abbey island to the hoh river

The boys were playing in a cubbyhole of interesting driftwood where a trickling creek braided into algebraic, labyrinth channels through still-wet sand of ebbtide. The beach was wide as a football field so we didn’t worry about them too much and their mother and I walked ahead for quite some time talking but finally she wanted to stop, to find a piece of her own driftwood to relax against and finish a stubborn novel. Despite feeling a tad woozy from a mild virus earlier in the week, I continued because the lure of the Hoh River three miles to the north was strong, nothing sounded more intriguing than to admire the river up close, marvel at the blue-green glacier water spilling into the Pacific.

bull kelpThe walking was remarkably pleasant on firm sand at surf’s edge. Sometimes, in the pursuit of exploring those jumbled stacks of driftwood for hidden treasure, I’d climb steep banks of cobbles which formed a bench below the hundred foot-high forest bluffs.  There was no one else around (some sort of feat hereabouts for a holiday weekend) until the mouth of the river, where a posse of lazing sea lions, perhaps seventy to a hundred feet offshore, studied a leathery net fisherman hard at work. Five bored-looking bloodhounds guarding buckets higher up on the beach bounded over to me with wagging tails and sloppy sweet kisses for my hands. The fisherman smiled from the waist-high surf, he was working hard, I continued politely on my way choosing not to tarry long as usual at the splendid confluence of river and ocean, so good did it feel engaging the walking feet.

Later, upon my return south, the boys and I played Driftwood Ball utilizing a perfectly round piece of driftwood and little orange rubber ball (mistaken at first for an impossibly-adrift baby tomato) found in detritus. Other wanderings lead us south of Abbey Island to additional quiet places (caves, eagles) away from the hubbub where tannin-rich Cedar Creek empties to stunning nearshore rock formations which understandably serve as people magnets.

Along with sea glass, we discovered a long-lost, sturdy camera blanketed in kelp and connoisseurs of found objects that we are, this was a delightful find. The body was mostly well-preserved plastic but rust seeped out the guts of the thing, the LCD screen on the back was a shattered spider web and the aperture was stuck half open like a tired eye. Adam has fingers like a Swiss army knife, he pried a crusty hatch open revealing a surprisingly well-preserved memory card (the battery was gone, polluted into the ocean). We pondered the stories which may be contained inside while feeling wistful for whomever lost this photographic record. Adam is youthfully optimistic about the stories but it’s highly doubtful the card is readable, anymore. Probably it’ll end up the story itself, perched upon the shelf with our sand dollars, plastic mermaids, rusty screws, and bobbers.

Coastal indigenous peoples used the air bladders (pneumatocysts) from kelp such as the one you see above for dolls and also fashioned fishing line out of the stipes (the long tube-like structure connected to the bladder). Oftentimes, the boys and I enjoy playfully spinning ourselves about with one of these not unlike a human-helicopter rotor so as to clobber anyone within a nearby radius with the soggiest, putridest pile of sand fleas, brine and goopiness that you can imagine. I’m all too proud passing old-fashioned foolishness down to the younger generation.

16 thoughts on “abbey island to the hoh river

  1. A lovely unraveling retelling of your adventures. I’m intrigued about the camera, what model was it? Anything on the memory card or is it damaged beyond hope?

    • That camera is the matchbox-sized digital Canon PowerShot, the SD1200 ELPH. As just now I went to check the model more closely for you, a very copious amount of dried sand sifted into my palm like a broken hourglass. Er, I thought it seemed unusually hefty. Thanks for the kind note, Dan. I’ll let you know what I discover about the memory card. Currently, it’s propped alongside the rusty Pokemon keychain we found.

      • I love finding old stuff like that. For years I’ve thought about a kind of multi-layered art collage made purely of stuff I’ve seen/found on the side of the road. Repurposing other people’s rubbish as something new and beautiful.

        I bought an old Canon a couple of months back which had a card in it with perhaps 200 images still. I’ve saved them and have a blog post in draft, about discovering other people’s forgotten memories… Must finish that.

        I used to frequent a pub in the nearest city where the ceiling had a similar sculpture – a giant upside down crocodile/lizard like beast made entirely of lost wheel trims (the silver plastic discs that push on to car wheels to make them more aesthetically pleasing than the basic black painted steel wheel underneath).

  2. How I love your writing! You have such a gift for description (especially loved the shattered spider-web of a screen and fingers like a Swiss Army knife). And you’re so good at weaving all of these images into a rich story that has left this reader feeling like she was right there with you. Thank you for sharing this beautiful stroll. I’ll be eager to hear if the memory card yields anything … and hope that pesky bug you had is just a memory now.

    • I can’t tell you how much your kind words always particularly buoy me with a certain relief after the inevitable cringing-with-embarrassment, consternation period at the affectedness in my personal writing which despite my best efforts I just cannot tamp down. You must have been returned from Paris for some time now and I will catch up with you soon.

      • Why on earth would you even try to tamp down the wonderful originality of your voice?! The style and quality of your writing are the reasons WHY i stopped here in the first place … and why i continue to read (and enjoy) every single post. I know these words will probably be useless against that tyrannical inner critic we all have, but I do write them in earnest.

        And … yes, indeed, I am returned from Paris, more or less unscathed! I have it on good authority there will soon be an email in your in-box detailing the trials and travails of this trip. 🙂

      • What a chore I’m being, I made you get out the imaginary affirmation mallet! Lordy, three short swings and a harrumph is all for a big lunkhead like me. I hate if it seems like I’m sounding “that” card because by jove you’ve been a brilliant influence on me! Your efforts have not been in vain! Journaling on here is supposed to be more for fun but I still feel obligated by that imaginary social contract to do no harm every time I share something. God knows all of us have been scarred enough by now from the internet. It was easier when I didn’t know what I don’t know about writing.

      • The imaginary affirmation mallet?! BWAAAAHAAAAAHAA! That is hilarious — but rest assured I have deployed no such (virtual) thing. I do know what you mean, though, about wanting to at least not do harm … and then worrying beyond that about the quality of what you post. It can be paralyzing! But please keep at it, for as long as it’s still fun. For my money, you know more about writing and storytelling than some of the “professional” writers with whom I’ve worked over the years.

  3. It’s funny that you’d conclude with the passing of old-fashioned foolishness, because somehow as soon as I began reading, it struck me from the first couple of sentences, as something that could’ve been written a long time ago. You’ll believe me when I tell you, that’s meant as a primo compliment, and I think you’re passing along a lot of great stuff, in addition to the foolishness. And nice photo!! I learned two new words “stipe” and “pneumatocyst” and was trying to figure out how to use R.E.M. as a mnenomic aid to remember them, mnenomic-pneumatic, but I may just have shorted something out in my brain, like the rusty camera. Good writing, Jason.

    • But did the pneumatocyst remind you of Michael Stipe, at all? He used to have hair but that’s when I was a grade schooler living on the farm with little access to better radio and so that’s not how I really imagine him in my mind.

      • That hadn’t occurred to me, hadn’t popped into my head, being compared to a gas-filled bladder doesn’t seem like much of a compliment, but it’s actually got a great, golden glow in your photo, maybe he wouldn’t mind so much. I’d never known him as someone with hair.

  4. Interesting how the simple things give extra flavor to an excursion. Ocean beaches already have a special feel (maybe it’s all that ionized air and iodine from the kelp.) Looking closer, smelling it, feeling it – seems like that would be medicine to cure any virus.

  5. Always love your stories but really connected with this one. We just spent a few days at Rialto and other beaches in the area. Experienced that alone feeling at Third Beach, which was spectacular (both beach and being there with just the two of us and a few through hikers). Your camera find is very cool. Had I not known specifically what has happened to all of my husband’s cameras (which all meet some dreadful end), I would have thought this one might have been his!

    • Hi Kelly. I’m so pleased to hear about the quiet time you had at Third Beach! It certainly gets a little trickier this time of year in some places on the northwest Peninsula coast, doesn’t it? Sometimes one wins the lottery with good fortune, timing or luck-of-the-draw so I’m quite tickled for you. I love Third Beach. Last time we visited there was a humongous sea lion that napped on a rock for several hours and it would periodically lift its head to check where we were. We were on the coast again Saturday night several miles south of Ruby Beach (but north of Kalaloch) and the chilly onshore flow must have sent campers to the sun because it was just us. Glad you stopped by, hope things are well in Belfair.

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