Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Trek up the Coast

Saturday my partner in crime and I decided to do a reconnaissance mission up to Aberdeen, Washington, to check out were the Grays Harbor Street Market will be held. The town ain't pretty, and reminded me of how Naugatuck, Connecticut, used to look in the 1960s, i.e. pretty run down.

Fortunately, pretty ain't what matters in a street market.

We skedaddled out of there pretty fast, and went straight to the Westport (Wash.) Marina. All I can say is, Yikes! It will be condo city in no time. The development is still in its infancy, but the writing is on the wall. Right now, Westport, too, is a little run down, but it's easy to see that in 10 years it will be a polished tourist trap. I was shocked to see there's actually still vacant land near the marina. That, too, will be gone in no time.

Since we were hungry, we decided to check out the Half Moon Bay Restaurant out near the end of the marina. Omigod, you'd have to really try hard to get a worse plate of fish and chips than that one (for $13!).

The meal was like something you'd expect to get served in some landlocked wasteland. The menu purported that this piscene obscenity was cod. The breading tasted like overcooked styrofoam, and the fish was so dry it was damn near dessicated. I think it might have died in 1932, and the resurrection was unsuccessful. However, the ensuing attack on my credit card was successful, more's the pity.

While we were consuming the ill-fated fish, we noticed a helicopter that kept hovering over the jetty, which it did for more than 1/2 hour. We finally saw someone being hoisted aboard, and it took off. I kept wondering why the helicopter looked so familiar. Well, hey, it was our very own Astoria Coast Guard, rescuing some kid who fell on the jetty.

Astoria Coast Guard to the Rescue

After lunch, a little exploring was called for. For me, the lure of the beach is always strong, so we headed down the road to the beach. On the way, in the woods, what did we see but a lighthouse - the Grays Harbor Lighthouse.

Yes, in the woods, what seemed like more than a quarter of a mile inland. It looks a great deal like the North Head Lighthouse, and that's no coincidence; it's designed by the same man.

The lighthouse keepers were there, and even though it was only 10 minutes till closing time, the wife of the team agreed to take me up the very narrow and winding metal stairs to the top.

She knew a lot about the history of the place, and to me, the most interesting part was that the ocean used to be much closer to the lighthouse - only 400 feet away. In this instance, the ocean added land instead of taking it away.

Of course, right near the ocean on this spit of land, some enterprising soul built a huge three-story condo/vacation suites project that is a complete eyesore. Perhaps the sea will get angry at the desecration and reclaim the land.

The view from the top of the lighthouse is spectacular if you can igore the condos and look directly north. You can see all of Grays Harbor and really get a sense of the place. It's a climb well worth taking.

Grays Harbor Light House

All that wandering around included a side trip to Bay Center. It reminded me so much of the way my home town (also an oystering village) looked when I was a child that it was very nostalgic. So much so that it was a little scary.

I was more than ready to head back to Astoria, and I'm looking forward to the Ship Inn's heavenly fish and chips.

Click here to see Elleda's photography at the Astoria Photografpix web site


Jen said...

Ah, I've been stabbed in the heart! Just kidding. My beloved Westport. I have an affinity for the place, but admittedly, it has nothing to do with ambiance or good food. A friend of mine made an observation about the similarities between Westport and Dutch Harbor. AK...but I couldn't repeat it in public. I care too much for that little place. I don't know why.
Great post!

Elleda said...

Ouch! I hope the wound in your heart is healing.

And I can certainly see why you would have an affinity for the Westport that must have been ... but I see it becoming an imitation of Santa Monica, Calif., in the not too distant future. And that is sad.

Thanks - Glad you liked the post!

Sweeti said...

Oh my gosh, Elleda we almost were in the same places only a day apart. One of these days were gonna have to meet up.

Elleda said...

Isn't that weird. Yup, we'll meet one of these days! You could always come see me at the Sunday Market while I'm still there ...

nootka said...

Westport, WA is where my first son was "made" he he.
We fished out of there in the 70s for Salmon...I agree, though, the past few times I've been back, it is looming on the edge of something.
Bummer about the fish. :(

Rich said...

If you ever head south to Newport I had the best fish and chips in South Beach just past the bridge. It's all fresh caught, straight off the boat and totally delicious.

Here's their web site:

Elleda said...


Went to Newport last summer, and wish I'd known about the place then. Lordy, it sounds yummy!