Operation Shore Patrol – 9/16/2023

OSP 2023!

I – like Darren Rabago – will have to cop to having a near and dear place in my heart for my long tenure in attending Operation Shore Patrol over many years. Starting my 2nd year in the Tamers – which means that was about 1998 when I started “wheeling” (oh is that what I thought it was?) a 1982 J-10 Jeep pickup (too big, too pretty….)

The Thursday night meeting at I think it was a Romio’s Pizza at Houghton Place in Kirkland (both now long gone) – of course the Thursday before the 3rd Wednesday of the month like was the case in the good old days – and at least a few rigs would be all set in the parking lot – maybe the occasional camper towing a rig – all set to head to the state park THURSDAY NIGHT AFTER THE MEETING! Wow – there’s commitment for you! What some might consider the glory days of Shore Patrol – when the state park let us all glom in together cheek to jowl 100+ rigs in a loop – and we all got to hang in the first 2 loops – tents, campers, rigs, cars, trucks, dogs and cats living together…. (Wait – what?!?)

Long story how we got from there to the present – from a loaded state park to wandering in the wilderness a few years to what I’d consider the new PN4WDA home RV park Tidelands – none of which needs to be recounted here really. No hand wringing required, no “what it once was” needed – just that a smaller than some years – but still stalwart and spirited band of wheelers still showed up, planted the PNW EZ-up in front of the Tidelands Clam Shack proclaiming it as base camp. Much thanks to the Ridge Rams who showed up in number and spirit to anchor Shore Patrol.

Not to say Tamers weren’t there. Daren was there. Jake Wardle came with his purple CJ and Gus the Rottie. Poor Gus had a sore shoulder and was moving pretty slow. I’d hoped to catch up with Casey Stokes and Gary Miller who had hoped to get there – but they had a sick pup at home that managed to change their plans for them. And kind of closing the history circle – those early Tamers pre-OSP meetings starting with Tamer pizza meetings at Houghton Place – I remembered quite vividly Frank and Pam Remley heading out for the coast in the middle of the night – Frank of course has left this mortal coil – but Pam was there. As well as Ann (used to be Typer and now Buckingham) and daughter Lindsey. Mary and I and grandson Hunter also decided initially to make it a day trip – but being a bunch of pantywaists and good weather forecast for the entire weekend for once – decided to grab a cabin and make it a weekend! Unfortunately – Dave didn’t have any cabins left – and we didn’t think Pam and Ann would take kindly to us throwing them roughly out of their cabin. But we were able to find a place just next store at the Beachwood Resort. Which isn’t quite the same as being in camp – but beats the heck out of driving up from Ocean Shores.

A side note – it was a Shore Patrol in 2006 when Mary and I managed to share our first kiss while staffing a stop for a night poker run. I fully expected to take an opportunity to kiss her – thinking it was a 50-50 chance she’d reciprocate – OR – she’d pull away saying, “What in the heck do you think you’re doing?!?” (And she admits she DID think of doing that…) We were at the point of entering the “forever friend” zone – and I was kinda hoping things didn’t stall there. I’ve often times since told her it’s good she kissed me back – we otherwise might STILL be in the friend zone….

Anyway – having Hunter with us was great – but between the forever commute – even taking him out of school and starting at 1 PM in the afternoon – I think it was about 5 hours later we pulled into the Beachwood. Once getting settled – it was a quick stop at the Tidelands to see Jake – and who was hanging out at the EZ up (not really anyone at that moment) and then to town for dinner as the sun set along the beach on Friday evening.

Heading to town on a Friday evening generally does not disappoint. We were a little past the casino on the beach when we saw 2 people in the dark pushing on the trunk of a rather forlorn looking and even lower slung than usual Beamer. The 2 and the driver all looked pretty underdressed (shorts and t-shirts) for the dark and the now cold wind blowing sand across the beach – and being it was a 2WD Beamer and the beach was empty – we were probably their best chance to not be spending way too much time out there. To further complicate things – there was something wrong with the cam position sensor – and the car was somewhere between rev or nada. No idle. VERY helpful when trying to get a car out deep sand. (Not.) And it was sitting belly flat into the sand – so there was nothing obvious to hook a strap on to.

But – like a fairly handy Tamer – I DID have a strap AND a sling I use for a tree saver – and 3 (count ‘em!) shackles. And a flashlight. So – after deciding I wasn’t going to lay in the sand for long OR dig under the car (and one of the passengers actually WAS both a Jeep owner – Jeep not present – and willing to do the dirty work) we wrapped the sling around the spoke of a wheel – and rolled the car back 1/3 rotation at a time with sling and winch – until it was up on top of the sand enough to wrap around a suspension member – and we pulled them out the rest of the way with the sling and strap. Good thing I had a flashlight to work through all this – because it was flat-ass dark by that time. They went into town as did we – we got last call at the Irish pub in town (yes – even Hunter and his root beer) where we still got to watch a local talent pleasantly surprising me with an eclectic mix of Tom Waits, James Taylor and Joni Mitchell.

We had made an oversight with Hunter – and that was – he appeared not to have a sweatshirt packed. And he was in the Jeep and cold. And we said he should come into the IGA to pick out a sweatshirt -where he said it was too cold, he’d stay in the Jeep and whatever his Gigi (Mary) picked out for him – he’d be fine with. I CANNOT BELIEVE he didn’t think through who his Gigi is! That’s carte blanche for some kind of potentially embarrassing bit of haberdashery – and Mary was all set for the pink or lavender section of shirts. Although – once in the store – it became readily apparent what the choice should be. Not based on color – but sentiment – which he actually did not read until the next morning. Hunter’s shirt shows 3 stick figures around a camp fire roasting hot dogs – with the legend –

“It’s all fun and games – until someone burns their wiener!”

Ocean Shores, WA

Hunter observed when he did read his new shirt – “Gee – that’s funny 2 ways…”

Anyway – Saturday morning comes – sunny and bright – and we got up late. I think when we woke – we commented – “We probably missed the drivers meeting.” Getting next door to have coffee with Jake and Gus – most of the beach cleanup participants had left camp and were on their way. This year – I finally remembered to bring the “trash picker uppers“ so we could get trash without hopping in and out of the Jeep quite so much. So – Jake got one, Hunter was our spotter in the back of our rig – Mary and I were set to grab trash somewhat remotely – at least from about 4 feet above ground level. We headed out from Tidelands about 10:15 or so – and after picking up trash bags from the Coast Savers volunteers turned left from the beach access and headed towards town.

An interesting thing happens when there are not as many folks on hand as in previous years to pick up trash from the beach. Your “per rig” take goes way up! So – along with the usual plastic bags and wrappers, glass bottles, aluminum cans, fireworks remains (apparently aerial shells in abundance this year) – our more interesting finds were just 1 table leg – and the top of a toilet seat! In a fairly short amount of time – we had 2 really full bags hanging off the Jeep. Somewhere along the way – we’d lost Jake and Gus. And then Jake later in the day copped to managing to lose one of our picky-uppy trash grabber thingies. The dumpster at the beach approach had been not entirely filled – but substantially filled. I believe we made a difference.

Not really much more to tell. There was a spaghetti dinner organized by the Ridge Rams. Mary was helping Hunter enjoy some of the activities at the resort next door. I had a cigar with Jake and Gus. She, Hunter and I had an evening kite fight, had our usual Saturday night movie. And then packed up Sunday morning – in the sun for once and not pouring down rain. It was a different Operation Shore Patrol – but we wheelers still got together and cleaned up the beach. Maybe only obliquely for the local community. And truly because it’s for a rare commodity nowadays – the common good. And to see even some number of other wheelers still sharing a vision. And still worth going yet another year and participating. Whether in the coast or in the mountains – I’m glad to be a part of this club and know it’s okay for us all to be in two places – at once.

Thanks for reading – Tom

And Keep on Wheeling!