Thursday, September 18, 2008

When We Lost Our Way, I Was Glad I Had Changed My Shoes

“Come on let’s go for a ride. I just want to see where this road goes.” Ed coaxed, “You don’t even need to change your shoes.”

Disregarding Ed’s comment, I changed from my terry blue Isotoner slippers into my new K-Swiss walking shoes. I would be glad I did.

We took a right out of the Siltcoos RV Park. We went past the Westlake Post Office, across the bridge over the Siltcoos River and round the bend. This would be a short ride I thought. I had walked this very road a day ago. It just looped back to the river bridge, post office and RV park. Somewhat surprised by this short drive, Ed said, “I feel like driving some more. Let’s head down Highway 101.” We did and I was glad I changed my shoes.

We stopped briefly at Carter Lake just long enough to climb a sand dune, eat some wild blackberries, and view the lake. Before driving away, we studied a park map mounted on a “You Are Here” type sign. I traced my finger along blue line indicating the Siltcoos River. We had canoed this river the previous weekend, coming short of completing the full three mile canoe path ending at the Pacific Ocean. Ed proposed we to find the road leading to the Lodgepole Campsite where we turned our canoe around and headed back upstream. Then, he suggested we follow the access road further to the catch the sunset from the Siltcoos Beach. I was glad I had changed my shoes.

No matter how many times I catch a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean when I crest the dunes, I always pause to take in the expanse of beach and the infinite water and waves. This evening was no different as the sun hung low in the sky.

“Come on, let’s head down to the water,” Ed urged me along. I shuffled through the loose sand of the dune. So much sand filled my shoes that the warm granules cushioned my heel and arch. It actually felt good; and again, I was glad I changed shoes.

Ed and I stood watching the sun fall into the horizon. All the movies and ads have it right, it is romantic to watch the sunset with someone you love.

Though the sun set, there was still light. We decided to walk the beach to see where the Siltcoos River spills into the Pacific Ocean. I did not try to keep pace with Ed. I paused along the way to take photos of the crimson sky. I searched for the perfect seashell. And, I wondered about the survival of the starfish left stranded on the beach by the receding tide.

I finally caught up to Ed. The Siltcoos River trickled into the Pacific. My fears from several days ago, imagining us in the canoe shooting out the river into the turbulent waves, were unfounded. We followed the sandy riverside a bit, then turned back to walk the beach. It was getting dark and Ed teased me about watching out for dangerous nocturnal pumas.

I liked how I fit under his arm. We strolled along the water this way. We must gone a long distance, because we started to see things we hadn’t passed on our sunset walk. It was getting dark so we decided to retrace our steps.

Ah, here’s the path to the parking lot…so we thought! We climbed the dune. Nope, it led to a mound of tall grass and more dunes. We backtracked to the beach. Ah-hah! This was it, a much wider path. Wrong again. This was an ATV trail, but we figured we’d walk along it to the road. Trudging through the loose sand made each step laborious. Ed’s keys jangled on his belt and the seashells clinked in my pocket. I hoped the noise would be enough to keep the pumas away. It was. After awhile, it seemed like we were heading inland to who knows where when Ed and I came to the same conclusion. We would be better off on the beach. I shuffled my feet through the sand, back over the dune, and slid down the other side to the beach.

We walked some more watching for the sandy gap in the dunes. This time when it looked like the trail, Ed climbed up the loose sand and I waited on the beach. He hollered from the top that he saw lights further down the beach, must be the parking lot he concluded. He joined me on the beach again as we continued our search for the correct dune trail. We made a few other climbs up the dunes thinking we’d found the trail. We had not. We decided to climb another dune that proved to be so steep that we had to grab the grass to keep from sliding backwards. I used the flash of my pocket camera to illuminate the view. There were lights in the distance, probably Lodgepole Campground. We must have really missed our mark!

Back on the beach, we emptied sand from our shoes and rested for a moment. It was really dark now. I was getting tired of walking. I think Ed was tired too because he asked if I’d take a turn checking the next dune. I took a turn and it was the wrong dune again. I was beginning to think we’d have to sleep on the beach, when finally, Ed found the wide mound of sand to the dune trail. He sounded giddy from on top of the dune announcing. “I found it!” I started the arduous climb, this time on the right dune. I was so tired that I tugged on the knees of my denim jeans to lift my feet a couple of times. When I got to the top, Ed pointed to our white car in the lot. I was happy to see that little car and really happy that I changed my shoes!

September 18, 2008

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