Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Shore, the Beach, La Playa or the edge of the Continent

We've lived in Seattle now for about 12 years. We've been to the rugged coast close to Forks and Neah Bay but have never made it to the beach. We finally crossed that off the list in a nice way.

First, did you know that correct Washingtonian usage is to call the beach "the shore?" I found that out this week at work when I mentioned we were going to Ocean Shores and "the beach." Anyone have any dirt (or sand :-p) on this one because I can't figure it out. all I can assume is that as a gal growing up on the beaches of Southern California, that the beaches of Washington in NO WAY compare so you better call it something different.


It was a planned running weekend. I ran 10 miles Saturday on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail uphill to Rattlesnake lake. I was supposed to have some pick up miles in there but that didn't work at all so easy miles were just fine. I admired all the bear scat and enjoyed the drippy rain. Rain? it's been so dry this spring and summer that really this was novel. The fall rains are going to hurt this year.

I quickly came home and we went to the Sounders FC game (a rather frustrating game 0-0 but the games themselves are always fun) and then we were off for the 2-3 hour drive to Ocean Shores, WA.

Ocean Shores is a rather strange and remote beach tourist town. Obviously the town lives and dies by tourism but it is so remote feeling and closed that I was a bit taken back. No, there isn't a lot out there.

I compare it to the beaches I grew up near in Southern California. Seal Beach definitely had that same beach town feel but since it was part of the larger metropolis of So Cal, there wasn't that desolate feel. I went to college in the coastal town of Santa Cruz which is a retirement and family vacation destination on the California coast. With a big University of California campus sprawled on the hillsides, the town had a strange but vibrant mix of tourism, retirees and campus. At least they did when I was there last years ago.

Ocean Shores has beach and lots of it. And because we were there with a group, with no vehicle of our own and with a tight schedule, I saw no other part of the area besides the drive in and out. The beach itself was quite spectacular in it's own subtle gray and misty way.

On a quiet and still Sunday morning, we got driven to a street just south of Copalis Beach and made our way to the beach adn started running south. It's nearly 13 miles of flat, packed sand with the ocean and sea birds as company.

And I loved it. It was a cloudy day and soon I was all by myself and just moving along and enjoying the novel sensation of running on packed sand. the sound of the waves is deeply comforting to me. I kept my eyes open for an intact sand dollar (found one eventually!) and sometimes went sprinting after the flocks of seagulls to make them fly. I left the brown pelicans alone. They are huge and aren't they on an endangered list somewhere? The flocks of wee sandpipers were adorable and moved along the sand with the waves so quickly that I wish I had half their sprinting ability. ;-)

I debated running 10 or 13 (the options for distances for this run) and eventually decided that even though I was tired I needed to do the whole distance. How often would I be on this beach? the last few miles became a trudge through soft sand (similar to slushy snow but without the cold) as the tide came in but that was ok. I knew I could do it.

When finished, Coach T pointed me over to climb the rocks at Point Brown Jetty to see Westport across the entrance to Grays Harbor. It was nearly impossible to walk on the sand with my running shoes. I'd spent years of my life barefoot on the sand. I had to take my shoes off and dig my toes in and walk. Ahhh. That felt great!

Back to the room to shower in water that smelled like broccoli water (don't ask) and then to breakfast at a fabulous little diner. Pancakes, bacon and eggs are the best after a run! Within half a day we were back in Seattle and getting ready to reset for the upcoming week at work. We'd only been gone 24 hours but took a little vacation in that time which was really appreciated.

Ok. I'm sold on the shore!


Slomohusky said...

PT, as you know I grew up in Seattle. I now live in Vegas, but spend lots of time at OC beaches and SD/Coronado Island area ones. My wife grew up near Newport Beach/Balboa and Huntington Beaches.

In Seattle we preferred going to Long Beach and down to the Northern Oregon Coast over Ocean Shores. Although I have been there many times. I never heard of a nickname for Ocean Shores to be honest, but it has been nearly 10 years since I have lived in Seattle. When I would say I was going to the "coast" that implied Long Beach and Oregon Coast/Cannon Beach. I have only been to Forks/Neah Bay twice in my life.

Now for preferences of Coasts/beaches - I greatly miss the Oregon Coast. However, I will take the entire Cali coast over Washington coast in a heartbeat. OC beaches are the best. However, you mentioned Santa Cruz. I love it up there. If you have read any of my older blog entries - the small town of Capitola is my favorite spot on the Pacific Coast. I also like the SLO area as well. I really like the Pebble Beach/Carmel/Monteray area as well. Half Moon Bay cannot be beat the month of Oct near the pumpkin patch.

Wow, one long comment! But, you hit a favorite topic of mine in your blog. Sounds like a great run on the coast though! I miss it up there. Thanks for sharing.

PuddleThumper said...

The beaches of California are definitely the one thing I really miss living here in the NW. I so understand! Having grown up close to the ocean, hearing the waves again was such a soothing sound. Half Moon Bay was great, I agree!