Friday, June 22, 2007

The Rescue.....or Lord Take Me Now!

Elevators aren't common in Florence, Oregon, the water table is too high, and the buildings too low. In the entire community, I can count five, two are in hotels, two more are in retirement communities, and then there is the fifth. Well actually it is 13 miles up highway 101 at the Sea Lion Caves, a stinky shaft that drops seven hundred feet from the headland, through basaltic rock, to the foot of the Pacific Ocean.

Sea Lion Caves, home to hundreds of Golden Stellar Sea Lions year round. Stinky, loud, and lazy mammals that apparently are the objects of observation by millions of tourist who have traveled the spanse of the world to western Oregon just to take a peek. A place I have avoided for the 28 years since my last visit, when I slipped in Sea Gull droppings. (Note to the wise, wet grass and sea gull droppings do not mix.) This slick combination resulted in my tush sliding, as though it had been drop kicked, two hundred yards down a seven hundred foot cliff. Yes folks, the elevator was operational that day.

Perched precariously on a narrow rock ledge, five hundred feet above the pounding ocean and hundreds of barking sea lions, I sat. Sea Gulls and Murlettes sailed the wind, crying out their disgusted at my grace. Bashed by the rocks during my descent, scraped palms and knees were weeping pinpricks of blood and plasma. Bird poop smeared my arms and clothing. And the wind was whipping knots in my long blonde hair, while tears coursed down my cheeks creating rivulets of eyeliner and mascara through the dirt on my face. Could it get any worse? Do bears...

Well of course it could? I was perched on a rock ledge and the only way out of my predicament was...Down? Up? Ouch! People had run to the edge of the cliff, screaming directions to me. Yeah, as if I needed to be told not to move. Someone threw a rope over the edge with a deluded notion that I could pull myself up the cliff. Others informed me that the rescue teams had been called and were on the way. Then it happened, off to the north could be heard a low rhythmic hush, hush, hush, as the big rotors of the United States Coast Guard Sikorski Helo beat the wind along the rocky coastline from Newport to rescue me. Oh, please Lord just take me now.

Appalled and embarrassed I watched as the orange dot grew on my horizon. Within moments the helo was hovering a mere fifty feet above me and slightly to my northwest. A young, fresh-faced guardsman scanned the ledge, his eyes coming to rest upon me, on my rocky perch. Then as the helo hovered, its rotors beating the wind upon my rocks, a cable lowered a carrier basket and crewman out from the chopper's side. Slowly it descended to me and my ledge. With knees drawn up towards my chest I buried my face in my jean-clad legs, trying to avoid Sea Gull slime and the stare of my rescuer. From above, the growing crowd on the cliff cheered, screaming direction and encouragement to the Coast Guard.

Then the basket stopped, just mere inches from me. And from inside a white flight helmet, blue eyes rimed with the blackest lashes looked out at me. Strong, white teeth grew out of his mustachioed smile. Climbing on to my ledge he looked at me and asked, "Come here often?"


© February 20, 2001 Calista Cates

8 comments:

Sideon said...

I am volunteering for the next cliff fall! Me, me, pick me, please! I might have to fall twice if I can get the same rescuer! :)

GREAT story, Calista!

Cele said...

I wrote that short years ago and have always wanted to share it. I am glad you enjoyed it. I have known a lot of "Coasties" over the years, they are all wonderful daring people. And hmmm, hmmmm those glutes.

JulieAnn said...

What a fabulous story, and I never knew your whole name! How beautiful. I have heard so much about the Oregon coast...I know I need to go there. My soul calls out for it. Can I sleep on your couch? LOL

Cele said...

Julianne, I have a guest room (it needs to be cleaned) so you won't have to sleep on the couch.

er opps that's only most of my name :)

Jazzy said...

Great story Cele!

Having been to the sea lion caves myself, I can attest to the stinkiness of them!! Boy do they stink! It is the only elevator that I have been in that measures the distance you have gone not in floors but in FEET! What an opportunity it is to see such creatures up close and just observe their behavior, and if you are lucky, observe whales too! (Of course, we didn't see whales the day we were there)

Heather Froeschl said...

Calista,
You must have shared that one with The Write List gang at one point, or else just lil ole me, because I'll never forget it! I loved it then, love the story now! Scary but funny and mmm, did you get a date out of it? You're so brave to go back! I don't think I could. For some reason goose poop freaks me out...maybe because I got chased by geese when I was little.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Dayum, girl, this story is awesome. Talk about interesting...

Cele said...

Thank you Lisa, I had fun writing it and expanding my imagination.