At the bottom of my driveway is the road. At the bottom of the road is the edge of town. Past the edge is the river. The Columbia River, that flows out to the ocean. And here, in the Columbia River Gorge, the mountains rise up on either side of the mighty flow, and our little Pacific Northwestern fjord makes me feel all day - all the time - as if the ocean is close by. All I would have to do, I think to myself, is sit on something that floats, and I would come to the ocean after awhile. This river flows into the ocean, I repeat in my head. Sometimes I say it out loud.
The drive to the ocean, though, goes over another mountain range (one that looks a lot like this one), and the last bits of the road before the ocean first comes into view are winding, and turning, and I always think, at each turn of the road - even now, after I've gone to that ocean on that road for fifty years - is this the one? Are we almost there now?
The air changes subtly along the way. More mistiness. The smell of salt. Sometimes, even this far inland where Lewis and Clark began to record it, there is evidence of the effects of tides. Sometimes, even here at my house, the air makes my land feel like beach land. The air feels like beach air.
See these happy people?
White hat is our oldest child. Bushy beard is her first little brother. Blue shirt over the black T is her second little brother, and on this day he was turning twenty-two years old, and they were having a lot of fun at the party he set up at a pub. And see the stunner in the red skirt?
Are we there yet?
The air has changed and the road is turning another corner, and I know - I just know - the whole wide ocean is just around the bend. I can smell it. Things feel different. About two and a half decades ago, we piled our three kids - our one "gor baby" and our two "boy babies" - into the back seat of our car, and we started to drive. We've been following the river and the winding road and we've climbed the mountains and we've come down the other side of the range. This is "where the mountains meet the sea." We're almost there. Watch for it ... watch for it ...
I love the beach.