How long has it been? We kept asking one another as we drove over the Lewis and Clark Bridge across the Columbia River from Longview, Washington to Rainier, Oregon, following Route 30 West to Astoria. At least fifteen years we decided, maybe more. We wondered if there was still a toll to drive across the bridge from Astoria back to the Washington side of the Columbia, at its confluence with the Pacific Ocean. No toll. Just that lovely, long four mile sweep down to the water and across, then through little sea towns: Chinook, Ilwaco, Seaview, to our destination – Long Beach.
In the one year our three year old beagle, Josie has been with us, she has become a good little traveler. On this two hour journey, she alternated between snoozing on my lap, and sniffing the breeze as we drove through towns, and across the Astoria bridge. With her front paws on the ledge of my door and head poked out the one-third open window, her velvety ears flapped gently in the wind. As we drew closer to the coast, Josie’s intensity increased. Thrusting her nose out the window inhaling the brackish scent, her eyes signaled she was searching for an association to this place. We have no idea whether or not she’d ever been to the coast before, but this was the first time with us. And, it was the first time we would spend nights in a motel together.
The Lodge we chose to stay at was dog friendly, and the trail to the beach was an easy walk. After we’d settled into our room, while Creighton checked out the WiFi connectivity, Josie and I took off for the beach. Though cloudy and breezy we were blessed with no rain. Josie trotted and sniffed on her extending reel leash until we crested the dune and came into view of the ocean. It was just the two of us and acres of hard packed sand as far as the eye could see. I unsnapped the lead from her collar, and started walking toward the ocean. In an instant, Josie took off running full pelt in a wide circle that brought her careening back past me.
As she whipped by the second time, grinning as happy dogs do, her eyes sparkled with delight. I laughed out loud, encouraging her with praise and short spurts of running along. Always wanting to please, Josie obeyed my commands to stay off the dead crab remains. A low tide had just turned so we danced around the edges of the shallow waves, Josie sniffing the yellow tinged foam as it receded.
The next day we made five trips to the beach, one of them an extended exploration North, where Josie learned all about shorebirds. Creighton accompanied us on some of our walks, and he too was excited to see how Josie took to the sands. By the time we turned back from our last walk and packed to leave, Josie had proven herself to be an adaptable traveler. She slept soundly all night both nights, only sounded warning barks when she heard something outside, and quieted on command. We will do this again, I assured her as I did my best to associate the word “Beach” with all this fun.