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While some days can be pretty mundane, some can take you completely by surprise and end up being an unexpected trip highlight. What made last Thursday so awesome for us? Upon reflection, we realized it all came down to a series of simple little things that added up to our idea of a perfect afternoon.
So while we know we’re behind in sharing news, posts and pix of other recent travels, we couldn’t resist jumping ahead to share our experience in Long Beach, Washington this week.
Here’s a recap of one of our favorite experiences so far, broken down into simple moments of joy.
Making the most of a beautiful day in Long Beach WA
With gloriously sunny blue skies, 80 degrees F (26-27C) and a warm gentle breeze, it was one of those truly spectacular late summer days that you just have to grab with both hands. As soon as the workday was done, we were determined to get out and make the most of this one!
Finishing work on time
While the perfect day would probably mean we didn’t have to work at all, we figure we’ve got the next best thing – the ability to live and work from the road. Marc’s workday has to fit in with his employer’s Mountain Time schedule, which means he has an early start to the day – he’s at his desk by 6.30am! The good news is, that also means an early finish, so by 3.30pm PST he was logging off the laptop, pulling the curtain on his office and ready to go!
Getting in some family time on the bike
What better way to spend time together and explore our local surrounds than heading out on our tandem bike!? What we love most about the tandem is it enables us to get out and ride at the same cadence, staying in sync while being able to easily chat along the way. We hooked up Coda’s “chariot” onto the back of the tandem to take her along for the ride, hitting the road by 3.55pm. We love how the tandem-chariot-dog combo brings a smile to a few faces along the way, including ours. 🙂 So much fun!
Exploring the Long Beach WA area
On Sunday, when we arrived in the tiny town of Long Beach WA (population under 1,400), we were completely clueless about what to expect. To be honest, our expectations weren’t that high! We decided to let spontaneity rule and literally follow the path to see where it took us! We took a detour down main street (Pacific Avenue) past the shops, restaurants, carousel and go-kart track. The quaint, small town of Long Beach claims to have the world’s longest beach. At 28 miles, technically it’s not, but it’s apparently the world’s longest contiguous beach as well as the world’s longest drivable beach, with cars allowed to drive from one end to the other.
You can see Long Beach WA is presently undergoing quite a bit of beachside property development and it’s easy to see why. It’s a lovely, very scenic little town! With beachside condos selling for under $80K it probably won’t be too long before Long Beach WA becomes a mecca for tourists. Meanwhile, we’re loving our time here while it’s still quite small, uncrowded and relatively undiscovered.
Discovering new trails in Long Beach WA
We discovered the trail we never even knew we wanted to ride quite serendipitously, having crossed right over it on our walk to the beach behind our campground the night before. Little did we know the Discovery Trail between Long Beach WA and Ilwaco is one of the most scenic in the Pacific Northwest. With 7.6 miles (12.23km) of awesome smooth asphalt paved road, it winds through grassy dunes, forest groves and offers outstanding views of the ocean. Basically, it’s our dream bike path!
As we have zero chance of fitting the tandem bike, 2 adults, a 55lb dog and a dog chariot in the Mini, we started (and finished) from the part of the trail that goes right behind our campground. So while we didn’t get to ride the whole trail this time, our round trip ended up being close to 8 miles and amazingly, we didn’t encounter any other cyclists or pedestrians along the path! Discovery Trail is unquestionably the best biking trail we’ve found so far and we definitely plan to ride the entire distance next time. That will take us on a 15 mile round trip through forests to Cape Disappointment State Park where we can also hike to two local lighthouses, as well as the fishing village of Ilwaco. LOVED Discovery Trail!
Learning something new
How about an impromtu history lesson along the way? We came to learn that Discovery Trail is named for American expeditionists Lewis and Clark whose explorative trek brought them to the area over 200 years ago. Long Beach is just starting to be being recognized as the site where Lewis and Clark completed their expedition, which was commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson in 1803. Captain Clark carved his name and date on a pine tree in Long Beach WA, when he, Lewis and others walked the Pacific Ocean shoreline for the very first time on Tuesday November 19, 1805.
We stopped to look at and photograph a few of the commemorative statues and plaques along the trail. As I had only vaguely heard of Lewis and Clark, it ended up being a pretty good way for me to get acquainted with some American history, and educated Marc some more too.
Stopping for a moment of reflection
As much as we enjoyed our ride in the present, it was also fitting to stop and reflect on another significant event from the past. As our ride was on the afternoon of Thursday, September 11, 2014, American flags around the nation were flying at half mast. It’s unbelievable to think it’s been 13 years since that tragic day. We stopped for a bit to gaze up at the flag in memory of those lost from 9/11 in 2001. Yet another reminder to live and appreciate each and every day – as we never really know if it’s going to be our last.
Playing ball with the dog
Seeing and smelling the beach had Coda whining from her chariot! She loves to chase her tennis ball, especially on the beach now that she’s discovered it! Being a Colorado dog, it’s a pretty exciting change for her. We took a break from our ride to throw ball for Coda for a while – laughing and watching her take flying leaps to catch it mid-air before running back for us to do it again. This went on for a while until she let us know she was tired, done and happy, which pretty much looks like this.
Enjoying kid-free couple time
While we do like being able to take Coda to dog-friendly restaurants from time to time, it’s also nice to leave the kid at home (sorry Coda!) and head out for date night, just the two of us. With our campground only 5 minutes from downtown, it was a quick and easy for us to drop Coda back at the RV with a change of clothes for us before heading back out, this time in the Mini.
Finding a new place for dinner
We love discovering new places to eat and after following the excellent advice of several Yelp reviewers (thanks Yelpers!) we ended up on the 4th floor of the uber coastal-cool Adrift Hotel to eat at The Pickled Fish. Priding themselves on an “eat local” philosophy, the menu featured many local seafood dishes, including their award-winning clam chowder and excellent fish and chips! Given the fantastic meal, great service, terrific value, lovely ambiance and unbeatable view, we will definitely be back.
Drinking the local Long Beach WA wine
As Washington is also known as one of the world’s great wine regions, how could we resist a glass of local chardonnay to accompany our delicious meal? As you can see, it went down very well.
Drinking in a spectacular sunset
When we arrived at the Pickled Fish, it was evident that our ideal afternoon was about to have an unforgettable ending when the hostess seated us at the very last window table that looked directly over the beach. We sat and watched, mesmerized, as the deep colors of the Pacific Ocean and orange sky changed minute by minute during one of the most glorious sunsets we’ve ever seen. It seemed to last for ages and was, quite simply, the perfect ending to a truly spectacular day in Long Beach WA.
That day was definitely one of the highlights of our travels so far, and a day we will remember and appreciate for a long time to come.
Did you like this blog post? Please leave your comments below and share your thoughts on your idea of the perfect day. We’d love to hear them!