adam and i get trashed at rialto beach

We took part in today’s annual Washington Coast Cleanup, an event notable for the disproportionately large number of dorky white people who for one day fan out across Washington state beaches with plastic bags to pick up mostly plastic waste that has washed ashore who-the-hell-knows-where-from. It’s a noble effort (the amount of waste collected is staggering) depressingly undermined by the fact all the garbage hauled out is replaced immediately the next day with a whole new batch of plastic and Styrofoam.

We spent last night in our go-to Port Angeles “hmotel”, as I like to call it. Adam and I alternated between the pool and hot tub. Everyone in the hmotel was spying on us from their windows above: Whenever I looked up, furtive watching was replaced by the curtains drifting closed. Finally, a couple arrived to frolic in the pool for laps and hugs. They were cute and fun to watch through the rising steam of the pool in the cold night air. Adam ruined it by asking them to watch him ride my foot like a “bucking bronco”. They were obliging but immediately transferred to the hot tub presumably to get away from us. I made amends by offering to turn on the jets for them and they cooed as hot, bubbling foam filled the tub like dish soap.

We left Port Angeles early this morning and made good time to Rialto Beach. We weren’t officially registered for the Cleanup because we waited until the last minute (next year we’ll sign up for real- Washington Coastsavers is a nonprofit and data is damn important when it’s time to beg for money). I was a little disappointed there wasn’t an official greeting and to-do at the trail head (apparently at some places along the coast, tea and crumpets were served). You could’ve arrived at the trail head and had only the vaguest notion there was an organized statewide-cleanup taking place. I didn’t require a special greeting, but no doubt there were vulgar heathens arriving at the beach for the day who would’ve been happy to learn more about the Cleanup if the big dumpster in the parking lot and people walking along the beach with trash bags didn’t tip them off. At any rate, we arrived at the same time as several other carloads of picker-uppers.  Diana worked feverishly all the way from Port Angeles braiding the shoulder straps for the jet-pack Adam made the day before and he was ready to boogie. We set afoot for Hole-in-the-Wall. My nickname for the day was Beach Bad Dog. After slipping and hurting himself above Hole-in-the-Wall, Adam settled on Mr. Dangerous.

What found it’s way into our trash bag for the Washington Coast Cleanup:

  • nearly two dozen plastic water bottles
  • plastic bottle of liquid detergent I was tempted to leave behind because it was so icky to touch, but Adam chastised me for even thinking of leaving it
  • plastic bottle of motor oil; not just any motor oil…..”racing” motor oil
  • Styrofoam, lots of it……no, I mean LOTS of it
  • an ugly green Croc sandal (I hate Crocs and now I have a reason to hate them even more)
  • green handkerchief soaked in salt water
  • fishing net
  • one neatly coiled 5 foot segment of rope

What we couldn’t pick up:

  • the bottom of a portable toilet
  • a piece of styrofoam the size of a refrigerator
  • a heavy piece of black plastic cut into the shape of the pour on the back of a cement truck
  • An enormous 4×4 truck tire

Adam got a lot of compliments on his jet-pack. On the back is a special atom-smasher storage compartment. Unfortunately, it was not particularly well-designed and every time it filled with a certain number of special rocks or little pieces of driftwood it emptied when he bent down to collect more. I kept wondering when it would dawn on him the atom smasher seemed to have a bottomless capacity.

Rialto Beach is gorgeous, I don’t know where to start. The powerful concussive whooshing of the surf? Perfectly, elegant round cobbles in every size imaginable? The way the cocoa-colored beach shelves into the dark green forest leading north toward Hole-in-the-Wall (which looks oh-so-close for two miles away)? The jagged sea stack spires? Mystical-looking James Island off La Push? The stunning driftwood, trees hundreds of feet long?

My only regret of the day is Adam and I had to leave Diana behind at Ellen Creek, which had to be adventurously crossed (you try crossing it on a big tree with a four year old) via a confusing criss-cross jumble of humongous driftwood logs. Her stomach is too big for crawling over giant trees, some slippery, in fact. In hindsight, she should have just splashed through the dark red creek, using a stick for balance. I was sorry to not have her with us at Hole-in-the-Wall. She reassured me later she wasn’t devastated. She lay down for a couple hours and relaxed on the beach (even taking the time to pick up a little trash to add to our collection).

The view below is of Rialto Beach from the ridge above Hole-in-the-Wall. It’s a two mile hike to reach this glorious vista. Somewhere in the distance Diana is taking a nap. Down below you can see a couple fellow beachcombers looking for anything to stuff into their Hefty sacks. That big white thing on the driftwood is a chunk of Styrofoam. Man, that frickin’ Styrofoam…….

Adam and I collected most of our trash on the other side of Hole-in-the-Wall. We climbed up the steep overland trail to the spiny ridge above Hole-in-the-Wall to take in the view of Rialto (and see what was on the other side). Wow! What a view!

The tide was starting to come in so we couldn’t reach Hole-in-the-Wall from the Rialto side, so we went down the other side of Hole-in-the-Wall Ridge to the next beach and scrambled across slippery rock to stand inside the tunnel for a few minutes before the incoming waves forced a retreat. Inside Hole-in-the-Wall, we almost stepped on an ochre sea star until Adam pointed it out to me.  We basically had Hole-in-the-Wall all to ourselves, there was just one other person and he was north all the way to the next headland. We could barely make him out in the distance, he was dragging a parade of floats behind him. I almost mistook his worn camouflage rucksack for garbage, it was hidden under a piece of driftwood.

Wouldn’t it be funny if Hole-in-the-Wall was instead called Hole-in-the-Head?

Adam and I spent an hour on the other side of Hole-in-the-Wall before I noticed the tide was starting to come on strong. So we made our way up and over to Rialto Beach and discovered there wasn’t much beach left. I carried Adam on my shoulders the rest of the way back, with frequent stops at huge trees so Adam could climb. I was tired but had reserve energy and needed it for the two mile trudge over cobble. Between my backpack, our humongous garbage sack and Adam on my shoulders, I must have carried nearly 70 pounds.

Further down the beach, Adam found a couple friendly boys his own age to play with. Their tough-looking logging truck-driver dad rested on the driftwood and periodically checked on them, same as me. I felt sunburned but happy.

We drove all the way home from Rialto because Diana really wanted at least one day at home to rest and I happily obliged. She and Adam slept for a long time. The curves around Lake Crescent were a pain in the ass, I barely managed to keep Adam asleep. His head bounced back and forth, back and forth. Earlier, when we were crossing one off the HWY 101 Sol Duc loops, I looked down at Diana’s stomach. I saw a part of Bambino bulging at a grotesque angle out of Diana. I was glad to have his company on the open road.

More pictures from this day to follow!

2 thoughts on “adam and i get trashed at rialto beach

  1. Your photography in this post is stunning as usual, Jason. What are we doing to this world? The need for a clean-up of this type is ridiculous! I was just commenting to Donna during a walk through our local state park a couple of weeks ago about the amount of trash on the trail. Mother Earth is overdo to just give us the big flick off and start over. People are just morally disengaged anymore…

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