Bonfires and beaches go together like ketchup and mustard, cheese and crackers, mint juleps and the Kentucky Derby.
In Port Heiden, they’re a much-loved summer activity.
Some scramble for firewood right beforehand, others forage on the shores. Everyone packs snacks or entire meals. S’mores are a town favorite, as is salmon cooked right over an open fire.
Layers are important to combat the eventual chill of darkness, and all garments must be expected to smell smokey for a duration of days or whenever the next wash might happen to be.
But before the payoff of savory wood smoke, one must get to the beach. Port Heiden is a spread out sort of community, and its homes are anywhere from a half-mile to three miles inland.
The ride is a rumbly sort of trundle. Port Heiden’s roads are all dirt or gravel, with potholes and heaves and tiny crags here and there. Some drive slow to cautiously navigate the road’s surfaces, others “mob” passionately to their destinations.
As sunset approaches, so too do the communal convoys: four-wheelers, trucks, pedestrians, and sometimes souls fresh off fishing boats.
All head to their favorite spot by the sands. Recently, we had one at the Picnic Area – a little bowl in the grassy dunes about five miles north of town. It’s a beautiful haven.
One of the the Picnic Area best attributes is the verdant ridge along the sand. It’s a steep little climb up, made even moreso by the seaside gusts’ increasing strength as you get closer to the top.
Gusting winds or no, the masses make for the top in a mad scramble to catch our orb’s daily finale. Along with acting as a natural windbreak, this ridge provides great views.
More on the night’s beachside parties tomorrow.
Keep calm and bugger on.