Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Can't Find a Nude Beach? Claim One For Yourself?

Finding a place to get out and enjoy the sun shouldn't be an exercise in frustration . . . especially here in the Pacific Northwest with all the forest land and wilderness we are blessed with. The tolerated and designated nude beaches like Sauvies Island and Rooster Rock are great but there are literally hundreds of miles of isolated and underused sunny beach areas along the river courses descending from the Cascade and Olympic Mountains. Within 45 miles of Seattle is the wide flood plain of the Skykomish River above Index. There are many more. Get out there and enjoy them.

Getting to where you want can sometimes be a task, like here off the Index-Galena Road where I have to ford the Skykomish River to reach the far bank and flood plain of the river where there is no habitation and a general lack of interest . . . but some great nude hiking!
The water is rarely more than waist deep in the wider floodplains but use common sense when fording an unfamiliar river. Study it first and look for the clues of a shallow ford. Rapids and white water mean a constriction and fast flow . . . not good. Look up or downstream for a widening of the flow and then study that surface, avoiding areas that swirl and eddy which are typical of scoured deep pools in the bed. Look for changes in color . . . a richening of the glacial green that might indicate deep water.

The rivers of the Cascades flow clear and cold. That clarity means you can see where you're walking . . . that same clarity means algae can grow on the rocks on the river bed. The shallower the water, the slicker those rocks get. When fording, set a foot before you lift the other. Be sure of your footing. Use a trekking pole or staff and plant it on the downstream side in fast flow.

I've met a number of weekend anglers 'pussy-footing' it in the shallow water trying to keep the bottom of their shorts dry. Some give up . . . most get miserably wet. Some follow my route and see the sensibility of at least fording the river nude makes a whole lot of sense. Out here in the wilderness few really care and perhaps some will become converts. Who knows what happens when they head up their direction of the river and I head the other. I know of at least one couple that didn't bother to get re-dressed after fording and parting ways.

This particular stretch of sand is as warm and luxurious as any beach. It is on the wild-side of the river completely unobservable from places where people go . . . shielded even more by giant washed-down trees and large boulders. Facing west it catches the sun for most of the day.

The water is cold but definitely refreshing. This large pool is a result of flowback into a depression in the riff-raff of the annual river floods . . . constantly refreshed by a side stream of the river.

The payback for the short hike in is the chance to just lay out lazily in the sun and enjoy the summer heat abated by gentle breezes flowing down the river valley.

There are also many places to mold your body into for an afternoon snooze. This one is tailor made for me because I can lay back and watch all those hikers making their way up the road off the far bank without being observed myself . . . and with a wide river between us. It kinda says, you have your side and I have mine. I relaxing now . . . see ya later.

TNS MySpace Blog

Don, working with the TNS Membership Advisory Committee, has volunteered to help setup and moderate a MySpace Blog for TNS.

In Don's words:

... the kick-off of The Naturist Society’s MySpace page and Blog!

I volunteered for and have been selected to serve as Moderator for the new Blog, which will be a work in progress for a while during the tweaking and debugging phase. Its creation is the result of discussion during the TNS Western Naturist Gathering at Lupin Lodge last month, and at the Eastern Naturist Gathering as well. Each year at the Gatherings’ Town Hall Meetings, TNS members have the opportunity to meet with The TNS Member Advisory Committee and talk about ways to make TNS even better, from the individual member perspective. As an organization which is shaped and driven by its individual members, TNS takes these meetings to heart.

TNS hopes to see their new MySpace page and Blog become a popular, as-it-happens source of TNS news and happenings, announcements, updates, Q&A, and other items of interest to naturists.

To visit TNS’s MySpace page, click on this link: http://www.myspace.com/naturistsociety Click on “View All Blog Entries” to access the Blog. You can also subscribe to the Blog and receive email notifications of new Blog posts.

You can also CLICK HERE to access the TNS MySpace Blog directly (I think, anyway…if this doesn’t work, just use the main page link above.)

And please, feel free to post a comment while you’re there…suggestions and input are welcomed.

See you there!


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Why I Wear the MIA Bracelet

The MIA Bracelet reads:
USAF 28 AUG 68 Laos

Those who have met me have seen the red metal band that always seems to be around my wrist. Those who know me also know that I almost never remove the bracelet for any reason. I work with it on, I play with it, sleep, shower and bath with it. At some nudist events it get misinterpreted as an indicator of no photos . . . until I explain otherwise. This simple piece of red-anodized aluminum has been on my right wrist since December 19th, 1971 and I wear it with honor and deeply-felt remembrance for a fellow airman lost in a little-known side-arena of the Vietnam War. I wear it in honor of TSgt Elbert A. Phillips who was lost over the unfriendly jungles of Laos on the 28th of August, 1968; at first presumed missing in action (MIA) and then later, officially designated killed in action (KIA) though his remains have not yet been found. I promised myself at the time I asked for this particular MIA bracelet, that I would wear it until Sergeant Phillips was returned home . . . as a repatriated MIA or the return of his remains. I wear the bracelet to this day, 36 years later . . . and it does not come off my wrist!

A few days ago I was Googling my name . . . as we all should do from time to time . . . and I came across a web site devoted to opening up the muddy history of our dirty little war in Laos. Took me completely by surprise because there I was listed. The surprise was that when I left Vientiane, Laos after my tour of duty I was very sternly told that the circumstances of my being there were never to be talked about . . . permanently. So I didn't. As far as my family was concerned, I was safely stationed at an airbase in Thailand, wore a uniform like anyone else and did mundane things in support of the air war over North Vietnam. My parents would have freaked out if they'd known that myself, and a few hundred others over the years, have been 'sheep-dipped' . . . a black ops term, if ever. We were sanitized of military clothing, surrendered our military ID to the embassy and slunk about Laos . . . in a state of three-way civil war . . . in civilian clothes. It was called Project 404 and was your basic Air America stuff of the movie, gunships and Forward Air Controllers (FACs, callsign Raven). I spent most of my time in the Air Attache office at the embassy doing what was politely called HUMINT, or Human Intelligence.

Okay . . . so I'm outed on a website that wants to set the history right for our secret little war. Removing the uniform and pretending to be a civilian strips a soldier of his Geneva Convention rights; something we were always cognizant of as we were shot at while flying back and forth to scratch-in-the-dirt airfields high atop the jagged karst of the Laotian mountains surrounding the Plain de Jars. What we were fighting for no one ever really knew. The North Vietnamese were perfectly happy to stay far to the east on the Ho Chi Minh Trail beyond our area of operations. We were supposedly supporting the Royal Laotian Army against the communist Pathet Lao insurgency . . . but Laotians hate to fight so the Hmong people of the highlands became the proxy warriors. We supported them with arms, rice drops (so much so by the end of the war that many young Hmong believed that rice came from the sky). Forward Air Controllers flying O-2 Birddogs and T28 Nomads scouted for the Hmong fighters and directed gunships (Puff the Magic Dragon) manned by American airmen (sans uniform). TSgt Phillips was a medic transiting as a non-aircrew member on a T-28D when the plane went down. I learned about Sergeant Phillips while getting drunk in a Vientiane club (aka brothel) called the White Rose . . . the place where most of us 'on loan' soldiers spent our scant off-duty hours. Casualties were not unheard of but everybody knew everyone . . . it was a very small community and our very existence stood on shaky foundations. Back at the embassy I put my name in to wear one of those bracelets . . . and asked for Sergeant Phillips.

So I wear a bracelet in honor of him. Many soldiers, seamen and airmen lost their lives in places well known. Few knew of the covert nature of the air support we gave in Laos.

So I'm outed and it's somewhat of a relief because I can talk about it now. I stare at the list, looking for familiar names. There are a number of them but right above my entry is a name in red . . . red for individuals who were killed in Laos . . . and who is it? It's my familiar acquaintance for these past 36 years . . . TSgt Elbert Austin Phillips.

So . . . what does this have to do with nudism? Nothing I suppose, unless you happen to catch me wandering about nude and wonder why I never take off the red-metal bracelet . . . even in sauna rooms where superheated air quickly makes the metal very hot . . . or you find me arguing with the photographer that my red bracelet does not mean I don't want to be photographed.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

North Fork Skykomish near Troublesome Creek Gorge

Been a little lax on my posting . . . because, as you guessed it, I've been busy hiking nude all over the place. I'd like to share a nice place I came across hiking the top loop of the Index-Galena Road near the Troublesome Creek Gorge. Scenic and very tranquil for an afternoon exploring the water-smoothed granite and the alluring glacier-green of the river's crystal waters.

This segment of the river is along the closed county road and gives miles of nude walking. Leaving most of my pack at one former campsite, I can hike freely with nothing more than shoes, hat and minimal supplies to truly enjoy. That's my favorite way to hike.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Wreck Beach Bare Buns Fun Run This Weekend

From Bruce (posting in the major nudism groups)

Here is the Public Service Announcement about the Wreck Beach Bare Buns Run that went out to all media outlets in Greater Vancouver.

The weather is supposed to improve by Thursday and be good for the weekend so this should be a great event. If you are in Vancouver BC this Sunday head down to Wreck and join the fun.

Public Service Announcement


The eleventh annual 5K Bare Buns Run/Walk, Sunday August 12 at 11:30 a.m. on Wreck Beach (Trail 6, registration starts at 9:30 a.m.), features body painting and awards for every age category and finisher. Registration fees are $25 adult, $20 for youth under 16 or seniors over 55, and includes a T-shirt or tank top.

To register or for more information, call 604-876-3909, email: registrar@barebuns.ca, or visit http://www.barebuns.ca

The run is an officially timed event. Proceeds go toward the Wreck Beach Preservation Society whose mandate is to preserve Wreck Beach in as natural a state as possible.

If you are more daring, say a World Naked Bike Rider, find yourself on Sunset Beach, (Beach Avenue and Bute) Thursday for the "Bare Buns Promo Run". Meet near the concession stand at 9:50a.m. SHARP! The promo run will start at 10:00a.m. and be very short, a few laps on the sand, just long enough for the media to snap a few shots and a bit of video.

On a side note, Sunset Beach looked a lot like Wreck on Sunday as the Pride Parade ended in the park above the Beach, lots of nearly naked and a few totally naked people swimming and just wandering around. Great Fun.


Rooster Rock/Sauvie Island Cleanup Trip Report

AANR-NW GAT in association with SOLV sponsored cleanups at both the clothing-optional beach at Rooster Rock State Park east of Portland, Oregon on Aug 4th, 2007; and Collins Beach on Sauvies Island, west of Portland on Aug 5th, 2007. Mountaindale Sun Resort offered discounted fees to participants, sporting a great dinner spread, use of their great facilities and overnight camping space.

Arrival at Rooster Rock

With the hiatus of the annual AANR Convention getting underway at the Willamettans in Springfield, Oregon, I was the only available Slug free to attend this event . . . not that I would have missed it in any case; I make it every year. I started out from Seattle early to make the three hour drive in time to meet the start time of 9:30am at Rooster Rock. Not to be disappointed, Shirley was there with parks representatives and a good turnout of volunteers . . . and a truck full of shovels, picks and assorted implements of vegetative and earthen mass destruction. This was not going to be a simple cleanup operation. My mind went back to previous years and the fifty cubic yards of sand we annually moved to fill in the Dragonfly Trail.

The weather wasn't cooperating, either. Overcast and cool, who knew if the sun would come out later in the afternoon. Nevertheless, I sign the waiver of liability (I might have thought otherwise had I seen where my unprotected nude body would be in ten minutes), grab a pair of gloves and a shovel, and head on down the ramp to see what Glenn Little and the rest of the mischievously-grinning park rangers had in mind.

River Flooding is an Annual Problem

The flooded area of Dragonfly Trail

For much of the year the trails in the clothing-optional areas to the beach and Sand Island are submerged under water. In late July and early August the river levels finally drop low enough for trails to re-emerge and become usable . . . except for segments of the trails that traverse a short low-lying bog area that is an exercise in knee-deep sucking muck. Our assignment each year seems to be to ameliorate this situation so that beach-goers can reach the beach and Sand Island without losing their flip-flops in ripe-smelling organic muck. We generally do that by wheel-barrowing in tons of sand from the back-dunes to make a dry and walkable trail that is much appreciated by the park and visitors.

While the majority of the volunteers were soon off with clippers and trash sacks to clean up litter in other parts of the park . . . ten of us brave volunteers joyfully stripped and along with three park rangers, two Gators, a dozen shovels, wheelbarrows, picks and such surveyed the larger than normal quagmire that presented itself just inside the beginning of the Dragonfly Trail. This wasn't a puddle of water to be filled in! This was fully a 100 ft long and nigh a foot deep with brackish, black-silted water with who-knew-what lurking beneath. There are stories of flip-flops mysteriously reappearing on this trail later in the season . . . hopefully without a foot attached.

The previous year we had pretty much exhausted some of the back-dune areas of fill-sand. Glenn had a new plan . . . control the flooding with a culvert. Where he found the culvert beats me . . . looked like it was salvage from a road project. Nevertheless, right in the middle of that quagmire we waded and spent the next few hours digging a trench into the sand and muck. No amount of clothing could have kept us clean and mud-free . . . it was an appropriate circumstance for nudity, bar none. We were on our knees in the slimy muck, digging mud out with our gloved hands. This could have been fun mud-slinging or wrestling. Eventually we maneuvered the culvert into place and covered it with ten Gator-loads of sand. We didn't manage to build up a new trail but with low tide later that day, it was hoped that the culvert would help drain the low areas quicker and re-establish the trails. Glenn seemed happy with the results.

Halfway into our digging, a Channel 6 TV crew showed up to film us working and we posed for them . . . naughty bits and all. Later in the day I got to see the footage on the news. Not much to see, Shirley stole the coverage.

I did discuss with one of the rangers and Shirley about the possibility that instead of dealing with this bog every year we could build a modular puncheon-style bridge or turnpike using donated materials and labor. Instead of filling in with scarce sand from the back-dunes, the annual AANR-GAT cleanup would involve putting the bridge in place each year for the beach season. Park employees liked the idea so I'm going to pursue some ideas to present.

Around one pm we had our BBQ and raffle of prizes . . . and some more posing nude-yet not nude for the national SOLV promotional campaign. SOLV wants to use our participation to market their national coming-out and we were more than willing to lend our nude, yet not nude bodies for promotional pictures (nude, yet not nude meant some strategically placed item in the pictures.)

The rest of the afternoon was ours and I headed out to the river and Sand Island along with Henry Y., the painter of such wonderful watercolors of naturist events, Terry of the Rooster Rock Bare Buns events and a few others. Sand Island is easily accessible and a lot of sand is exposed along the northern beach. I left everything back in my car except for a pair of shorts to get to the clothing-optional area and the obligatory floppy blue hat. The feeling of wandering free and open to the warming day in such beautiful surroundings is indescribable. No crutches . . . no worries.

Well, some. Sand Island is part of the clothing-optional area and is signed as such. But winter and spring flooding takes out those signs (and I'm sure a few self-righteous textile boaters.) When the beaches of the island are only accessible to boaters early in the season, textiles assume and presume to take over the beach. They then act surprised and uncomfortable when nude people appear. They end up scattering back onto their boats and the river . . . but I am not going to give up my beach due to adverse possession.

Mountaindale Sun Resort (aka Restful Haven)

It was hard to leave Rooster Rock. I had driven the entire 180 miles from Seattle in nothing more than a teeshirt. I left for Mountaindale the same way, determined to enjoy as much of the weekend in a nude or near-nude state as possible. The drive was uneventful, even in the heavy traffic through Portland and, until I had to endure the bone-jarring rumble up the abominable washboard gravel road to the resort, enjoyable. They really do need to do something about that road. Fraternity Snoqualmie's is smoother by far.

This was my second visit to Mountaindale (the last being the AANR-NW Convention several years ago. Quiet this weekend . . . the weather and the AANR Convention, I'm sure. Not many took advantage of their generous offer this year. Only two of us tented and I had my choice of sites on their new tenting area . . . and soon found my way to the nearest shower, which I definitely needed, and back to the clubhouse where they showed me the coffee maker and how to help myself (did I tell you I like my coffee?)

The clubhouse is well-appointed with full facilities (dining room, bar area, game room with pool table, outdoor deck seating), TV area. I explored the swimming pool and ended up in their huge, brand-new hot tub. Eventually others from the clean-up showed up and we were treated to a good dinner by the folks at the resort. I slept good that night because Shirley mandated an early start to the clean-up efforts at Sauvies Island the next day. My thanks to the gracious hosts at Mountaindale Sun Resort.

Collins Beach, Sauvies Island

Picking up the litter at Willows Bar on Sauvies Island

We setup inside Entrance 5 by 9:30 on Sunday morning. The weather was again threatening not to cooperate. The parking lot needed a good litter patrol, while I headed off with Shirley to cleanup Willow Bar a few miles back down the road. The two of us in less than an hour managed to fill up seven bags of trash, which we secured and left by the brand new anti-littering signs for pickup by Deputy Larry. Then it was back to Collins so I could get out of my clothes, damn the overcast skies and perky breezes. I was promised that the sun would be out in a few hours.

My traditional job as these events is to cook the hot dogs for beach patrons. Don't have to . . . just happened to have a BBQ, so it's now my job and a fun one, at that. I must also thank Squaw Mountain Ranch for the donation of hot dogs and supplies to feed the naked hordes.

Chopping onions for the hot dogs

Deputy Larry stopped by for a nice visit and to get pointers for his presentation at the AANR Convention. So did Mike, a doctor who is going to give a talk of the benefits of the lifestyle. I also got to visit with my old friends Kyle, Mike and Jim, who happened to hear about us and wandered up the beach to stuff down hot dogs.

Eventually, the day also drew to a close; many participants headed south for the convention . . . myself back to Seattle and the realities of work. Mark, of the Friends of AANR, scored big when a large canoe on the beach was declared abandoned by the deputy. We helped get it to Mark's van and secured. Good thing we dallied because when I went to start my trusted ole' Civic I had a dead battery. Seems I'd left my lights on twice during the day. Mark provided the jumper cables . . . Shirley provided the battery juice. I waved goodbye as I turned north on OR 30 and they headed south. I drove all the way home in nothing but my teeshirt. What a great weekend!

A very short segment aired on KATU Channel 2

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