Thanksgiving Day on Rockaway Beach can be beautiful. Some years, it may be overcast here on the Oregon Coast. Today, though, Rockaway Beach was sunny, clear, and 42˚.
The seashore was calling.
Life on the Oregon Coast revolves around being in touch with the Pacific Ocean. It doesn't matter whether you are surfing, walking, or just watching the waves crash...the beach has a magical pull.
On this sunny day, the stretch between the South Nahalem Jetty, down to the Beach Wayside in the middle of downtown, sea coast lovers were strung out for about three miles.
There were probably a hundred people in this stretch. Young athletes running, older couples walking, young mothers with baby strollers, people taking cellphone photographs, and small kids fleeing the crashing waves.
This is a truly beautiful day. We came for the weekend. We brought the kids and our dog. We will spend as many days down here near the water, as we can.
There are so many benefits of the seashore that we do not have available in the city. Our whole attitude changes when we get here.
All of this natural beauty completely revitalizes our spirits. We laugh more. We spend hours outdoors. We breathe clean air. We sleep well.
Spending Thanksgiving weekend out here on Rockaway Beach is like an infusion of peacefulness and excitement in one one long jolt."
The downtown area is completely deserted. The ice cream shops, gift shops, and real estate offices were all closed.
The community Christmas tree stands plain and all alone in the Rockaway Beach Wayside parking lot.
It will be decorated tomorrow (Friday) and the lighting ceremony will take place starting at 6:30pm.
Looking north toward the Nehalem Bay South Jetty. This giant stump was thrown up on the shore during the night. It was examined intently by many children...and many dogs.
Looking south, toward the downtown wayside. More folks started coming out to enjoy the sunny weather, and clear blue skies.
Families with children and dogs find an immediate connection with Nature. There is a lot of laughter and joyful screams on Thanksgiving morning.
Brett Harvey (38) a forklift salesman from Albany OR said, "This is a great Thanksgiving Day. The sun is out and the skies are perfectly clear.
We love coming to Rockaway Beach. It's beautiful and uncomplicated. The kids love it. We build a fire out of the driftwood and the kids run around the entire time.
We bring the portable cornhole game and play about 50 matches. There is a lot of laughing and good-natured ribbing. All of us, including the wives, were athletes in high school...a couple of us in college, even...so we like to give a good account of our abilities.
The losers have to put out the fire and carry the coolers back to the trucks. They also have to wash the dishes after our Thanksgiving dinner.
Thanksgiving Day on Rockaway Beach has become a very nice tradition for our extended family."
Dogs get a LOT of exercise on Rockaway Beach. For some reason, 50˚ water does not seem to phase them. They will chase balls and sticks into the surf of the Pacific Ocean the whole day!
You will see a lot of single walkers, both men and women. Some are local, others come from as far away as Eugene or Sisters.
Joel Shelton (52), a software entrepreneur, lives in Corvallis. He said, "I cannot think of a better place to spend the Thanksgiving holidays. Rockaway Beach is such a beautiful and peaceful place. It embodies everything we hold close to us when we think in gratitude.
My wife and I are planning to retire here, next year. We do not want to give up our dream of walking these beaches together.
The only reason I am out here by myself, today, is because she wanted to cook me a surprise Paleo dessert. After dinner, we'll come back out here to watch the sunset as we walk along the shoreline.
Rockaway Beach is the perfect coastal town in Oregon to refresh your spirit. It is very easy to be thankful when you are surrounded by such simplicity and beauty.
It is hard to beat Thanksgiving Day on Rockaway Beach."
The Nehalem Bay South Jetty is also an attraction on Rockaway Beach. Built by the United States Army Corps of Engineers between 1910-1916, it makes for a focused hike out to the very end for fishermen and divers.
Jethro Ennis (77) from Eugene OR, was one of the people making his way among the tons of tangled rock that form the jetty.
He said, "I've been making this hike on the jetty for the past 25 years on Thanksgiving Day. I'm sure the day is coming when I won't be able to pull myself up here, or I will just get too fearful of the treacherous course trying top pick my way through these boulders...but for today, I think I can do it.
You've got to stay alert and you have to respect Nature. A sneaker wave could hit me and wash me out to sea, real easily. I had that almost happen back in the middle 90's.
Still, this is one place where rugged beauty meets spiritual essence. I'm thankful I am still fit enough, and have the balance, to walk these huge stones.
This place revitalizes my spirit. My wife worries about me, but she knows I've been an athlete and outdoorsman all my life, but she thinks I'm at an age where I need to demonstrate a more mature selection to my personal adventures.
What she won't tell people is that she did it with me all the way up to her 75th birthday. Then, she made the decision that she was going to be more resourceful with the years she has left.
I kid her about that because she's still a jock at heart. She still runs the 100 meter dash at the All-Comers meets in the summer, so who is she fooling?
Spending Thanksgiving Day on Rockaway Beach has benefitted us so many ways. The spiritual connection has been the high point of our marriage."
Young mothers with babies and toddlers are also a mainstay on Thanksgiving Day on Rockaway Beach.
Everybody dresses warm and a family outing goes off without any hassles.
Peggy Adams (27) and a mother of three said, "We've been bringing our kids down to the beach ever since we had the first one. She's five, now, and this is like her second home. We have another who is three, and the baby is a year-old.
She's just learning to walk.
We've got to be most watchful of her because the waves fascinate and thrill her. She'll start sprinting toward them because she wants to 'hug' them. It's a riot to watch her takeoff like a little jet, but it also scares the daylights out of us.
The nice thing about living here is that our kids have learned, at an early age, to respect Nature. They've seen everything from huge stumps, to dead sea lions and small sharks, washed up on the beach.
The two older ones know the dangers of the Pacific Ocean...but still, you have to always know where they are. We never stop reminding them to be aware of how close they are to the waves.
Thanksgiving Day on Rockaway Beach has given us so many memories. We feel truly blessed. We will continue to create more nice memories as the children get older."
Glenna Edwards (36), is another mother who has made Thanksgiving Day on Rockaway Beach a family tradition.
She said, "My children are much older than Peggy's, but we started them coming to the beach right from the playpen.
Many years ago, my husband and I read a great book called Last Child In The Woods:Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder.
It really frightened us. We made a vow that our kids would grow up with daily adventures in Nature. Celebrating Thanksgiving Day on Rockaway Beach is an extension of that.
Emily is 11 now, but we had her down here on the beach when she was just 6-months old. She's lie on a blanket in the summer sunshine and just smile, laugh, and wave her little feet and hands all around.
As it got cooler, we'd just bundle her up more. Her stroller had those huge tires on it, and we would push her right along the shoreline. She loved the crashing waves.
She loved being out in Nature. It truly enhanced her little spirit and it certainly refreshed ours.
When her little brother came along, we followed the same pattern. We introduced him to the beautiful Oregon outdoors when he was about 4-5 months old.
I'm sure there are authors of baby books that would frown on exposing infants to the elements, but it has made Emily and her brother, Hunter (9) more hearty.
They have never missed a day of elementary school because of sickness. They've been down here on the beach in beautiful 70˚ weather, as well as in ferocious storms.
I cannot think of a more wholesome gratitude activity than having the children learn thankfulness for all that God has given us in natural beauty, than spending Thanksgiving Day on Rockaway Beach."
As the end of the day draws near, others come down to the beach to wait for a colorful sunset to enhance Thanksgiving Day.
Some come in groups to share the experience.
Others come alone, but send poignant pictures back to distant friends or family members.
Leah Driscoll (72) is a semi-retired writer. She said, "I love coming down to watch the sunset with friends on Thanksgiving Day. I have a very nice book of soft poetry (Chasing Sunsets) that I bring along and read selected passages to put us in an even more mindful mood.
We all feel so fortunate that we are of good health and live in such a beautiful area of the Oregon Coast. It is revitalizing to all of our spirits to gather here, give thanks for all that we have, and watch The Universe orchestrate a stunning sunset."
As the sun lowers into the horizon, activity seems to stop.
Babies stop fussing. Children stop their running and joyful shrieks. Pets become more calm and well-behaved.
Partners reach for each others hands, or put their arms around one another.
Jenny Sue Estes (63) who lives on Rockaway Beach, said, "I've been bringing my granddaughter down here on Thanksgiving Day since she was born. We'd bundle her up and lay her on the blanket while we waited for the sunset.
When we'd walk to the shoreline, I would hold her and tell her how beautiful it looked, how beautiful she looked, and how being out in nature was so refreshing for our souls.
Now that she's 10, we stand side by side at the surf line and hold hands. If its not too cold, we'll take our shoes off so we can become even closer to the energy seeking our hearts, and eliminate harmful positive electrons.
Our little section of the Oregon Coast has helped Dianna learn a little about everything from cultivating gratitude, to using connection to the Earth for regenerative therapy."
Dianna (10) said, "Grammie and I are great pals. She tells me about all the times she would bring me down here. I don't really remember when I was a baby, but I can remember back to when I was 4.
The beach is such a pretty place. I can see big waves and a lot of interesting birds, down here. I've learned a lot about being a good steward for Nature, and how litter hurts the beach.
I can run as fast as I want and fly kites.
I wish every little kid could spend Thanksgiving Day on Rockaway Beach."