Sunday, June 17, 2012

Field trip!

Today C and I headed out to the coast. The weather was okay, not excellent, but okay. But we went to see a piece of history. At the beginning of the month a piece of debris from Japan washed ashore. But it wasn't just any old piece of debris, it was a 70 foot dock that had broken free during the tsunami last March. And for some reason I wanted to see it for myself.

And I am not alone. Since the dock washed ashore thousands of people have come to see it. The parks department said last year there were around 2000 cars through the parks department parking lots the first two weeks of June, this year? Over 12,000! All to see a piece of junk basically. Why did we all go? Why go look at it? I can't answer for everyone else but I thought I'd try and pin down why I went.

We could see the people there to see the dock before we could really see the dock!

I guess first off, if I'm being totally honest, it's because it was an excuse to go to the beach. I love going to the coast as you all know. And Newport isn't one we get to very often. It's another hour further away, it's not as California-like as Seaside so I don't love it as much. It's not close to Tillamook so there is no ice cream on the way back.... But it does have the Oregon Coast Aquarium and it's still the ocean after all so it will do.

But the real reason is that I had a hard time wrapping my brain around it. The whole thought of the dock being HERE when it was THERE. We all watched the footage of the tsunami with our mouths hanging open. Just to see the devastation was unreal. The water wiping out everything, lifting cars, trucks, buildings... And then to think that this dock had been part of that devastation but it wasn't done. It then floated across the ocean and ended up here on our beach. Just over a year later. And no one noticed it. There is a lot of hubbub about that right now. Because this wasn't a small piece of debris, this is a 70 foot long dock, and NO ONE saw it until it washed ashore! Isn't that amazing?

And here it sits.

Now one of the first things they did when it washed ashore was check it for radiation, safe. And then scrape all of the wildlife off of it so it didn't contaminate the shoreline with a host of non-native species. Then they just left it there. There is a lot of debate now on what to do about it. Taking it apart is going to cost money. Who pays for that? The company in Japan doesn't want it back, which is good because how would we get it to them anyway? There are some people who say, leave it there! Turn it in to a monument to the lives lost during the tsunami and let people come see it! There are others who want it off their beach. It's an eyesore! It's causing crowds! And then there are those that are concerned about the safety. It washed ashore during a storm, what happens during the next storm?

For me I am just glad I saw it. And touched it. I will be thinking about that dock, what it represents to me, for a long time. There is something to it, you know? Torn from it's moorings during a storm only to survive a perilous trip across the ocean to wash ashore in a sleepy little Oregon coastal town to be turned in to a tourist attraction....

Okay, or I just wanted to see it because it's cool. Because it came from the ocean. Because one of the things I love the most about the ocean is that it is vast. That the water washing up on our shore touched countless other shores and will do the cycle over and over again. I love the ocean because it makes me feel small and large all at the same time. And seeing this dock, knowing I might have watched it fall apart during the tsunami coverage and then be able to touch it here now?'s just cool.

Yes, I made him touch it too....

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