I want to go to the top of a really tall building, take a leak, finish, zip up, and then have my pee hit the ground. I want my entire pee to be airborne. Man I love beer.
Shi Shi ay yi yi
Some of the beaches we will visit include: Shi Shi, Ruby, Rialto, Kalaloch. As much as I love the Oregon beaches, and they are stunning, there is something more fierce and elemental about the northern Wa beaches. I will take so many pictures. I will read books and fly dual line stunt kites. I will teach my two sons how to respect the fragile wildlife of tidepools while allowing them the freedom to responsibly kill a few starfish too. Not randomly kill starfish. Of course not. That would be wrong and teach my sons the completely wrong lesson. We will pick out the ugliest starfish. The ones that buzzkill the beauty. Those we will throw like frisbees against seastack rocks. The cruel eugenics of marine aesthetics.
-- Bob, The Unbearable Bobness of Being
Then there was the trip to Shi Shi, a remote beach up on the northingist westingest part of the Coast. Nothing exceptionally foolish and stupid happened, so there isn't much of a story. Oh, there was the bit on our first night there, but it's hardly worth telling.
Before the fall.
The hike takes a long time, more than a mile through the forest and then another couple of miles on the beach out to the Point of Arches. It was late afternoon by the time we arrived. More time passed as we set up camp and then explored the giant sea rocks made accessible by low tide.
Just above the waterline, the rocks were encrusted with enormous mussels, bigger than your fist. We tore dozens from their moorings and hauled our take back to camp. By this time we were ravenous, and forced to wait interminably as our cheap powdered bouillabaisse soup mix slowly heated over a tiny Coleman burner. So we turned to drink.
Each of us brought a pint of hard liquor. (Theo and I each made the especially foolish decision, respectively, of tequila and 151-proof rum.) Since we were backpacking, our store of liquids was limited and we were forced to drink the booze straight.
After hiking all day, a pot of soup was hardly enough to take the edge off our hunger. As soon as the beach fire developed a nice bed of coals we began roasting mussels, ripping the shells apart by hand and devouring them messily. Vasky melted a stick of butter in a Sierra cup, which was passed sloppily around the fire as we grew bloated and stupid with booze and shellfish.
I can still picture those enormous, conceited mussels, glossy blue-black shells hoary with barnacles and sea-lichens, steaming flesh a lurid, toxic orange. The meat alone weighed nearly half a pound in the big ones, and I could sense their pompous outrage at being ignominiously plucked and casually slaughtered over open flames. They would be revenged.
It was full dark now as we continued swilling liquor straight from the bottle and roasting mussels with wanton decadence. On occasion, then more frequently, someone would complain of a crunchy mouthful, but a certain amount of sand and shell grit was inevitable under the circumstances.
Eventually we abandonded the fire and ran amuck on the beach, wading out into a surf that sparkled with phosphoresence, throwing rocks, and drunkenly pontificating on our own stupidity.
The next morning dawned clear and hot. I awoke inside the sweltering nylon cocoon of my tent, gasping for breath and clutching my head in agony. Hot, acrid heartburn rose in my throat. Lunging for the tent flap, I struggled the zipper open and crawled out to find a scene of almost battlefield carnage.
Flies were everywhere, and a hideously foul stench lay on the camp like a thing alive. What looked to be hundreds of shells littered camp, befouled with already-decomposing bits of mussel flesh, seaweed, and barnacles. Gagging, a scorching mixture of high-octane Rum and stomach acid threatening to erupt, I staggered out from under the trees to the open beach.
I sat in the shade of a great rock for a long time, head in hands, moaning and trembling. Back in the trees, I could hear the same awakening ritual I had suffered as it was played out by each of my companions in turn. Theo puked just outside his tent, and a supremely foul miasma of regurgitated tequila and mussels drifted out to the beach in a poisonous cloud. Soon, we all lay sprawled across drift logs like shipwreck survivors, harassed by sand-fleas and a hateful, searing sun.
Eventually the healing salt air began to revive me, and I regained enough composure to blearily survey the surroundings. Wandering over to the fire, I found Vasky's forgotten Sierra cup sitting wedged between two rocks. It was full of sand, a thin glaze of butter on top. Flashing back to the previous night, I realized that, conservatively, we had each probably eaten a good quarter cup of sand along with our mussels.
Suddenly I was terrified to take a shit.