|Three Chairs and an Angler|
I was raised in California, and who can mention California without the Pacific Ocean coming to mind? California, though, is a diverse state geographically with many climatic zones. Growing up, camping was not heading to the ocean, not this Northern California boy. No, going camping was heading into the Sierra Nevada, trout fishing and shooting the rapids on inner tubes. So here I am in my 60s, and experiencing the first time at an ocean alone--the Atlantic Ocean. I'd never have imagined.
|Eighteen Gulls, One Flying|
I arrived two days early for the Rustic Trail Teardrop Campers get-together, and celebrated my arrival with a long walk down the Huntington Beach State Park's beach--three miles, I'm told--my first morning after my arrival. I didn't walk all three, more like two, but it was still an enjoyable, learning experience, walking that sandy strand, the day overcast with the sun occasionally burning through. The sand was firm and an easy walk. In places where the sand had been carved by the surge, small pools and rivulets separated the beach into sections like a tiny model of a continent's map of rivers, lakes, and land. Sometimes as I walked, shells crackled as I stepped on them. I stopped for closer examinations of differently shaped and colored shells.
|Sand and Boy|
At the entries to the beach from the park, signs warned of the possible presence of alligators, to not feed them and to keep pets close by. I thought it ironic for those two points were posted together. "A fed gator is a dead gator," the sign said, signaling, I suppose, the danger of conditioning the alligators to associate humans with food. Not being familiar with the ecology of the coast, I didn't wander into the bush.
|Basecamp Beside a Live Oak|
This is a beautiful park, and I'm told that I was lucky to pick up a site for five days. I have Site 2 in the North Campground, right at the beginning of the campground as you drive in. It's near the shower house and also about 250 yards from the gift shop. I'm also about the same distance from the ocean. I can hear the sighing rise and ebb in the distance, and how much more fulfilling to hear the sound of the surf, rather than the sound of the interstate freeway, even though they both sound similar, rising and falling notes in the distance, waves and truck tires. Just knowing it's the ocean and not that long, lonely highway, though, makes a difference as I sit in the early morning beside my campfire, sipping chai and writing.
|Tossing the Net|
South Carolina has made a real effort to make this park an enjoyable stay; just camping here could be called a taste of glamping. The sites are $65 per day, which is considerably more than the $16-22 at Iowa state parks, but this is a special place, with more development of the day use and campgrounds, yet still maintaining the integrity of the environment--zones of activities, I suppose.
I'll take a longer walk on the beach today, exploring a bit more. Tonight the gathering begins, and I'm ready for it. I've already met some wonderful people, people I've communicated with online, but it's so fulfilling to just meet and chat. Let me add another solitary walk to my stay here at Huntington Beach, though. I wouldn't mind coming here again sometime, especially to share this place with my wife. This time, though, I get a chance to get to know the ocean, to hear its whispers and bird calls, to feel how brine slicks the water and hear waves like the breathing of the sea. I could get used to this ocean life if I were give myself a chance. I don't plan on getting too busy today. If you see someone way down the beach, too far away to identify, that just might be me, strolling along, taking some photographs, my heart singing along with Mother Ocean.
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