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Run Silent, Run Deep




Lance K. Pugh


  As we pulled into Gold Beach, Oregon, I spotted a sign that provoked new, deep and dark feelings: “Warning: Tsunami Zone.”  I knew that I was going to be camped near the beach, but finding myself under the waves was not part of the plan. Little did I know just how much water would dominate our sojourn.

  My wife, Annette, and I chauffeured our dog, Spooky, to a nearly empty RV Park, located only two hundred yard from the pounding surf, there to deploy my vintage 1966 Airstream.  One of the first things I did was extend the awning on the 26’ polished aluminum trailer, which looked more like an undersea airplane than a conventional trailer.  Within an hour another traveler dropped by and suggested that I lose the awning, as the night before two were torn off of trailers in the park by unexpected and powerful gusts of winds.  So I lowered the sails and stowed the sheets.
Lucy and Ricky


  We were held captive in an aluminum aircraft tube, anchored on the Oregon Coast.  The winds were gusting 50-65 mph while the rain sheeted horizontally.  The vintage Airstream trailer shuddered, shook, hopped and flopped as the gusts gripped it tossed it about like a zucchini in a clothes dryer. 

  The front window rock guard came unpinned and slapped in the squall like a trash can lid slamming against a metal shack, punctuated by a moment of calm as the storm took a breather while a gush of rain fell straight down on top of our chamber of reverberation and sleep deprivation.

  The cacophony of audio and vibrating mayhem roiled throughout the next two days and nights, leaving us shell shocked and infected with aluminum cabin fever. A hundred hands of Gin Rummy and two books later, we resigned ourselves to take the cure: we had to go outside and make the best of it.  Letting our dog, Spooky, out for a few minutes at a time was not filling his need to run untethered and unfettered along the beach, so, donning yellow rubberized raingear we boldly waddled through the tall grass and onto the raw and rough besieged beach and let loose Spooky to scamper about.

  In honor of this playful time I brought two of Spooky’s favorite toys.  The first was a day-glow green Frisbee.  As the dog sat ready to pounce, I winged the disk mightily into the brisk breeze, which instantly turned into a fierce blast.  The platter zoomed skyward with such alacrity that I had to snap my head back to follow its trajectory.  In doing so I instantly was blinded by the heavy wind-swept raindrops and closed my eyes, stepped on a stick and fell to the sand with a thud.  The dog sat, looking at me and wagging his tail.  I never saw that Frisbee again, though I searched for it downwind for an hour.

  The second toy was a tennis ball throwing stick made of plastic and using technology somewhat similar to the Aztec atlatl.  The tennis ball was colored day-glow orange.  I waited for the wind to wane, then cannoned the ball down the beach with Spooky in hot pursuit.  Suddenly the winds gusted seaward in a corkscrew fashion resembling a waterspout, intercepting the tennis ball in mid-air and carrying it far from shore, where it landed in the middle of a riptide and sucked out to sea.

  With all toys lost and dismay at hand we lurched back to the trailer.  While Annette and Spooky prepared lunch I battened down the rock guard, this to allow some much needed sleep later that night.

  As I had articles to transmit I set up the two-way broadband satellite dish and locked on to the correct transponder. Within a few minutes I was online sending and receiving e-mail and jumping about on the Web.  I was feeling accomplished when suddenly, everything locked up.  I rebooted, but could not hit the satellite, so I called for technical support, which comes out of New Delhi.  After 30 minutes of troubleshooting, my wife tapped me on the shoulder and pointed out the window at my dish and tripod, which had been blown over by a gust. I hurriedly explained that things were back to normal and hung up the phone.
Hitting the Satellite

  By then the wind was howling like a wounded banshee and the rain seemed to be coming from three directions.  I picked up the deck of cards we got back to more Gin Rummy.

  While driving home the next day a friend called me, asking how the vacation went.

  “Too much gin,” was my laconic reply.


(Lance and Spooky were last seen down by the railroad tracks, launching tennis balls and sailing a Frisbee.  Toss one his way at lance@journalist.com or visit his blog: http://essentiallyashland.blogspot.com/)

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