Wide-Eyed, We Stared at the Scene in Front of Us

We checked into an oceanfront hotel in Ocean Shores, Washington, a room with an ocean view and a balcony. We’ve been to beaches a hundred times and more, but not this beach, so we were a little surprised when we arrived to see that we were a good quarter mile from the sand.

Between us and the ocean was a wide swath of dense bushes followed by a stretch of grassy dunes. We could see the ocean and hear it, so we were happy. This was a new kind of ocean experience to us, when most of our past experiences have been to Oregon and California beaches. And isn’t that why we travel? To see new things?

We immediately put on our flipflops and headed down the path toward the ocean, eager to feel the pristine sand between our toes, to kick back in the warm sand and listen to the waves. We ducked into that dense overgrowth of bushes, following a route that had been hacked out and periodically cut back to allow us to walk, single file, until we arrived in the dunes grassland.

Deer at Ocean Shores beach

Deer wander along with us through the bushes on the way to the beach.

These Pacific Northwest grassy dunes are beautiful and some are wildlife refuges, which adds to the enticement for me. The ones at this portion of Ocean Shores are not a refuge, however, and yet they are wild and untrammeled. A deer passed us as we were walking through the brush and out into the dunes. She paused. We paused. We love this planet and its oceans so we were appreciative of all this wildlife area as we walked up, down and over the dunes, on a hot summer day, heading for the beach.

Finally, we came to the last dune and peered over it for our first look at the Ocean Shores beach.

Imagine our shock. Our wide-eyed amazement.

There stretched before us was a wide, flat beach full of cars, pickup trucks, zippy mopeds, and tailgate parties.

Cars driving on the beach? TRUCKS driving on the beach?

We were so surprised that we laughed out loud. Wouldn’t you? To come upon a beach packed with a hundred vehicles, assorted beach tents, beach chairs, families on blankets and families gathered around behind their cars, kids burying each other in the sand, children running in and out of the water, a dad tossing a football with his daughter, a dozen kids flying kites, a group on horseback passing through – a virtual smorgasbord of everything you can imagine taking place on a beach at one time. Plus a sand-packed road running through it.

So, we saw new things on this trip to the beach. And isn’t that why we travel, we asked each other as we sat amidst the hustle and bustle but on a clear space of beach, toes in the sand.

I’ve since learned that I am quite West Coast limited in this aspect, that there are several beaches on the East Coast that allow cars, most notably Daytona Beach. Yet, in all my travels, I had overlooked this aspect or possibility of beach use. In my mind beaches are pristine and off limits to vehicles. How could I have missed this very popular and common use of beaches?!

Don’t you love it when you learn new things, when something snaps you out of your complacent “knowing”, that part of you that says, “Oh yes, I understand that, and that, and that, and I’ve seen that before….” There’s that moment often in traveling when you peer over a rise in the dunes, knowing perfectly well what you will see there, and then, you don’t. You are faced with something that, to you, is entirely new and different.

And then we can say, “What an amazing world we live in.” And, “Let’s plan our next trip.”

Jude (Judith) Harlan

Jude Harlan

Jude Harlan, founder of Me-At Last, Women On Purpose, is a publisher, editor and journalist.  She pursues her passion here at Me-AtLast.com, empowering women in our search for inner strength, purpose and the power to be ourselves – to take our turn at the helm of our lives. Find out more about her on our About page.