Saturday, October 14, 2017

Oregon Beach

“On the beach”
Curt in front, Mountain dune behind
            PACIFIC CITY, OREGON One of several peculiar things Curt and Rhonda noticed about me from the get go was the fact that I didn’t own a hoodie. I tried to explain that since I had no intention of ever robbing a person, pawn shop or Popeye’s I didn’t see the need to conceal my features in the heat of the day.
            Well, today I find myself at dusk sitting on the balcony of a beach house on the Oregon coast, and I’m hoodied up. I’m feeling good, and I’m imagining that I look good. Cool, even. You want some of me? Anybody?
            Just a second. Hear that? It’s geese, flying in the appropriate “V" formation, almost within rock throwing distance. They’re making the ol’ goose honk noise and appear to be headed north up the coast, which, as smarter geese know, is the wrong direction. It’s pleasantly cold at this latitude, but every flap northward has got to bring a chill.
            Curt, Rhonda and Kay are somewhere the other side of the tree-strewn dune. They drove to the beach, because they were hauling lawn chairs and didn’t care to wrestle them over the dune. Yesterday, I climbed one of the higher dunes. It was actually a mountain. I only did it because Curt asked if I wanted to climb the thing with him or stay with the women and watch as he climbed. Those may not have been his exact words but he was challenging me, all right.
During our ascent, we had to stop to catch our breath four times, but eventually we got there. Me, with my bum knee, and Curt with his cowboy boots, (How does anyone climb with boots?) we took in the sights and sounds of the beach for a moment before I asked Curt about his plan for us getting down. He said, “We run.” He assured me that it wouldn’t be all that tiring, because we’d likely fall halfway down and roll the rest of the way. “Ready?”
“What?” We exchanged the Butch and Sundance glance, and then we were off. Curt’s plan was ingenious. -- We would run.  I’m here to tell you, unless you’re a gecko, it’s impossible to walk down a steep incline. After a stumble or two, I noticed that Curt was raising his knees unnaturally high.. I immediately copied his stride and my stumbling ceased. Only God and Curt know why he chose not to suggest that.
At the bottom of a steep dune, you will find an abrupt leveling off. It was at this point that I came this close to making a triple somersault. Fortunately, I managed an awkward bone-rattling recovery, whereupon I joined Curt in the “Rocky Arm-raise.” The girls were absolutely gaga… over one of the shells Kay found during our descent. Wives? They don’t care. – “Yes, dear, you were spectacular. Can we move along now?”
Kay was always hot on the trail for shells, stones and tiny sticks to use in her fairy garden. By the time we finished our beach walk, the 14 pockets on my commando pants were stuffed, causing my pants to develop a massive downward tug. Having lost my butt in a skiing accident, there was nothing on which my pants could rest. I had to stuff rocks in my pockets with one hand while holding onto my pants with the other. It’s impossible to maintain the look of an impressive figure while trying to keep your pants up. I have learned so much on this trip.
One thing that likely saved my life was Kay’s decision not to collect any live creatures. Had I been pocketing critters with claws, sharp spines and poison slime the doctors would've spent days on my autopsy. -- "I had no idea the tiny poison sack of a red-demon squid-urchin could compress something with that much intensity. The pain must've been incredible."      
Kay has great respect for beach critters. Apparently, much more than she has for her husband. She impressed Rhonda and Curt with her knowledge of crawly critters, and shell inhabitants. I’d heard it all before, so continued walking along clinging to my pants.
Just a second. I hear the sliding door. — “Well, hello darling. I didn’t expect y’all back so soon. Yes, I’d love to see your bag full of shells, rocks and driftwood, and your photo of the gigantic starfish. Does that mean we’re having tacos tonight? Oh, you left the starfish clinging to a slightly submerged outcropping. A wise move. Let me finish here and I’ll examine what all you collected in your bucket. -- A bucket to put things in? How wise.
That woman is way past the fairy garden stage. She’s headed in the direction of a gorilla garden. Considering the region, she might come closer to assembling a formidable Sasquatch lair. Regardless, it’s time for me to sign off.
Right now I need to inspect Kay’s beach collection. I assure you, I’ll appear more interested than she was at my dune descent. I surprised myself. For a few seconds  I thought I’d end up strapped to the skid of a helicopter with a slip-knot, and flown to Portland General. Yep, that was an awkward dismount. – Next time.
Mark can be contacted at An archive of Hayter’s articles can be found at

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