I’m not much of a beach person, though there was a time when I was. In my youth I loved being in the water. Summers were occupied with swimming spots and beaches: whether a few family favorites like Silver Sands and Hamonnasset on Long Island Sound, Sunset Beach in North Carolina, or the couple of lake beaches close to my home when I lived in Oxford, CT. I spent a lot of time at those lake beaches (Jackson Cove and Kettletown) since either spot was under two miles by bike from my house, and I was a bored teen with not much else to do in the summer.
But then my body got awkward and I got awkward about my body. So I didn’t want to be around beaches, and then didn’t go much (even when I was living less than two miles from the actual ocean! And it was the Atlantic, so I could swim in it.) Over the years I got less awkward about my body, but the urge to go to the beach never really came back. Sure, I enjoy my times going to the Oregon Coast, but don’t feel “the need” to go to the beach in the way I used to.
So a trip to the beach is sort of a big deal for me. I decided that Tuesday would be a good day to be by the water, as it was going to be 95F/35C again. Initially I planned on heading out to Kelley Point Park, where I went last week, but I switched the plan to the informal beach on Hayden Island right by the railroad bridge. This was a mistake. Upon entering I was greeted by a sketchy dude on a BMX who approached me, mumbled “I thought you were someone else” and zipped back into the brush. While there were a few not-sketchy looking people using the beach, there was enough garbage and sketchy activity in the fringe that kept me on edge.
I turned around and decided to head for Broughton Beach instead. While I’ve enjoyed a sunset or three from this spot on the Columbia right by the bike path, I have never simply “gone to the beach” here. Partially because it can get crowded, but also because of the lack of shade. It was fairly busy when I got there, but I opted to go for one of the more “rustic” and quiet spots further to the east of the main beach area. I leaned my bike against a big piece of driftwood, got my swim trunks on and hit the water.
The water was quite refreshing! And while the constant hum of speedboats and jetskis got annoying after awhile, it did remind me of summers at Lake Zoar, where the buzz of boats was part of the deal. It also reminded me how to some folks the idea of swimming in the Columbia River or especially the Willamette is disgusting due to what could be in it. I understand people’s skeevishness, but I don’t think it’s that much worse than when I swam in the Housatonic back in Connecticut, a river with its share of pollutants.
In any case, I should get down to the beach more often, especially since it’s relatively close, just about a five mile bike ride. Longer than going to Lake Zoar, yes, but I’m also no longer a bored teenager. And that’s a good thing!