Dec 31, 2012

Long Beach Peninsula, Washington

I read where “Forbes Traveler” named Long Beach one of “America’s Favorite Beach Towns” and even though it wasn’t beach weather we decided to make it a side trip from Portland, Oregon.  It turns out swimming is not recommended along the 30-mile long beach because of the dangerous currents and cold waters. Cape Disappointment is called “The Graveyard of the Pacific” due to the many sailing ships that were wrecked trying to get into the Colombia River.

On the way into town we stopped at the Visitors Center where the staff were extremely helpful in helping us make the best use of out two days. We picked up maps and brochures then headed to the Shelburne Inn, the oldest continuously operating hotel in the State of Washington. There was a lot to love about it – friendly staff, wonderfully preserved rooms, incredible antiques everywhere, and great food.

After checking into the Shelburne we headed to the beach to watch the sunset. We walked along the boardwalk and checked out the 38-foot long grey whale skeleton. The whale beached itself and died in 2000. People were razor clamming – a popular family recreational activity. We thought about giving it a try because a three-day permit is inexpensive and the equipment – a clam gun and net - is readily available. When they see a “dimple” in the sand they push the “gun” to a depth of six to ten inches, put their thumb over the air hole, pull it out of the sand, dump the sand in the net and, hopefully, there will be a razor clam in it.  When we got back to the hotel, one of the owners, David Campiche had just returned with 15 large razor clams – the daily limit. David prepared them for us as an appetizer. Excellent.

At the Columbia Pacific Museum we learned about the history of the area from the pre-contact days to Lewis and Clark to today. At one time the fishermen hauled in nets filled with salmon that were so huge they needed horses to pull them ashore.  I was in awe of the exhibit about the man who rowed across the Pacific. Good grief… what was he thinking! 

John loves kites so the World Kite Museum was a must visit. It is home to over 1500 kites from 26 countries. There were several video presentations including one the military use of kites during WW II for communicating and observing. One video was especially impressive of people catching bats with their kites. When we were in China there were always people in the parks flying kites.  They were all ages but mostly the elderly with what I presumed was a grandchild.

I always thought cranberries were a New England crop, and they are, but it turns out Washington State is also a major producer.  We visited the Cranberry Museum and took the self-guided walking tour of the cranberry bogs on the way to Oysterville, a village that seemed frozen in time. The village dates from the mid-1800s and, at one time was a rowdy boomtown, but when we visited we seemed to be the only people there. There are over 25 well-preserved buildings that comprise the Historic District.

On the way back to the Shelburne we fell for the signs that advertised “See the Alligator Man at the Free Museum.”  Carney attractions are alive and well! It was a gift shop with a display they claimed was an alligator man!