I took a little weekend trip with my folks to the Oregon Coast, and it was the first time I had visited in four years. It was also the first time I had been there without my grandpa. As hard as I thought it would be, it actually gave my soul great comfort to return to the place where I spent every summer vacation my entire life. It is a place that holds so many fond memories for me and it truly feels like my second home.
My trip made me think back to last Christmas when my family decided we wanted to try and make handmade presents for each other. It was a really fun idea and let me tell you, my family is full of very creative people! A few months earlier, my parents had found a unique piece of driftwood on the beach, and my dad gave it to me asking if I could make a special sign for him. He wanted it to say “Captain Ken’s Campground” so he could hang it up at their property where they camp. Needless to say, my gift to him wasn’t really a surprise, but that part was not as important to him as the meaning behind his request.
When my grandparents took their children camping on the Oregon Coast for the first time, they unknowingly created a long-standing family tradition. My mom would tell stories about camping there every summer, and like her, my sister and I have the exact same childhood memories. It is a beautiful tradition we all cherish.Grandpa Kenny grew up in Oregon, which was probably why he held our yearly vacation spot so close to his heart. You could see the joy he got from taking his own little family, and then his grandchildren to such a special place.
He had stories for everything, and my sister and I would get so excited to see the places he used to go when he was our age. We still know every story by heart; the time his friend walked over the top of the Yaquina Bay Bridge for a quarter is our favorite. Looking back on all of those years driving down there, our cars packed (sometimes literally) to the ceiling and singing as loud as we could to Garth Brooks, Madonna and the entire soundtrack of “Remember the Titans,” we were making stories that we now love to tell over and over like the ones grandpa always told. So it’s only fitting that when we now visit this special place, the first thing we see when we pull into that familiar camping spot is Grandpa Kenny’s name there waiting for us to make the next story.