I truly hope I’m not the only one who does this… At the end of amazing trips, phenomenal experiences, and relaxing vacations I often find myself holding back a few bittersweet tears; incredibly sad to be leaving, and blissfully happy to have tucked another memory under my belt. That was this past weekend. A weekend of new memories and pure nostalgia. My parents had a weekend free and wanted to go on a camping trip to the coast, something I had been trying to organize for quite a while, my Cancer personality having a serious thing for the scenic beauty that is the Oregon Coast. My husband is just not into coastal adventures, or campgrounds. He prefers the ever changing landscapes of the Cascades, and the solitude that cannot be found in populated (and often loud) campgrounds.
Love the man to death, but I was itching for some beach time and opted to spend the weekend alone with my parents, the idea of some quality time with them very appealing. The campground we opted for is located just north of Florence and was the location of many happy childhood memories. We would head to this wooded place for last minute beach trips when my sister and I were younger, and would plan week long excursions during the summer. Taking Friday off work, I drove up early that morning, arriving at the campground in the late morning to find my mother basking in her chair in a patch of sun reading a book, my father starting the fire to grill up some hot dogs for lunch.
After lunch, my mom and I geared up for a bucket list adventure! We have wanted to go horseback riding on the beach for years, but never got around to it for some reason or another. This trip afforded a free afternoon to fill with this activity that I am so happy I got to experience with my mother; it was truly an amazing mother-daughter moment for us.
After about 30 minutes of dinking around the stables waiting for the rest of the group to check in, we were assigned our horses, saddled up, and headed out for a 90 minute dune and beach ride. The first 30 minutes consisted of riding the trails through the brush leading from the stables to the beach. It was sunny and gorgeous, albeit a bit dusty. My stubborn horse, Pippin, required a bit more kicking than I wanted to administer to get moving, but we eventually found our happy place and it was smooth sailing from there on out.
Once we got to the beach, my God I was in heaven. The wind had picked up and the morning marine layer was still clinging to the shoreline, but had abated a bit by the time we reached the hard packed sand near the water. It was pure bliss once we got to pick up speed, trotting up and down this gorgeous stretch of beach. I could have stayed there all afternoon and was utterly disappointed when it was time to start moseying back to the stables.
But end the adventure did, though it will most definitely not be the last time I will partake in such a phenomenal excursion. I have a few girlfriends who were green with envy, and we cannot wait for a girls weekend at the beach with an afternoon of riding. After our horseback ride, we met my father back at the campground and drove into Yachats for a seafood dinner followed by a relaxing evening chilling by the fire. My dad whipped up a ridiculously decadent fireside treat: you take a banana, cut it lengthwise, scatter it with mini marshmallows and chocolate chips, lightly squeeze together (like a hot dog bun), wrap in tin foil, and let it roast over the fire for about 15 minutes. Holy crap. The marshmallows melted down and baked the banana to an almost cake-like consistency, while caramelizing the juicy goodness.
I am a horrible peeper. Especially when I’m camping. I love nothing more than to make laps around a campground, casually peering into the campsites of others to see “how the other half lives.” Maybe it is the writer in me? Maybe I’m just terribly nosy? Either way, my folks and I made our rounds throughout the evening, chatting with other families, and enjoying the music coming from one of the groups.
The next day boasted sunny skies that were calling to us to come bask on the beach. And bask we did! We drove north to Neptune Beach, another amazing spot we frequented as kids. The weather was absolutely perfect. There was almost no wind, insanely sunny but not hot, and the water was deliciously frigid. We went for a stroll up and down the beach and found a lovely spot tucked into some rocks to plant our butts and read and relax for a bit, savoring some elusive Vitamin D.
But alas, if the Oregon Coast is one thing, it is unpredictable at best. When we left the beach the sun was still shining and there was only a hint of marine layer on the horizon. We stopped at a local joint for some chowder for lunch, and the marine layer kept slowly creeping in, until by the time we were done eating, it was steadily raining. So much so, that when we got back to the campground later that afternoon, our site was soaked. Chairs cradled puddles of water, and any and everything left on the picnic table was drenched. Mom and I made a quick trip into Florence to purchase a life saving tarp. By the time we returned to the campground, Dad had sufficiently dried off everything, had a campfire roaring, and we were back in business! The rain had let up slightly, but it continued to drizzle into the night.
Shortly after our return to the campsite, I was itching to go on a walk by myself in the trails surrounding the campground. My husband and I had hiked these trails together in the past, and we went on countless walks as a family years ago. I was thoroughly enjoying the quality time I was spending with my parents, but I still wanted a bit of “me” time.
The hike was glorious. It was a shortie, only about 2 miles as dinner was grilling and waiting for me, but man was it great. It was drizzling the whole time, the air was crisp and cool, and smelled both sweet from the lush pine forests and salty from the sea air. My coat came off after about a quarter mile, and my pores soaked up the coastal freshness with a relish.
Our last evening was filled with laughter, wine, more peeping, and reminiscing about vacations past and ones we look forward to in the near future. The next morning the rain had abated and I persuaded my parents to go on one final jaunt on the beach prior to heading our separate ways to go home. The marine layer was starting to break and the wind had died down to a pleasant breeze. I’m so happy we got one last trek in, and we snapped a fantastic picture of the three of us before departing the glorious coast.
This weekend was so special. I don’t often get to spend more than a day or so with my parents where it just myself and them. My husband, sister, or other family members are usually there, which is in no way a bad thing, but it was so nice to have a few solid days where it was just us. I truly value all the quality time I get to spend with them, and this weekend was no exception. It was such a fantastic balance of nostalgic memories of childhood campouts past, and hopes for upcoming vacations.
Words cannot express how much I look forward to experiencing trips like this with my own family in the near future. Creating fantastic memories with my own children and their grandparents, respecting and appreciating the glory of the great outdoors, and realizing how unbelievably lucky our families are to have such close and loving connections.
Just rereading this makes my eyes misty with joy. Our next family camping trip simply cannot come soon enough. 😀