Our family’s happy place: the beach

Building teepees at Eagle Cove.

Building teepees at Eagle Cove.

We’ve been on San Juan Island about a week now, and while every day has been different, all of them have had at least one thing in common: A trip to a beach.

Beaches are our girls’ happy place, a surefire spot to make them happy and keep them that way.

On some beaches, they’ve walked the shoreline looking for cool shells and beach glass. On other beaches, they’ve used driftwood, seaweed, and bull kelp to build elaborate forts (or, if I’m helping, teepees). When we hit one beach at low tide, the kids beeline for the tidepools and peer down into worlds of sea anemones, sculpins, and hermit crabs. Another day, when we hit the beach at high tide, they grabbed their shrimp nets, waded out up to their knees and tried to catch us “dinner.”

These kids adore the sand and surf so much you’d think they grew up in a coastal zone (they didn’t; we live about 30 miles inland). As a fellow ocean-lover, I can understand the appeal and appreciate the sense of wonder and joy.

Our best beach day so far has been at Eagle Cove, a locals’ beach I remember from my days on the island as a twentysomething. We’ve been there three times already; we’ll probably visit another three or four times before we head home. At low tide, the beach stretches out a half-mile. Gentle waves lap at the sand. The sides of the cove frame the Olympic Mountains across the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

This is the beach where L discovered chiton shells—since that moment of discovery she has collected approximately 3,486 of them. It’s also the beach where R found her first cache of beach glass.

We’ve played ball on this beach. We’ve built fairy houses there. One day, while the kids were lounging with Powerwoman on a blanket, I took matters into my own hands and dragged driftwood from the back of the beach to build a shelter in which the girls could play cards.

Weeks from now, when L and R look back on this trip, despite the Orcas and the red foxes and the bald eagles and the ice cream every day, I bet they remember the beach best of all.

And I won’t blame them one bit.

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