between the lines (or if I've left enough width in the spaces for reading), but I don't use 'needed' lightly. And now we need to do it again. Soon!

cape perpetua


Lisa said...

Sounds like a really nice trip.

Serendipitous to find that New Mexican. They're generally a good sort, I find.

Angelina said...

Wow, you're actually making me want to go camping and I'm not really a camping kind of girl.