A Storm at Surfside

Surf pounding the beach at Surfside
Surf pounding the beach at Surfside, Washington.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Finally! The weather I wanted! I’d been checking weather forecasts for weeks prior to my trip, hoping hoping hoping! for stormy weather. I had not come to Surfside for good weather. If I had wanted that, I would have come in the summer. I wanted bad weather; the kind that drives you inside, to sit in front of the fireplace with a book. And despite the weather forecasters’ promises, Wednesday and Thursday had both been relatively good weather–some rain at times and a steady wind, but not stormy.

Surf pounding the beach at SurfsideBut today was bad weather. The wind had howled all night long, whipping the windows with sheets of blinding rain. The surf was no longer a dull roar; it was now a constant, pounding boom. It was awesome. Although the wind had lessened a bit when the sun came up, it was still gale force, with gusts around 40 mph. The blinding rain, however, had stopped.

I wanted to see what those waves looked like. And, I’m not one to sit around inside. Even if I have a fireplace. And especially with a book. I’m just not much of a reader. I’m more of a doer.

And, I’d watched people from the condominium complex walking to and from the beach the day before. It looked like there was a beach access path at the end of the road. I wanted to go check it out.

Surfside selfieI put on my thick, warm Napapajri wool sweater and headed out into the wind, following the road down the hill toward the beach. It led to a narrow bridge over a creek, and then ended at an intersection with a road that paralleled the beach. A public beach access path was clearly visible on the other side.

Yes! I didn’t have to drive into Ocean Park to get to the beach! It was just a short walk from my condo.

As I followed the path through the dunes to the beach, the sound of the surf grew louder. The wind was stronger here, with nothing to obstruct it. The beach rippled with blowing sand, carried along in the forty-mile-hour gusts, scouring sand dollars and clam shells that lay scattered about. I could feel it entering my boots, blowing up my pant legs and seeping into my jacket and sleeves. It was getting everywhere, even in my mouth, reminding me of the dust storms at Burning Man. Except this was sand, not dust. The particles were bigger, grittier, and stung a little.

Sand built up around a log on the beachI dug in my pocket for a handkerchief, the same one I used as a dust mask at Burning Man. I tied it around my neck and pulled it up over my nose and mouth. Unfortunately, I’d worn my regular glasses, instead of my wrap-around sports glasses, but they provided some protection.

I snugged my sweater collar around my neck and walked with my back to the wind, not sure how long I’d want to be out. Waves crashed into the shore to my left, rolling further up the beach than they had the previous day. I had read about sneaker waves and made sure to stay further from the water than I would normally as the wind pushed me along at a fast walk. I trotted down the beach for about a mile, not wanting to turn around and face into the wind, but a creek spilling out onto the beach stopped me. I could cross it, but I didn’t want to get my boots soaked.

Reluctantly, but knowing I had to sooner or later, I turned around and faced into the wind. It was so strong, it blew my handkerchief into my mouth. I spit it out, trying to breathe. Sand stung the unprotected areas of my face as the wind pushed me backward a few steps. It reminded me of playing in the wind as a kid and made me laugh.

A fort on the beachI leaned into the wind and fought my way back up the beach. It didn’t take long for the backs of my legs to start burning from the effort. It was slow going. But, it was fun. So much so that I kept going after passing the path back to my condo.

I headed south along the beach for about another half mile until I came across someone’s fort, built from driftwood. I stopped to take a closer look.

Driftwood was piled about five feet high. I climbed up on a piece to look over the side. It was open in the middle, with a green plastic lawn chair taking up much of the space. I couldn’t see a way in.

I walked around it, looking for a doorway.

There was no door! How did anyone get in? They must climb over the top, not something I could do with my bad knees.

I investigated it a bit more before heading back up the beach toward the condo. By this time, I was pretty tired. Fighting 40 mph headwinds takes a lot of energy!

Inside the fortAnd I had a crockpot of hot soup waiting for me. And a fireplace with a cozy sofa.

And even stronger winds and more rain forecast for tonight!