We were up at 6:00 and moving out of camp by 7:00 each morning. Early mornings are my forte for several reasons. My dairy-farmer father raised an “early to rise” gal (me) and old habits die hard. (My early-to-rise habit probably won’t die until I do….). And the lowest tides were in the early morning hours; we had to get to the beach to see the good stuff. Finally, teens who are awakened early tend to settle down earlier…. (See how I am?!!!!) As is tradition, I sang the camp awake every morning with horribly off-key renditions of obnoxious morning songs that the kids love to hate. “In the leafy treetops the birds sing ‘Good morning’....”
We did have good mornings. We visited tide pools at Marine Gardens, walking on the floor of Devil’s Punchbowl, strode along Ona Beach, and scrambled on the cobbles at Yaquina Head. We were expecting to tide pool at Ona Beach. The tide pools were elusive but the beach’s beauty was not….sea birds circling, surf pounding, sand permeating, sun shining (occasionally….very, very occasionally)...... Good times! We noticed a group of gulls congregating at a specific spot on the surf line. Investigation revealed thousands of squid egg sacs and hundreds of crabs, all washed up along a 15 meter stretch of beach. Why then and why there we will never know. But it was a fascinating find for us and a feeding frenzy for the birds.
Hands-on beach experience morphed into hands-on classroom experiences at the Mark Hatfield Marine Science Center on two of our days. Students designed and conducted an experiment with live crabs, dissected squid, built remotely operated vehicles that retrieved forks from the bottom of a pool, and dredged for, collected, and then microscoped (...Is that a verb?) plankton from the estuary.
My personal favorite was the shrimp slurping class. (FYI: Slurping shrimp is nothing like sucking smoothies.) Students (and Karen and I) used specially outfitted, wide PVC pipes to bring mud cores to the surface of the estuary mudflats. Hidden in the cores were shrimp, ranging in size from 2 cm to 12. Everyone engaged; it was kindergarten excitement manifest in teenage bodies. Gary was at my side every 2-3 minutes showing me his latest catch. Many (MANY) others called me to over to see their squirming trophies. The captured shrimp were housed in a bucket, hauled to a lab, measured, and examined for parasites. Our stats contributed to a database being compiled by a researcher from Oregon State University (OSU).
We spent an afternoon in Cape Perpetua State Park where we went on a not-long-enough-for-some (Dan hiked the trail twice) and a way-too-long for others 6.8 mile hike. The path led through old growth forest, beside a fern-lined stream, and, eventually, paralleled the Pacific coast. It was intensely green and beautiful.
One cannot visit the central Oregon coast and fail to visit Mo’s Original Clam Chowder House . We did not fail; we did visit Mo’s. Our reservations for 70 people almost filled their guest places and their fabulous food did fill our gastric places. YUMMY!
I had never been to Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area State--you have to pay to get in--but I will certainly return often. It was by far the best tide pool spot we visited. We saw sea urchins, nudibranchs, sponges, seals and even a whale, in addition to the sea stars, sea anemones, crabs, mussels, barnacles, and snails we usually see. The whale entered the tiny bay area where it displayed tail and top fins. The seals “sunned” on the rocks (though there was no sun in sight…) and the nudibranch stuck out like an almost-fluorescent, bright yellow banana peel sitting on the tidepool floor next to dark gray rocks and dark blue mussels.
I inserted a visit to Oregon State University’s Corvallis campus into our trip itinerary. Because it was a completely new addition to the trip I was a little nervous.. No need for worry. The OSU people were spot-on and so were our students. We toured campus, participated in a inquiry-based classification lab and a hands-on wind turbine construction lab, and ate in the campus cafeteria. Oh the cafeteria…..so many choices!!
While waiting for rides (I had to do some creative car shuffling to avoid paying parking fees) we sat in the football stadium parking lot and enjoyed an impromptu, unofficial concert. The OSU marching band drum line was finishing up a week of band camp and we were there for their final run-through. Amazing!!
I also added a Friday night potluck to the agenda. I figured it would either be totally disastrous or completely fabulous. Fortuitously it took a turn for the fantastic and the first-ever became the first annual; I will do it every trip from now on.
All week the kids cook for themselves which means we never mingle as a group at meal times. My pot luck instructions were to bring whatever food that was left in their food boxes that they were willing share. My hope was that it would bring together. They followed my instructions and fulfilled my hopes. Some people, like Eric Wilkinson, went all out. He cooked fresh tuna, blackened style, that disappeared almost in an instant. Also contributed were Tillamook cheese curds and fresh cantaloupe. Most of the kids contributed junk. All of us nibbled or gobbled and enjoyed.
We ended the day and the week and the camp with our traditional awards presentation. Every person in camp received an award. Awards are based on incidents occurring during the week and range from the traditional such as “Ms. Congeniality” and “Ray of Sunshine” to the very unique, things like “Talyn of the Tides” and “King Dredger”. It is a time of celebration as everyone--parents, students, teachers--is recognized and loudly cheered.
This year’s celebration was especially special (...should I use those two words together?...) because the parents presented me with a beautiful, classy, and very unexpected gift. “Thanks to Mrs. Hislop for all she does to make this happen,” Heidi Owens said as she handed me a navy blue, Hatfield Marine Science Center jacket, the kind I would admire in the gift shop but never purchase for myself. Cool. And WOW!!
On the final day, I sang at 4:00 a.m.and we were on the way to Ogden before 5:30 ….tents down, sleeping bags stuffed, camp cleaned, trailer loaded. Again, everyone was so good. Cute Edith really stood out. She quickly broke her own camp and then helped others do the same. Load after load after load she carried to the trailer, each time after the first delivering someone else’s stuff.
The drive home was long. Just like on the way there, I drove the entire time. If anyone wrecked Bishop’s trailer, I wanted it to be me. Fortunately, no one wrecked it. And, I must say, trailer brakes are my new favorite thing. I love trailer brakes.
The beauty of trips such as our Oregon coast adventure is not the itinerary. Nor is it the tidepools, lighthouses, or old growth forests. The true beauty of trips such as these is the people. And we had some truly beautiful (albeit a little stinky and slightly messy at times) people. [Hang on….the next two paragraphs are shout-outs. I feel compelled to express appreciation. It may be boring reading for you but it is extremely important to me.]
Oh how I love Karen Eilander! (OPA’s new 9th grade science teacher) She truly loves learning (....talk about kindergarten excitement!!), she truly loves students, and she loves me. (Nice!) I also love, love Talyn (OPA’s 7th science teacher). She is also such a genuinely good person, values based and oh-so fun!!! And wise beyond her years. Rebecca was a priceless addition, both for her organization and her observational skills. It was to get to know Beckie, to see Garey in full “mother hen” mode, and to have Amie fly in to support us.
People thank me for putting on the trip. Honestly, it could not be done without the parents. They too are fabulous people; Brent so fun and so helpful, Mike so courteous, Heidi washed ALL the dishes for the potluck, Heather so upbeat, Danielle always stepping in to help, Eric so good with the kids--played football, took them to the beach, Dan so gracious, wise, and engaged in every activity, Ana also completely engaged and fun, Katie so excited to spot the whale, Stacey became a seafood convert, Lora won the dance-off in the parking lot, Annette so gracious and Saren so grateful…...and the list could go on. What a huge blessing to be able to associate with these people.
Of course it is the kids who truly make the trips. Here are a few trip highlights:
- About the third day, my hair was sticking straight up. So was David’s. I said to him “Look! Our hair is just the same.” He looked at me and said “My hair looks that bad?”
- The outhouse in our camp was horribly stinky. Ana and Talyn discovered that sticking veggie straws up their noses eliminated the stench.
- Abe bought gifts for everyone in his family, even the dog (who got a hoodie!).
- One could see the tiny squid larvae squiggling inside the egg sacs we found on the beach. Edith tried to rescue them all.
- Gabe, who told me he was hesitant to come on the trip because he is challenged by separation anxiety, thrived. He was at the center of a card game every night.
- One girl recorded my early morning sing/screeching and uses it as her phone ringtone.
- Lisa and Danielle, two Latinas are pretty and look shallow are anything but. They designed the windmill that generated the most power.
- Eva had never hiked more than a mile in her life. Wednesday she had walked 14 miles.
- Jeff’s mom called him. “Where are you,” she asked. “Oregon,” he replied. Duh!
- Andy told me “I wrecked my shoulders hiking,” He wasn’t even carrying a pack!
- Mary said, “Dad is cooking something complicated. Can I help you?” Perfect timing. I had her stir three cakes…...200 strokes per cake.
- Addison spent $28 on a mug for her dad that said something like “I would laugh at your jokes if they were funny,,,” I wanted to get one for Lance but the joke wasn’t worth $28 to me.
- Mango chili salt water taffy is FABULOUS.
- Several people (Karen Eilander included) licked banana slugs to experience the tongue numbing sensation. One lick did not numb Steve’s tongue so he licked it again and again and again. It looked like he was making out with the invertebrate.
- Francis added $17 to the $9 meal ticket I gave him at the OSU cafeteria. “People say my stomach is a black hole,” he told me.
- Fred bought socks at every gift shop we passed.
- Abigail wrote me a sweet note in the which she thanked me for being such a good example in having an “opening and closing” prayer at each end of the trip.
- On the post trip survey, when asked what they would remember about the trip in 5 years Kyle wrote: “I was a LUCKY kid.”
It was a fabulous week. Honestly, about mid-week, I thought it might be my last big trip. I am tired. Tired. And a little empty. Drained. I was not sure I had the umph to pull off another trip. But my umph was restored. The students and parents are so good, so appreciative. It really is an honor to work with such incredible, gracious, giving, genuinely amazing people.
After the trip a friend asked “How do you control 50 kids for that long?” My response was instant and accurate. “I don’t,” I said. “They control themselves.” And they do. They are high quality young people, trustworthy and capable of great things. I guess another big trip is probably in my future.
So, I lied. At the beginning of this post I promised to publish the ending of our Oregon coast adventures. It appears there will not be an ending….. At least not soon.