Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Juggling at Beverly Beach

For our family vacation this year, we rented a yurt at Beverly Beach, 7 miles north of Newport. A yurt is basically a glorified tent—beds, a floor, electricity, light, heat... No bathroom or kitchen, but it's pretty posh for camping! Since I didn't grow up camping, I thought it would be a pretty good start for us and it was perfect. I would love to do it again some year!

Usually the weather is just gorgeous at the coast this time of year, but this week there was a huge storm about 200 miles out at sea that caused some weird bursts of rain. So between four kids, the weather, the mud, the campfire, a nursing baby, and potty training, this trip was quite the juggling act!

Yay! The wood is actually burning!

We left home after church on Sunday bringing my sister, Lindsey, with us. In Newport, we dropped her off to stay with my brother, Zack, and his wife, Hannah, where they are living with Hannah's grandparents. By the time we rolled into the campground, it was dark so we decided to unload everything in the morning. Sometime in the middle of the night we woke up to hear rain pattering on the roof. Oops! Instead of darkness we had to battle rain.

We got dressed and ate breakfast in the shelter of the yurt, but later in the morning the rain had stopped enough that we could go explore the (muddy) campground. We found a nature trail and followed it along Spencer Creek, admiring the way the sandy ground had fallen away from many of the trees exposing intricate networks of roots. The path led past the playground at which the kids were eager to play despite the wetness of it all. By the time we left there, Stephen had needed to nurse, Esther had wet her pants, Lucy had slid down a wet slide, and Joshua had watered the bushes.

Back at the yurt those who needed it were changed. Some of us took naps while Eli read to Joshua. Then for dinner we went back to Zack and Hannah's to celebrate Zack's birthday with hamburgers, angel food cake, and Skip-Bo.

The next morning was beautiful! We decided to eat outside and heat up our sausage over a fire. I got everyone dressed, made hot chocolate, and set out the breakfast things while Eli worked on the fire. Eventually he got it lit. I wasn't sure if the food tasted even better after all that effort or if it was a bit anticlimactic. Either way, both our tummies and our taste buds were amply satisfied.

After cleaning up and nursing the baby, we walked down to the beach to take advantage of the sunshine. The kids were thrilled, as they usually are, when we walked under the bridge and down onto the beach. The tide was high, unusually high because of the storm. Joshua found a sandy spot to one side and quickly began digging. The girls explored the edge of the rocky stream.  Eli and I put down our armloads of stuff and I posed with Stephen for a picture of his first time on the beach.

But as I smiled, and before the shot could be taken, I saw a huge wave rush up the stream and knock both girls off their feet! "Oh my goodness!" I gasped, pointing. Eli and I were both there in a second. He grabbed Lucy and I grabbed Esther. Both—though wet, cold and scared—were safe, and Eli hadn't dropped the camera and I hadn't dropped the baby. We stripped the girls down to their swimsuits and wrapped them in towels to warm up but they were pretty shaken. So was I!

I think it was my scariest parent moment yet. You hear all the time how dangerous the ocean is and how easy it is to get pulled out to sea by those sneaker waves. That thing that you don't want to happen was happening! They really couldn't have been pulled out to sea. They were too far upstream (which is why I wasn't right there holding their hands!!) and there were too many rocks in the way. But in that moment, it seemed like they could be!

Esther thought she wanted to play...

...but soon she preferred to be wrapped up and eat potato chips.

The experience gave us a good opportunity to talk about safety on the beach and about fear. We instituted a new rule: no one goes near the water until we watch it for several minutes to determine wave patterns.

While the girls sought safety in Daddy's arms, Joshua enjoyed the rest of our time on the beach.

1st time on the beach! (Take 2)

He wasn't very impressed.

Joshua and I were exploring the logs under the bridge when the wind began to blow and clouds gathered. When we got back, Eli was gathering things together as the first drops of rain fell. "Do we have to leave? It'll pass!" said optimistic I. Eli took Esther on his shoulders and put everything that would fit into the moses basket on top of Stephen. He headed back with them while I grabbed wet clothes, stray boots, and sandy shovels and buckets. But by then it was really raining. I lifted Lucy up onto the path and tried to get Joshua to help carry the toys. Both were too cold and confused by all the rain to be much help. I lifted Lucy onto the path and told her to start heading back, but when I caught up to her with Joshua and the rest, she was huddled down on the path under the bridge with her towel over her head! Finally I figured a way to drape the towels over my shoulder and carry Lucy and a bucket with the wet clothes so I could hurry to the cover of the bathroom pavilion. Joshua trailed behind with the rest of the toys.  Of course by the time we made it back to the yurt this little rain flurry was over.

Much better!
We changed, settled the little ones down for naps, and got out snacks and books. The wind shook the wet trees sending large drops spattering onto our roof.

After a soothing quiet time, we lit a fire for dinner. This was the most successful, enjoyable time of the trip. We sat around roasting hot dogs and eating apples and carrots. At one point the wind picked up and the weather turned threatening again and Eli ran inside with the little ones while I hurried to get a few roasted marshmallows in. But the threats were empty and we were able to stay out all evening.

As it got dark, Eli put the kids to bed and I took the baby for a walk because he was fussy, but it wasn't quite time for bed. The beach looked much different at low tide and by the light of the moon. Finally I nursed Stephen one more time and put him to bed and Eli and I watched the last embers of the campfire die.

The next morning was the beginning of our last day. I wasn't sure if we'd get to see the beach again, so I went for a walk alone before the kids got up. It was gorgeous as the sun rose over the mountains!

It was so sunny (I even saw a tiny bit of a rainbow!), that I thought for sure that we would be able to play some more on the beach (maybe without getting soaked in the first three minutes) before leaving. But as we got breakfast out (no campfire this time) it got cloudy and windy again. We decided to load everything up.

But by the time that was done, the sun was out again. In the end, we checked out of the campground and drove down to Agate Beach, with the intention of just walking rather than getting all sandy.

He's still deciding what his opinion on beaches is.

Well, you can't take children under 6 to the beach without getting at least a bit sandy. There was plenty of digging and sliding and a bit of splashing mixed in with the walking and running. And one of those children was potty training, so she ended up loosing her pants before we got back to the van.

We ended our trip in the historic district of Newport at a little family restaurant overlooking Nye Beach. The fish and chips and the bacon burger were excellent and view was lovely, though we didn't get to see the whale that was rumored to also be lunching in the area. The sky was a clear blue all the way to the distant horizon and it was just tragic to be leaving!


  1. Sounds like an adventure! Although, It's always an adventure to do anything outside in Oregon in October... Beaches can be scary though! My parents made us always play facing the ocean so we could watch the waves...

  2. Well, once again, you put a lovely, positive outlook on your first family vacation as 5! I think I would've come home complaining that it was TOO hard, the weather was TOO yuck, and I never want to go away again unless my Mommy comes with me! ;) Good job on starting potty training with a new baby to attend to! I'm glad you got some family time.