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Foxhole

Started: 2021-10-10 13:32:11

Submitted: 2021-10-10 14:20:09

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Fortifying the beach

When we moved to Santa Cruz County last year and started visiting the beach regularly, we needed to improve our sand tools. We had a pair of small child-sized shovels that worked for a couple of visits to the beach until the plastic bucket started to break. We picked up another set of plastic beach shovels (on a visit to Rio Del Mar where we forgot our existing beach toys); they also only survived a couple of visits until they began to break. It probably didn't help that I was trying to use the shovels to dig in wet sand below the tide line so I could build elaborate sand castles; but even Calvin and Julian were able to break the plastic shovels without my help.

I picked up a field shovel at REI, with a telescoping handle and a bucket that would fold back on itself so it could be carried compactly; but it was really designed for digging small cat-holes and other small earth-moving tasks, not the sort of large-scale military fortifications I like to build when visiting the beach. (It also turned out that, after a couple of visits to the beach, sand jammed in the mechanism and it would no longer retract; though in practice it only retracted about an inch-and-a-half so that was not a big deal.) I eventually picked up a small D-handle garden spade at Home Depot, which was perfect: study enough to dig in wet sand, with an ample bucket for lifting sand out of the hole, while still small enough to carry in our bucket of beach toys or strap to the side of my backpack on our beach excursions.

Calvin soon discovered that he could use the garden spade to build his own, human-scale military fortifications on the beach, in the form of a two-kid foxhole.

Calvin and Julian in a foxhole on Four Mile Beach
Calvin and Julian in a foxhole on Four Mile Beach

My parents visited us on the last weekend in August, kicking off a week of family visits that culminated in my brother Willy getting married in Angwin on Labor Day Weekend. On Saturday afternoon we visited Four Mile Beach, a cozy sandy beach flanked by cliffs four miles west of Santa Cruz.

Nana, Grandpa, and Julian walk to the beach
Nana, Grandpa, and Julian walk to the beach

Apparently this beach is a favorite spot for out-of-town surfers. On our way to the beach I approached a spot where several unmarked trails met, with no clear path towards the beach. A surfer stood at the junction, dressed in a wetsuit with his board under his arm, looking confused at the multiple trails heading vaguely in the direction of where the beach ought to be. He asked if I knew the way to the beach. "That way," I pointed confidently, though the other trail would also get there eventually. (I'd been here once before, in March, so I had some actual prior experience navigating the unmarked trails.)

Julian on Four Mile Beach
Julian on Four Mile Beach

At the beach, I built a fortress in the sand at the edge of the high-water line while Julian built some sort of sand castle next to mine. When I'd completed my fortress, Calvin took the garden spade and dug a foxhole next to my fortress, high enough on the beach that the waves would hit the bottom of the berm and not threaten the foxhole itself.

Julian walks towards Calvin's foxhole on Four Mile Beach
Julian walks towards Calvin's foxhole on Four Mile Beach

Calvin's foxhole ended up large enough to comfortably fit him and Julian, with a commanding view of the waves and the cliffs surrounding the beach.

Julian watches Calvin expand his foxhole on Four Mile Beach
Julian watches Calvin expand his foxhole on Four Mile Beach
Tolkien is hobbit-forming!