Friday, September 5, 2014

Good Bye Long Beach Peninsula, You've Been Wonderful!

Today we leave Long Beach Peninsula and the state of Washington behind. Western Washington has been a perfect place to spend the summer with its cool temperatures, a diversity of terrain and charming small towns we've had no shortage of great hikes and interesting exploring to do.

From the moment we arrived the Long Beach Peninsula charmed us with its laid back and friendly beach vibe. I've already posted about the first part of our week here, now I'll share how we spent the rest of the week.

I first mentioned the Discovery Trail in my last post; a couple of days later we rode our bikes from our site at Cranberry RV Park to the North end of the trail, two miles away, and proceeded all the way to the Beards Hollow trail head at Cape Disappointment another six and a half miles (Discovery Trail map). This portion of the Discovery Trail is the easiest, winding through the grass covered dunes, the elevation change is minimal. Beyond Beards Hollow you can drop another couple of miles into the town of Ilwaco or climb a bit into Cape Disappointment State Park. This a beautiful, peaceful trail and I would enjoy riding or walking this again and again.

Sculpture of Capt. William Clark and the 10 foot long sturgeon he found on the beach.

Cape Disappointment rises from the low dunes behind Hans on this cloudy day.

Once the Labor Day weekend crowds subsided we drove into the small town of Long Beach. Long Beach is the most kitschy, touristy beach town on the Peninsula, with lots of hotels, restaurants, arcades, sweets shops and amusements geared towards families. One of the most unique stores is Marsh's Free Museum, a large shop filled with funky antiques and taxidermy plus modern tourist junk for sale.

To get to town we drove the beach highway!

Unfortunately the tide was coming up and not all of the hard packed beach was as wide as in the previous photo!
We scared up a flock of seagulls as we kept to the water line!

Mural depicting 1920 cranberry harvest in downtown Long Beach.

We took a day trip into Astoria, OR. This lively port town has several miles of waterfront walking, a bustling downtown with unique shops and restaurants and lots of wonderful turn of the century homes perched on the steep hills overlooking downtown. It put us in mind of a mini San Francisco or Portland.

The Oregon end of the Astoria - Megler Bridge.
The covered portion is being painted and caused some traffic back ups as traffic was down to one lane.
Old pier pilings abound on the Astoria waterfront.

Several large ships were anchored on the Columbia River waiting their turn to dock.
Along with the old pilings, there were several abandoned structures as well.

Heron on pallets.

Yarn art in downtown Astoria.

Towering above the city is the Astoria Column, a 125 foot tall column built in 1926. It's open to the public and you can climb the 164 step spiral staircase to a marvelous view.

Sorry this is a little crooked, but it's the lightest shot I had that showed the wonderful paintings that cover the tower!
The clouds were building quickly during our visit.

From the tower you get a spectacular view of Astoria and the full span of the 4.1 mile long Astoria - Megler Bridge
connecting Oregon and Washington.

This zoom shot shows some sandbars in the ever changing Columbia River near the bridge.
The black specks to the left of the visible sandbar are birds perched on another sandbar.

We visited Cape Disappointment State Park one day where we hiked a few trails, viewed both lighthouses and visited the very well done Lewis and Clark Interpretive center in the park. Note: trails throughout the park do not link up well, it is easier to drive to each trail head and do each trail individually.

The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center is $5/per person (in addition to the Washington State Park entry fee) and contains an extensive historical timeline of Lewis and Clark's journey from St Louis to the Pacific Ocean including a short movie. There is also a bit of information on the lighthouses and the many shipwrecks that have happened in these treacherous waters. This was one of the better museums we have visited lately and well worth the entry fee.

North Head Lighthouse warns ships on the ocean side of Cape Disappointment.

We saw a couple of bald eagles.

The Cape Disappointment lighthouse warns ships navigating the treacherous mouth of the Columbia River.

We enjoyed a really lazy last day, driving to a beach North of us and having lunch at the edge of the dunes with a warm summer breeze waving the dune grasses and shifting sand particles across our toes.

Nothing but wide open beach...

With occasional passers by.

Our last evening we made some new friends whom we met on RVillage, John and Karen are full time RVers that summer in a park in Ilwaco, WA. We'd noticed during our drives around the peninsula that the area is extremely friendly to RVers and many folks buy lots and set up their rigs for the summer. After spending one week here, it is easy to see why people love it so much! We had a delicious dinner at John and Karen's getting to know them and with any luck our paths will cross again somewhere, sometime!

So I failed to get a picture of us with John and Karen, but I got one of me with their adorable little PJ,
short for Pepper Jack!

We spent our week on the peninsula at Cranberry RV Park, a small, full hookup, adults only park about two miles North of the town of Long Beach. Our site (#6) was difficult to get in to, but once we were parked we enjoyed a peaceful stay. On clear nights we could even hear the ocean about a quarter mile away. The sites are pretty close together but not as bad as some of the other RV parks we looked at in the area. This is a very friendly place to stay and is extremely dog friendly, the owners two standard poodles follow her around constantly (off leash). There is a Verizon cell tower about one block away so we enjoyed a blazing fast 4G signal!

We loved our time on the peninsula and we will definitely return. We'd probably look for another RV park since our rig was kind of large to get into the sites at Cranberry, though we really appreciated the low-key, helpful, friendliness at this RV park. Along with Cape Disappointment State Park, there are numerous other small RV parks on the peninsula to choose from.

Today we head into Oregon and make our way down the coast for a couple of weeks. September is looking like the perfect time to hit the beach, the crowds have dispersed and the weather is beautiful!


  1. We'll be leaving Lopez Island mid-September and wending our way down the coast to Ashland. Thanks to you, we'll make sure we stop for a few days in Long Beach. We're looking forward to riding that bike path! We appreciate all of the great tips you've provided. :-)

  2. We have enjoyed "sharing" your summer with you. Safe Travels

  3. Beautiful Washington State! Glad you made it to the Astoria column, It does provide sweeping views of the river.

  4. I apologize if this is a duplicate, but I lost my last message before I was done I think. Anyway, you sure had some glorious weather! Every time we vist the OR coast it seems to be the wet season. But we won't give up. Don't you love the artwork on the Astoria Column! And that little historic town at the end of the peninsula. Oysterville?

  5. First of all.. Yarn Art!!! Second, I can't get over the name "Cape Disappointment" Ha! Third, I love the picture of you and PJ. :) Looks like a great place.

    Love you! Chantal

  6. Oh, yes, we do want to visit Long Beach Peninsula. I read about the quirky free museum. Sure sounds like a fun place.

    We've been to Astoria but on a motorcycle trip not with the MH. We didn't have the best weather so I don't have fond memories. We'll have to try it again.

    Thanks for the great info:)

  7. We really enjoyed our time in Astoria, particularly the brew pubs and farmers' market. The Astoria Column was also wonderful with its sweeping views and great paintings. We have yet to do a great deal of exploring in WA but found Cape Disappointment and the L&C Interp Center to be wonderful. Thanks for all the great tips this summer. :)

  8. The trail at Long Beach sounds perfect. I don't know why I pictured the bridge to Astoria so much smaller...thanks for the pics. Love the rusted structure shot, but the pallets and heron is genius - such a creative catch! We are so looking forward to next summer in western WA and your posts have been a wonderful preview of the best there is to see and do. Safe travels to Oregon.

  9. Oh those beaches are so beautiful! Nothing like the sound of peaceful!

  10. Watched "Kindergarten Cop" last night (don't ask) and the shot of the bridge from Astoria was from nearly the same spot as yours :-) I'd forgotten it was filmed in Astoria and the few outdoor scenes really confirm what a gorgeous little town it is.

  11. Having spent all June here It's lovely to relive it again through your blog. Glad you enjoyed it as much as we did!