5/15: Beaches and Lost Possessions


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North America » United States » Oregon » Coos Bay
March 7th 2017
Published: March 7th 2017
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After the best night of sleep in two weeks, I was reluctant to get out of bed. Instead, I brought my laptop in with me and started working on what would eventually become a blog post. I was finally drawn out of my warm nest by the smell of coffee. In the kitchen, my hosts had put together a large breakfast that even included homemade bread. They hadn't advertised an included breakfast so I was pleasantly surprised. I joined another guest at the kitchen table and talked with the hosts while stuffing myself and drinking excessive amounts of coffee. Eventually I had to extract myself from the conversation as I had too much to do before checkout time. I worked on laundry, cleaned up my camera lenses, organized the car, and planned the rest of the day. By the time I took a shower and put away my clean clothes, it was time to go. I reluctantly made my exit.

First off I needed groceries and gas. Coos Bay was the largest town I would see until I was well into California so I bought supplies and as much food as I had room for. With that done, I headed south. I followed the 101 for a while but spotted a sign for Seven Devils Road. My map suggested it would be a fun side road that would link back up with the 101 in a couple of miles. As it turns out, it's a road that hadn't been paved since the 70s. It got progressively rougher and more narrow, until the pavement finally just stopped and it became a rocky dirt road. I hated backtracking and losing all that time, but I couldn't take the risk of getting stuck in such an isolated area. I turned around.

Once back on the 101, the rest of the drive to Cape Blanco was pleasant and uneventful, right until I missed the turn for the park. It was still early in the afternoon so I decided to keep going a few miles and see what was around. At first it seemed like a waste of gas, but then I drove into the town of Port Orford. My timing was perfect. The clouds that had been following me since the previous day had dissipated and the sun was out - it was beach weather. I drove into the parking lot for the Battle Rock Park and was treated to a view of an absolutely gorgeous stretch of beach under a big beautiful sky. I didn't even think, I just pulled into the first available parking space and grabbed my camera. It was so sunny and pretty, it reminded me of being in Honolulu a couple of years ago. There was even a "Diamondhead" out at the end of the cape. I put on a quick coat of suncscreen and headed down to the sand.

I snapped picture after picture, soaking in the sun and the views in equal measure. I walked and walked until I noticed that I had gone quite far. My car was just a distant grey dot. It wouldn't of mattered, but I didn't have a reservation at the park and I wasn't sure how big it was or how busy it would be. I needed to head back. I took one last moment to enjoy my surroundings and then hiked back to the car.

Heading north, I managed to spot the park entrance in time. Cape Blanco was another post card come to life, with towering lush trees and green furns surrounding every campsite. I found the perfect spot, registered, and picked up a park map. There was an access road to a nearby beach a short drive away. I still had some daylight left after setting up camp so I went to check it out. A very narrow road brought me to a small, badly off-kilter parking lot in front of a nice sandy expanse. It was a perfectly nice beach but lacked the rocky character of the beach in Port Orford. It hadn't taken me long at all to become a beach snob! I walked along, taking more pictures and even testing my mini tripod. As was often the case, my stomach dictated my departure time. I headed back up the narrow road and back to camp. I went to pull my pocketknife from my pocket to open a package of crackers and discovered it wasn't there. I looked around camp and the car but it was nowhere to be seen. Thinking hard, I distinctly remembered feeling it in my pocket while at the beach. Severely annoyed, I got back in the car and followed the narrow road back to the parking lot. I searched the parking lot but it wasn't anywhere on the pavement. That meant it was somewhere on the beach. I walked out on the sand knowing there was very little chance I would find it. I checked a couple of spots where i had stopped to mess with the camera. At the last one, I spotted a black object on a piece of driftwood. It was my knife. I couldn't believe I had actually found it. I snatched it from the log and planted it deep in my pocket. Walking back I kept checking my pocket to verify the knife hadn't somehow dropped out again, and promising myself I would be more careful with my possessions in the future. I would soon find out that I still wasn't being careful enough but more on that later.

Back at camp, I went about building a fire so I could cook some dinner. After all the earlier drama, I took some time to sit by the fire and drink a beer. I decided that this evening would be a celebration of my time in Oregon, as tomorrow would be the day I crossed into California.

The rest of the evening went by quickly, and when the firewood had been used up, it was time to hit the sack. I wanted to avoid being woken up by wildlife going through my garbage so I packed it up and walked it to the trash compactor at the entrance, about 75 yards from my campsite. On the way back I stopped at an empty campsite to fix my shoe and then continued on. When I got back to camp, the fire hadn't completely burned out so I sat back in my chair and tried to relax, but something felt off. Maybe it was the beer, but it took some time to realize that my back pockets were empty. I didn't have my wallet. I tried not to panic as I about the last time i saw it. I couldn't remember. I often put it in my center console when I parked for the night so I checked, but it wasn't there. I checked the floor, under the seat, even the trunk, but no trace of it. I thought about the beach. What if I had dropped my wallet when looking for my knife? Even with my big flashlight it would be very difficult to find at night. Was the tide in? My wallet could be underwater for all I knew.

Finally I calmed down enough to realize that I should check the trail to the trash compactor before going all the way to the beach. I grabbed my brightest flashlight and began walking. I checked the road and was massively disappointed when I didn't find it. Then I remembered the campsite I had stopped at. I walked back to it, and there under the picnic table, was my wallet. A tidal wave of relief washed over me. I went back to camp, did a quick inventory to verify nothing else was missing, and then went straight to bed.

When I got up to use the bathroom later that night, I had a strong urge to check that my wallet was still in the car. With that done, I got back in my sleeping bag. As I drifted off, I wondered if the day's events would lead to some sort of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

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