Friday, March 11, 2011

Can it get any more insane?

Such an emotional day today. It started at 4am. We were asleep in our camper at a prime spot near the beach overlooking some beautiful seastacks right off shore. Our plan was to wake up with the sun and explore the area for some killer pictures. As you can guess...things did not exactly go as planned. There was a loud Knock,Knock,Knock at the door. Startled by the knocking and Joey barking. We sat straight up in bed. I went to the door and yelled "who is it!". The response was "Oregon State Police!" I opened the door and the policeman was worried about Joey running out and attacking him. He was quite a distance away from the camper yelling for us to move to higher ground as Japan had suffered a huge earthquake and a Tsunami was headed our way around 7am. WTF!

So, we packed up and headed about 10 minutes up the road to high ground. We fell back asleep for a few hours. After breakfast, we decided to go back to check out the beach we had originally camped at to see if it was OK to explore. Looked good to was around 10am and we assumed the Tsunami action had abated. Studying the tides, we got a feeling for the way it surged back and forth around the rocks. We knew we could go out pretty far and explore the tide pools as the waves receeded. Then, head back in quickly once we saw some waves spilling over the smaller rocks offshore. Doing this a few times and we had a good idea of the wave/surge cycle.

The last time we went out and were coming back in...2 couples had come out on the tide flats to explore and take pictures. One couple went around the backside of one of the seastacks and I remember thinking "they're going to get wet if they don't watch it". The other couple was maybe 50 feet from us and closer to the shore. However, they did get caught up in a fast surge that was only 3 feet deep, but it swept them off their feet and quickly began to carry them South into deeper water. It was a surreal moment as Natalie and I began to realize the consequences of what was happening before our eyes. These people were in REAL TROUBLE!

I started running parallel to the brother and sister (we later found out). I yelled to Natty to call 911 and watched them struggle against the current. Quickly, I began to sense that they were not going to get out on their own. So, I started to take off my shoes, socks, and pants as I ran. Thinking that I don't want to be weighed down by clothes if (no, when) I have to go in after them. The guy was closer, I went after him first. He was struggling, yelling for help and not making any progress against the current. Reaching him at about a 100 yards from the beach, I grabbed his hand and he was able to grasp mine so I could pull him in to the beach. He begged me to "go save my sister".  She had already gone about 300 yards out to sea and another 300 or so yards further South down the beach. Looking out to her, I could see that she was not able to fight the current any longer. I was either going to make the commitment to go out and get her or watch her drown.

Of course I had to do my best to get out there quickly. The water was super cold and I couldn't feel my feet after a 100yards or so. By the time I got to her she had rolled over and was completely limp. The way she looked when I flipped her over was shocking. Her color was greyish-blue, eyes glazed over with white foam coming from her mouth. NOT GOOD!  She had on blue jeans with a belt that I used to pull her in towards the beach. Still another 50yards to go and I was close to my limit. Approaching exhaustion and worried about another tidal surge closing in....a search and rescue guy came in just in time to help me haul her in the rest of the way to the beach.

Natalie met me on the beach carrying some of my clothes, some of the victims clothes, wallet, credit cards, keys, etc...strung out all over the beach. The paramedics were working on the girl and it looked like she was conscious but still not a good color. I hope she's going to be OK. Meanwhile, the other couple had been clinging to the rocks for some time against the current. They looked like they had been in a washing machine. Totally drained and glad to be alive. WOW! That's the story. What a crazy morning. At least I got my workout for the day.  Natalie as well for sprinting back and forth between the truck, me, and the other couple on the rocks. I hope that was as wild as it gets for the rest of our travels.