Recharged: Why Being Disconnected Is the Best Way to Connect

Words by Erica Stark
Photos by Erica Stark

It was the last day of summer with rain in the forecast for the changing season, but the two-hour ferry wait was proof that many of us had the same goal to get out of the city.  Ben, Rachel, Christian and I met up in line sharing excitement and expectations for the adventure ahead of us.  Most of the drive showed promises of a drenched campsite until somehow, as we made our last turn onto the straightaway by the beach, the weather let up and we set up camp under the moonlight without a drop from the sky.  As we tucked ourselves into the car I glanced at my phone and better than any text message I could have received I just saw the words NO SERVICE in the top left corner!  At times this would stress me out but instead, a wave of calm and relief rushed over me and I fell asleep quicker than ever.

My first time walking onto the misty beach amongst the giant driftwood felt like I was exploring a new planet.  As our dog Wallace met up with our friend’s dog Bowie, I witnessed what true happiness looked like for a dog.

No video on Instagram could ever replace the love we receive from our dog after a long morning chasing birds and splashing around in the waves. From there, the weekend played out like an artist radio that just keeps playing hit after hit.  Each time an activity was nearing the end mixed emotions of sadness, anxiety, and hope filled my brain, wondering if the next adventure would be as good as the last.  Never disappointed, each exploration was as fun or more than the last.  Every now and then that pesky commercial would play, but what’s a Pacific Northwest camping trip without a morning of pouring rain and cooking breakfast under a tarp.

Our intentions for the trip were to meet up with Photographer Dave Lehl, who is currently living on the road taking photos in all the dream spots including our weekend “home” of La Push, WA.  As an aspiring photographer, I relished the opportunity to observe and be included in Dave’s work.  Photography is always about finding unique perspective and Dave accepted that challenge gracefully as I watched him point the camera at subjects I never would have thought of. Throughout the day we photographed different products, apparel, and activities.  While Dave gave us some small direction at times we were mostly free to do what people might normally do on a driftwood laden beach.  Throw knives, slingshot rocks into the misty skies, find busy streets to skate down (and get kicked out of), and connect with each other on a human level with no screens to distract us from each other’s company.  We allowed ourselves to daydream, relax, get a little bored even, and exercise our brains with imagination and contemplation.  In those moments no one was trying to prove or compare their fun, just have memorable experiences.

Slightly tired from the fulfilling day, we readied our camp for the upcoming night while reminiscing on all we had done so far.  Talking distracted us from what we heard was an applause worthy sunset and we realized the sky had turned past pink to a deepening blue.  We feasted on kebabs and prime rib cooked over the beach campfire.  Darkness hit but the smiles, and more likely the rosy cheeks from the adult beverages we may have consumed, brightened up the beach almost as much as the full moon.  The wood depleted much before our stories, but we had one more day to look forward to so we called it a night and headed back to camp for one more sleep on the peninsula.


On our last day we took advantage of the sunny skies and surfboards.  I suited up clumsily, with it being my first time surfing cold water.  As we ran toward the ocean I watched as Christian and Rachel paddled past the rough shore breaks.  I tried my hardest to push through but the ocean had different plans.  Let’s just say I had a great time swimming with my surfboard! Exhaustion hit and I knew it was time to pack up and start the journey home.  As we made one last stop at the skate park, service came back to our phones and the new normality of exchanging Instagram follows instead of phone numbers happened before we parted ways.  I immediately realized how easy it was to get sucked back into the world of social media.  Trying to share the amazing time I just had so everyone would know it happened.

I looked up and saw Crescent lake over the horizon of the winding road and told myself the phone can wait. The weekend ended similar to the start with a two hour wait for the ferry, only feeling more calm and recharged; ready for the week ahead and eager to explore more hidden and not so hidden parts of the Washington coast and beyond.



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