The experience of going to the beach in the Pacific Northwest is completely different than the white sands of Florida or surf-centric lifestyle of SoCal. Instead of packing French bikinis and swim trunks, you’re more likely to bring a sweatshirt and a raincoat. Almost every year since I can remember, my mother’s side of my family has gathered at the Oregon Coast to build a bonfire, eat a group dinner and attempt to build sandcastles. And while I have been to Disney World and walked on sunny beaches, I’ve come to prefer the colder side of the surf. Now that I live in LA, the cooler temps of winter remind me of summers at the Oregon Coast. While most of my Cali-raised colleagues claim the cold as their “low” for the week, it’s actually my high.
Seaside Oregon is just two hours south of Portland. On the ride down you twist and turn through dense woods past logger trucks and tourist traps like Camp 18, a log cabin-style restaurant with heavy machinery and taxidermy, and fruit stands with fresh berries or “vegan” jerky. We stay at the same hotel every year. Made up of bungalows and motel-style apartments, The Tides has not changed much since my grandmother first stayed there 40 years ago. Situated at the end of a 1.5 mile beachside promenade, the location trumps the lumpy mattresses and the vaguely moldy rooms. The promenade ends in downtown Seaside, where you can find an abundance of salt water taffy, rickety amusement park rides and infinite tchotchkes.
I think this year was the first that I officially graduated from the kids table. A crop of kids that I’m related to recently sprung up that are all under 5 feet. They’ve finally reached the age where they don’t need to be under constant supervision, with the newly teenaged kids dubbed the kiddie wranglers. As the oldest, that time has thankfully passed for me. I find it interesting to visit the exact same place every year for 10+ years; to look at the pool knowing that my 50 year old uncle took a dump in it as a toddler or to watch my young cousins crawl on the same frog statue that I did as a baby is a unique experience. One day our numbers will dwindle, but younger generations will take our place. At my grandmother’s age I’ll still be coming.