The winters in Washington can drag on you. The days are short and gray broken by sprinkles. Walks can help but I needed to get away. We have not been to the coast in years. Our last trip was yurt camping at Cape Disappointment and that has been almost 5 years. It was time for a trip.
The Washington coast is very different from the scenic, rocky Oregon and California coast which attract millions. Washington’s coast is mainly an industrial coast where timber and fishing are the main industries. The dense forest hugs the coast line broken by marshy estuaries and a few muddy bays. One thing that is unique are the long stretches of flat sandy beach that would be the envy of most other locations but never have seemed to have taken off as a tourist destination in Washington. The beach areas always seem to be the land of broken dreams; locals resistant to change, broken down houses with small windows covered with moss and dying local factories. But the potential is there – you know someday it will change.
Mid January was cold, foggy and frosty. G was away for a week visiting his parents. I started to dream and plan for a weekend away. We could go on Friday and Saturday and be home in time for me to work Sunday night. But I got my summons for jury duty. G said we could still probably go on Friday and stay one night. Wednesday I was dismissed from my dutiesand I quickly booked a night at the Best Western in Ocean Shores.
Part of the lack of draw is the type of amount of tourist services. Ocean Shores is lined with the small tacky seaside businesses selling cheap trinkets, taffy, kites along with an Indian Casino. Things to do are renting paddle boats or driving your car on the beach. Yes, it is legal to drive on the beach here in Washington. They are actually part of the highway system since the long flat beaches were once the easiest way to get between towns. They are fortunately closed to driving in the summer. The cuisine is mostly deep fried fish and other greasy options. Not much for the foodie. Also many of the tourist shops are closed for the winter and won’t reopen until April.
But we dug up a couple of restaurant options that sounded good. For beer we found: 8th Street Ale House in Hoquiam, Westport Brewing Company, Elk Head Tap Room. Amici’s Cafe sounded great for breakfast and Bennett’s Fish Shack was probably one of the better fry joints.
Our main attraction was the snowy owls at Damon Point. Damon Point is located at the southern tip of the Point Brown peninsula where Ocean Shores is located. The peninsula juts out into Grays Harbor. A.O. Damon bought the southern portion for a trading marina in 1870 and eventually bought the whole peninsula. It passed down to his heirs which used it as cattle land until they sold it back in the late ’60s for a cool million. The state now owns the point and bay as a wildlife area. There have been reports of Snowy Owls among the sea dunes and we wanted to check them out.
The weather can always be tricky. One trip in February we arrived to find the power out up and down the peninsula and North beach area. But the forecast was for broken clouds and a chance of sun. Perfect for a winter Friday night away.