From The Publisher

October 16, 2017 Edition
BY: CARRIE DUNCAN

Did you like my article in this issue on my trip up the Sea of Cortez? I’m not big on boats bobbing around on the sea surface, but this trip was special. I didn’t get sea sick, I didn’t get cold, and I didn’t get bored looking at the horizon. Nor did anyone kill anything in my presence. Those are the four problem areas for me and boats.

Although I have owned a series of river boats, I have never been amused by ocean boats. And forget about sail boats, whoo boy, how boring is that? And don’t suggest I busy myself pulling on the damn ropes that make the sails twirl around, that just makes the day more tedious.

Not that I’m not a fan of the ocean, I’m just saying I can enjoy it better looking out from the beach. Sand between my toes, warm sun on my face is good.

We used to occasionally go to the beach when I was a little girl and it was the highlight of the entire year. Going to Seaside from Portland never got old. Our family car was my dad’s work truck, so it was my brother’s and my job to take out all the little pieces of his work and spread them out in some semblance of order on the garage floor to make room for the four of us and all our beach gear. Ha! Beach gear. Couple patio chairs from the backyard, winter jackets, and lots of blankets.

We drove the 70 miles to the beach, mile after mile through the somber sight of the Tillamook Burn,  350,000 acres of virgin Oregon timber ravaged by a series of four fires. At this time, although reseeding efforts were made, it looked like death itself, just a collection of ghostly gray sticks, sticks standing forlornly, and sticks fallen and ashen. Our dad was proud of fighting it years earlier as a member of the Civilian Conservation Corp, but we kids wondered why he was so proud of such an obvious failure. Well, maybe if he had been kinder towards us, we would have looked more kindly on his valiant but failed efforts as a fireman.

When we reached Seaside, I can remember wondering why everyone wasn’t at the beach. How can they live here and not go to the beach? All day, every day? Yeah, I never was a rocket scientist, nor apparently very empathetic.

We would headquarter in a cheap hotel about a quarter mile from the beach. Why we didn’t drive to the beach, I don’t know, but we walked, hauling our shit, mostly blankets, which was heavy for me. Along the way were amazing shops with dried starfish, sea shells, and salt water taffy pulling machines, twisting in the windows. Our mom wouldn’t’ allow us any taffy because, she said, it would pull the fillings out of our teeth. Truth was, there was no money for salt water taffy. Also probably true, was the fact that it would indeed pull the fillings out of our teeth.

We’re talking Oregon coast here, where summer time temperatures are hard to discern from winter time temps. And forget about swimming in the ocean, you would need more than a wetsuit, you would need an arctic survival suit. But so what, it was exciting! My brother and I would scout the rocks, plucking cool stuff out of the shallows.

I, as the last surviving member of the family, have custody of the black and white pictures of us all dressed in our long pants and jackets, hunkered up against the wind, on the calm side of a big piece of driftwood. My dad would light the sucker on fire and it would smolder and smoke a lot, but would also provide some heat.

We kids thought we were stylin’ and couldn’t think of a better summer vacation. However, our horizons on this subject were rather limited, as we had never been anywhere farther than 70 miles from Portland. With no internet and only three channels on a clunky old black and white TV, how were we to know there was a big exciting world out there?

A few years ago I drove to Costa Rica, churning through such garden spots of the planet as Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador. We saw many really humble homes, homes that didn’t even have running water, but each one had a satellite TV dish on the rickety roof. Are those people better off seeing the world that they can’t reach? Or were we better off not knowing what was out of our reach?

I don’t have the answer to that.