Seaside Stories

Roaming the Sand for Treasures

November 11, 2012 | by Nate Burke

Life on the Oregon Coast has unbelievable perks, but none are such a part of the ebb and flow of coastal culture as beachcombing.  It can be a meditative adventure if you consider the beach as a special place, the doorstep to an oceanic world larger than imagination.  There is a quiet magic to roaming this sandy limbo – this narrow expanse is the closest we can get to walking along the edge of the world.
One of my favorite things though, is stumbling upon small treasures the ocean has left behind.
My grandma used to tell me that sand dollars were misplaced “whale money” that fell out of whale wallets – most likely when they were purchasing essential underwater goods and services.  Apparently the exchange rate of whale currency was pretty lousy, because my sand dollars couldn’t buy much.  But finding them was a delight and now as an adult I’m astonished that a little sea creature’s exoskeleton can have such charming artistry.
My other favorite finds are the infamous glass floats.  It’s not uncommon to see a suspicious object glittering with reflected sunlight off in the distance.  On approach, you’ll find what looks like a half-buried fortune teller’s crystal ball glinting up out of the sand.  These glass floats were used by fisherman from all over the globe to keep their nets and lines afloat. Popular antiques, floats can wash ashore after extremely long periods at sea, traveling thousands of miles and can range from the size of a grapefruit on up to the size of a basketball.  Some may be extremely old, too (Japan used them as early as 1910).  The best times to go hunting for glass floats are between November and April, usually after stormy conditions.
Beachcombing will often reward you an astonishing array of shells, sea-life, prehistoric driftwood, and of course stunning panoramic scenery.  There was a particular time when I was younger, out wandering the Seaside beach at sunset, and I was lucky enough to witness the venerated “green flash” – an optical occurrence where a green flash ignites the horizon right after the sun goes down.  It was an astonishing display of nature’s shocking beauty.  Sometimes the best things we come away with from beachcombing are the stories of the wonders we’ve seen.
Do you have a favorite beachcombing story? Please share by commenting below.
Editor’s Note: Tide charts can greatly aid a scavenger hunt. Plan ahead and always be aware of your surroundings. Here’s a link to our tide tables

Leave a Reply

and so much more!

Miss Oregon Parade: 1950

A brief look at the Miss Oregon Parade circa 1950.

Learn More
Crabbing & Clamming as Seasiders Do

“How have you lived here this long and never crabbed?” That’s the question I kept asking my friends and gracious hosts in Se...

Learn More
Episode Four: the Seaside Museum & Butterfield Cottage

Audio walking tour of the Seaside Museum & Butterfield Cottage

Learn More
Riding the Streetcar in Seaside

Riding the streetcar in Seaside is a fun and affordable way to see the town.

Learn More
Seaside Golf Club

A look at the history of the Seaside Golf Club.

Learn More
A Beach Bicycle Built for Two

Beach Bike Rentals in Seaside, Oregon

Learn More
Waving the Flag in the Early 1900s

Take a look at a vintage float from the early 1900s Seaside parade.

Learn More
Seaside Library

A look at the humble beginnings of the Seaside Public Library

Learn More
Oregon’s North Coast Video Series

Oregon's North Coast Spring Videos

Learn More
1st Generation Boardwalk: High Definition for the Old Guard

The Promenade started out as a wooden boardwalk that attracted visitors from far

Learn More
A Chinook Fishing Tale

Chinook Salmon Fishing in and Around Seaside Oregon

Learn More
Destinations Magazine: Great Escapes

Vacations are the “great escapes we need,” says Destinations magazine, “to relax, recharge and rejuvenate oursel...

Learn More
Clam Chowder
Must-Eat Clam Chowders in Seaside

A look at five of the more than 20 clam chowders found in Seaside, Oregon

Learn More
Oregon Coast Visitor Tsunami Awareness Program

Tsunami awareness resources from the Office of Emergency Management

Learn More
A Glimpse of the Turnaround: Circa 1940

Seaside's classic turnaround circa 1940.

Learn More
October is a Fickle Friend in Seaside

October weather is unpredictable on Oregon's North Coast

Learn More
Clamming and Crabbing Closures in 2015

With all of the recent closures in recreational clamming and commercial crabbing, it’s difficult to know what to share with visi...

Learn More
MotorHome Magazine: Sea to River, Oregon’s Spectacular North Coast

Bobbie Hasselbring from MotorHome magazine attended a media Fam (Familiarization) Tour hosted by the City of Seaside Visitors Bure...

Learn More