I will never get tired of the ocean. It gets me every time, like a whisper saying “you belong here.”
Of course I’ve been to the ocean many many times, but this weekend my youth group switched it up a bit and went camping in Bandon, further south than the beaches we normally visit.
It was spectacular.
Being further away from the most populated areas in Oregon, it had fewer tourists and a more hole-in-the-wall feel, and the beaches were full of breathtaking rock outcroppings.
Furthermore, my friend Kayla from Canada is visiting Oregon right now, and she came along. Such a party!
Kayla couldn’t remember if she’d ever seen the Oregon Coast before, and when we walked over the sand dune and saw it stretched out before us in its majestic glory, the foamy waves splashing up against the shore, she was delighted. Her enthusiasm was contagious, and I found myself appreciating the beauty all the more, even though I’ve seen the Pacific so many times.
We got to Bandon Friday evening, and spent most of Saturday frolicking about the beach. Someone had built a cool pavilion out of driftwood.
Abby chillin’ in the pavilion. She’s so swag. (Is that the correct way to use the word “swag?” or is it “SWAG?” I’m clueless. I should ask Jenny.)
Me: “Is it proper grammar to say ‘she’s so swag?'”
Jenny: “I don’t know if ‘swag’ ever is proper grammar.”
Apparently there are really cool caves in those rocks, but we never happened to be around them when it was both low tide and light outside. Bummer.
That night, though, we found a niche in the rock outcroppings and built a fire, and it felt like being in a cave, except there was no roof, and the brilliant stars shown down on us freely.
Hundreds of sand fleas began popping out of the sand and swarming towards the fire, mesmerized by the light. I tucked my leggings into my socks because I don’t like the thought of bugs crawling on my skin. But they didn’t crawl on me at all, just darted around my shoes and headed toward the fire, where the heat of the flames killed them.
“Didn’t Finley eat roasted sand fleas once?” I asked. Finley is the youth sponsors’ eight-year-old son.
“I think so,” said Sarah Beth. “He said they tasted like popcorn.”
“I’d really like to eat one,” I confessed. “But…I don’t know…I’m afraid of it tasting gross.” I’ve eaten bugs before by accident, and let me tell you, both crane flys and ants taste horrid.
“I’ll eat one,” said Abby. (Like I said, total swag.) She picked up a sand flea which the flames had roasted, and popped it into her mouth.
“What does it taste like?” I asked.
“Sort of like popcorn, and kind of like bacon, with a hint of seafood flavor.”
As those were all good flavors, I decided to eat one myself. I picked one up, my fingers nearly burning from the heat of the flames, and brushed the sand off of it.
“Just don’t think about the fact that it’s a bug.” I popped it into my mouth.
“Oh,” I said. “It’s good. It does taste like popcorn.”
And it did. It was salty, and the texture was nearly exactly that of a popcorn hull. It did have a very slight bacon/seafood taste, but if I hadn’t known it was a bug I would have found the whole experience relatively uninteresting.
By this time, a few others were beginning to notice that there were insect-eaters in our corner. “You ate a BUG?!?” One person gasped, while another person, intrigued, decided to try it themselves.
So it went, like a chain reaction. “You ate one too?” Someone would exclaim, while another person would say, “I want to try that.” And after a short while, the number of bug-eaters was greater than the number of shocked exclaimers.
I quietly ate another sand flea. They really were quite good, although the stray pieces of sand that stuck to it were unpleasant.
“You know,” Sarah Beth said to me as the evening waned and we headed back to camp. “I think this is the most adventurous our youth group has ever been.”
Sunday dawned, brimming with sunshine, and a few of us girls decided to go crabbing with Ben Swartzendruber, our youth sponsor, and his son Finley.
Kayla and I on the bay.
Now I’m not a huge fan of crabbing in and of itself, as I only moderately like crab meat, but I love being on the bay in a boat with my buddies. What a day it was! The bay was an absolutely brilliant shade of blue-green. The sun shone, and the wind whipped up little waves that jolted us about and kicked salt spray into our faces as we cut through the water.
Ben and Kayla pull up the crab rings. Just look at the color of that water though.
“I think I could live on the seashore forever and just eat crabs,” Kayla sighed, leaning back in the boat.
“I’ll come with you,” I said.
That afternoon we ate the crabs we’d caught, and then we packed our things, zipping up our backpacks and stacking them in the back of the van. We rolled out of Bandon clutching memories of crabbing and driftwood and bugs that tasted like popcorn. And we decided we would come back soon.
(Credit for all photos goes to Sarah Beth Wilcoxson. Yes, as usual, I had no camera and had to rely on others. I keep thinking I’ll buy one for myself, but I keep running into this pesky problem called “tuition.” Someday.)
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