In 1975 my family built a beach house in the sleepy town of Manzanita at the north Oregon coast. The Pacific Ocean was our front porch, and our endless playground. During the day my cousins and I scoured the sand searching for agates and seashells. At night, we built campfires and told scary stories while roasting marshmallows for our S’mores.
On either side of the house were empty lots, which became elaborate beach grass mazes and play areas for my cousins and me. We played outside for hours building “human sized” castles with moats and sand-slides that doubled as our escape routes (you know, just in case the castle got seized by the enemy).
Literally, I spent every July 4th in Manzanita until I was 16. Each year, Laneda Avenue turned into a block party as the community parade came through: kids on bikes with shiny handlebar tassels, the volunteer fire department, random folks throwing jolly ranchers and tootsie rolls at the crowd. And after the sun set over the Pacific, fireworks would light up the sky. On a very clear night, we saw firework displays from towns as far south as Rockaway.
My cousins and I are now grown up, and our family has since sold the Manzanita house, but the memories of summers spent at the beach in Oregon are unforgettable. For me, they inspired a lifelong love affair with the Oregon coast. My family now has a house in a different town and I visit often, still scouring the beach for agates and sand dollars.