Saturday, 19 April 2014
At 8 AM (far too soon considering I rarely manage to sleep before 2 AM), I woke to wind battering the house, torrential rain, and a chill in the air that required the very unusual move of turning on the furnace early. I left Allan a note on the bathroom counter to avoid waking him up with the news:
However, at 10:30 I woke up again and looked at the Facebook profile of Shelly Pollock, the organizer of the GrassRoots Garbage Gang beach clean ups. She wrote something so optimistic (as the storm raged with winds over 30 mph) that I felt a pang of guilt and got up, waking Allan from a sound sleep. I feel attached to the Garbage Gang because I helped them make their Facebook page and because Shelly is such a good person.
By 11:30, with rain still pouring down, we were parked on 30th Street in Seaview….
…ready to begin our walk to the beach.
And the rain stopped!
Picking up dozens of little bits of plastic delays the satisfaction of filling a bag. However, it is important because these tiny fragments are hazardous to beach birds, who mistake them for food.
The wind was still fierce and our large garbage bags whipped about with vigor.
We were glad when one of the event’s volunteer drivers, Handy Dave, stopped so we could get some of the smaller bags. He told us he had been planning to work today but had seen that they were short on drivers so had volunteered after all.
Other than Dave and the people hauling that tire away, we saw no other beach cleaners, and there was more trash left for us than usual. We tend to get to the clean up half an hour after its usual 9:30 AM start, and for this one I had been sure we would be on time for once as it started at 10:30 due to an early clam digging tide. The weather made us an hour late anyway, but I don’t think anyone had been down that stretch of beach other than us and some people who were there for other reasons.
We found four good sized bags of trash. A lot of it was buried by the strong wind, as was this pile of kelp.
We worked our way south, then turned back after an hour and a half of picking in order to get to the exciting afternoon events in Long Beach town. As we walked back, and cars drove by, I reflected on how I rarely go to this beach recreationally because I so dislike being passed by vehicles in such a natural, would be peaceful environment.
Maybe there should be beach driving permits for disabled people. That seems to be the big heartfelt argument brought up in support of beach driving (along with “It’s always been this way.”) And maybe an exception for clamming weekend….It would be felt that too many of the poor clams would escape the clam gun if folks could not drive to get them. Other than that, other than the support drivers who pick of trash bags on beach clean up days, I wish that no matter what people are up to out here, they would park and walk in. In my 21 years here, I have had occasion to read comments in guestbooks of various hotels, and disappointment at finding vehicles on the beach is a strong theme. I’ve also had at several of my women friends tell me it is creepy and scary to be alone on the beach and have a car drive by. Sometimes it does not feel safe.
Opposition to beach driving is not a popular opinion for a local to have and when a newcomer writes a letter to the editor on the topic, much pro-beach driving responses ensue.
In summer, a stretch of beach from Seaview to Long Beach is closed. It is not the prettiest stretch of beach. (That’s down by Beard’s Hollow, in my opinion.) The beaches at Cape Disappointment State Park are non-driving beaches but harder to get to than the beaches by our string of beach towns.
From Trip Advisor: “You can drive on the beach here which is nuts but very very fun.” There you go.
Along the stretch of beach that we had already thoroughly cleaned, I found a bit of trash thrown from one of the vehicles that passed me. I chased it down, the powerful wind blowing it just out of reach like a comedy routine.
We had been free of the rain the whole time we picked up trash. As we began to walk east along the Holman Creek trail, the rain returned in force.
My calves ached from beach walking. I hustled as fast as I could to get back to the van so that we would make it to the Clam Festival in time. On the way north to Long Beach, I wondered if the festivities would be seriously dampened by the weather.
We had already heard that the heavy morning wind had destroyed two Saturday Market tents at the Port of Ilwaco and blown another up and over the shops and that the market (meant to be a stop on the Clam Festival Treasure Map) had been cancelled. Would the same fate await the outdoor events in Long Beach?
No matter what happened with the weather, we were determined to see the mayor cut the ribbon on the World’s Largest Spitting Clam and we knew that at least a few hardy souls would show up.