Friday, December 5, 2008

Weekend at the Beach

After the holiday parade last Friday, we took off for the beach with my parents. In spite of the stomach flu (Mom, which I then acquired on Sunday evening) and a really scary near-miss with a sneaker wave, we enjoyed ourselves overall...but it was far too short!

Here's Nicholas putting every vehicle he can find on his train tracks:

I had promised Kieran some one-on-one Mom time, but he agreed that Grandma could come along we stopped by a holiday bazaar at the nearby Neahkanie High School (it was a bust, although my mom got a great Cooking Light annual for only $2!). Then we took him into Rockaway for Tillamook ice cream (him) and lattes (us). While sitting in the coffee shop, he picked up a business card for a tattoo artist in Rockaway, and was full of questions. He thought tattoos sounded pretty neat until he heard about the needle part! So when we got back to the house, he decided to make his own version of tattoos--the kinds that could be taped on! Here is my very own Kieran original:

The other creative thing Kieran did last weekend was to make a puzzle for Grandma--he drew a picture and then cut it up into pieces and had her put it back together again--no small feat!

Here is our very own Ryan-wannabe! (Ryan is our sweet nephew who has always had a vaccuum obsession!)

He takes his work very seriously!

Here are Grandma and Kieran reading a book:

On Sunday, when we were packing up to leave, I took the ice chest out to the back deck, and realized that it was drop-dead gorgeous and relatively warm outside. Since the day before had been misty and cloudy--and Mom hadn't been feeling very well--I convinced everyone to head down to the beach before we left.

My photos never completely capture the spectacular beauty of the Oregon Coast, alas...maybe things will improve now that our new camera has arrived via amazon.

Note the log we are sitting on:

I grew up in Oregon, visiting the coast several times a year. I've taken naps on the beach, body surfed in the waves (even in the winter, when I was a kid), sat staring at the waves, and taken countless walks on the sand. I've walked the beach in many a storm, low tide or high tide. I've heard of "sneaker waves," and a friend of a coworker's was killed by a sudden sneaker wave carrying a log while she was walking along the beach one evening with her family. But I have never experienced one myself.

We were enjoying our afternoon on the beach; Kieran and Nicholas were playing with a ball and digging in the sand. Suddenly, a wave came in much farther than expected, and it carried off the beach bucket and ball. Kieran attempted to go after them, and my dad ran after him to catch him. Nicholas was a few feet down and could have been swept away himself.
Then a few minutes later, an even bigger wave came in. I was the only one left sitting on the log, and for one split second, I actually considered just lifting up my legs and letting the water wash around me...and then reconsidered and jumped up and ran up toward the dunes. I don't know what could have possibly made me consider this approach...I suppose it's because I've never seen a wave like that before. But THANK GOD I got up...the log and another big log a ways down the beach were swept into the waves as if they weighed 1 pound each. (Apparently just 1 inch of water can move a log.) People have been killed or maimed by such logs (in fact, my parents saw a young woman pinned by a log once, who was being rescued on that very beach). The wave kept coming and coming, until it reached the edge of the dunes (where we had all escaped to). I'm also thankful that my dad was holding Nicholas at the time and could run carrying him.
It unsettled each one of us. We were not taking any unusual risks--climbing on rocks or wading out far into the ocean. We were just sitting and standing on the dry sand (and logs). How easily one of us could have been swept into the waves or hit with a log. It was very frightening to consider what could have happened on such a beautiful winter day at the beach.
Here is one of the logs that was swept away (before the sneaker wave):

And just this week the news contained a tragic story about a young 22-year-old Filipina woman who was swept into the sea by a sneaker wave...she had only been in Oregon for 3 days, and the man she had come to marry was about to officially propose to her. (I do have to comment that I do find it a bit peculiar that they met on the internet, and she was 22 and he was coworker friend has a name for such type of men who seek Asian women...) But still, it is a very sad story. And chilling, after our very close call with a sneaker wave.
It will certainly make me much more vigilant during the winter, especially, on the beach...although we already carefully watch our children, I will not allow them to play near the surf without an adult there. And I will think twice about sitting on logs. Finally, I will never take my eyes off the waves for a second.

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