The Rambling Writer Takes a Trip Over the Border
“And now for something completely different,” Thor announced. It was a hot, sunny day, but instead of our usual hiking getaway to a secluded mountain lake for a bracing dip, we headed north to one of the few shallow, sandy beaches along our rocky shores of Puget Sound. You take your ocean swimming while you can get it (as in not turning blue with cold) in our neck of the woods. When the tide creeps in over the hot sand, the salty waters warm up delightfully.
But swimming is only one of the attractions of a trip to Wreck Beach—named, I’ve been told, for the wreckers who used to lure ships onto the rocks at the western point. (So far, I’ve been unable to verify this history.) These days, it’s a summer destination for students from adjacent University of British Columbia, tourists, families, and Naturists. Vancouver has a cosmopolitan culture, embracing the European model of a clothing-optional beach. The Wreck Beach Preservation Society, officially recognized as protector of the beach and its natural surroundings, has published this slogan: “Body acceptance is the idea – Nude recreation is the way.”
Usually the broad beach is packed with a lively blend of people out to have fun in the sun, regardless of attire or non, though we picked an unusually quiet day for this visit. From the top of a steep, forested ravine, we followed the 200+ wooden stairs down to the sandy beach, where vendors offered everything from imported jewelry and clothing to massages to Bison-sausage sandwiches. After staking our claim and spreading a blanket next to a big drift log, our first stop was our favorite vendor: Stormin’ Normin’s Shamanic Spirit Grill. Normin offers interesting life insights along with delicious brats and other grilled sandwiches, plus all the fixings including organic veggies as toppers.
While we waited for our order to come up, we enjoyed the crowd energy. This end of the beach can feel like a flashback to the days when the Pacific Northwest was a hippie mecca, colorful blankets sporting drummers, singers, and dancers clad in tattoos, body paint, ankle bracelets, and little more. A young woman wandered beneath Normin’s canopy, circling the customers while chanting mantras and invoking protective spirits. An energetic young man asked if she needed help, and she responded that he could pray for protection against demons. He said, “Okay, here’s a prayer!” and sang, “If you think I’m sexy….” He sang and danced like a neo-flower child, and the young woman joined in, pronouncing, “That’s a good prayer.” They left together as he promised to design a talisman tattoo for her.
After our picnic, we strolled the beach and came across this drawing in the sand, which Thor decided depicted a devil’s tempting choices between “Yes” and “No.” Maybe that was what had concerned the young woman at Normin’s, but to us the face echoed the cheerfully hedonistic tone of the day.
The tide was finally rolling in, and we plunged into the gentle waves to float in the salty bosom of the sea and gaze up at drifting cloud pictures. Back at our blanket, we heard the singsong call of a “freelance” vendor strolling the beach: “Organic juices! Ice-cold beer! Boozy Freezies! B.C. bud brownies!” Something for everyone at Wreck Beach.
Sara’s newest from Book View Cafe was just released in print and ebook: The Ariadne Connection. It’s a near-future thriller set in the Greek islands. “Technology triggers a deadly new plague. Can a healer find the cure?” The novel has received the Cygnus Award for Speculative Fiction.