Afterlife

It’s my hurricane party and I’ll cry if I want to, and take all the pictures I want.

my watchersThe End! I know, right? Yet my place hung in there, on the edge, for a long, long time. I appreciated the clamor for updates, but I simply could not deal. I needed a break from doom.

my power pole

Pacific County Treasurer sent me a property tax bill. My three lots that cost $15,000 twelve years ago, were now valued at $17.90. Guess they didn’t get the memo.

“Tell them to get in touch with King Neptune,” my Dad suggested. “He’s the new owner.”

-my sunset doom

And that business of people throwing my cabinets over the bank, and kicking a hole in the wall of the cookhouse? Well, I did not like that business one bit. This is one of the things I really hate about Washaway, the compulsion to beat the ocean by destroying things first. Indeed, I was  certain that if /when people decided to break in and trash the Vagabond, I would not be able to bear the sight of it, that I would have what was back in the day called a “nervous breakdown.” So I stayed away for three weeks, preferring to remember the good times.

fire pit

celestial Hugo

MLK day by Jenna Steffenson

Vagabond signvagabond w:pink jacketvagabond window

pink curtainsvagabond, springvagabond, duskFinally I had Marcy check. She said the padlock was still on it. So I decided to go see my place.

People had set up a scenic viewing station on the cliff with my grey plastic chair and a stuffed armchair that was not mine.

viewing station 3

 beach chairs viewIn the cookhouse, nearly everything that was mine was gone now, and people had brought in the rest of the crappy, burnt-sienna upholstered living room set. Also a couple bags of garbage. It may have been tweakers, but it kind of seemed like the work of teenagers.

cookhouse as living room At any rate, people were still enjoying the cookhouse. Maybe there had been some Peer Review, for no more destruction had occurred. I liked to think of them, whoever they were, catching whatever buzz, and checking out the wallpaper project made from years of beach firework wrappers, literally years and years of work, and being like, “Whoa. Dude.”

black cat wolf pack

A document, really.

A document, really.

I let myself into the locked Vagabond. By this point, it was so rusty that opening the door was difficult. I did a last pass, going through the cabinets. I’d open cabinet doors and they wouldn’t close again. It seemed that the Vagabond waited to see me one last time.

In the drawers I found some irreplaceable treasures: mixed tapes from my friend Chuck from 1994, Christmas lights shaped like fish, and a clay coin my dearly departed friend Regnor made for New Years of 2008, depicting the head of his dog Mingus, wearing a hat, over whom is floating what appears to be either a very small baguette or a joint. Now that the Captain  has crossed the River Styx, reunited with Mingus, all we can do is speculate.

While I was in the Vagabond, I looked at the gorgeous, golden wood door to what was once its bathroom, if there was water, with its beveled glass mirror. I realized this was something I could actually take with me, a piece of the Vagabond. So I took the door off with a screwdriver and loaded it in my car. It really helped that it was not raining and no one was around. I was on a covert mission, ripping myself off. The Vagabond’s outside metal door was very, very  difficult to close behind me, like this was the end. I put its lock back on, mindfully, with love and a prayer.

Meanwhile, life goes on in my “new” pad, the Airstream trailer that I moved to Marcy and Bob’s place two years ago. They built a pathway for me out of broken Washaway road.

airstream patio

I always stayed in the Vagabond, the Airstream was the fancy guest cottage. Now Hugo and I get to enjoy its finery, like guests.

-Hugo airstream 1-30-15

airstream and mannequin 2airstream interior 2

The whole beach experience is different now, approaching from Warrenton Cannery road. This is where cars can get on the beach, so it’s much busier. Also, there’s no doom up here. I’m pretty tired of doom. Get this: I walked down to the beach at sunset and let the ocean make me feel better.

Warrenton Cannery Road

Warrenton Cannery Road

sunset 1-16-15

The next week I got a call from the power company, Gray’s Harbor PUD, on a Sunday, the linemen letting me know that what remained of my estate was facing imminent, impending doom, and was everything all squared away with my account? Now, that’s customer service. Even then, despite gale force winds, I stuck around for a few more days.

On January 24th at 12:40 pm, Marcy and Bob happened to walk by and the cookhouse looked like this (photos by Marcy Merrill):

Photo © Marcy Merrill

Photo © Marcy Merrill

Then about fifteen minutes later, on the way back, they came upon this:

Photo © Marcy Merrill

Photo © Marcy Merrill

Let me get this straight. So instead of “succumbing to Mother Nature’s fury,” slipping off the cliff into a roiling, churning sea, the cracking and splintering of the cookhouse all but muffled by the angry ocean’s roar, I fell flat on my face on the beach, at low tide,  in broad daylight?

I once saw a really drunk lady do this. She was walking on the beach, we exchanged a few words about her Golden Retriever, then FLOP! She didn’t even try to break her fall. My friend Kelsey and I helped her to her feet. Her face was all encrusted with sand. I had a crazy impulse to clean off her face, like a stylist, but I didn’t, as she seemed crazy.

“I’m just really tired,” Drunk Beach Lady said. But she made an impression on Kelsey, who months later was inspired:

“Beach Face-Plant Lady = Halloween Costume Idea!”

I figured I’d better go get a picture of my sideways demise. As I turned the corner onto Blue Pacific Drive, the first thing I noticed was that THE VAGABOND HAD BEEN MOVED UP THE STREET.

Vagabond moved 1-30-15

blue pacific drive 1-30

Well, that would have to be Les, who loves the Vagabond and also fancies that it is wildly valuable, like $30,000. And perhaps it is, though it pretty much needs to be poached in Ospho, the rust-reducer of the Bering Sea, at this point. Moving it must have been quite an ordeal, what with the two rusted, broken trailer hitches lying along its path. I am now thinking the only way it could’ve even be possible was he must’ve subcontracted the services of a well-known Tweaker with a backhoe.

doomed trailer hitch #2

Now the Vagabond had been relocated to Stanley and Resha’s other property, which houses several derelict trailers already. Did they bequeath the property to Les, or was it Manifest Destiny? Some questions are better unasked. But this is not the longest-term solution. Its new home abuts the Myles, so the Vagabond is once again Next To Next.

Myles-next to next

But it made my heart sing, to see the Vagabond living another day with its trailer brothers instead of lying sideways on the beach like a dead cockroach, or like the dead cookhouse, for that matter. Naturally I wanted to hear the story. It occurred to me that the perfect trumpet serenade to summon Les now would be Roger Miller’s “King of the Road”:

Trailers for sale or rent.

yep, that's me

Rooms to let: fifty cents.

cookhouse sideways wide

No phone, no pool, no pets.

cookhouse floor 2

I ain’t got no cigarettes.

Black cat sideways 2

Ah, but two hours of pushin’ broom buys an eight-by-twelve four-bit room.

cookhouse sideways sunset

I’m a man of means by no means.

-cookhouse sunset sideways

King of the Road.

e selfie sideways cookhouse

Third boxcar, midnight train

Ray's place. My problems are far from unique.

Ray’s place. My problems are far from unique.

Destination: Bangor, Maine.

Belly-Acres

Belly-Acres

Old worn out suit and shoes

Like the smartest of the Three Little Pigs, someone at Belly-Acres was crazy for masonry.

Like the smartest of the Three Little Pigs, someone at Belly-Acres was crazy for masonry.

I don’t pay no Union dues.

doom 3-dutch cuteness

I smoke old stogies I have found.

doom 4

Short, but not too big around.

doom 5

I’m a man of means by no means.

Belly-Acres

King of the Road.

Someone put a stuffed animal in one of my last trees.

Someone put a stuffed animal in one of my last trees.

Soon it will be impossible to find, but for now there is still an enchanted path through the elfin-grove fairy forest behind where Ray’s place was, marked with Hansel-and-Gretel-style red arrows.

path arrow enchanted 2

path arrow enchanted

Where there are not arrows, I marked with the Sign of the Sneaker.

path sneakerI went over to Les’s to get the scoop. Katie came out barking after just a couple bars of “King of the Road,” sparing me from trying to hit those “man of means” high notes. For the first time in eight years, Les invited me onto his property, a museum of rust with a million-dollar view.

Les and estateLes's sunsetLes and Katie sunset waterfrontkatie ear and Les footAt one point Katie scrambled off the bank and couldn’t waddle back up, so Les had to perform a daring rescue.

Les Katie rescue

“You saved the Vagabond,” I said. “HOW DID YOU DO IT?” Les demurred, saying only that it was very difficult, and that the Gray’s Harbor PUD electrical linemen were duly impressed. But there were politics.

Les sciatica pose

“Leah stole the Vagabond mirror, that tweaker,” Les fumed.

“I took it,” I confessed, defending Tweaker Leah for no good reason.

Les said he had some of my stuff, and mentioned a green stained glass candleholder that hangs from a chain. I knew the one, I got it at Goodwill. I always liked it, and I said so. Les said something about stuff was hanging on it. I said I wanted it, and that is how I got invited inside Les’s trailer.

I had a little flash of Is This A Good Idea? Going into the lair of Les Strange and all. But then I was embarrassed for thinking that way, and curious, too.

Inside, I was amazed to see that I was Les Strange’s interior designer. I knew he’d helped himself to my stuff, but, come to find out, I had given him his whole new sense of style. My cute but uncomfortable rattan couch, really only good for putting your backpack on, was his couch. My Ikea rugs were on his floor. He had a cozy fire blazing in my Trolla wood stove. And, hanging over the dining table, like a grand chandelier for a guy without electricity, if not without power, was my square green glass candleholder, with various Les bling hanging off its four corners: a tiny noose, a metal fish, a little skull, some feathers.

“Ah, never mind, you keep that,” I said.

Les wanted me to carve my name into his table. When I suggested that would take too long, he had me write it in Sharpie marker for him to carve later.

I told Les that, other than the epic theft and destruction by Mother Nature’s Fury of the only property I’ve ever owned, and missing my hideaway, and the feeling of both privacy and openness, and my trees, really missing my beautiful trees, I was reasonably pleased with how most everything had turned out: the rescue of the Vagabond, and him enjoying all my cast-offs and such. And there’s a pleasure in downsizing the belongings. In fact, the worst part of falling into the ocean, for me, was that people went and ripped me off before I was ready to free everything. just the bad juju of that.

Crow trees, harvested

Crow trees, harvested

Les shrugged and said he’d been ripped off so many times that he was basically used to it. “I take everything with me that I can’t replace,” Les told me. “That’s Katie and my word. The rest is junk. They make more of it every day.”

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About washybeach

Washaway Beach This Week is a blog by photojournalist Erika Langley. See more work at www.erikalangley.com.
This entry was posted in Tides-A-Com'n. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Afterlife

  1. Words indicating healing, slow, but sure. Good to see you and Hugo back at the beach, and sorting through memories and feelings; thank you for sharing those … very poignant. I love your writing, Erika! Prayers for continued healing and greater peace! 🙂

  2. Robert Snyder says:

    Thank you oh so much for sending this note along. We were worried about you since we had heard nothing for quite awhile. Glad you are still hanging in there. From: Washawaybeach This Week To: rcsnydersr@yahoo.com Sent: Wednesday, February 25, 2015 10:15 PM Subject: [New post] Afterlife #yiv4347006640 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv4347006640 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv4347006640 a.yiv4347006640primaryactionlink:link, #yiv4347006640 a.yiv4347006640primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv4347006640 a.yiv4347006640primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv4347006640 a.yiv4347006640primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv4347006640 WordPress.com | washybeach posted: “It’s my hurricane party and I’ll cry if I want to, and take all the pictures I want.The End! I know, right? Yet my place hung in there, on the edge, for a long, long time. I appreciated the clamor for updates, but I simply could not deal. I needed a b” | |

  3. Gerri Kiffe says:

    Loved the story and the pics of Leslie.

  4. NORMA LANGLEY says:

    Not quite closure…there is still more to come, isn’t there?  Norma

  5. Liz says:

    We were down last week and sat on the edge at my cousins, 5Miles and watched the waves washing away at the bank.. Even though I washed away last year It still feels like home. I see Les is on the edge. He is one of a kind, always nice to us and definitely unique.. I wonder where his next home will be.

  6. Sharman Ballantine says:

    Thank you for the beautiful pictures, writing and emotional journal. I love this part of our State however it is painful to watch peoples’ worlds be washed away… Your kitty is just stoic and darling to see. The people who publish the Vintage Trailer magazine would Love seeing the Vagabond and hearing her story. They are on Facebook. Be well. Keep writing. You are a treasure.

  7. Lonnie says:

    Erica,

    Your writings are priceless. Thank you for maintaining such a historic bibliography of the devistation of this area. We have been coming down since 1971 and remember the long hikes to the ocean. In 1972 we helped Marlene’s parents Joe & Flo Chudecke construct the “A” frame cabin off Madrona. So many memeories just washed out to the ocean. So very sad.

  8. Kris says:

    Thank you so much for your pictures and telling of your life and adventures in Washaway Beach. It amazes me to see what is happening there.

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