This year, we wanted to make a day trip out to Ocean Shores rather than staying over night. By “we”, I mean me and the kids. I had lost Tenille by the time I uttered the words “clamming”. She decided she had more important things to do, so it was just me and the kids. Just me and the kids…. This is how most disaster stories start…. but this time it’d be different… This time, we’ll have a grand old time, and Tenille will regret she didn’t come with us….
Low tide was at 5:30pm, so I wanted to get out of the house about noon. So, about 11:30am, I took a shower. Tenille had left to attend a baptism by the time I got out…. so I was on my own at this point… Before we left, I thought we should probably eat, so we don’t have go buy some junk food on the way down, so I heated up some left overs. While the kids ate, I looked for my waders, which I use precisely once a year for this very occasion… But, to my dismay, it was not in the particular corner of the garage where I’ve always seen it. (I would have said, where I “leave it”… but in general, I don’t really know what happens to it once I take it off at the ocean… Tenille usually takes it from there…)
It’s ok, I console myself. I spend about 15 minutes corralling the kids into the mini-van… making 5 or 6 trips back into the house because I keep remember one more thing I need to get just as I start backing out of the garage… In the end, there’s a movie playing for the kids… there’s one for the ride home…. shovel – check… buckets – check… shellfish license – check… that’s probably good enough…. It was almost 1 pm, and we were backing out of the driveway!
It’s about a 2 hour drive to Ocean Shores. It was actually quite a bit shorter than I thought. I made the kids wear headphones while they watched cars, and I finished up my Dave Ramsey Financial Peace CDs that Tenille assigned me. Andrew didn’t understand that he could just let the headphones rest on the top of his head so he held them on his head until he fell asleep. Probably got tired from holding the headphones on his head. Caleb didn’t want to watch Cars anymore, so I turned off my CDs, and we chatted about how school was going for him for a bit. When Andrew woke up, it was as if he didn’t miss a bit. “Hey, I want to watch Cars!” So, we turned Cars back on, and pulled into Ocean Shores as it was ending.
I got out and it was FREEZING! The wind was blowing pretty hard. My wife, anticipating this, had packed warm clothes for all the kids (including me). I dressed myself, then put the big puffy jackets on both of the kids. Each with a pail in hand, we started walking toward the beach. It’s really tough to know exactly where the razor clams are going to be. Last year, I thought the trick was to go where people were not…. after a long time of not finding anything, we eventually found ourselves among the crowd… There’s a crowd there, because there’s a lot of razor clams. So, this year, I just pulled up to where I saw the most people….
We started meandering along the water’s edge. It was cold and the wind was blowing pretty hard. The clamming was pretty slow. It was about 4pm, and the water was still going out. When the wave would wash out, we would walk out toward the ocean and look for divots to form. Caleb was pretty good and spotting, but in about 30 minutes, we had only found about 5 clams. My hopes for catching the limit for all three of us was fading fast. We were desperately scanning the beach for clam divots. As we were contemplating a divot in the sand, I saw an enormous wave coming up the beach. But, by the time I could react, it was WAY too late. We were way too far in the water, and the wave washed by us in a blink of an eye. It took all of us by surprise, and the water rushed by at about my knee level. It was about up to Caleb’s thighs. Andrew was struggling… He was fighting to walk toward dry land against the wave washing back out, but it was too much for him. As he turned around toward me, he fell backwards into the water. His whole body was in the freezing water, and only his head poked out. When I hear Caleb tell the story, he says that I grabbed Andrew as he was being washed out to sea. I don’t think it was quite that dramatic, but it was definitely not a good situation because of the temperature. Clamming was over. I helped Andrew out of the water, and he was soaked from his neck down. Andrew had a look of complete shock like “What just happened here?”
I picked him up, grabbed his bucket and our shovels, and started hustling for the van. Caleb trailed behind with his bucket. Andrew was getting quite heavy, and I asked Caleb if he could help me by carrying Andrew’s bucket for him also. He agreed and doubled his load. I could tell that carrying the two buckets was a little bit too much for him, but I think he sensed an emergency, too. He lagged a bit further behind, but didn’t complain. It seemed like half a mile back to the van. It was probably more like a 1/4 mile. It’s shocking how far you can just meander down a beach without thinking about it. When we got to the van, I was reminded of Tenille’s strict orders NOT TO GET ANY SAND IN THE VAN. Hoping she would understand the emergency situation, I put Andrew inside, then grabbed the change of clothes (that Tenille also packed.) I took off Andrew’s coat, and his shirt inside was completely soaked and covered in sand. The wind was still relentless. By the time I stripped him down, his teeth were chattering and his whole body was shaking. I was quite concerned. As quickly as I could, I put on the fresh set of clothes and put a new jacket on him. I had turned on the car, which also turned on the movie, “Horton hears a Who”. What made me feel a bit better, was that Andrew seemed completely absorbed by the movie, as his whole body was chattering as I was putting his clothes on. I put him in his seat, closed his door, and finally made my way around to Caleb, who had been waiting patiently as I was taking care of Andrew. I changed all of his clothes and got him in his seat as well.
After the kids were situated in the van, and it was starting to warm back up, I looked in the bucket at our 5 clams. A bit of a sad trip… I asked Caleb if he would be ok, if I looked a bit more and maybe I can catch a few more clams while he and Andrew watched TV. He said that sounds fine, and I was back off toward the beach. I didn’t want to stray too far from the van, so I pretty much stuck around in one area of the beach. There were no divots to be found. Disheartened, I walked back to the van. I decided maybe we’ll take one more look in a different spot. We drove down about half a mile back toward the beach entrance and stopped where I saw a lot of sand piled up. Caleb was encouraging, and Andrew was completely absorbed in the movie. I told them I’d be right back, and headed back out toward the beach. As I was about 3/4 of the way to the water, I noticed divots. They were actually all over the place. I saw a ton of people messing around at the water’s edge, but it seemed like there was plenty of divots right here to get my limit. So, I got to work, and within about 15 minutes, I had my limit. I brought dishwashing glove this time, and this helped tremendously with the digging. The worst part about digging for clams is all the sand that gets under your fingernails. It’s almost impossible to get it all out. The gloves kept out all the sand.
However, this year, my arm fatigued much more quicker than in years previous. I’m not sure why. By my 15th clam, my right arm was shaking. And it was all I could do to plunge my hand in the sand groping around for the clam… I was thinking of giving up, when I saw the clam laying in the pile of sand that I dug up with my shovel to start the hole. I was so relieved. My right hand could barely hold on to my shovel as I made my way back to the van. The kids were still enjoying their movie. I changed into my dry clothes, and started the long drive back home.
Not the best year in terms of clam, but I suppose we got a good story out of it. I’ve heard Caleb tell the story twice now. It seems like it gets a little more exciting every time…