Summers on the Oregon coast

An excerpt from Earth Psalms, available October 4:

When I was a girl, my family traveled, camped, and explored God’s creation. I tried to do the same with my children. It’s in my DNA, so the idea of writing earth psalms as worship to the Lord sprang from my heart. Once I started, I couldn’t help but praise Him for the diversity and beauty of His handiwork.

Every August, I headed north with our three children to visit my parents. They lived north of Brookings-Harbor across from Whaleshead Beach. It took two full days of driving when we lived in Southern California, and we made numerous stops along the way. The first was an overnight stay with my brother and sister-in-law in Pleasanton so the cousins could play. Then off again early in the morning, with rest stops in the redwoods, a picnic at Benbow and time to capture baby frogs in a coffee can, another stop at Trees of Mystery to see Paul Bunyan and Big Blue, then the lagoon just down the road where, if we were lucky, we’d spot otters.

First thing we did when we arrived (after scrambling for Grandma King’s jar of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies) was take the coffee can full of baby frogs out to the spring-fed pond and turn them loose. We had other things to hunt now: brown- and red-bellied newts, giant yellow banana slugs, and smelly garter snakes. We found lacy fungus, hanging moss, and mounding mushrooms up the pathway of our “faery forest.” Cottontail rabbits lived under the heather bush in front of the house, and deer came to snack on the lawn at sunset and early morning.

The beach was a favorite place to explore, especially Lone Ranch with its tide pools. I showed the children how to turn over large rocks carefully or lift away tendrils of seaweed. We found an entire community of odd creatures living under rocks. We’d catch, study, and release crabs, urchins, fish, hermit crabs, and snails. We’d brush fingers lightly against sea anemones and watch the flowery faces close in hope of a tasty morsel. Later, we shared our picnic lunch with the ground squirrels and seagulls.

I used to wonder if the children remembered these things, and then learned those memories are as precious to them as they are to me. So we’re all going back up this year, stopping at the same places and planning our hunting trip—this time for their children. A little introduction to the wide, wonderful, wild world we live in.

Have you taken your family on special trips to interesting places? What made those trips so memorable? Do you have a favorite location in this “wide, wonderful, wild world we live in”?