Face down in the dirt! That was my most common position for the day. Okay, so it wasn’t dirt, it was sand. Lots, and lots, and lots of sand, and I wasn’t supposed to be eating it! I was supposed to be gliding effortlessly down the hill carving nice even S-curves all the way to the bottom. Practice…Concentrate…be the sand, man.
Mr. Sandman I was not, but the boys, of course, were naturals and FUN isn’t the word! We had a BLAST in the dunes of Oregon’s central coast.
Never heard of sandboarding? Neither had the older members of our crew until just the day before. As we approached the Oregon coast I did as I always do and checked the trusty Atlas to see what might be interesting. “Hey guys, I wonder what the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is?”, is all I had to say. These guys, aspecially AJ (14), are fans of all sports performed on a “board”. So far, that had been restricted to water uses of “wake” and “surf” boards. But he knew all about sandboards and as soon as I mentioned dunes the next question was: “I wonder if we can Sandboard?” Huh? The course was set.
Lucky for us, it wasn’t as hard as we thought it might be to find what we needed. As we drove into Florence, Oregon we found what is apprantly the epicenter of worldwide sandboarding action. There were a number of outfitters and we ended up getting our gear from Sand Master Park, home of the world’s first sandboarding park. We just drove up, piled out of our rig, and mosied on in to the store. “We wanna sandboard…do y’all have rentals?” It was all downhill from there!
After getting geared up complete with boards and wax (to keep the bottom slick so you go faster, yeah!) we were directed to the best place for beginners to start, behind the Fred Meyer Store of course. “Just park in the corner and go around the fence.” Okie, Dokie. Thumbs up!
My first thought when I hit the dunes was, “wow, these are big sand dunes!” and the next was “where is the water?” I had assumed, based on my experience, that all sand dunes on the coast were near the water. True enough, but “near” is a relative term. These dunes come miles inland and we never saw a wave while sandboarding.
From then on it was non-stop laughter and fun. Between very frequent stops for re-oxygenation due to the lack of chair lifts (note to self, remember to mention “chair lifts” on the comment card), we had a rip-roarin’ good time. We started on some small hills until we got the hang of it, then graduated up, until we were way past the “behind the Fred Meyer’s” level. Time to get serious, we headed to Homeyman State Park.
Honeyman State Park doesn’t have sand dunes. Honeyman State Park has sand mountains. These things must command names like Everest, Matterhorn, and K2. I’m talking tall! Still no chair lifts, and way more people. Kids in “boarder” attire flying through the air doing flips and spins to the amazement of those of us who just wished we were that good. The spills these kids took were spectacular and the speeds were way too high. But hey, we ain’t skeered.
The premise is simple. Walk (climb, crawl, wheeze, pray) up the hill, board-in-hand. Upon arrival at the top (or some alternate suitable mid-point for those of us not willing to climb another step) just do what comes natural. Step into the straps, and point the board down. Simple, right? Right.
The Forever Wherever crew sandboarded into the evening and had a blast-and-a-half! Lucky for us, we have a decent sized water tank on our camper and and outside shower with hot water. Kim, somehow stays clean, but the rest of us had to hose off before we could set foot in the motorhome.
We dropped our gear back at Sandmaster Park and had a great meal on the riverfront at Mo’s. Check out Mo’s website here. We had a great time and, as usual, we would have loved to stay longer. But alas, we had only one day because the Giant Redwoods of Northern California were calling our name. Next time we’ll stay a few days so we can try the dune buggies and four-wheelers in addition to becoming true sandboard “pilots”. For more about the area, check out the Florence, Oregon Chamber of Commerce’s website here. The entire Oregon coast is unreal…pay it a visit, you’ll be glad you did.