Somehow I let pass a small but significant anniversary. It was 30 years ago earlier this month that I first saw the ocean. To the best of my recollection this was at Neskowin, Oregon. I was fourteen years old. (Nebraskans and other Flyover People tell stories like “the first time I saw the ocean…”) My family were on a long vacation to the Pacific Northwest.
I remember driving a sickeningly winding road across the coast range from Portland. I remember the parking lot — this memory departs significantly from what I know of Neskowin — it was isolated and tucked behind a small headland. The headland part is mostly accurate but I don’t remember the town at all. I remember the smell; more accurately, I remember that it smelled the way I expected the ocean to smell.
The ocean wasn’t visible from the parking lot. We crossed or went around this small headland and BAM there was the mighty Pacific. It was a beach both sandy and rocky, and there was a surplus of driftwood. Offshore was a small seamount.
As a fan of cool wet weather, that summer in Oregon and Washington bewitched me. It was 100° back in Nebraska and here I was shivering on a misty beach. This place I thought. I’m gonna get myself to this place forever.