Wednesday, October 3, 2012

10/3/12 -- Our Last Days on the Long Beach Peninsula

We have enjoyed the wildlife all across the country, sharing space and time with our furry and feathered neighbors.  Yesterday I showed you a couple of the deer here.  Sometimes a herd of 7 spends time at the RV park.  Nice!  

Ever since we left Yellowstone where a raven imparted wisdom to Drichab-Anna and Winston, we have seen ravens nearly every day.  This morning, Adina saw two of them.  Their deep-throated, gravely voices are different from the raucous crow-calls.  Ravens don't talk all the time like crows, but when they do, they always have something important to say.  We always listen carefully.

I was talking to the woman in the office at our RV park this morning and she told us about the problem they are having with bears on the Long Beach Peninsula. It is so bad that the bears have ripped the enclosures for the garbage cans totally apart several times. The bears pull the board right out, they are so strong. 
At another RV park where we stopped to check it out, the owner told us the same thing. They have nailed their garbage cans to the wall of one of the buildings. She didn't say how they got the garbage out of them. The problem is that people have fed the bears and now they come demanding food, are refused and then get destructive.

The woman at our RV park said that she thought they had more bears than anywhere else in WA, maybe in the whole country. I don't know if that's accurate, but it does indicate a sizable bear population.  However, we haven't seen any bears on this trip, even in Yellowstone.

We took a drive to the north end of the Peninsula to the little town of Oysterville.  This town was established in the 1860's when companies came in to gather oysters.  They hired native people to gather the oysters.  The companies sent the oysters to San Francisco by the shipload to be served in SF's most exclusive restaurants.

Now you have to have a license, like a fishing license, to gather clams.  This month is clam season for 2 days, 2 hours each day.  All the shellfish is diminished by over-gathering.  Oysters are so rare that companies farm them in the bays.

There is still an oyster company at Oysterville but mostly it is a sleepy little burg.  Houses have the dates when they were built, ranging from 1865-1920.  We found a lovely little church, originally a Baptist church but now a historical landmark.  The furnishings were simple.  The seating area was divided -- women sat on one side, men on the other.  The steeple and window surrounds are covered with simple gingerbread. 

The Oysterville Church

The one-room schoolhouse is is good shape.  The picket fence in the foreground is loaded with lichen.  Lichen looks benign but it eats the paint from wood, then eats into the wood.  It is one of the forest's means of renewing itself. 

Oysterville School - the fence is furry with lichen

We spent a delightful day in the town of Long Beach.  There isn't a lot we needed there but it's kind of obligatory if you are on the peninsula. 

Long Beach is a tourist town, complete with motels, RV parks, go-kart track, rentable pedal cars and miniature golf.  If you are into those things, the town can provide endless entertainment.  When I came here when Pete was little, he was always drawn to the go-karts and golf.

It also boasts some of the usual tourist shops and a few unusual ones.  We spent a delightful day browsing the shops there.  Most have the usual gee-gaws.  Some sell sweats and tee shirts.  Others sell "regular" clothes.  The best shops sell kites.  Lots and lots of kites.  We got a little rainbow twirler for our new home.

Long Beach claims to be the longest beach in the world.  The sign at the entrance to the beach says it on an arch that spans the road. 

Long Beach's Beach Arch

Long Beach is over 30 miles long.  And you can drive on it.  I don't mean that people sneak their cars down onto the beach.  WA treats this beach as part of the road system.  It even has signs at the entrances about "rules of the road." 

"Rules of the Road" for driving on the beach

That doesn't mean that there is a road on the beach.  That means that a road leads down to the beach and then people drive where they will on the hard packed sand.  The beach is wide.  When the tide is out, it's really wide.  As long as they stay on the hard sand, they're okay.    

Car tracks crisscross each other into the fog

I used to drive on the beach too, but quit when I understood the impact on the ecology, how it hurts the plants and animals.  I suppose that environmental groups would like to see the practice stopped, but I doubt that it will be since it's such a tradition. 

One of the parts of driving on the beach that I always enjoyed was the freedom from lanes and borders.  I also enjoyed watching the folks who thought they could park next to the "road" on the hard sand.  It was fun to watch them try to dig themselves out of the soft sand as their wheels spun and dug them deeper and deeper.  They should know better than to park on soft sand. 

This guy parked right by the dunes.  We watched for a while.
He didn't get stuck -- this time.

We didn't see anyone get stuck when we were on the beach but we saw a lot of people driving.  One jeep drove off the beach, his bumpers loaded with driftwood logs lashed on.  Mostly, we saw sight-seers. 

We watched this truck drive towards us
he's driving close to the water -- tough on birds and sand-life

The strong tides and riptides at this beach also leave their mark on the sand.  These sand-ripples were carved by tidal movement and by the constant wind.  No matter what you do on the beach, it leaves its mark. 

Sand ripples

We enjoyed a picnic lunch at the beach at Long Beach the other day.  This fine seagull met us.  Well, maybe he was waiting for a hand-out.  When we didn't come through, he scolded us with prolific language for one so young.  We knew he was a teenager  because of his plumage.  Seagulls remain grey or mottled brown  when they are young.  They don't get their white and grey feathers until they are 4 years old. 

A young seagull greeter sitting on a log at the edge of the parking lot, right next to our car.
He posed for this picture.
I didn't pay him.

Many of the seagulls sat on top of people's cars and watched to see if anyone threw stale bread out of their windows.  Some people did.  As long as people do it, the seagulls will watch. 

Other seagulls laid in the sun and ignored us as they concentrated on their noon-tide siesta.  When I lived here before, we took seagulls for granted most of the time.  They were pretty when they flew, interesting if they did something unusual, irritating if they were too aggressive begging or just part of the scenery.  Now that we have been gone so long, we delight in watching seagull behavior as if for the first time. 

This young fella got up from his siesta to ask us a question.
I wish I could speak seagull.  I know his question was important. 
After a while, he went back to rest in the sand and the sun.



Long Beach is famous for its kites.  Every year they have a huge week-long kite festival.  We've never been here for it because we were always working.  Now maybe we can come.  If any of you are interested it in, they always hold it the 3rd full week of August. 

During our lunch at the beach, we watched the seagulls, but we also watched the kites.  Seems like there's someone flying kites on this beach no matter when you go, anytime of day, anytime of year.  Maybe even in the rain.  Way down the beach, we could see a pickup.  Folks there were flying a red and yellow delta kite with spinners every few feet all down the line.  Someone in a white sweatshirt flew a white parachute kite. 

The red and yellow delta kite at the top of the string looked like a giant bird

Closer, a fellow sat in a folding lawn chair flying kites.  These kites are huge and looked about 6' wide.  He had a delta and a box kite.  We watched him make the box kite turn somersaults in the sand and then leap up and soar.  His delta kite had rainbow stripes and a 25' tail.  I tried to fly one of those once but I wasn't very good at it.  You fly them with two lines, one in each hand.  It takes a lot of arm, wrist and shoulder strength. 
This guy was really good.  He made that delta kite do everything but sing and dance.  Well, maybe it did dance.  It flew sideways and did somersaults in the sand right in front of us.     

Delta kite did somersaults.  Red and blue box kite in background.

Then the kite flyer made that delta do loop-de-loops way up high, making the tail form circles in the sky.   

As I headed back to the car after taking these pictures, a voice called to me.  A woman sitting in a car a little ways away told me, "I used to fly those."  Here's her story:  Laura lives here on the peninsula.  She said that she has daughters in King country and in Spokane and that they all think she should be in a place where she would have more services available.  "They think this is the end of the world," she said, "but I know it is the best place on earth.  I wouldn't live anywhere else." 

She told me how she used to fly the big kites.  "All those tricks that guy is doing -- I used to do them all."  She had to stop flying kites after she had double knee replacement surgery.  "I quit after my kite dragged me on my butt down the beach for a long way," she said.  "I finally found some driftwood I could brace myself against and make it stop."  Those big kites can really pull! 

I noticed that letting go of the kite wasn't an option.


Laura can't fly the big kites anymore but she loves to come down to the beach and watch the acrobatics of those who can and remember how it felt to run a kite.  She is 82 years old now but her spirit is young and her smile is catching.  What a woman!  I hope I am doing so well at age 82.

At the edge of the surf, sandpipers race the waves.  They find their food in the receding waves.  As a wave ebbs, the sandpipers race toward the ocean, grabbing bites as they go.  Seconds later a new wave breaks and races toward them.  They run for shore.  They must have to eat prodigious amounts to sustain their little bodies, always moving, and their dietary habits. Talk about eating on the run!   

Sandpipers race the waves

Sandpipers are about the size of wrens.  When they run, their little legs are a blur.  I only saw one of them get caught by a wave.  He bobbed up and down like a fishing cork, fluffed his feathers and took a salt-water bath until he was washed into shore on the next wave. 

People drive up and down the beach, walk and go beach combing, come down for lunch and to feed the seagulls and fly their big kites and the ocean just kept rolling in. The waves are more spread out than in other beaches, but they are just as big.  Looking at them head-on, they look like icing on a wedding cake with about 7 tiers. 

the waves crest and break
fog waits on the horizon
the waves never stop

Today is our last day on the road.  Tomorrow we go home.  Home.  That has a good ring to it.  We're ready. 

We've had the trip of a lifetime and taken over 1800 pictures for me to finish sorting.  But the weather is getting colder every day.  We've had sun the whole way, but we are in western WA and we can't count on that much longer.

It's good to know that no matter where we are, no matter what we are doing, Yellowstone's geysers will still be spouting and the hot pools will still bubble.  The wind will continue to carve the Badlands.  The greatest inland sea, Lake Superior, will still be there making its own weather.  The Black Hills will still be beautiful and their buffalo will still block the roads. 

All the beautiful lakes we've seen and camped beside will still be there protecting their fish.  Rivers will still run and birds will still fly.  All the wonderful people we have met will live in memory.  The ocean will still pound the beach with waves, day by day and year by year.

These places will wait for us, and maybe they'll be there for some of you.  We know we'll go back to see them again sometime.

This sounds like an ending, but it isn't, not quite.  I'll add a few blogs in the next couple of weeks to let you know how we are doing in our new digs.

So tomorrow we'll be home.  And so will you, having traveled with us on this whole fabulous journey. 

No, this is definitely -- not -- the end.  Maybe it's the beginning...

1 comment:

  1. Actually glad you will be safe and warm at home now. Love the kites, and the ribbon kites; so many colors. Seagull darling, too. Had a scare about Huey the cat, but a lady returned him, she thought he was a stray. He was soooo happy in his own digs
    Thanks for the nice trip along with you guys.
    Pat J