The path to the beach is one of my favorite places. For me it is a place brimming with possibility and an almost overwhelming feeling of optimism. It is a path that always leads to a new adventure.
Growing up in the Willamette Valley, the nearest ocean beach was an hour and half away in Florence, Oregon. In high school, my friend would pull up behind my bungalow in his ancient Datsun and we would strap our funky surfboards to the roof in the morning darkness. The two-lane highway took us out of the valley, up and over the coastal range. Descending from the mountains we would meet the Siuslaw River and follow it downstream to Florence.
After passing through town and crossing the Siuslaw once more, we would turn down Dune Road to the South Jetty. The road runs parallel to the ocean and a long line of dunes obscures the water, but not the roar of the waves. From the parking lot we would follow a narrow, sandy trail through the sharp grass. This was the most exciting moment of the trip, the instant before cresting the dunes and catching sight of the surf.
Even though I fish much more than I surf these days, and I rarely do either in Florence, Oregon, the memory of climbing the dunes stays with me, and the path to the beach is still one of my favorite places.