It was February, and it was the Pacific Ocean off the northern coast of Oregon, but we dove in anyway. Stripped to our skivvies and plunged headlong into the waves. The shock was invigorating, paralyzingly so, but by the time all 45 degrees had fully registered, we were sprinting toward dry sand and a large rock in the sun.
My sister Laura and I and our friends Beth and Benjamin spent the entire day on the beach at Oswald West State Park, located in a secluded cove bounded by old-growth spruce, fir, hemlock and cedar trees. The 2,400-acre park, a mere 90 miles northwest of Portland, stretches four miles between Arch Cape and Neahkahnie Mountain and contains a section of the Oregon Coast Trail that we didn't explore but would like to.
We'd expected weather typical of the Oregon coast in winter, but the day was so unseasonably warm and sunny that between our arrival at 10:30 a.m. and our departure after sunset, we never pulled the fleece hats, winter jackets and rain gear from our backpacks.
Here's how we kept ourselves occupied:
- Tiptoed into and bolted out of the ocean.
Note the wet hair. Yes, we went in all the way.
- Accepted the Cartwheel Challenge (meaning 30 in a row) and eventually became unable to distinguish the up from down.
- Ate mass quantities of Parmesan-flavored Goldfish crackers and chocolate that melted in our mouths, but first, in our hands.
- Scaled the rocks as menacingly as possible.
I don't know how I remained so calm in this situation.
- Bumped, set and tried to spike a small yellow volleyball that we dubbed "Big Red" until our forearms could not take it anymore.
- Tried to imagine why women in skorts and a large group of children were carrying around My Little Ponies and a life-sized plastic dummy with well-developed calves.
- Stared into the ocean, listening to the waves crash into the jagged rocks offshore.
- Read our books, which pretty much digressed into taking naps.
- Watched the setting sun cast the sky in shades of gold, then sink into the horizon.
All in all, a perfect day.