Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Coastal Washington, a Different Experience

July 19-26, 2019
Long Beach - Grays Harbor, Washington

"US-101 technically has two southern ends. There's one in California in downtown LA at the East LA Interchange and one in Olympia, Washington. The highway loops around the Olympic Peninsula in Washington, reaching its northernmost point at Port Angeles."

In our past routes, the motor home has been on all of Hwy 101 from Ventura, California, to Olympia, Washington, except for the section from the Columbia River to Forks, Washington. On Friday we begin to fill in the missing piece as we cross into Washington and continue north on Hwy 101 to Long Beach.

The first time I saw the dingy, unappealing International Terminal at San Francisco Airport I thought it was sad that this was the first many travelers saw of America. It's how I feel about the Washington Coast. After the neat, clean and lively little beach towns of the Oregon Coast, Long Beach doesn't make the best first impression for our most northwestern state. Sand Castle RV Park is a good example.

After our beautiful river front site, our new place is challenged in the "view" department.
Our tight spot is on level gravel with FHUs between Hwy 103 and a small city street. It's our first 30 amp park this year, and typical of the dozen other parks here.

Long Beach is called the longest beach in the world, but Google says it's the second after Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh. Probably the longest one we'll ever see :-) The little town is packed with tourists - Saturday and Sunday the sidewalks are overflowing rivers of people.

In a previous visit to Astoria, Oregon, we made the drive to Oysterville Sea Farms at the recommendation of good friends Eric and Laurel (Raven and Chickadee) It's a delightful little spot on Willapa Bay, offering excellent fresh and smoked seafood, and stunning views across the marshes.

We return on a sunny afternoon to pick up salmon and oysters and enjoy the unique vistas.


Clammers on Willapa Bay

Classes were held at the site from 1860 to 1957, this Oysterville Schoolhouse was built in 1907.

Not long into the wildlife refuge trail I can feel the bugs biting me - of course they completely ignore Bill.
The beaches of Washington are not only "long", but also very wide. At low tide you can walk 100 yards "out to sea". Vehicles are allowed, and you can drive for miles. And of course, there's even more room for beach zoomies!

So much beach!



Her first time getting in the water - not a fan.

Beware the stare!

The fog moves in and out.

Here I come!
Fluffy reflections.
Low, low, low tide.

We venture into the little town a couple times for eats and brews, and a 30 minute wait in line for very good (not Buttercup-good, but good) ice cream. It's much busier than we like, but it is summer on the coast, and like us, people want to be where the weather is perfect.

As yummy as it is pretty - seared ahi at Lost Roo.

The largest frying pan in America - because.

A couple places have sand castle art out front.

The boatmen look a bit like coconut monkeys, but it's still pretty cool - and amazing how it stays together for days.
During our stay I learn that a good friend passed away from a massive stroke. We had just been making plans to see each other at the end of the year. She was more than ten years younger than me, finally happily married. It's devastating news, and reminds me how important it is to live our best lives everyday. And how blessed we are to have the opportunities we do.

RIP Beth
There are many Lewis and Clark landmarks in the area, and the Interpretive Center is very well done. We make a return visit, and I'm once again amazed at the number of people they had on their expedition, and all they accomplished. The center is built on the cliffs of Cape Disappointment, on the site of Fort Canby.

On our way we stop to explore Cape Disappointment. A wild and beautiful area, the state park is popular with beach-going families. I couldn't get a reservation for this visit, but I'd love to stay here in the future.

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse from Waikiki Beach

The kayaker paddled into the large cavern - how cool!

Fort Canby bunker - the center is built on top, just to the right.

The interior feels haunted - and very chilly.

A friendly woman points out this hungry eagle enjoying lunch on a distant limb. Gotta love a zoom lens!

Magnificent animals.

Where the Columbia River reaches the Pacific Ocean. The goal of Lewis and Clark's historic expedition.
In addition to several documents and drawings, the chronological story of the expedition includes art pieces based on the experiences recorded in Lewis and Clark's journals.
Prairie Meadows Burning, by George Catlin

Lewis and Clark Foggy Morning on the Missouri River, 1804 by Gary Lucy

Captain Clark, Buffalo Gangue by John Clymer

Bear at Three Forks, Montana by Robert Reynolds (the information plaque notes that everyone thought the animal looks more like a dog, and nothing like the massive bear that treed a member of the party).

Lewis and Clark in the Bitteroots by John Clymer  Their winter travels through these mountains were noted as the most perilous of the journey.

They collected plant specimens in pressed plate boxes like these, including 174 new to science at the time. It's amazing what they carried with them over land and water.

All of their journals were published, and have been read by millions. Our daughter-in-law's father said that reading them was "the closest thing to time travel". I really need to read them.
After our time with Meriwether and William, we drive over the bridge to Astoria for lunch along the river. Baked Alaska is a favorite, and although they don't have the pear pizza I love, I think the smoked salmon is a close second. Looking at the huge ships that pass reminds me of the barges and ships on the Mississippi, the St Lawrence and the St Mary's rivers - what amazing places we've seen during our few years of traveling. 

Excellent from the crust to the goat cheese!

My ship finder app isn't working, but both of these ships are from China.
A quick stop at Fort Columbia for a final look across the Columbia.
Although I remember from a drive we took from the Hood Canal during our first year that the Hoaquim/Aberdeen area is struggling, it's still a good location for a short stop over on our way north.

From Long Beach we continue our "new to the motorhome" section of Hwy 101, including a beautiful drive around the east side of Willapa Bay.

The Hoaquim River RV Park is a nice surprise, much nicer than where we're coming from. Clean, level, FHU sites with very friendly staff. Still, the area wears a heavy cloak of "down on your luck".

When we take a day trip to the Hidden Coast Scenic Byway I'm hoping for another magical place like the Lost Coast in California. Sadly, "hidden" just means you can't see it. With the exception of a couple beach access points, tall and thick trees line the road with a rare glimpse of the water. Can't accuse them of false advertising!

We do enjoy another drive on the beach, and time on the very quiet shoreline. With the water so "far away" and the low waves, it doesn't sound like a beach.

Above the layers we see (and hear) an approaching flyer.

Great way to see what is otherwise hidden.

A very different shoreline.

North of Moclips is Quinault Tribal Land, with no public access.  We take a quick peek -  it's a beautiful area.
We turn around where the road ends in Taholah. Sadly, another reservation town filled with trash, yards covered with broken down vehicles, no sign of pride. To live in this natural beauty, and surround yourself with a mess, seems completely incongruent with all I've learned of native peoples. Yet, it is the norm rather than the exception for all reservation towns we've visited.

Our next stop takes us back to the Olympic Peninsula, and to what for us is the most beautiful part of Washington.


  1. I agree the OP is a unique and beautiful place. The reservation towns,like many small towns in Alaska, tend to save everything in case it is needed in the future. Geez what an eyesore it can create. Unlike OR the coastline in WA is a bit of a challenge to get to, but oh so worth the effort!
    The Cape Alava Loop (Ozette Triangle) was the highlight of our hikes on our last trip there.
    For Pear Pizza try the Attic in the Stalish Lodge at Snoqualmie Falls, a favorite of ours. But I'd take your salmon pizza any day!

    1. Thanks for the pizza tip - we're heading there next!!

  2. Replies
    1. I agree. They use it for craft classes now so the school furnishings are no longer inside.

  3. LOVED your eagle photo. The Cowboy learned to fly one of those two handed kites while we were at Long Beach--he had a ball. Tessa sure enjoys her beach time doesn't she.

    1. Thanks Janna. This kite has a motor on it, it looked like so much fun.

  4. So sorry for your loss of a dear friend. Tessa sure seems to enjoy her beach zoomies.

    1. Thank you Faye, she is sorely missed. Oh yes, Tessa thinks the beach is all hers :-)

  5. Thanks for so many memories. I remember all these places. We really enjoyed our visit especially riding our bikes on the great bike path. Love the photos of Tessa. She was having such a great time with all that beach area for zoomies. I, too, really enjoyed the beach at low tide. Our RV park was right over the dunes so I would walk out for sunset in the evening.

    So sorry to read about your friend's passing.

    1. I'm hoping next year we can stay on the dunes as well.

      Thanks Pam, I can't believe I'll never see her again.

  6. Following along and enjoying your words and pictures.
    Phyllis (Oregon)

  7. That beach is zoomie overload, Jodee! Wish we had some of that up here. Lake Michigan rose 9 inches in May!

    1. Wow!! That's a lot for that huge lake!! Tessa could zoomie for years on the Washington beaches.

  8. Oh, I'm so glad you went back to Oysterville for some yummy oysters and smoked salmon! I'm so glad you're spending your summer in the PNW so that I can enjoy it along with you and not feel homesick. Your eagle photos are fantastic!
    It's always fun to see Tessa in her element on the beach. What a cutie. :-)

    I'm so deeply sorry to hear that you've lost another good friend. As you said, it's a reminder to all of us to live our best lives every day.

    1. Thanks Laurel :-)

      I'm glad you're having a great adventure in the Northeast, but I sure understand why you love the summers here.

  9. We live in Vancouver Washington state and go to the beach often in Washington, we have friends who I have known since childhood..One has a cabin we all go to & take their lovely motorhomes that are like big homes..Some of the people have lost their spouses and love love the Washington coast..Oregon is nicer in some parts but taxes on property is exorbitant in Oregon..Hoquiam and other coastal towns have not done work wise anything in over 50 to 60 years..we live in a thriving city but homeless people are abundant and the hungry here are not helped..It costs about 19 to 29 percent more to live & retire in Washington state than many other states but we are not about to move to hell holes like the southwest and the deep south, the costs of living might be lower but quality of life is nothing compared to pristine places here in the pacific northwest..I lived in California for many years went to college there and worked now poor California has horrible wild fires and prisons bursting with criminals who kill people and get out to do that again, no thank you many of our friends adore the beach places for a month or two but always come back into the clark county area and two couples live in eastern Washington in lovely towns of walla walla and near the paluse where WSU thrives in Pullman Washington, no one told me that heaven was on earth but the state of Washington is pretty dodblasted great, just our opinion..Love your blog...

    1. Washington has so much beauty, we especially enjoy the Peninsula area. We also love the southwest where we'll be spending our winter months in the southeast corner of Arizona. Fortunately there's something for everyone or we'd all be stacked on top of one another :-) Glad you enjoy the blog, good to have you alone.

  10. Jodee, it's always a shock when a friend dies. I am saddened that you won't be able to see her again :-( The Pacific coastline is quite diverse. How lucky you get to see the good and the not as good beaches in your travels. Rufus isn't a fan of swimming but he'll do a few paddles when we throw a stick in just the right spot. Too far and he refuses to go after it... LOL

    1. Thank you Rene, we're still in shock.

      Tessa looks at us like we're crazy if we "suggest" she chase a stick or ball :-)))

  11. We are not fans of those wide beaches that can be driven on. The rugged, rocky coastline is so much more interesting and scenic.
    How sad about your friend. My best friend died suddenly six years ago and I still find it difficult to believe.

    1. We definitely like the rugged coasts better as well - so much more interesting.

      Thanks Gayle, it's scary to think how quickly we can lose people.

  12. Sorry about your friend. It is a sad reminder of how short life is.

    I remember Long Beach as a tourist trap. Do love to see Tessa happily zooming on that expansive beach. A friend used to work at Fort Canby and fire the black powder rifle. I think the Natives ran out of a will to live. I love the OP.

    1. Your memory is still accurate - it's very busy with lots of t-shirt shops. I'm always surprised at the number of forts in that area.