Camping on the Beach: Part Two

27 Jul

My last post was about camping on the beach, and it ended with a promise of more stories to come. Well, here you go…

When we camped down on the beach a huge part of the fun was being in control of our food. Not so much WHAT we ate – our mom’s still were the ones buying the food, so the menu wasn’t totally up to us – but WHEN we ate was up to us, and that was great fun. This was, of course, an activity not dependent upon the clock, but rather upon our appetites…which would be roaring, no matter what the actual time was.

I’m pretty sure we cooked hamburgers, kept cool in an ice chest, over a long-handled grill kind of thing – the kind that you hold over the flame and it has two sides to it so you can flip it over part way through, eliminating the need for yet another utensil. We might have done hot dogs, though I’m not sure, because mostly what I do remember about eating on the beach was breakfast. I am certain we had s’mores – after all, what campfire is complete without them – but even that pales in comparison to my memory of breakfast.

My mama, down on our beach, circa 1985, using the exact kind of hamberger grill I’m talking about!

So…breakfast. My friend had several pet geese and so she had offered to bring eggs along with a handy dandy cast iron skillet. We woke up early, the summer sunrise being our alarm clock, and began the serious duty of making scrambled eggs. I greatly dislike fried eggs and always have, so I remember insisting on scrambled. I’m not sure which one of us broke the eggs into the pan, but I do know that both of us looked down at the orange duck egg yolks with a great deal of trepidation.

Despite the fact that K was the one with the geese, she must not normally have been the one to cook them. Neither of us realized that the yolks of goose eggs are always much more orange than the yolks of chicken eggs.

“They’re really…weird looking,” one of us said tentatively.

“Yeah,” the other replied. “Like, too orange.”

“Do you think they went bad overnight?”

“Do you think they might…make us sick if we eat them?”

She looked at me, and I looked at her, and we both decided that eggs – scrambled or otherwise – weren’t on the menu, after all.

The eggs ended up in the outgoing tide and we had something else for breakfast. I know, I know. Silly, but there you have it.

My grandma loved picnics on the beach.

One of my other favorite memories of sleeping on the beach was waking up in the middle of the night one time and finding that, while we had been careful to place our sleeping bags above the high tide line, the tide hadn’t been as careful in sticking to its assigned position.

“Ummm…K?” I poked her awake, noticing in the moonlight that my sleeping bad had a couple spark holes from the night’s campfire.

K did not want to be wakened. I poke her again, talked a little louder. “Ummm…K, you have to wake up, the tide has risen.”

She sat up and, sure enough, saw as I had seen that the driftwood log at our feet – upon which our feet actually rested – was the only thing keeping the ocean from our sleeping bags. There, smack on the other side of the log, not six inches away, was the sea.

We dragged our spark-marked bags further up the beach and settled back down to sleep, trusting to the tide and God that we’d be dry.

We were.

Eastsound, WA

K and I weren’t overly adventurous, we weren’t particularly brave, nor were we very good at outdoor living…but none of that mattered…we had a fantastic time, we felt independent and mature, we were growing up.

My sister and her friend, when they slept on the beach, would build an outhouse out of driftwood logs, stuck upright in the rocks. They’d make rafts of roped-together driftwood, and actually succeed in making them float. One time, they were out rowing – in a boat this time – so far in the water that an Orca – aka, Killer Whale – breached not 15 feet away from them. Talk about wanting your camera. They would cook fantastic meals and never throw away their eggs.

Our friend Becky, on the raft she and my sister made. I was so impressed.

But we younger girls, in our nightgowns and melted sleeping bags, had just as much fun as our older siblings…just closer to shore, and less fancy.

To this day, I never see a goose egg without thinking of the beach, without feeling slightly sticky from dried salt water, without remembering how my feet would squelch in my wet shoes as we hiked up and down, back and forth, with load after load of all the paraphernalia we deemed necessary to a good night’s camping on the beach.

Important stuff like toilet paper.

And nightgowns.


14 Responses to “Camping on the Beach: Part Two”

  1. whatimeant2say July 27, 2012 at 11:18 am #

    Those sound like great adventures. Would you believe that I’ve never been camping?

    • Gretchen O'Donnell July 27, 2012 at 11:14 pm #

      It’s not for everyone, that’s for sure. But, let me say, I’d LOVE you read your posts about it!

  2. Minnesota Prairie Roots July 27, 2012 at 11:21 am #

    Lovin those vintage (can I call them that?) pix and “The Adventures of Gretchen and K on the Beach.” You’re the best storyteller. The best.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell July 27, 2012 at 11:15 pm #

      You are so encouraging! And yes, I suppose those are vintage…though not as fun as sepia toned ones! It was all fun and it’s great to have photos to prove it!

  3. gardenfreshtomatoes July 27, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

    Another wonderful tale…

  4. treadlemusic July 27, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

    Such fun, innocent times back then…….will our children/grands lose out on such memories? I hope not.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell July 27, 2012 at 11:17 pm #

      I know…it’s worrisome. I guess we have to do the best we can with what we have!

      • treadlemusic July 28, 2012 at 7:45 am #

        Yup and keep those “together times” going! Neat post….love my “journalist blog pals” (you and Audrey)… Hugs…..

        • Gretchen O'Donnell July 28, 2012 at 6:45 pm #

          🙂 It’s fun to be connected with different types of blogs, isn’t it?!! I’m looking forward to fall when I’ll be better at connecting wtih other blogs…right now I’m just hanging with the kids and that’s so good!

  5. Hotly Spiced July 27, 2012 at 4:04 pm #

    What a great time. Too bad there was no camera for that killer whale – what a shot that would have been. It’s illegal to light fires on beaches here but it wouldn’t have been back when you were camping. What great holiday times xx

    • Gretchen O'Donnell July 27, 2012 at 11:18 pm #

      Yes, times have changed, haven’t they? That’s sad you can’t have beach fires!!! I know – that would have been a great shot for sure.

  6. Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen July 30, 2012 at 10:51 am #

    What beautiful beach camping memories you have. I’m quite impressed with that raft.. and having the confidence to go out so far on it!! I really enjoyed seeing your vintage photos as well of your mom and gran!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell July 31, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

      Thanks, Barbara! The old photos are fun, aren’t they? I’m glad that my dad has such great files. I know what you mean about the raft! I was never that brave. But I enjoyed watching them!

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