When I was a kid, I had this fantasy about the ocean. I had never seen it except in the movies or in my mind’s eye while reading a book. To me, ocean side towns were full of color…bright blues and oranges…and people everywhere, carrying surfboards and wearing bathing suits…eating corn dogs and giant waffles cones. And when you actually got ON the beach, the waves were crashing up on the jetty, yet somehow the water was still peaceful enough to for you to swim and jump around in it.
I got to see the ocean for the first time in my nearly 42 years last week. The moment I laid eyes on the crashing surf, my eyes filled with tears. I had waited. So. Long. For this moment. It truly was magical.
However, all fantasies I had about the ocean town were dashed while staying in Ocean Shores. Yes…there was an awesome kitschy gift shop that you entered through the mouth of the shark. But the oranges and blues did not exist. The board walk was not at all what I had imagined…a giant walking pier with every crazy store you could think of and street food mania! But alas, reality board walk was a street, not on the ocean at all, and about 10 stores long. There were no corn dog eating surfer dudes. There was virtually no night life at all considering most of the town shut down at 830pm!
We managed to have a lot of fun despite things not being quite what we expected. We tried Moby Dick’s restaurant for some incredible fried fish and clams. Our server was awesome and when he heard I had never seen the ocean, he grabbed a guide book and started sharing the best places to go for ocean fun. On his recommendation, we drove down the beach to check out the south jetty. We didn’t get to see any wild life (Kendall desperately wanted to see a star fish) but we climbed the rocks and got super up close and personal with the gigantic waves. The next day, we decided to go back to the same jetty where there was also a beach.
But what started as a beach DAY quickly turned into some very nerve wracking moments. We had decided to take the “sand highway” to get there. However, despite the Journey driving fine on the beach the previous day, we managed to get stuck in some very loose sand. A young stranger was able to tow us out without a problem, but then the car found MORE loose sand and we got stuck again. At this point, my wildest fantasy was quickly turning into one of my biggest fears. We were stuck before the tide came in. And nothing we tried was getting us out. Again, we were saved by amazing strangers, one who suggested using the car’s floor mats to gain traction. After several “almost” moments, a group of men came bounding down the beach yelling “hang on! We’re coming!” One of them carrying a large stick/branch. With the branch under one tire and four people pushing, we were finally free of the sand trap and headed out, vowing to NEVER drive to Journey on the beach again.
So beach day turned into beach hour, but the kids still had an absolute blast. We were able to splash in the waves and watch the tide come in. I attempted some beachy wave hair…but all that actually means is that you get a bunch of salty sand stuck in your hair. I’ll definitely stick to the beach wave spray from the store. Kendall buried herself up to her waist in the sand, which was one of HER beach bucket list items. And Finn and Charlotte got braver and braver trying to tackle waves. As for me and Peter…we enjoyed watching our babies jump around and squeal in delight. And we have been trying to learn to take things in stride and remember that while something might seem like a tragedy in the moment…later it just tends to feel like a little blip of annoyance that we can laugh about.
That night after dinner, we went back to the beach, right down the street from where we were parking our RV. We watched the sunset over the Pacific and sighed in awe over the beauty before us. The pictures are breathtaking, but to have seen it in person, once again brought me to tears.
And although it took me almost 42 years of life to see an ocean, I’m so grateful that my first time was also with my children….I wouldn’t change a thing about those moments.