Sometimes you need to leave home to find home.
After spending the first part of July in the Midwest, around the white sands and clear water of the Great Lakes, we point the Plastic Show westward towards Seaside, Ore., and their bigger-than-life tournament billed as the largest amateur beach volleyball tournament in the world. With almost 1,300 teams participating in 2012, this year’s event (seasidebeachvolleyball.com) promises to be bigger, better, more organized (boy, that’s got to be a tough tournament to run, Chappy) and, most likely, more competitive.
But before we set up the Plastic tent on the huge northern Oregon beach on August 9, we have two weeks to kill. Well spend some time in Bozeman, Mont., catching fish and participating in river fun, then head to Hood River, Ore., to experience the Columbia River Gorge. If youve never been to the Gorge, it’s the windsurfing and kitesurfing capital of the continent where the wind whips through a Grand Canyon-size gap in the Cascades. If you think serving for game point sends adrenaline pumping through your system, give these sports a try. It’s hook in, hang on, and eyes-wide-open fun until you drop.
The Gorge also offers some of the best mountain biking in the Lower 48 and outstanding kayaking and fishing. While in the area, be sure to visit Mt. Hood you can even ski there in July. My friend Caleb teaches kids to back flip on skis at the year-round snow park on top of the mountain while we are playing volleyball down below. Did I mention the Gorge also has the biggest cliff jump youve ever seen? Check it all out before you complete the trip west.
The Oregon coast is sometimes sunny and hot, sometimes windy and foggy, but always a rugged wonder. Even the drive from Portland through the Oregon Coast Range takes you through areas remote and wild, crossing through old growth cedars and over too many rivers and creeks to count. After an hour, the road ends at the coast and you are there ready to play volleyball on the biggest beach you have ever seen, on more courts than you have ever seen, with more beach volleyball players than you have ever seen.
I point the Plastic RV straight to the beach before we do anything else, and the friendly northwestern players surround us almost instantly. Players also come from California, Hawaii, the Midwest, the South, and somehow they all seem to know each other. It feels like I know them all too, and I usually jump into a game before I can even manage to take my flip flops off. Thus goes the weekend for the Kamena family and the rest of the people in Seaside work (only for me it seems!), friends, volleyball, and fun. After all the traveling and events of the summer, I feel like I am home. Come check out this event for yourself and see why.
The Outside Edge is a preview of the major outdoor volleyball events coming up in the U.S. and will run in each of the summer issues of VBM. The column is written by Dave Kamena, president of Plastic Clothing, a volleyball performance apparel brand that sponsors many of the events. Send comments and feedback to plasticclothing.com.