2:12 PM

Kindness on the People's Coast

Posted by Prosy Delacruz

Two beach walkers by the wading pond in Harris Beach. Taken at sunset. July 2010.
“ Right action demands that we find a deeper and truer source of energy and guidance than relevance, power and spectacle can provide." - Parker J. Palmer

Sometime in the 1930s to the 1950s, the visionary thinking of two Sams, have provided for the public enjoyment of 363 miles of breathtaking coastline along Highway 101 in Oregon. It starts from the border of California on the north and ends in the border of Washington on the south. It is a rugged coastline of spectacular views, attracting bikers and motorcycle riders and vacationers all the way from Vancouver, British Columbia making their way down to San Francisco and for the more adventurous, all the way south to the Mexican border. We were coming from Los Angeles to Seattle, the other way around. In admiring the rugged coastline, we thought of the right actions of two Sams, who envisioned and planned for the People’s Coast.

Sam Boardman negotiated for lands to be bought, as Oregon State Parks’ first superintendent and the markers in Sam Boardman State Park credits him as Oregon’s Father of State Parks. The second Sam, Sam Dicken, was a professor of geography in University of Oregon who persuaded the state officials to create the Oregon Coastal trail from border to border. He was worried that the rugged Oregon coastline might be lost to public access. He is credited as the father of the Oregon Coast Trail.

No cars make it directly to the beaches, instead, cars are parked in paved areas and the beaches are accessed by foot. Harris Beach was accessed minutes by foot, while another, Lone Secret Beach took more. Harris Beach attracts more visitors and is more interesting because of its coves, the wading pond, including waveboarders (they use the receding waves of the ocean and the compact sand to ride their boards).

We first met an Oregonian transplant, formerly from Chicago, in Harris Beach. Lisa works in a dental office. After work, she takes photos of the Oregon coastline and now has a collection of 1,000 images. She offered us the front of her car to lean on, with an Indian wool rug thrown on top, while we waited for the sunset. It felt cozy! With our map, she highlighted spectacular photography viewpoints: Natural Bridges Cove, Cape Sebastian, Cape Foulweather and more. These were all gratuitous by the way, unsolicited! With Lisa’s help, we got to our first spot.

We came upon the Natural Bridges Cove, a natural bridge that connects the two coves. The water looked calm and the serene. In the afternoon, the sight is breathtaking, and even more enchanting in the morning. Here, we met another Oregonian, Bill, who lives near Harris Beach. He loves Oregon and would not consider living elsewhere. “ There is so much beauty here that I am willing to put up with some cold. It is not too bad, it gets 50 to 70F, but for my wife, it gets too cold for her. “

We planned to walk the entire coastal trail to reach the Natural Bridges Cove’s beach area. It would be at least two downhill and another treacherous climb uphill -- only to find a fallen tree morphed into a log!

It became both a crisis and a reward point for us. Do we climb over or crawl under? We watched a thin, young man climb over the log adeptly. What choice should we make? If we do not proceed, we succumb to our fears of height, and stay caged inside this familiar fearful zone with no action. The trail was but 24 inches wide, enough for us to stay safe, but the other side of it is the cliff.

We decided to face our fears, kneel down, step a bit on the roots of a fern, not much to keep us from going down into the cliff. With our legs shaking, we practically crawled our way to the other side.

We met a teenager who coached us, as we crawled under the fallen log, and when we were done, he offered to take us to the lookout point. No need, but thank you very much for helping us! We wanted to do it by ourselves.

We went back to the trail the next morning. This time, equipped with feeling and a memory of a challenge conquered, we bent such that our body could fit the space under the fallen log without crawling and soiling our clothes. Perhaps when fears are let go, bodies become pliant and flexible. Once we got to the other side, we smiled, a big one that came from within. We walked most of the trail with no one watching us to make a spectacle of ourselves.

We walked uphill and downhill, more assured and on our own! We felt an inner joy to rid ourselves of baggage: no longer fearing the heights, no longer afraid of the cliff, and now, with a sense of ease that we trust ourselves to take on the challenges that life gives us. Our next challenge: to walk down to reach the natural bridges and do the ‘treacherous climb uphill’ to get back, and our third visit to the Natural Bridges Cove would be a charm!

But, in these two visits, we saw the fruits of right actions of the Oregon’s state government: of providing their coastline for generations to enjoy, supported by the right actions of Oregonians to put people first on their people’s coast! We feel blessed by these random acts of kindness from Oregonians, for they represent the best of America we love! For us, we scored one on life!


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