The Best Surprises Involve Sand Between the Toes

Saturday morning I woke up and Tara was standing by the side of the bed, yanking the covers off me.

“Get up,” she said. “We’re going to the beach.”

“No, we’re not,” I mumbled sleepily, confused by my wife’s declaration. She was going into the office to get some work done. We had no plans. “You’re going into the office to get some work done,” I reminded her. “We have no plans.”

“I lied. It’s Father’s Day weekend. Work can wait.”

Turns out, she had planned a surprise trip to Cannon Beach behind my back. Complete with a picnic lunch and new kites to fly. It was pretty awesome, I have to admit. We hadn’t been to Cannon Beach on the Oregon coast in two years. I’m not sure how that happened, but considering how much I love the place, that’s a crime. So an hour later I was showered and dressed and we were eating breakfast before heading west. Audrey was in on the secret, too. I’m impressed they pulled it off. As we drove over the Coast Range the clouds pressed down ominously, giving way to spates of rain and worrying me that our trip would be a washout. But the coast was dry and mild, and by the time we were walking across the sand at Cannon Beach, skies were blue and the sun was shining brightly. For about ninety minutes, anyway; just long enough to get a nice little sunburn going. We had a picnic lunch, flew kites, walked down to Haystack Rock and back, and just enjoyed the sights, sounds, and smells of the crashing surf. The ocean always takes away my stress and makes me happy. We stayed until a little after 5 PM, then made the journey back home, stopping into the Helvetia Tavern for burgers and a cold one (well, root beer for me) on the way. Got back around 8 PM, tired after a long but fun day on the go.

Sunday was considerably more relaxing. And also considerably wetter, so it’s a good thing we hit the beach on Saturday. Perhaps because it was Father’s Day, I found myself immersed in old home movies from when the kids were little. I used to tote around a camcorder like a modern day Scorsese, filming nearly every moment of Rusty’s and Audrey’s childhoods. The impromptu viewing triggered a bit of nostalgia, as I watched memories from a completely different life reveal themselves in brightly colored pixels before my eyes. Tara observed that I led a very “yuppie life” back then, and – between the house in the suburbs, the two children, the birthday parties and Easter egg hunts and ballet rehearsals and karate lessons, the freshly mowed lawn, the 4th of July fireworks, and the mountain of gaily wrapped gifts beneath the tree on Christmas morning – I can’t really argue with that. The only thing missing was the white picket fence, and that’s only because our HOA would have fined us for disrupting the neighborhood aesthetic if we’d dared to put one up. It just amazes me how incredibly different my life was a dozen short years ago. That’s a blink of an eye, really. And yet it feels like it was the Ice Age. One obvious takeaway from the home movies: I loved having little kids. I was in my element then, in a way that my ex never was…and that is also obvious from the videos. She often told me, as things were unraveling, that she only had kids because I wanted kids. I never really believed her then, but I think I do now. After all, the camera never lies.

Having teenagers is just so completely different. Especially when one doesn’t even live with you, and hardly ever comes around. I miss those days more than I ever imagined I would. At the same time, I’m thankful I got to experience them.

Here are a few pics from the weekend. Click on any to enlarge.


20 thoughts on “The Best Surprises Involve Sand Between the Toes

  1. Excellent shots! I especially like the one of the clouds rolling in against the grey water and stone in the foreground. How I would love a day at the beach. Even a rainy day.


    1. I sometimes think rainy days at the beach are my favorite kind of days at the beach. Much better than windy days, and at least then there’s no worrying about a sunburn.


    1. I agree! I lived in California for 8 years, and while the beaches are beautiful, the coastline itself just doesn’t compare. I love the rugged wildness up here. And also the fact that there aren’t a million people crammed onto a single square mile of sand.


  2. OMG, what a GREAT surprise, Mark! And I love the note on the board….”Let’s Go To The Beach!” Nice touch, Tara 🙂

    BEAUTIFUL photos, man! I am in awe at the skies in Oregon. You know me, I love cloudy skies.

    So glad you had a great weekend, buddy! Happy Father’s Day to you!


  3. That is some fantastic scenery! I have never been to a beach on the west coast.

    I end up crying every time we watch home movies. What’s worse is that I feel as though I did not enjoy those times like I should have. I was always stressed out about something.


    1. You’re exactly right! I was telling Tara the same thing. It’s hard to really enjoy those moments while you are living them, because there’s always some stress to deal with: the kids are cranky, you’re trying to potty train them yet, they’re causing trouble in school, etc. Those rose-colored glasses only come out after the fact, and that’s too bad. I would love to have a chance to do it all over again…


  4. What a wonderful surprise, Mark! And a belated happy Father’s Day to you!

    Sorry to have been gone for so long. We were without internet for two weeks and then I traveled to the US for nearly another two. So glad to be home in Cuenca!

    Hugs from Ecuador,


    1. Howdy, stranger! I know you’ve been busy and without the internet, so don’t sweat it. Can’t wait to read all about your trip. Bet you’re glad to be back home, though.


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