Last July, the summer of 2009, my family took advantage of four free airline tickets and planned an impromptu vacation to the Pacific Northwest. We went gallivanting off to the Redwood Forests, to view the Twilight Saga mania in Forks, Washington, to take a helicopter tour of Mount St. Helens, and to go killer whale watching in Friday Harbor – stopping along the way to stay with family friends in Eugene, Oregon and Snohomish, Washington. Over the course of a week I experienced so many amazing things that part of the country had to offer, but there was one side trip we took that truly stood out to me – a hidden treasure called Ruby Beach.
Honorable Mention 2010 FTF Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
Ruby Beach, named for the pinkish hue found in the sand, is the northern most of the Kalaloch beaches. Just a 160 mile drive south from Seattle on the US 101, the first glimpse of the Pacific is Ruby Beach. The turn off is unclear, but this allows for small crowds and the feeling of being a part of a special secret. In order to reach the beach we had to hike a short ways down a path that opened to a glorious scene of grey pebbled sand, stacks of gigantic bleached, beached logs, pools of crystal clear water, giant rock formations jutting out of the ocean, towering evergreens, and a blanket of silver fog. The sight was breathtaking and my sister and I couldn’t wait to explore this magical place.
As we fumbled over the fallen trees, my hands continually ran over carving people had left behind. I stopped to observe the hundreds of initials, dates, and love declarations scrawled into the smooth, white wood.
I continued on to the beach, breathing in the cool, crisp, salt air. As soon as I made it past the obstacle of logs, a wondrous sight lay before me. Small stacks of stones covered every stray log in sight. They were made from the flat pebbles that littered the shore, and were so whimsical I couldn’t help but laugh. I heard my mom ask one of the other beach goers about the stacks. They said it was tradition for visitors to create and leave a stack, and that some people thought it would bring them good luck.
For the next couple of hours I explored the shoreline with my sister. At the tip of the shore, where the ocean met the side of the mountain, we found a cave. We got as close as we could – watching the waves rush towards us and then sweep out to sea, revealing tide pools full of strange sea creatures. We stayed a little too long for we had to run back down the shore to escape the tide. On our way back, we came upon a magnificent fort, built by visitors past from the beached logs. ‘Happy Birthday’ was engraved on the door frame. I was really beginning to connect to the personal history this beach held.
The sun was going down, though still hidden by the fog, and several families were building fires to roast marshmallows over. I sat with my sister, stacking stones to leave my mark, to become part of the history.
This place emulated being one with nature – people’s appreciation and wish to be a part of it. Nothing was as beautiful or calming as this.
So as I stacked my last stack, hoping it might just bring me some luck, I pocketed a smooth pebble – always to keep a piece of Ruby Beach and leave a piece of me there.
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