Armed only with what we could carry in our backpacks we walked single file through the lush green, sun-dappled woods, deeply breathing in the intoxicating scents of evergreens and musky earth. We had only been dating for a few months and this was to be our first weekend getaway together…camping on the sands of Second Beach. I was enticed by the lure of romance and adventure but the thought of having no bathroom, especially as such a new couple, was much less appealing. But once surrounded by the soothing sounds of babbling streams and singing birds my earlier trepidation rapidly dissolved. We had been hiking on an easy, well-maintained trail for less than a mile and the faint whisper of crashing surf which I had noticed a few minutes before was now growing along with my anticipation.
As we rounded a curve on the trail my companion slowed and stepped aside to make room for me on the path beside him. Just ahead, the dense frame of trees gave way to a driftwood-strewn beach and a breathtaking masterpiece of sand, sea and sky punctuated by tall vertical islets of battered rock called sea stacks.
This stunning piece of the Pacific west coast is found on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, just a few hours from Seattle and it aptly lies between its equally fair sisters, First and Third Beach. The names may be uninspired but don’t let that fool you…the vista that awaits needs no fanfare of a name as its natural beauty speaks for itself.
Cameras in hand we attempted to capture that first alluring glimpse of seascape but we knew that even the best photographer would not be able to portray our excitement as we practically skipped down the rest of the trail. The path ended at an obstacle course of hundreds of large, sun bleached logs which eventually gave way to an expanse of golden sands. It was a perfect mild and sunny late spring day and the beach was alive with activity. Wet suit clad surfers, children frolicking in the sand, lovers arm in arm and tourists snapping pictures at every turn. Still, we had the somewhat smug pleasure of knowing that come dusk most of these busy bees would be gone and we would be left with this little piece of heaven almost entirely to ourselves.
Sure enough as the sun started to sink into the cold, slate gray Pacific Ocean we watched as the day trippers navigated the driftwood, turned to take one final longing look at the horizon and reluctantly disappeared into the darkening veil of trees. As the skies deepened to a canopy of Indigo speckled with a million twinkling lights we lit a fire and became aware of just how secluded we were to be that night…in fact it seemed we were to be entirely alone. Both an exhilarating and a slightly unnerving thought.
It felt as though we had stepped into another world where time stretched like soft caramel and nothing else existed beyond this velvety cocoon of near perfect darkness. Our magical evening was spent cooking over the crackling fire, watching shooting stars while sipping on silky, Italian liquor and dancing freely along the barely moonlit shore. We finally fell into a blissfully exhausted sleep while listening to the breaking surf and inhaling the crisp ocean air. When hours later we awoke at dawn it was to a perfect coastal spring morning. The sun was rising in an azure sky and there were smoky wisps of mist gathered around the craggy sea stacks.
Time passed dreamily that morning as we wandered the deserted beach collecting seashells and watching the multitude of birds search for breakfast. We even took an invigorating dip in an idyllic salt water lagoon and brushed our teeth in a small trickle of a waterfall. By 9am the first day trippers were emerging from the woods to find us sitting by the fire with hot coffee and bagels contemplating just how blessed we had been to have this special place all to ourselves…if only for a short time.
We’ve been back to Second Beach twice since that first mystical night and although we’ve had to share the beach it still remains our very special place. Time seems to slow when we’re there and we leave feeling refreshed and inspired as if we’ve had a week long sabbatical rather than a weekend getaway. In this fast paced world of technology we live and work in time is something we never seem to have enough of. Unplugging and slowing down now and then is vital, so when in our travels we find a place that allows us to do that…well as Shakespeare said “I like this place and could willingly waste my time in it.”
About The Author: Sarah Hughes is a traveler and a writer who recently left her day job as an interior designer to slow travel around the world. Read about Sarah’s travels.
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