Frog Songs

Where do the old trailers go to die? Not the ocean, not this time. A miracle has happened.

vagabond outside 1-16

vagabond bedroom 1-16I got to have one more nice last visit with the Vagabond. It was somewhat trashed, of course, but still retained the character of its old self. And, like the Giving Tree, some more of my stuff had miraculously returned to it.

vagabond front room 1-16

One year, my friend Will went to the Army surplus in Fort Lewis and bought brown, scratchy but truly warm expedition weight polypropylene long underwear for me and all   our female friends who were working outside or in cold warehouses that winter. Reunited with the old Poly Pro!

vagabond sink 1-16There was also an orange floor mat depicting a cowboy on a bucking bronco that my friend Sue got me years ago.

vagabond roof

And, most amazing was the return of the fabled Chicago Sweater. Many years ago, before I was born, probably, my Dad went to Chicago on a business trip. It was cold. So he bought this blue wool turtleneck sweater. Somehow, the Chicago Sweater became mine, then got relegated as beachwear. It is riddled with moth holes the size of quarters. Hugo thinks it is the cat’s pajamas.

I could not believe my good fortune in being able to retrieve such priceless artifacts! After everything is gone, all relics have sentimental value.

Chicago sweaterNext visit I was not so lucky. My old friend was getting completely destroyed. Lights smashed, siding peeled off.

trashed vag 1

They even took the Vagabond signage. I should have snagged it myself. What was I thinking? I guess I never wanted to destroy it.

trashed vag 2So that was all rather disheartening, the inevitable, pointless destructiveness of people.

I was ready for it to go in the ocean.

rainy drive

Also, it must be noted that I am pretty sick of the drive here by now, after fourteen years. The night driving. The “smart” phone’s Weather setting that does not differentiate between “Rain” and “Coastal Flooding.” The demure signage of  Grayland: “Water Over Roadway”, which should read “Prepare To Hydroplane.” The inevitable Tacoma traffic.

rainy drive 2Why do I keep coming here? I stayed away for a long while, only focusing on the drive, the arduous means, not the end. But one night I drove down, and after the record-breaking rainfall, all the drainage ditches were full of high, brown water.

high swampFrom these swamps, in the darkness, rose the reverb and grooves of some truly magnificent music: the songs of frogs in Spring. That is the sound of hopefulness, of  promise. I had forgotten something critical.

mossy groveCurrently I’m trying to practice what I call Zen Tai Chi. Embracing my powerlessness. I can’t control what happens, only my reactions. This is the supreme lesson of Washaway!

little fishSpring also marks the third sad anniversary of donating my bone marrow to my Mom. I know, the point is that I tried. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” as she would say.

windswept beach
And all that Serenity business of accepting the things you cannot change. Isn’t that an Irish proverb? I should have paid better attention. It actually means “Lower your expectations.”

tree and tail

I have recently been told, by separate people, that I have “bad energy”, and that I’m a self-absorbed ass. Oh, yes, you’re right, I’m sorry!  Talk is cheap. Zen Tai Chi!

1979The only way to counteract such foolishness is to practice extreme gratitude. There is no better location than Washaway for this practice, in my view.

me & marcy shadowsI have excellent pals, a wonderful man and kitty, beautiful gardens at home and at work. My health. I still have my Dad. I still get to come to Washaway!

Todd in wind

airstream w- socks 4-16

airstream w- socks 4-16 detail

airstream screen door

And so, it came to pass that while out on a stroll with Marcy I noticed that the Vagabond had disappeared. An Easter miracle! Neighbors, I learned, asked Pacific County that the whole assortment of derelict trailers go away. Infinite blessings.

no vagabondIn the course of a few hours, I sped through all the phases of grief. Denial, sorrow, mourning, acceptance, relief, joy. It was a mini Jazz funeral, all in my head.

real fruit flavorThe old ocean keeps eating this place, but slowly, at the moment. It would sure be nice if my friend Kenny got another year.tree 4-8-16There is a nice fort on the beach right now, which contains a plastic Fisher-Price house from the ’70s. I had one just like this!

fancy fort

fisher price 1fisher price 2It seemed all very Washaway, its rooms filling with sand.

fisher price 3You know what else I’m thankful for, dear readers? You, who have let me bend your ear, all these years. You have offered me sage advice in my times of need that has really, truly helped me. The perspective of strangers has felt like family, when family has felt like strangers. You comforted me when I lost my place, and you comfort me still.

Someone recently asked me if blogging pays. Well, no, not money, but yes, it absolutely does. Your feedback is currency. It’s worth keeping this thing going, just to spend time with you. I’m a selfish ass, after all.

fisher price 4P.S. I’ve updated my Washaway website to reflect my own story of doom. Check it out!


About washybeach

Washaway Beach This Week is a blog by photojournalist Erika Langley. See more work at
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6 Responses to Frog Songs

  1. I have enjoyed your writings over the years, there is great memories, sadness, and excepting what ever will be. The ocean is a great force, I can’t go back and see the destruction of our once beautiful home. It hard to remember the beauty when seeing the end result.

  2. Fie on whoever said rude, critical things to you. I love this blog.

  3. Dianna says:

    I too am a fan, though I haven’t said much lately. I read your Seattle yard post last and thought about all the wonderful spaces that are disappearing under concrete, steel, and glass, Human folly! Your yard looks so much like ones I have seen in San Francisco, perfect city garden, even providing edibles along with the flowers to feed the body and the soul. I’m rambling…keep on with your thoughts if you care to share them you have an audience.

    From up the coast in staid ole Ocean Shores.

  4. Sara Opperman says:

    A selfish ass?!?! I think not! I have always appreciated you, Erika. Your writing is flawless and I look forward to each new entry. Thank you for sharing your life with us. You are just as much a gift to us as we are to you. ❤️

  5. Saya Moriyasu says:

    Thank you for writing your blog! I enjoy reading about it all. Maybe now you need to dry out. The place we like to go is Soap Lake. The town isn’t much but the area is so beautiful with lots of places to explore.

    Cheers to you!



  6. I love the Fisher Price photos! XOXO

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