Our 15-minute drive from Long Beach, Washington to the North Head Lighthouse was somewhat of a disappointment as we were not able to find the ancient weather instrument that blew away during a 150 mph gust nor did we find any evidence of the gale force wind that carried a wild duck out of its flight path into the lighthouse. These are weather observations made some time ago.
After an intensive, forensic, meteorological investigation, all we found were sunny conditions and just a light breeze. So we enjoyed our 10-minute hike to the North Head Lighthouse as we were able to clearly see the Columbia River flowing into the Pacific Ocean. This lighthouse is a lifeline to mariners as the strong winds, fog and dangerous currents can potentially wreak havoc with ships. After all, over 2,000 large ships have sunk in this region that borders Washington and Oregon.
We returned to the car and decided to take the quick 10-minute drive to the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. This Lighthouse and the North Head Lighthouse are part of the Cape Disappointment State Park system. Also next to the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse is the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. So much to do!! The first thing we did was take an hour hike and enjoy the forest and the ocean views. The highlight was the view of the oldest lighthouse in the state. After this hike we took a short visit into the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center (which is right next to the parking lot).
Before we returned to our hotel in Long Beach, we drove through the fishing village of Ilwaco. As we passed the waterfront, we saw the fisherman unloading their catch of the day, so we knew what fish to order for our dinner later in the day.
We took the short 15-minute drive from Ilwaco back to Long Beach to our ocean view hotel Adrift. Before we went up to our room we had a nice visit with the owners Tiffany and Brady Turner–down-to-earth local folks. Brady’s parents own a small cottage in town and Tiffany’s family has their roots in the local fishing and cranberry businesses. The roots in the cranberry business might explain why some of the cranberry crates are part of the décor in many of the hotel rooms. Recycling and thinking green is also reflected with the bio fuel that they use. However, the best part is that most of the rooms have a great ocean view!
After this nice chat, we went up to our room, changed clothes, quickly checked our email, and we were off on another adventure. Less than a minute walk outside the Adrift Hotel lobby is Discovery Trail. This mostly paved trail is over 8 miles long and runs from just north of Long Beach to Ilwaco. This commemorates the Lewis and Clark journey and has art placed along this beach trail to reflect this. We also enjoyed the walk on the boardwalk along the beach. We sat down on a bench, enjoyed our snack and just listened to the waves.
After relaxing awhile, we decided to do some horseback riding along the beach. The stable was conveniently located near the Adrift Hotel. This was a unique experience of riding on the beach and being able to gaze across the Pacific Ocean while the horse did all the work. After an hour of playing cowboy, the horses were returned to Back Country Wilderness Outfitters, and we continued next door to the World Kite Museum. However, I have to say that after this, horseback riding and enjoying the sun going inside did not exactly rank high on my list.
That sentiment changed quickly when we noticed that there over 1,500 kites in the museum–and the collection of kites from Japan (300) and other countries was really something. It is said that kites originally came from China and they were used to scare off evil spirits. However, the Thailand kites were more practical as they were used to bring rain for the rice crops. We really marveled at the entire Asian kite collection as the bright colors and figures were a sight to behold.
On the way out I noticed information on kites and weather. As a weather forecaster, I could not pass that up. Although the first kites used in China and Malaysia go back to 3,000 years ago, the use of kites for weather is more contemporary, at least on a relative basis. The first kites used for weather measurement were used in the 1700s by two University of Glasgow students. These Scots paved the way for upper level weather measurements. By 1905 a train of six kites were launched in Germany. The kites reached an altitude of 21,096 feet (6431 meters) and measured the wind speed (56 mph), pressure and temperature. Today weather balloons have replaced kites as a key component in measuring the earth’s weather and this data is used and integrated in the complex numerical weather forecast models. In fact, today there are over 800 weather balloons launched twice a day around the world. We can thank the pioneers that first launched these kites.
After the Kite Museum it was dinnertime, so we took the short walk to the 42nd Street Café. The Seafood Stew and Linguine with clam sauce were both outstanding dinners. We enjoyed it so much that we returned for breakfast the next day for their salmon omelets.
Our final visit was to The Shelburne Inn in Seaview, which is adjacent to the town of Long Beach. The Inn was established in 1896 and has operated since then which makes it the oldest continuously operating hotel in Washington. We did not stay at this Inn but did enjoy the charm. However we did enjoy dinner and breakfast there. We also noticed the live music from their pub.
The owners of the Inn, David Campiche and Laurie Anderson, took us to another one of their Inns and called China Beach Retreat in Ilwaco, which is a short drive from Seaview. They have two large houses on Baker Bay with sweeping views to the Columbia River and Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. The houses have tasteful antiques and custom woodwork of cabinets and banisters. However, since our visit was at night and was short, we insisted on a return visit soon. Cannot wait for that!
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Author: Michael Fagin is a freelance travel writer who has traveled over the last ten years across Canada and visited all the major Canadian wine regions. Mr. Fagin is currently touring the Pacific Northwest enjoying the wine country, dining, and hiking the region. While he is not writing Mr. Fagin is a meteorologist for West Coast Weather, LLC forecasting weather for the West Coast of the US as well as on an international basis.
Photos by Elizabeth Fagin.