Long Beach, WA 8/2/07
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We're taking a few needed days off to enjoy a place we haven't been before. Long Beach, WA- or actually, just outside of it, at the Thousand Trails preserve located just a mile or so west of Ilwaco.  Now that we're only about eight months away from our big US trip, it's almost torture to take a few short days here and there.  Especially in a place like this, with so many interesting and beautiful things to see and do. 

The small Long Beach peninsula is home to a couple of large state parks, and a couple of smaller parks packed with trails to scenic points along the shoreline.  Our first full day here, Friday, we hiked first to the North Head Lighthouse and then drove a short distance down to Cape Disappointment State Park, which has its own lighthouse, camping, numerous trails and an Interpretive Center.   The trails there are hilly, but well maintained and give some amazing views.

The peninsula has a long hard pack beach along most of the shoreline, which they allow people to drive on.  When you're walking the beach, this is slightly annoying,  but not nearly as annoying as the pedestrians that get in your way when you're driving it!  :) We drove several miles, stopping along the way for Marley to take a swim in the ocean.  His swim was short, because he upset some of the birds and they tried to chase him away. He ran back to us for safety.  It was pretty funny.  (See Videos)

On Saturday we drove to Fort Columbia State Park.  It reminded us a lot of Fort Stevens, with better views, and maybe a little better maintained.  The site also has all the original barracks and other buildings as well.  We were able to go inside the barracks which has been converted into a  museum.  Most of it was closed for renovations, but the parts we saw were well done and interesting. 

After Fort Columbia we drove into Ilwaco for some lunch.  We happened to see the sign for the local Saturday market and stopped there.  It has most of the normal Saturday market things, nothing that set it apart, except the location- right on the port.  We walked around the marina and then went up to a stand where they were selling some freshly made soups and chowder.  Yum!  After lunch, we headed north to check out a local legend that we'd heard was in Long Beach.

Some of you may have heard of Jake the Alligator Man?  Well, we saw him- he's right there in the Marsh's Free Museum next to the creepy shrunken head and just right of the "I Brake for Jake the Alligator Man" bumper stickers.  There, surrounded by an amazing display of for-sale junk shop beach memorabilia, we were surprisingly impressed.  Proudly displayed on the wall behind him was the cover of the Weekly World News, featuring him as the "Half-Man/Half-Alligator who had killed a man and then escaped from a laboratory."  Amazing, considering his 3 inch long alligator legs and front heavy torso.  We knew we'd never top this sight, and so called it a day.