In Which I Wet the “Bed” – Day 89: Carl G Washburn Memorial State Park to Siuslaw Campground and Marina 

Oregon Coast Trail

July 19

I dream that I’m peeing and then wake up to find that I am, indeed, peeing – all over myself. It’s 1:30 am. I crawl out of my tent and clean myself up in the bathroom, rinsing out my sleep pants. Cool, body.
I fall back asleep quickly but morning still comes too quickly and I hit snooze on my alarm several times. We want to get going early because we’ve planned for 15 miles. But as we eat breakfast, Dexter says her knee isn’t feeling good and I say that we haven’t done laundry in a while and also there is a tunnel coming up that the OCT association highly recommends not walking, and we begin to realize we won’t be hiking very far before hitching.
We set out, but the trail we’re supposed to take has a “closed for bridge repair” sign. We’re going to take the road when we realize the sign is from October. Surely it doesn’t take that long to replace a bridge…? I decide we should risk it – at worse we’ll have to turn around and it will have added 2 miles to our day. Instead, we find a perfectly intact bridge except for one board on the railing. 
We get to the light house and then walk down to the beach. Energizer Bunny and Dexter sit down and I start trying to ask for a ride. 


I strike up a conversation with an older couple and they say they’d be happy to take us to Florence in the back of their truck. Awesome! They go explore the beach for a while and when they come back we hop in. 
They drop us off at the post office. Energizer Bunny and Dexter get their packages and then we get Chinese Food and do laundry and go to camp. But I’ve been feeling tired and antisocial. Between being chatty with hitches and the socialization that comes with mostly hiking as a group, I’ve used up a lot of my extroversion. I walk around town by myself and download a book of poems and sit in the gazebo and write. I sit with Energizer Bunny and Dexter and we watch a man flying a remote control plane around – it’s the same man from the couple who gave us a hitch.
Just before dark, I go to the bathroom and start walking toward my tent. But then I notice the sunset over the water and start exploring a little, and I come upon a little sandy area with a gorgeous view and I just sit there and take it in. It is nice to be somewhere beautiful, by myself, with nowhere in particular to be.

A Little Headspace – Day 88: Beachside State Park to Carl G. Washburn State Park

Oregon Coast Trail

July 18

We get a late start, waiting for Dexter to meet us and then for the ride to lower a bit so we don’t have to walk on wet sand, and then planning the rest of our trip on the OCT. Dexter is hurting and wants to get home for a birthday, Energizer Bunny wants to be finished by the end of the month, and I am feeling eager to get back to the PCT. I miss hiking without thinking much, and being away from town, and also I have checked my bank account and didn’t love what I saw. So we’ve made a plan to skip many roadwalks and even some beach walks that look dull. 


I got a little obsessed with trying to capture a wave splashing in the background

We get walking around 11am. I didn’t eat dinner the night before and it kept me up late and messed with my energy. I stop in Yachats while Dexter and Energizer Bunny go ahead and I buy a sandwich and a bag of pickles, along with a few resupply items. As I walk out of town I buy an ice cream cone. Hungry hungry hungry.
It’s not long before I’m off the road and walking through a forest. I forgot how nice it is to hike alone. It’s refreshing, and I’m looking forward to it on the PCT. I just hope most of the snow is gone.


The Amanda statue, memorializing a blind Native American woman who was forced to walk long distances to where her tribe was being “resettled” – her fate is unknown. Oregon has several informational stands along the coast and in the forests that have been nice background to the history of where we’re hiking 

I get to the top of the climb to where there is a drive-up overlook and text Dexter to see where they are. We’d planned to walk a few more miles and hitch from a scenic viewpoint, but there are some people at this overlook and I’m tempted to hitch here. I strike up a conversation with a couple, Fred and Yvonne, and pet their tiny dog. We chat a little and I tell Fred about the hike and the hitching and he says, well, is you’d like one, we’re happy to give you a ride. So I say yes. They tell me Fred has climbed the high point in almost every state in the US. They’ve been married 52 years. They laugh about Fred’s initial lack of interest in going on a blind date with Yvonne, how handsome Yvonne thought he was. It’s a nice reminder that these people who help us along the way are just as much a part of the trail, that they will be part of what I remember, too, beyond the vistas and trees and miles. When they drop me off they give me their business card and wish me well.
Energizer Bunny and Dexter are already at camp – they’d hitched from the same place I did. The other people in camp are all hikers, which is new – normally we see mostly bikers. I talk to a woman who has hiked big chunks of the PCT and the AT, and has hiked the Colorado Trail. A man named Maestro introduces himself. He is headed to Crater Lake soon to hike north to finish his Triple Crown. Maestro is very nice and talkative, but he is talking in the way that thruhikers do – miles and gear and tough sections – and I listen but I realize these conversations don’t especially appeal to me. I hike all day, I realize. I don’t want to talk about it, too. But it’s hard, because hiking is what we have in common.
We’re finishing up dinner when a camper, Jason and his son Jake stop by to say they’re having a fire soon and we’re welcome to join him. The offer is appealing and once we clean up Dexter and I head over. Maestro is already there, and a Canadian motorcyclist named Tessa. Tessa is talkative and a little brash – she asks about politics and money and age, all the topics you’re supposed to avoid with new people. She seemed to be trying to be diplomatic but didn’t seem especially practiced at it. I find it awkward but also nice, to not be telling the same stories over and over. 
We chat until around 10, and I excuse myself for bed. I fall asleep quickly.

Puddle Jumping – Day 87: South Beach State Park to Beachside State Park

Oregon Coast Trail

July 17

I crawl out of my tent to go eat breakfast with Energizer Bunny and Dexter. They’ve been doing this since the beginning but I had a habit of eating breakfast in my tent before packing up. But I’m starting to like their morning ritual so I’ve been joining them. 
While I cook my oatmeal, Dexter is deep in conversation listening to a woman whose hair is wrapped in a blue towel and is carrying a small purse. I’m unclear whether Dexter is there willingly – she has the kind of stance that suggests she is about to leave, or trying to leave, but has gotten stuck. I wait and watch and she stands exactly the same and eventually I call out, “Hey, your oatmeal is getting cold” (which it is) to give her an out should she want it, but she shoots me a strange smile and continues to talk with the woman for another few minutes before joining us.
“So…” I say when she sits down.
“Hold on, I want to write something she said down.” And proceeds to write on her fuel canister in sharpie. It says, ‘As you give, so you shall receive.’ The woman told her she’d heard Jesus tell her this when she’d died during a medical emergency. I’m a little surprised Dexter took this to heart because she doesn’t seem to be into the God thing. 
The woman keeps coming back to talk to us, and it becomes clear she’s struggling with some mental stuff, that it’s unlikely much of what she’s telling us is true. She’s nice enough, and a good story teller. We start packing up and I give her the book I’ve just finished and she goes and talks to some bikers who are camped a bit away. 
As we leave, my brother calls. I haven’t heard from him in a while. Afterward I call my dad, then my other brother as I walk down the beach. 


When I hang up, I’m glad for some headspace of my own. I think about how scary it is to let yourself want what you want – a long hike, a different job, a life made up of art – and to go after it, to try to take it for yourself. 
The beach miles fly by, the road miles drag. We walk over the bridge and into Waldport, where Dexter gets a package from the post office and then we get spaghetti and pizza. All you can eat spaghetti. I can only eat one serving. 
From there, we keep walking until camp. Dexter stops a few miles before us to stealth camp because her knee is bothering her but Energizer Bunny and I make it to Beachside State Park. I take a quick shower and realize my foot has been bleeding. Long hikes are strange like this – at home a small sore would grab my attention and drag me with it, out here pain is part of the process and you bleed and shrug and move on. I try to call Mark, but mostly he can’t hear me, so we send each other voice text messages, back and forth until we say goodnight. 

The Shortest Post – Day 86: Beverly Beach to South Beach State Park

Oregon Coast Trail

July 16

Most of the day is beach walking. I am happy, listening to music and watching the waves. We resupply at Fred Meyer. I pick small batches of things out of the bulk food. I have discovered Annie Chung’s Pad Thai and buy a few. 
Energizer Bunny and Dexter want to go to the aquarium but I don’t, so they catch a bus and I walk to the bookstore to buy a new book, and then to the campground. The time to myself is nice. I lay in my tent and read until they get there and we eat dinner. And then it’s time for sleep. 

Whale Watching – Day 85: Gleneden Beach State Recreation Site to Beverly Beach State Park

Oregon Coast Trail

July 15

Something I am learning about this group: we never leave when we say we will. We say 7, and we really mean we’ll eat breakfast at 7. We’ll leave at 7:30, or 8. But it doesn’t matter much, anyway, because it’s not hot and we don’t go far. So 8 it is. 
I have an awesome time on the beach walk. I listen to a good podcast, then my audiobook, and admire the waves.



We get to a lookout and I ask a stranger about the upcoming town. “Do they have somewhere to buy a hat?” I ask. “Mine blew away.”
“Probably…” she says. “What are you looking for? Just a baseball cap? I have one of those in the car. You can have it if you want it.”
“Seriously??” I say. “That would be amazing!” She pulls out a camo hat that says “Alaska Sportsman’s Bear Trail Lodge.” I thank her again, and we chat a little about how long she’s lived here, and then we keep walking. Not long after that, we enter Depoe Bay, a small community near the ocean and we see a crowd of people at the wall by the sea. What are they looking at? And then I see a plume of water shoot into the air in the distance.
Whales! They’re looking at whales!


We’d passed one of the “best spots” for whale watching earlier in the trail and the rangers said they hadn’t seen any whales in weeks, so we’d given up hope. But there they were, at least two, putting on a show. I live streamed it on Instagram (poorly, because I was watching in real life, not through my screen) and one of the grey whales came close close close to the wall. There were several tourist boats getting close the whales, too, which made me wonder if the companies have some kind of device to let them know where the whales are in the water. 
Once the whales moved on, we were hungry and so went to a restaurant and then continued on. We were lucky enough to see more whales as we walked, their spouts of water and backs rising above the waves. 



It’s been a pretty epic and beautiful day, and as we’re walking the last stretch toward Beverly Beach State Park, my brain starts having a conversation with itself.
Hey, it says. Remember how you’ve been trying to figure out what to do when you go home? And you’d thought of some things you can do while you’re waiting for the next thing to happen? Work at a bookstore? REI? Freelance? Wait until you have a good opportunity to move?
Yeah!
And then my body goes a little haywire. No! No! No! Red alert!
I try to untangle what’s happening. And I get a little clarity:
We (when I talk about myself in these moments I tend to use we, like me, the conscious plan-making feet-on-the ground human and me, the more woo-woo body-knowledge gut-tug entity) can’t live in Phoenix anymore. We’ve waited too long. Arizona is a black hole, now, and we have to spend too much time running against its gravity.
We need to rearrange our priorities. No more thinking “job first” – life first. The job is what you use to make money. It is not your life. 
Write. Write write write write. 
I feel like a bit of an idiot saying these things, privileged, navel-gazing, self obsessed. And still the tangle in my gut is loud and cares little for the eye-rolling my head is doing. 
Head: People don’t get to just make those decisions. You could royally fuck your life up. Everyone will watch you fail.
And still, my gut: Yes. Maybe. We have to try.

The Hiker’s New Clothes – Day 84: Lincoln City to Gleneden Beach State Recreation Site

Oregon Coast Trail

July 14

Dexter is slow to leave camp but gets ahead of us because we have errands. I’m crossing a crosswalk in town and looking at directions on my phone and I see a woman trying to turn right look at me and shake her head, disgusted. I realize she’s probably mad because she thinks I’m homeless and have an iPhone. 
On the way out of town Energizer Bunny and I stop at a grocery store. I get some things for snacks and a few meals and fresh fruit and we sit outside arranging our packs when a woman walks up and tries to hand Energizer Bunny a dollar. “Huh?” Energizer Bunny says.
“Oh! That’s very sweet of you. But we’re not homeless,” I say. “We’re hikers.”
“Oh! I felt so bad,” the woman says. 
This is new. On the PCT everyone seemed to know that we were hikers and we didn’t have these kinds of encounters. Here, I am noticing people seem a little surprised by my eye contact, my friendliness, my willingness to engage. I am noticing people avoid looking at me. Weird. I am not sure how to feel. I’m not offended. I am a little sad, to see how different it feels to have people think they know you right away. And I feel a little bad, looking like I’m in a different position than is accurate, like I’m dressing up when I don’t mean to. My clothes are too big, because to be on trail is to accidentally starve and be permanently dirty from 800 miles of walking. 
We go the AT&T store and the woman there wants to hike the PCT and knows exactly what I am and I get a phone case, since mine is letting sand in. We’re going to leave town, these errands have taken too long, when Energizer Bunny spots an outlet mall that has outdoor retailers – Under Armor, North Face, Columbia. I nearly jump for joy. I power shop and get myself a new bra (I’d had the bra I was wearing for a year before trail, and a month ago one underwire popped out, then the other, and in the mirror I see the sad state of my chest and wonder why I was bothering to wear a bra at all) and new shirt and pants and damn if I don’t feel like a new woman.
Maybe it’ll help with the hitching, too, I think.


Harbor seals!

Then we have a long road walk. But as hard as it is, I have an awesome new audiobook that makes it pleasant enough. I’m enjoying the book when a truck drives by and creates a huge gust of wind that blows my hat and my PCT 2017 bandana clear off my head. I turn around but there nowhere to be seen. I set my pack down and try to find the telltale red. Nothing. They’re gone.
I am not particularly sentimental. I did really like that hat. Mostly I think: oh man, my poor nose is going to buuuurn. I smother my face in with screen and cover my head with my buff. 
I catch up with Energizer Bunny and Dexter and we decide to camp a few miles before where we had originally intended. It’s a nice spot to stealth camp. And we’re tired. And what’s the hurry?

Rainy Morning – Day 83: Pacific City to Lincoln City

Oregon Coast Trail

July 13

We wake up in the morning to a strange sound. Is that…? It is! Rain! It makes me happy to be cozy in my tent with the putter patter all around me. There is a coffee shop nearby so I ask if anyone wants something to drink and instead we all walk in our rain jackets together. I get a London Fog (earl grey tea with vanilla and cream.) Shh. Don’t tell my body I had caffeine. 
At the shop, we’re discussing how we want to handle the day – there is 6 miles of road walking to get to the beach, a short beach walk, and then several more patches of road and beach. So far, Dexter has been adamant that she wants to walk the road pieces – but this morning she says, “I think it’s obvious I’m going to start hitching in order to stay with you guys.”
“Aww,” I say. “We like you, too.”
The rain stops and our tents dry a little so we pack them up and start walking, our thumbs out. We haven’t been super successful with hitching out here – people aren’t as familiar with the trail and most don’t seem to know exactly what we’re doing. Are we travelers? Homeless? Hikers?
But we get lucky and a guy named Pete pulls his big van over, asks where we’re going and agrees to take us. He has to take his kayak out and move his fishing gear for us to fit. “Is this the adventure van?” I ask. He says yes.
Pete tells us that he’s been traveling all around, that in this are he’s been really into hang gliding. But mostly he liked to travel and get seasonal work. He tells is if we’re under 31 that Australia has migrant worker visas and we can do farm work for decent money. He did it but aged out. He wishes he could find more opportunities like that but hasn’t seen any.
He drops us off and we walk the beach. Dexter’s map shows a trail after a mile road walk, but we walk and walk and don’t see it, though Dexter thinks she saw a few old, overgrown trails. We keep walking and then take a break at a truck pullout and Dexter realizes we have 9 more miles of road walking and damn, we really just don’t have it in us. The road is windy, the shoulders not especially generous, and honestly the road just hurts our knees and feet and ankles and hips. We try for a while to hitch, but nothing. So instead we call a cab. So much for no more cabs. But! This one is only $20, and takes only 15 minutes to come get us. Now that’s more like it.


Just hanging by the road side waiting for the taxi 

We set up at the hiker camp. There are lockers with USB ports which we are all impressed with. It’s been interesting the mix of people at these hiker/biker camps – they are primarily bikers, who group together in the same way hikers do. Normally I would want to be chatty but often it feels a little fruitless since I won’t see them again – most of the bikers are doing 50+ miles a day. I am most jealous of them on the downhill road walks. But there are also people in the camps who don’t seem to quite be hikers or bikers. Some of them wear jeans, or have big tents, or don’t seem to have a particular destination. At this camp there is a couple who don’t seem to have hiking gear but say they decided on a whim to hike 200 miles to a hot springs the man had visited when he was younger. The man goes on about how incredible this campsite in and how they’re staying for a few days because it’s so nice. 
He offers to make us dinner which is nice, but we decline and go to Mexican food instead. We don’t want to, but we should do laundry, so I power walk back to camp, take a shower, get my clothes together and power walk back to the laundromat. I just want to get it over with. I spend the time writing blogs and letting the laundromat dog, who reminds me of my dog Echo and sits in front of me in order to get attention. 
We get done around 8. It’s good to have clean clothes. It’s hard to figure out how long we can go because the temperatures are mild, the towns and showers are frequent, but so are normal people. How much stink is acceptable? I’m not exactly sure. 

Beach Walking – Day 82: Cape Lookout to Cape Kiwanda

Oregon Coast Trail

July 12
We wake up early and are walking by 530. Low tide is at 9 am and the lake is 7 miles away. It doesn’t take long for me to realize I am tired, and then I realize I am also sad. Both of these make me unmotivated. I try to do a systems check: is something in particular bothering me? But really, it just seems like a combo of too much ice cream and days of hurried sleep and too much socialization and not enough down time. 
I step off trail and Energizer Bunny goes to join me but I ask her not to, so she takes off her jacket and asks me if I’m okay and keeps going. I lean against my pack and breathe and close my eyes for a little while. I open them and stare at the trees. And then I get up again and keep going. It is too early to try to explain that sometimes I (and I think everyone, really) get sad for no reason and the only way I know to deal with it is to treat it as kindly as possible. 
I come up the hill and Dexter and Energizer Bunny are waiting for me, Dexter asks if I’m okay and we continue. I put in some sad music and Energizer Bunny walks in front of me and Quiet passes me and we walk the beach and slowly the feeling lifts from my chest. 
We get to Sand Lake at 9:30 and the crossing is no problem, shin deep and not fast, although the sand sucks is in and surprises us so we have to move fast. 
We take a short break and snack and then keep beach walking. Just as I’m getting to Cape Kiwanda I sit down for another snack and two beachgoers chat with me about what we’re doing, where we’re headed. I ask if there’s a bookstore in town but they didn’t see one and the woman offers me the book she’s just finished, but it’s one I’ve already read. I offer her the book I’ve just finished. “Well, what’s it about?” So I tell her and she says she’d love to have it so I dig through my pack and give it to her. Which sort of made my day.
Cape Kiwanda’s neck is essentially a large dune, unlike the other forested capes we’ve crossed. It’s hard to climb but not too tall so we get to the top quickly. I see a little kid riding a snowboard type device down and wonder: can I glissade this? So I pull my Tyvek out and try. The answer is no. (There is a rather amusing video of my attempt on Instagram.)

From there we walk into town. I notice a thrift store and a library and make a mental note to see if I can find a book there. But for now: lunch. It’s Donor, Energizer Bunny, Dexter and me because Quiet and Trooper stopped earlier at a different restaurant. We eat and then it’s almost happy hour so we go inside and get dessert and charge our things. I find a book at the thrift store. 

The boys are taking a bus to Lincoln City because there’s a lot of road walking in the next section. Us girls are taking a bus back to the County Campground and figuring out what we want to do from there. Mostly, I tell them, I want to be able to sleep and not have to get up as early as possible to leave. 
At the campground the host gives us a bit of a deal and there are a bunch of baby rabbits running around the grounds. We set up camp and go to bed. 

Hiker Trash in Beach Town – Day 81: Netarts Beachside to Cape Lookout Campground

Oregon Coast Trail

July 11

We get up early so that we don’t get caught on the beach. Today, the group splits – Donor and Trooper are going to hike ahead while Quiet, Dexter, Energizer Bunny and I take a bus to Tillamook to resupply and get a power bank but mostly to tour the Tillamook Cheese Factory.
We catch the 7 am bus which means we are early, so of course we stop for breakfast. It’s our first real breakfast of the trail and we order so much food that the server shakes his head a little, but it’s a normal amount to us and even though we’re not hiking as much as the PCT, we eat it all.
From there, we walk a mile and a half to Fred Meyer. Quiet and I talk (he is named Quiet ironically, because he’s chatty, though he claims to be an introvert at home) and walking down the roads I am struck with a feeling that I’m a traveler now. I see people in their normal everyday lives and I think – that isn’t me. I did the thing I wanted to do, that I was afraid I wasn’t brave enough for. I stepped away. I chose an unconventional life, if only temporarily. I think of Jack Kerouac and other exaltations of traveling and freedom and in this moment I think, oh – this is that feeling. To feel different and to walk through the life you’re not choosing. To feel like you stepped outside of the system. To feel like you broke free, like you can see it all for what it really is, like you have found the secret. 
We step into Fred Meyer. I help Energizer Bunny get situated with electronics and then get some fuel and then stand at the sunglass kiosk for a while trying on sunglasses. This trail has made me more self conscious about my hikertrash appearance, or maybe it’s tiring to look so dirty all the time. Dexter has gone so far as to start wearing deodorant again. Being around non-hikers makes me aware of how dirty my clothes have permanently become, how loose they are, how much I do not look like a bubbly, fun hiker. And the weight I’ve lost I notice most in my face, which seems to look svelte to others but looks gaunt to me, and my body awkward and gangly. There are a few things I enjoy: my armpit hair is longer than it’s ever been, probably 3 inches, and I am getting a kick out of its presence. My legs are solid muscle. Even my arms are more cut, bulging from trekking pole use. 
But ultimately I don’t buy sunglasses, because I can’t find a pair that transforms me from looking like hiker trash to dayhiker. Go figure. 
It’s another half mile to the cheese factory and we try all the cheeses and order grilled cheeses and then we go back for ice cream. We spot a deal: a five ice cream sampler. The cashier says they’re junior scoops, but when we get our cups I’m faced with more ice cream than I’ve ever been tasked with eating. “You’ve never eaten a pint of ice cream before?” Dexter asks, like it’s a normal thing to do. No! I say. Dexter ends up finishing my ice cream for me. Quiet tells us that he spent years of his life thinking that everyone else was eating 6 or 7 eggs for breakfast like he was. He once ate 11 eggs, he tells us. 
Apologizing to my body, I waddle to the bus stop and we ride back to where we left off. The goal is to get a little boat across the water so we don’t have to road walk, but when I ask the first person coming in he says that it can’t be crossed, the water is shallow and there’s a clam bed. I don’t believe him, but I also don’t see any other boats. 
Dexter starts walking but Quiet, Energizer Bunny and I get a hitch from a man Quiet had chatted up. It is nice to have Quiet because he sits in the front and chats with the driver, which I usually have to do. When we get to camp we debate a little bit over what to do – keep walking so we’re closer to the lake we need to cross at low tide, or wait for Dexter, camp here and leave very early? 
The camp is nice so we decide to stay. I take a shower and we cook the sausages I’d packed out and they’re delicious. We’re joined by Mermaid, who I hiked with on the PCT (!!) and Frank, a hiker from Ghana who had been traveling all over but was new to hiking.
I get in my tent around 8 but stay up late finishing my book. It is such a pleasure to read out here.

A Practice of Noticing – Day 80: Bar View Jetty Camp to Netarts Beachside

Oregon Coast Trail

July 10

We walk on the beach and then into Garibaldi. I’d called the night before to arrange a boat and I invite the boys to join us. They don’t seem to care much for planning so they’re happy to lean on our plans. We’re too early so we sit in a coffee shop until 9:30, then walk to the Marina. The people there are incredibly nice and have the funniest big dogs, who are running around the boats and jumping into the water after the lid of a bucket, a low-cost frisbee. 



We get to the other side and start to walk the spit. I feel a little romantic over our 6-person group as we move over the sand. A traveling tribe. The guys seem happy to have us around but also like their own little group. This was the kind of grouping I imagined on the PCT – natural, grateful, temporary. And watching everyone walk down the beach, our strange, heavy hobbles, our packs like hunchbacks among the walkers with their bright colors and dogs and hoodies and barefoot feet, my heart feels full and happy. 

We’re a little nervous to get to Cape Meares, where there is a trail that is best accessed at low tide, which we will not be reaching it at. When we get there an older local man tells us our options, but warns the trail itself is boggy – “we’ve heard reports of it being waste deep.” Hmm. I appreciate his help but I am also noticing there seems to be a bit of fear about the trails, unwarranted. Someone had told a friend a few weeks ago that the trail “vanished” on Neah-Kah-Nie mountain when it was just a couple of downed trees.
The group huddles and I say, “I want to at least try it” so we cross over some sand stone and rocks and find a rope tied to the wall and some sandy steps and crawl up. And from there, the trail is fine – no bog, and hardly even any mud. The trail leads us to a lookout area where volunteers are set up with spotting scopes and show us birds and sea lions in the distance.
Afterward there’s a stretch of road walking. Energizer Bunny and I detour into Oceanside to see if there are any stores for her to replace her power bank, but there isn’t. We do find a restaurant and sit down but then realize it’s fancy, expensive, and we’re sticking out, so instead we get burgers to go. 
Then it’s more beach walking. The wind is blowing hard and the bag of burgers is blowing around in my hand and at one point my hat blows off and I have to run after it, my pack still on, but I catch it.
We’d planned to camp at what our guidebook says is a hiker biker camp near Netarts, but it’s not where we think it is and we realize the book never actually gives it a name and so instead we go to a bar and grill nearby and hang out there until the sun starts to go down and stealth camp on the beach. The problem with stealth camping is that the sun goes down late, after 930, and is up early, which means we have to get going and we don’t get much sleep. 
But these small inconveniences and concerns are part of what make the OCT fun. We are in town almost every day, we see beautiful coast line, water is plentiful if usually unplannable. I am not trying to impress anyone here, not measuring how good of a hiker I am, not worried about miles. I am here to see what is beautiful. I want to take that with me when I go back to the PCT. I want to watch the thruhikers fly by me and be okay with that, even the ones I like. I want to take pictures of slugs and spider webs and cool trees, not just vistas. 
I want to do what I must to enjoy the beauty of the trail as often as possible, and to keep moving. I have proven to myself that I can suffer, that I can find kindness for myself in that struggle, my initial intention. Now I want to know: Can you breathe? Can you look closely? Is the wilderness moving through you? Will you let it?