We arrived Friday night, in dripping rain, and waited for our friends to arrive. They own the next-door cabin and were bringing the keys to our cabin with them. (Our friends’ parents own the cabin we rented.) My conversation with her led me to believe she would arrive very soon after we did. . . but still, we waited for maybe an hour. My sister and her husband and two kids drove up soon after we did, so we mingled and huddled on the porch until the keys arrived.
The opening weekend of our vacation was filled with people: our friends, AC and Cari, their two kids and their two nieces; a mutual friend of ours who flew in from Alaska on stand-by as an airline employee; my sister, her husband and two kids; my mother. . . and then, of course, my family of six.
Our friend, AC, works for a fish company and escorted us on a tour of the processing plant in Astoria. We watched the women shake crabmeat from the crab-legs (what a job!), the people package shrimp after it cooks and rides various streams and conveyor belts before being instantly frozen, and the forty people on the hake line working together to process the white fish which is then shipped to Eastern Europe. One guy’s entire job was to slide the recently beheaded hake to the other side of the belt for tail-removal. Imagine doing that for eight hours a day. (Better than being a crab-shaker, if you ask me.)
Grace and I (and the other “girls”) went thrift shopping where Grace realized that you can try on clothes before you buy them. This was a secret I’d been keeping from her, but now she knows.
When I saw AC and Cari assemble a large trampoline in their yard, I knew that someone would be hurt. Sure enough, within twenty-four hours, my husband lugged a wailing Grace to the cabin where I ascertained that no bones were broken and in fact, the blood wasn’t coming from her lips. . . but her teeth. One of her top front teeth was pushed back to a ninety degree angle and a baby tooth on the bottom wiggled. Her gums bled, but we were both thrilled that her brand new shirt remained blood-free. I held her until she stopped crying and bleeding.
The upper gum bled and looked bruised, but the tooth remained firm and as the days passed, moved back close to its original position. And by the end of the day, she wanted to jump again on the trampoline.
The men all left on Sunday night (to work or to fly home) and so Cari and I and our six kids managed without them. Her nieces also left. My sister and her family and my mom gallivanted on their own on Monday, then my sister and her family left the cabin to go camping (my mom drove with them to their campsite and was gone the whole day). My mom left on Wednesday to visit family farther down the coast.
Cari and I took the kids down to the shore where we had glorious weather (though cool, because it is the Pacific Ocean in Washington we’re talking about here). The kids dug a giant moat around a mound of a castle, working together. Sandcastle building is the great equalizer, letting all the kids work together no matter their age or expertise. And sure enough, the tide came in and the kids reacted with horror and determination to shore up their sand walls against inevitability. (Such a metaphor for life, I must note.)
Then they abandoned their castle and began to frolic in the waves and recline on a sandbar as waves rolled over them. As the sun set, a giant flock of brown pelicans descended just down the beach and soon they soared around the kids, settling into the waves just beyond us. I’d noticed them earlier, swooping in low lines just above the water, but for whatever reason (some delicacy in the ocean, I imagine), a giant flock swarmed and bobbed on the waves.
This particular stretch of Long Beach has few shells on its sandy shore. And, in fact, cars are allowed to drive its thirty-mile length, which always strikes me as odd. But despite scanning the sand while Grace ran and ran down the beach, I found no unbroken sand-dollars and only one small shell the whole time.
Our husbands returned for the latter part of the week, arriving on Wednesday evening. We spent the rest of the week on the beach, though it was never as sunny as earlier in the week. Sometimes when it’s hot in the Puget Sound, a fog bank hangs over the ocean and that happened our last few days. So we viewed some lighthouses, shopped in little shops, played in the arcade, rode go-karts (I was lapped several times by 11-year old children in my efforts to NOT DIE) and ate too much. And we roasted marshmallows and made s’mores. Cari and I completed a 1,000 piece puzzle while watching the Olympics on television late at night.
I also read one book: The Elevator by Angela Hunt.
And then, on Saturday, the sun shone brightly–after a couple days of fog and low-hanging clouds–and it was time to clean the cabin for the next guests. The downside of renting a cabin from a friend is the lack of maid-service. So I sent the family away to get them out of my way and tidied up. So much sand everywhere!
We were away eight nights and now it seems like it never happened, just like that sandcastle which was erased by the tide.
However, I still have sand in my shoes.