Dune Buggying in the Oregon Dunes ReVisited... or How the Princess Avoids the Pea!

Real Estate Agent with Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area) DRE# 00809499

Last year I wrote this post about our family vacations in the Oregon dunes.  We're getting ready to go again in a few days, and just thought I'ld give you all a picture of "Sand Dune Sal" over the next week.  So here's my repeat.....

My Favorite vacations... Part 1. Sandrailing in the Oregon Dunes

After 30 years, I finally got it right. It's all in the pillows. Five of them.  Lined up long-edge to long-edge and positioned right underneath my mattress pad. On top of the hide-a-bed mattress. Which is on top of the expando bed platform.  All covered up with my flannel sheets and down blanket. That's how I sleep in my tent.

Sandrails and quads lined up on the Florence Oregon beach

And if there's even a single pea that slips in under the mattress, I'll know it. And complain.

My daughter's have labeled the blue bucket that houses my camp pillows with swirly flowers and "The Princesses Bedding".  I scoff at them. "How many 58 year olds do you know that will still sleep in a tent and don't bitch?"  Much.  It's all in the pillows.

For 3 decades the entire Dunbar clan has taken our dune buggys to Oregon, just south of Florence, to the same campground.  First week of August. For 20 of those years, we've even been in the same site.  Our favorite sandy site, surrounded by huckleberries and salal bushes.  Just room for our 5 or 6 tents, a few dozen camp chairs, 2 honkin wood camp tables, and the 6 that we bring.  Those make up our kitchen... the one that rivals that in the Waldorf Astoria. We share our site with Sister Dunbar and hubby, and feed the whole tribe most nights.  So we NEED all that.  Really.

Pineapple upside down cake from a dutch ovenAnd the menu?   MMMmmmm.  That rivals the Astoria, as well. We've taken camp cooking to a new level.  Bacon wrapped pork loin with a maple glaze, beer batter halibut, fresh-caught salmon with Thai chili sauce, bar-b-qued oysters, Chicken Adobo,  chile-lime corn, basil-pine nut green beans, asparagus with oyster sauce and garlic.... We eat like kings.  Then comes dessert.  Pineapple upside down cake, carrot cake, berry pie, apple pie.... all from scratch.  You name it and my oldest daughter, Roxy, bakes it in our dutch oven with hot coals. 

And the bar.... don't ask about the bar.  It's embarrassing.  Suffice to say we had to change the shopping list to 5 handles of Curevo Gold this year.  Four didn't cut it.

Every year my hubby says..."Let's pack light this year".  And I look at him like he just asked me to leave one kid behind.... "which one should we leave?" He never has a good answer.  "Just make it light."  HA..... I have the same list every year.  It's evolved over 30 years of perfecting.  Right down to the lemon zester we can't live without.  And oyster shuckers. And the 5 handles.  It's perfect.  And it takes me 3 hours from start to finish to get ready. I got it down to a science.

A game of spoonsWe go with my hubby's entire family... 3 brothers and a sister plus the accompanying spouses, kids, dogs, friends, once a parrot, and one time a cyber buddy.  That was weird.  There's usually  35 to 55, plus a gaggle of buggies and quads. OK so the 5 handles has to stretch a long way.

And games?  Yeah, one bucket is composed entirely of games.  And we're relentless. Sun-up to sun-down, there's someone gaming.  Rummikub, Hearts, Spoons, 6-way Solitaire, Poker, Texas Hold-em, Trouble, Rummy, Spite and Malice, Jokers and Pegs...  even slack-lining.

But our favorite is Washers.  Kind of the trailer trash version of horseshoes.  Two plywood boards with a hole exactly the size of a metal washer.  From 8 feet apart you toss the washer into the hole.  Or not.  We have tournaments. I usually suck... I'm about two thirds up the talent pack.  But this year..... I perfected the thumb twist to sail that little hunk of metal perfectly flat, so it hits the board just right. I'm dead on.  I make it to the semi-finals. I cream my nephew.  Ryan's in shock. "YOU... Aunt Sally?...  But you SUCK...."  He's incredulous, but gracious. I get a high five.

Frank beating Ryan at WashersI take on Frank in the finals.  "Piece a cake" he thinks. "It's in the can." He knows he'll get the leaf crown to add to his collection.  It's only Aunt Sally after all. Frank was the Alaskan State Bowling Champion in 1993, or something. He's got the arm-swing down pat.  He's dead on. He creams everyone.  He does beat me.... 18 - 21.

But the shock has set in.  "Aunt Sally got good!!! How'ld she get those 18 points?"  I know he'll be practicing - he'll set up washers in his living room. Tossing that hunk of metal throughout the winter.  Just to keep that leaf crown.  Me, too.

So why do we do this, you might ask?  I ask my self that frequently, right around February when the hot sun of a Hawaiian beach calls my name.  OK, screams it.  But each August 1st I remember, when my foot hits that throttle for the first time.  The engine screams, the seats vibrate as the little rocket approaches a steep sand mountain.  "Crap, I'm gonna fall off..." I think.  "I'll roll for sure."  The first wheel starts up. I gun the accelerator. Christy on a stick, on a quad in florence OregonShoot up at an angle, sand flying in a rooster tail behind. Traversing the slope as the deafening roar drowns out the screams of my passenger... or is that me?  A little tug of the left steering brake and the front end lifts towards the top of the dune.  Near the crest, I veer right to deftly roll over the top and fly down the other side, in pursuit of my next conquest.  Thrilling.  Exhilarating. Indescribable.  Nothing like it.  Not even a Hawaiian beach. And to say that after 30 years is something!

Some might snicker at the idea of tent camping for 30 years in the same place as the definition of a perfect vacation.  A little monotonous.  Kinda repetitive. Same ol, same ol.  But I beg to differ.  Look how different this year was...." Thumb cocked 20% further to the right... full extension.... toss."  I'll get him next year.


Don't miss Part 2 of my Favorite Vacations Series... On Patagonia and my Capture Moment Experience.


(Over on the right, sitting on the quad is Christy-on-a-stick. She came in place of my youngest daughter.... and had more fun than anyone)

Our Dune buggy with 86 year old Pat

(This was Pat's last year in Oregon, after coming most summers since the mid 80's. 85 and deep into Alzheimers, she remembered to bring her goggles, and insisted on a good ride... "No old lady ride for me..." she said.)


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Sally Dunbar, 35 year Broker Associate, Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks, CA (916) 524-1548, SDunbar@GoLyon.com "Your Fair Oaks Realtor"


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Cara Marcelle Mancuso
Long Realty - Dove Mountain, Marana AZ - Tucson, AZ
Call a Marana neighbor, I'm THERE! LONG REALTY

Wow - sounds like a BLAST!!!  All that food -- reminds me of camping with my boys 20 years ago when they were small.  Everything was about the FOOD - they couldn't wait to go camping just so they could EAT! 
There is something about being outside that makes the flavors even more vibrant.  Thanks for re-sharing your fun.  You've given me memories to think about all day long!!

Jul 28, 2010 09:17 AM #1
Sharon Paxson
Arbor Real Estate - Newport Beach, CA
Newport Beach Real Estate - Arbor Real Estate

HI Sally - that sounds like an awesome vacation. From the adventure, sleeping and the food and drinks, sounds like a great time for all!

Jul 28, 2010 11:12 AM #2
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Northern VA

I remember this from last year.  Sounds like a great time, and I'm sure it will be again.  Looking forward to hearing all about it.

Jul 28, 2010 02:02 PM #3
Sally Dunbar
Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area) - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks Realtor - Fair Oaks Homes for Sale

Cara, Chris Ann and Sharon - thanks and if you're in the area, stop on by!

Jul 28, 2010 02:31 PM #4
Silvia Dukes PA, Broker Associate, CRS, CIPS, SRES
Tropic Shores Realty - Ich spreche Deutsch! - Spring Hill, FL
Florida Waterfront and Country Club Living

Actually Sally, I think this sounds like a great vacation especially as all the family participates.  I would think despite the similarities, there's something new and exciting happening every year.  And I get it, even if it's in the pillows, you are still the adventurous type!  Hope you'll have a ton of fun!

Jul 28, 2010 02:39 PM #5
Mary Douglas
United Country Ponderosa Realty, Red Feather Lakes, Colorado - Red Feather Lakes, CO
REALTOR, Red Feather Lakes, Colorado

Sally, this sounds like a wonderful family vacation.  There is a certain rhythm in life, I like things that repeat themselves, and ofr this to be a 30 year repeat is amazing - really ...and wonderful.  

Jul 28, 2010 07:15 PM #6
Sally Dunbar
Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area) - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks Realtor - Fair Oaks Homes for Sale

silvia - Adventure is the spice of life!

Mary - Everytime I see your great picture I smile.  It's so warm and inviting.  And you are right.  Repeated trips like this help create the rythym of life.  It's amazing how hard it is to get everyone together, as well.  This year one of our main players will be missing - FRANK.  How the heck am I going to beat him at Washers if he's not there! Talk about screwing up your rythym!

Jul 29, 2010 01:50 AM #7
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