Tuesday, September 30, 2008

ACTS Week 4- Oregon Coast

And then there was Oregon.  A state to which I had never been but about which I had heard much.  In the good way.  Everyone I know who has been to the Oregon coast RAVES about the Oregon coast.  I wondered if this would be a repeat of San Fran and all its wonders, and at a minimum I was excited to spend a week at the beach.  Even one where I would have to wear a sweatshirt. 

Oregon turned out to be a sweet place.  Momentary side note- It has been brought to my attention that I am officially a Pacific Northwesterner because the word “sweet” is now my adjective of choice.  In case you were interested.  Anyhow, we stayed in a small little town called Gearhart that reminded me of Cape Cod.  Why you may ask did it remind me of Cape Cod?  Because all of the houses looked like Cape Cods.  The entire crew (all 18 students, the Suttons, Hayes, and our teacher-du-week John Gunden with his wife and 7 kids) stayed in a Younglife lodge that was a 5 minute walk from the beach. 

Ah the Oregon beach.  It’s unlike any beach I’ve seen, in that it’s immensely DEEP.  Once you hit the sand it seems like ages until the water, particularly at low tide.  I seriously stared mouth agape at how much sand there was.  And how white!  And the sand dollars!  EVERYWHERE.  Literally everywhere.  In the quantities of normal seashells back east.  And while most of them were pieces, on any given walk you could find several fully intact.  Pretty sweet.

And the FOG!  It’s sweeps in like sprinter.  One minute you’re on a perfectly clear beach, the next you can’t see 50 feet.  As we often do, Emily and I went for a walk one day, and of course took some pictures. 


I've never been on a beach with NO ONE else present

Rieger doing ballet

We took this picture literally 5 minutes after the previous one.  Crazy

Then we went the beach where the sand squeaks.  Literally.  You walk on the sand.  And it squeaks.  I don’t know how or why.  But I do know that it was a sound that quite literally made me want to die.  I am fairly certain that if someone wanted to get me to commit suicide they would tie me down and surround me with 25 people walking in the sand.  Making The Noise.  I would definitely willingly choose to die to escape that sound.

But other than that small detail, Cannon Beach was awesome.  A great little tourist town, though because it was a tourist town, there were more people in one place than I’d seen in some time.  Which was odd for me.  The reason this particular Oregon beach is so popular is because it is the home of Haystack Rock, apparently one of (if not THE) most photographed natural sites in America.  I would bet the Great Canyon tops it, but I haven’t really done any research, just something I was told.  I thought this rocky wonder was neat, but I mostly wanted to climb it, and since I was not allowed to do that, I took some pictures and moved along in life.  *sigh*

We buried Levi and left him there to ask people if they could scratch the itch in his nose.  Hilarity

Haystack Rock

Up close and personal. It reeked of fishyness here

One of the evenings in Oregon it was perfectly crystal clear and the sunset was among the best I have seen in my life.  We of course took full advantage of this fact to take an insane amount of pictures, playing with colors and shadows, enjoying God’s little blessing for the night.

The week was the most enlightening (in my opinion) to date, given that one of the major activities of the week was to write our life stories.  In Christianese this would commonly be referred to as a “testimony,” which basically means talking about your life and how you came to know Jesus as your personal savior and recounting major ways in which you have grown in your faith, major struggles, major victories, tracing what God has taught you in your life.  Though I of course “know” my story, I had never written it down formerly, nor done the extensive “storyboarding” exercise that Margaret Gunden walked us through over the course of several days.  In short, it was an eye-opening experience not only about MY life and taking a long hard look at “the good, the bad, and the ugly,” but also the lives of my fellow students.  One entire day was devoted to sharing our stories.  Some shared things they had never shared with anyone before, and all of us shared reality.  The reality that we are all sinners who are saved by the grace of an entirely loving and entirely just God who loved us so much that sent us His one and only Son to die on the cross and take the (just) penalty for our sins.  That accepting this free gift enables us to live eternally in heaven with God.  And it was eye-opening to hear the stories of my brothers and sisters, their various struggles, their various backgrounds, but yet through each and every one the faithfulness of God.  I laughed, I cried, and I came out feeling like I understood each and every person a little (or a lot) better.

By now you’re saying, “Ok ok, so WHERE is the outdoorsy adventure?  ALLLL you seemingly do out there is hike and rock climb and rappel.”  Well, that’s just what is most entertaining to write about.  But you would be right, we did have an outdoorsy adventure in Oregon, a hike in fact.  We drove 30 minutes south to Short Sands, started in the mountains and hiked down to the beach.  Along the way there was a sweet view called God’s Fingertip that was essentially a narrow little path with steep drops on either side and spectacular views all around.  A little nervewracking to walk out on, but ultimately awesome. 

Continuing on we came across a rather large tree that had fallen over, taking with it the entire root system from the ground.  So what did we do?  Climb it, of course.  I personally also loved the tree that I could walk through, but in general it was a cool hike.

So much fun :)

Playing in nature

Once at the beach we chilled out for a bit.  It was a neat beach because it was basically inside a little cove, with mountains straight up all around.  Emily and I walked to the other end, of course, watching the surfers, which are quite common at Short Sands.  Though it was cold and cloudy, the beauty was undeniable, and we once again reveled in God’s creation, simply just “be”-ing there. 

Short Sands

Filby, Anca, Natalie

The two youngest Gunden girls- little Mercy on the left being as cute as ever, and Iva on the right

And that about sums up Week Number 4, The Oregon Chapter.  Wow, just thinking about it all again makes me want to go back.  But alas, I’ll have to deal with apple orchards and sunny skies again.  Tough life.

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