Operation Shore Patrol Sep 2017

It’s Sunday evening post OSP – and Lola – tuckered out from her atypical weekend away from home – has put herself to bed (or actually under the bed) 2 hours early. She and her brother Kona spent a weekend with their mistress and me at Operation Shore Patrol. Being forced to spend time on the hard ground or on a lead, and not lounging on the couch as might have been the case at home all weekend – I’m sure they’d think of reporting us to the ASPCA – if only they had the opposable thumbs to manage it. I think mainly they are glad just to be home again. We tell them, “Remember – you always beg to come along. Well this time – we brought you!”

The adventure had commenced in the usual fashion Friday morning. The uncertainty of seeing the humans start placing camping gear in the van, and the Jeep on the trailer. They are sufficiently antiso-cial, that they usually mostly both expect and get to stay home. But something about an easy up, and leashes, and then the food bowls and dog water being placed into the van – and eagerly, they are ready to thumb a ride (again – that opposable thumb thing making this a rhetorical concept) to any ad-venture – especially to the beach with the smells of sea and dead rotting things they wish they could roll in. Sorry guys – we know you’ll end up in bed with us somewhere along the weekend – we can’t allow the place to smell like a rendering plant.

We leave Seattle early, as ghosts of OSP’s past always roll out the display of unfortunate double-the-time spent in traffic if we don’t take the day off and go. And I don’t see in the dark so well anymore. Trying to set up camp at 9 PM in the dark of night is something I have come to despise and want to avoid at all costs. About 2 PM – we do roll into camp and cozy up in the corner lot with our buddy Jake. Lola surprises us by being civilized to Jake’s dog Roxie (no problem with Kona on that score – he likes the ladies) so the first big hurdle – maybe the biggest – of the weekend is surmounted. Another hour or so – and we have a place for everything, and everything in its place – for what we call our white trash compound. The easy up beside the van, coolers under the table and coffee maker on the Cole-man stove on top – and the “fixin’s” for the coffee. The fire is crackling, and the feeling of peace and restfulness is so palpable, we almost have to force ourselves to get into the Jeeps to make a trip into town for eggs and other things for breakfast. But – we are wheelers, and to not hop in the rig and go would be heresy.

Others are also showing at camp. Evan has been on site for a few days, soliciting raffle prizes and get-ting his truck stuck. (Yeah – 2 wheel drive – now THERE’S a surprise.) He recounted how he had seen an abandoned chest freezer on the beach and drove up to it. All was going well – until he stopped to check out the freezer. Trying to go forward to get a position on the freezer – he realized – he was stuck. But – any good wheeler – if you’re stuck in soft stuff – just let some air out. He deflated until he was able to get enough back and forth motion to get back up on top of the sand. Moving – he scooped up the freezer into the back of the truck – a-nn-nnd – poop. Stuck again. The freezer was just enough extra weight that he sunk down in the sand some more. So – he drops the freezer back out of the truck, then he lets even a little more air out, and a little farther away on harder sand – and then putting the freezer back in – he is able to make it back to camp, albeit – terribly missing having his Jeep and 4WD under him.

Casey and Gary show up a little after us with the camper and Miss Creant rolling on behind on the trailer. Mike and Jill had come in from Montana with their Akita whose name escapes me. They were once again gamely setting up their tent in hopes that better weather would be the watchword of the weekend. I do recall the last time I had seen them was a rainy Shore Patrol a few years before, where they were observed to be near drowning in their sleeping bags before they hopped into a lifeboat and attempted to float home. Long time Tamers John and Gina showed up sans Jeep but with the 4WD Dodge pickup and new pup Bailey. And Rudi, Melissa, Alex and Cassy also made the scene. Along with plenty of the Rainier Ridge Rams in attendance.

Friday night ended up being pretty quiet. We heard that the Jello shot brigade was making their rounds – but with some amount of sampling going on (for quality control purposes you know) appar-ently the amount of darkness stumbling and bumbling overtook them – and they did not make it to our far corner of the camp. No matter – we were pretty ready for bed. So were the dogs. It took about 3 – 4 times to get them off our bed so we could get in. That was a study in futility – as they were far quicker getting back from the floor to the bed than the time it took us to crawl onto the bed and attempt to get under the covers. We had to finally manage to get partially under about 150 lbs worth of 2 dogs – and it was only fatigue and resignation that allowed us to slumber carrying such a heavy load.

Saturday didn’t necessarily dawn bright and shiny – but at least it was not raining. Most everyone was milling round and enjoining each other with greetings to folks last seen at OSP the year before. There was the usual signing in for recordkeeping and credit to Discover Pass hours. OSP windshield cards were dispensed – and money changing hands for raffle chances. LOTS of raffle chances. We had brought Lola and Kona into the mix, hoping that the other more well behaved dogs might model for them how pleasantly mannered dogs appear and behave. Oh yes – we did hope that. I suppose it was better than our having not tried to expose them to civilized dogs – and the other dogs actually were pretty mellow – but Kona was all set to be unpleasant with most of the male dogs around, and Lola was kinda of overstimulated – enough that we retreated to more quiet environs to help them set-tle down – and then had then saddle up into the Jeep.

We had enough folks available that we were able to split into 3 main cleaning groups – one from the jetty south of Ocean Shores back up to town; 1 group out at Ocean City heading south to OS; and a 3rd group to go north of Copalis to clean up towards Pacific Beach. Mary and I were with the 3rd bunch – a group both of Timber Tamers and Rainier Ridge Rams. We split about 5 rigs each north and south from the Roosevelt Beach access. Those that went south were heading down as far as the Copalis Rocks natural area – where no rigs were allowed to enter. (Which seems a little arbitrary – as at low tide – that area is actually considered an airstrip.) But the rigs that went south did see an unusual bit of not yet become garbage – a Mercedes the driver of which said he had not seen the “do not enter” signs – and had sunk his rig in some soft sand not far from the water of the stream. The Rainier Ridge Rams put a call into the park staff to see if they could get a dispensation to cross the line and rescue this guy (and his passengers now all tuckered out from trying to dig the rig out for the last hour or so.) Park staff indeed gave permission to go for it. I didn’t see the event – but heard on the radio traffic that the area was soft enough that the 2 rigs that went in for the rescue had to put their offroad skills to use to make sure they didn’t get stuck themselves. I heard something about all the winch cable on the spool, plus all the straps they had on hand that just reached the stuck Mercedes – but they did effect a successful rescue – I’m sure to the heartfelt relief of the owner.

What can be said about picking trash off the beach? In concept – it’s the same every year. It’s bend over and bag it for the smaller items; or hook on a strap and yank it or winch it for the larger stuff. Or throw it on the hood, or hang it on the spare tire, or put it in the back of your rig if you have the room. I’ve been to probably 18 of these weeeknds over the years – and there are changes in the pickup por-tion of the weekend. Seems to be less trash than used to be – and there certainly is nothing wrong with that. But – the trash is different too. Seems to be less aluminum cans and glass bottles, but more plastic of all sorts – bottles, bags, food wrappers. And still rope, lines, cargo and fishing nets, Styrofoam and bumpers and tires. And appliances. And shoes. Mary found 8 complete pairs of shoes, along with another 7 half of a pair. (And no – it’s not like we were stealing shoes from people playing in the surf.) They were really shoes that were obviously there for some time. And I’ve changed too – understanding that there are a lot of sea creatures that mistake plastic for food. I used to not worry about the smaller pieces of trash, especially plastic trash – because it wasn’t that unsightly. The big pieces looked bad, and they were more “dramatic” to harvest from the beach – so that’s the stuff I used to pick. This year – I really tried to get everything I saw – large – and especially small. I want the critters to actually eat food instead of some piece of plastic masquerading as food.

Well – that all sounds grim and serious and I don’t mean it to be. But – I do mean to say this is im-portant work we are doing. OSP is an annual event that has been ongoing now 46 years. I’m just glad we are still doing this, both because it is a shared enjoyable experience, as well as the right thing to do. While there is truth that on a grand, far-off scale – it’s good for the Earth and the environment – but those are such grandiose concepts that are hard to connect with and make personal. I myself got a lot of satisfaction seeing the 20 yard dumpster filled from empty to past the top. 2 freezers, a half a barbeque, a sand-filled microwave, fishing nets, cargo nets, entangling rope, pallets upon pallets, plas-tic bottles and bags and all manner of debris – a relatively small band of maybe 70-80 people and could be 30 or so rigs, covering about 25 miles of beach in one day – WE DID THIS! We made a significant dif-ference! And we had a good time doing a good thing.

Midday – the break for lunch was the Rainier Ridge Rams serving chili dogs. And dinnertime – the meal was the Timber Tamers typical steak dinner. I’ll tell you – the steaks were good – but the corn – I think I heard more people gush over the fresh corn on the cob. And why not? It came courtesy of our friends at Thomas Family Farm in Snohomish (where the NW Offroad Expo will be getting held.) By the time the corn hit the plate – it had probably been off the stalk only 2 days. I’m not sure a better thing can happen with corn than to cook it just right, and slather it with salt and butter – and that was dinner at Shore Patrol this year.

Then last – but certainly not least – the bonfire and the raffle! We had a few tables stacked high with raffle gifts – and not that there’s anything wrong with that – but even more than the Discount Tires ballcaps and rolls of duct tape in years past. Goodies from town. Gift cards for truly useful items. Even tools (used – but working tools nonetheless.) And a giveaway Jeep! (Okay – a battery operated kids Jeep – but there were still plenty of children of all ages hoping to get their hands on that.)

But before the interminable raffle commenced – we had to have a little campfire to set the mood. And indeed – we did start with a little campfire. And then came a few pallets. Possibly a few more. What a pundit might have termed “solid napalm.” It was pretty! It was energetic! That right folks – once the pallets caught – things were pretty energetic! But not to worry – a hose was made at the ready and quite a few large coolers of water around the perimeter with willing wheelers at the ready to dump them – and the fire settled down to provide a background to the orgy of raffle winnings as only can be the case at a Shore Patrol night.

But better than the raffle were the shenanigans and unsolicited commentary that arise during any wheeler gathering.

There was the T-shirt from one of the local stores – that was felt to possibly be improperly sized. I think there is a law somewhere that the smallest size T-shirt an adult wheeler can fit into is an extra-large – and it goes up from there. Well – this shirt was reputed to be (by the person who won it) an “extra medium.”
She asked, “What IS an extra medium t-shirt?”
The response from the crowd, “Not only it is medium sized – but since its extra medium – it also tells your future.”
Another crowd comment, “Surprise – this shirt won’t fit you. And it’s going to become a shop rag by Monday.”
Wow – that extra medium sure does know how to predict the future!

Another was a take by 2 Rainier Ridge Ram guys who will remain nameless. It was the tale of the meal they shared at a place call “The Woodshed.” They got there a little late in the evening.
The teller of the tale said in a stage whisper that was almost heard in the next camp over, “I don’t want anyone to know this, but we shared this meal. They put right on the receipt! – it was ‘The Lover’s Plate.”

Rudi had stood up just as the story began, and by the end of it – I thought we were going to lose him into the fire he was laughing so hard.

By the end of the raffle – it was starting to get past our bedtime – and having stuck our idle curs into the van before the campfire started – we were not surprised to see them warming the bed once again. We tried a new strategy earlier in the evening by doubling the blankets from the middle out – so a dog in the middle of the bed hopefully wouldn’t monopolize all of the covers as we were attempt-ing to tuck in and nod off. And this strategy worked….well kind of….a little better than the night be-fore. Lola at least stayed on the floor, leaving only the big rug (Kona) to deal with.

As it was another Shore Patrol weekend – the weather couldn’t help itself. Sunday went from gray to drops of rain coming from the sky by 10 AM. On the up side – many attendees had totally bugged out by that time, and we were mostly packed when the rain commenced. Evan advised of someone needing a rescue to get off the beach – so we did our good Samaritan best to run down in a few rigs to get him off the breach. Then Carl in his little Renegade Trailhawk wanted to get the feel for his rig – and promptly found the deepest, softest sand he could sink his rig in. Which he did do. And this stuff was so soft – I couldn’t even get our rig out of its own way to pull him out – until we dropped down from 25 to about 10 lbs of air in the tires. I politely ignored a non-wheeler guy in his Dodge Ram pickup who even after looking at me pulling my tow gear out, and Miss Creant standing by – hoping beyond hope she’d have to pull me out – bragging about the 80 lbs of air in his tires and obviously we none of us knew what we were doing – right? He was there to save us from ourselves because he knew it all. We did spoil his fun by being self-sufficient – and I spoiled Miss Creant’s fun by not getting stuck. But by this time – it has gone from drops of rain to sheets of it – and I was about soaked through and through – and it was high time to grab the Tamer tables and the Region 1 pop-up – and hit the slab.

The dogs seemed to finally sense we weren’t consigning them to eternal life on the road, and home-ward bound we went.

Another Shore Patrol – another weekend that went so far beyond just a trash pickup. Time well spent with folks worth spending it with.

Thanks for readin’
And Keep On Wheelin’