carpe diem ala mode
Ala Spit. The sun was high, the tide low, the parking lot full, and the beach swarming with people jamming as much summer into the day as they could.
“Summer doesn’t start until July 5th around here,” I’ve always been told. It seems to be true once again. After a spring of cold and wet, here we are, the middle of July, the sun shining, the temps rising, and sleep neglected so we can enjoy every minute of whatever summer we have.
“I … wanna soak up the sun”
-- Sheryl Crow
And the whole Pacific Northwest seems to be doing the same thing. We fill the beaches and boat launches; fields and trails hum with activity. Songs about summer play on the radio, smartphones, and any other device that gets us bopping to the beat of the summer sun.
“Perfect song on the radio
Sing along ’cause it’s one we know
It’s a smile, it’s a kiss
It’s a sip of wine
-- Kenny Chesney
The sounds and songs of summer filled my mind on this crazy, lazy day. We have work to do, we have projects that need to be done, but not today, not this weekend. This was our day to enjoy life in the good ol’ summertime.
“On an island in the sun,
we'll be playing and having fun,
and it makes me feel so fine”
We walked up the west side of Ala Spit, where the beach alternates from muddy to sandy to gravelly and shuffles through all three again. Mt. Erie floated above and beyond us like a mint-chocolate ice cream cone. Boats launched from the shore and splashed around the point and brought out kids and brought back crabs. Two youngsters built castles near the edge of the water. Parents called them to join a potluck picnic.
“Feel that salt in my hair
Got that wind in my hair”
-- Little Big Town
Music blared from gatherings of young people looking for love, middle-aged families building quality time together, but there was no one our age, interestingly, other than the two of us strolling the length and breadth of the beauty of Ala.
“Steal a kiss, act a fool,
hop a fence, find a pool
flying free, like a drink, we’re
Smooth like the summer”
-- Thomas Rhett
Kath observed that the trees here have two lives. First they grew on the bluffs around us; then they start a new life as artistically-shaped driftwood on the beaches and meadows, hosting new and different lives.
At low tide we saw an abundance of clams squirting like Old Faithful, and the scattered empty clamshells higher up. We felt the youthful energy all around us, and we shared the memories of youthful beach parties of our own from half a century ago.
“Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowin’ through the jasmine in my mind”
-- Seals and Crofts
Going south on the east side, Hope Island lay tantalizingly close, its rocky shores and wrinkled trees contrasting with the open beach where we stood. Here, gravel crunched beneath our feet, the sun baked our bodies, and the cool waters between teemed with kayaks, rafts, and an occasional powerboat.
Halfway down we left the water’s edge to hike the rest of the way through the salt-marsh trail. A young couple walked past us, hand in hand, smiling at each other with gazes like starlight.
“All summer long, we sang a song
And then we strolled on golden sand”
-- Frank Sinatra
Back at the car, shadows lengthened. People were starting to pack up to go home. This summer day was winding down; many more still heading our way, we hope.
The cold rains and winds of winter will return soon enough.
“And when the rain
Beats against my windowpane
I'll think of summer days again”
-- Chad and Jeremy
jack, and a lot of singers
Directions: Troxel Road is a little over two miles south of the Deception Pass bridge on Highway 20. Go east on Troxel Road about 4 miles to Geck Road, a short spur that drops down to the beach into Ala Spit.
By Bus: There is no transit service in this area
By Bike: the roads in this area are rolling, with narrow shoulders but minimal traffic.
Mobility: the parking lot is graveled. Ala Spit has flat but rough trails with driftwood, mud, sand, and gravel. The beach is a mixture of driftwood, cobbles, mud, and sand.
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