Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Stormwatching, the real deal

Everyone with a TV knows that the coast was hit with an amazing storm on December 3 and 4th, and Westport was not spared the brunt of Mother Nature.

My family and I hunkered down in our 2nd floor condo at Westport by the Sea and listened to the wind howl. And howl. And howl. The wind started whipping just after nightfall, and power was out by 11PM on Sunday. Come Monday morning, as we wandered out to survey the damage, we realized that the winds were still going strong. We did get a chance to see the high waves crashing in the Half Moon Bay and over the revetment wall at the Marina, which is always a wonderful sight.

With no power, we decided to try to head to town to stay with family, but the roads out of town in both directions were closed due to fallen trees. All day Monday, and well into the night the winds continued. Westport does not have an official weather station, but up and down the coast, wind gusts were reported at as much as 120 - 150 MPH. In Hoquiam, the nearest official weather station, the weather gauge broke at 81 MPH. The winds continued until late Monday night.

We spent most of the day huddled up, calling out of town to get intermittent weather reports from friends and family with internet access (in Seattle and beyond). With so many areas in the Grays Harbor PUD district out, and so many downed power lines between us and Aberdeen, the rest of the week kept us in the dark, without power, until it finally came on mid-morning on Saturday (5 and a half days!).

During the week following the storm, 2 things became apparent: (1) Westport is not high on the list for emergency response, and (2) People on the beach know how to take care of themselves. When we went around to check on elderly neighbors, it was quite clear that our neighbors were fairly prepared. Luckily, the weather was in the 50's, so the temperatures were not an issue. But for the most part, people were equipped with food and supplies to make it through the week. For those that weren't, the only real option in town was the Senior House, and Verna seemed to have that under control.

Since I have lived here, we have lost power about twice a year, and this was the longest we have ever been without. In spite of the challenges of living without hot water, cable TV, and high speed internet, we try to count our blessings:

(1) Really, really amazing night skies. Yes, without all the light pollution, the sky over our beaches are absolutely the most fantastic sight you might ever set eyes on.

(2) Time with our families to reflect to enjoy simple things. Yes, we can stand to look each other in the eyes and have a conversation without the TV blaring the in the background.

(3) The joy of a hot shower after and a warm meal. We tend to take things for granted, and its good to appreciate the small things.

So, yes, I am so happy to be back online, but the simple life is not so bad.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The beaches are open for clam digs!

The Department of Fish and Wildlife opened up the Twin Harbors beaches for clam diggers this weekend, and between it being the first dig of the season and the AMAZING weather we're having, there has been an unending stream of people into Westport and Grayland to catch these tasty guys.

Here are some pictures from yesterday evening's clam dig. It was so much fun, this one lady even ventured out with her walker, which I just can't imagine my grandmother ever doing.

I've only been clamming a few times, I never really enjoyed it because I found it so hard to find the "clam show". But last night, the clam were showing very strongly, and I took a few pictures for those of you who are still learning to find them:

There are so many clams that the people who went out on Thursday said they were "necking", which sounds kind of dirty, but just means they were sticking their necks out of the sand yelling "pick me!" like Meredith Grey on a bad Grey's Anatomy episode. I think this might have something to do with the fact that its the first clam dig of the season (the plentifulness, not the neediness).

So grab your lantern, boots, and shovel, and come on down to the beach!

Mushroom Season

It's mushroom season in the NW and if you have been paying attention to the Seattle Times over the past few weeks, you've seen all the mushroom festivals and mushroom stuff going on all over the Puget Sound and Olympic Peninsula. Last weekend was the Lake Quinault's mushroom festival, which I missed, but looked like a lot of fun.

Here in Westport, the Westport Light State Park, off of Ocean Avenue is a great spot for mushroomers (mushroom hunters?) and on sunny, cloudy, and rainy days alike you'll see the parking spaces along Ocean Avenue full of people in their rain gear headed out to find that special fungi.

We are novice mushroom hunters... okay, not really. But I love to find one close enough to the path that I can see them. This particular one is about 9" around, and almost expected a smurf to jump out and wave hello. I won't pretend to know what its called or if its edible, but it was a treat to find.

The weather is supposed to be great for the next week or so, so come on down to the beach and check it out!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Cranberry Harvest Festival - Recap

It turned out to be a beautiful weekend, with sunny weather in the 60's and the Grayland Cranberry Harvest Festival was a total blast. I was a little disappointed with a 3rd place finish in the cookies and bars category of the cranberry cookoff, but it gives me something to strive for next year :) My dear pal Tim also won third place in the drinks category, for his famous "Manberry", which is a funny name for his Cranberry Manhattan. He put a lot more effort into his entry, reducing the actual berries down to syrup, and then using sugared burbon soaked berries as a beautiful garnish. I'll post the recipe later (if he'll share).

Seriously though, I was shocked with the numbers of people that come out for it, especially the amount of people waiting to take a Cranberry Harvest tour. We weren't feeling up to it with the baby, he's far to antsy these days to settle down on a bus, but we did drive around in our car and watch harvest at several different farms.

Definitely put it on your calendar (October 11/12, 2008) for next year!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Grayland Cranberry Festival!

This weekend brings the Cranberry Coast Chamber of Commerce Annual Cranberry Festival to the Grayland Community Hall. September and October is harvest time in Cranberry Country, and it is a sight to behold. The bright red bogs and the farmers wading through the fruit... I never even knew it existed until last fall.

This weekend is supposed to be 61-62 degrees and partly cloudy (which means partly sunny), so its perfect weather to come down for the festival, which includes a parade at dusk on Saturday evening and a "bog jog" 10k, 5k and 3k on Sunday morning.

You can find more info about it at the Chambers website:
I will be passing the bog jog since I've not done much running in the past 2 years since getting pregnant, but I will be entering my cranberry oatmeal white chocolate chip cookies into the Cranberry Cook-off. You can try them if you come to the Bite of the Bog - they're worth the drive. Here's my recipe, sans my secret ingredient if you want to try them at home:

Oatmeal White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies
1 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and the sugars until mixture is light in color. Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the milk and the vanilla extract.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Either by hand or with the mixer on low speed, gradually beat the flour in to the sugar mixture until just incorporated.

Stir in the oats and white chocolate chips and cranberries

Drop 1-inch balls of dough onto the cookie sheet, placing about 1 1/2 inches apart so they have room to spread.

Bake at 350F for 10-13 minutes, until golden brown at the edges and light golden at the center.
Cool on baking sheet for at least 1-2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 4 dozen.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Surfing Westport's secret - or not so secret - breaks

I have been talking about taking a surf lesson for over a year now, since my baby turned 6 weeks old and I was back to "normal". I am by no means an athlete, but watching the waves from my deck every day makes me really want to get in there. Growing up in Hawaii, surfing always seemed to be a "boy" thing, and to be totally truthful, I was way to geeky to get into the surf crowd. However, I do love the beach, and I miss swimming in the ocean. One of these days, I am going to find the time and the nerve to pull on a wetsuit and see if I can learn to love the 58 degree water outside my window.

In the meantime, articles like this one in Yesterday's Tacoma News Tribune continue to peak my interest.

Catching on to catching waves
Wet suits make Westport a good place to learn to surf

CRAIG HILL; The News Tribune
Published: September 13th, 2007 06:00 AM

ALISON YIN / The News Tribune
Surfers clad in wet suits head for high tide at Westhaven State Park near Westport. A good rule of thumb for beginners: Don’t go where the experienced surfers go. You’ll be in over your head – literally.
Darcia Davis, 31, paddles to catch a wave. The Westport resident says she tries to surf a couple of times a week, even though she has a 5-month-old baby.
Surfers wait on their boards for good waves off the beach at Westhaven State Park. Thanks, in part, to improved west suits, the surf scene in the Westport area is booming.

WESTPORT – Learning to surf is a personal journey. At least that’s what Northwest surfing icon Al Perlee will tell you if you drop by his historic Surf Shop. The deep-thinking former Stanford defensive lineman who has been a fixture on the beach for 30 years answers every question about learning to catch a wave the same way. “It depends on the individual.”

While that is true of every sport, it sounds a little more insightful when Perlee says it with laid-back surfer-dude style.


My personal voyage started face down in the sand early one rainy August morning with one of Perlee’s best friends standing over me.

Barry Esty, like Perlee, learned to surf as a boy in California in the ’60s and moved to Westport when the California beaches got too crowded. He’s now retired but gives lessons to those who ask.

“It’s a service I like to provide,” Esty said. “I try to give people enough advice to keep them from bashing their butts on the rocks.”

That, however, is not why I was laying in the wet sand. Esty drew the outline of a surfboard in the sand with his toe and was teaching me the basics of standing on a board.

Following his direction, I straightened my arms and arched my back to lift my chest above the outline. From this uncomfortable yoga-like position, he told me, I needed to jump to my feet.

Trying to jump with my hips in the sand, I said, is a rather challenging pre-breakfast request. Not nearly as challenging as doing it on top of a cresting wave, he replied.

“It’s not easy to stand,” Esty said. “It’s all about practice. Maybe after a week of practicing every day you’ll be able to stand.”

When the landlocked lesson concluded, I met a Seattle surfer in the parking lot who reinforced Esty’s point.

“It’s not easy,” said Brian Gardner, 32. “I’ve been doing this for four years, and I still struggle.”


The learning curve might be steeper than the waves, but the Westport surf scene isn’t booming because the sport is easy.

“It’s popular because it’s fun even though it’s challenging to learn,” said Damon Romero, 39, of Olympia.

Romero has been surfing at Westport since the ’80s, when the beaches were less crowded and the locals weren’t so keen on the idea of sharing their waves with inlanders.

But that was when Westport’s three breaks – Halfmoon Bay, the Groins and the Jetty – were still a fairly well-kept secret.

The secret has been out for years now and the vibe is friendly, provided the newbies surf smart.

“Any time you see surfers better than you, stay away from that area,” Adam Foster of The Surf Shop said as he issued me a wet suit and a 10-foot board. “That’s a good sign that area is over your head.”

I figured that bit of advice would eliminate the entire Pacific Rim for me, but I was surprised to find that I fit right in chasing my board in the Jetty’s modest surf.

“I’d say about 90 percent of the people out here have been doing this for five years or less,” Esty said.

That’s not to say Westport doesn’t produce gifted surfers.

At the Surf Shop, Perlee popped in a DVD with footage of his children, Dane and Hana, surfing side-by-side at Westport. As they ride the wave, Dane – who regularly wins competitions against California surfers – steps off his board and onto Hana’s.


On my first day, I figure I’ll be lucky if I can step on my own board.

I wasn’t exactly stoked to walk out in the frigid Pacific Ocean. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that my rental wet suit keeps me nice and warm.

Modern wet suit technology, Perlee says, might be the biggest reason more people are surfing at Westport now than when he moved here in the ’70s. With a good wet suit, it’s no longer painful to spend a few hours in the water.

“I used to be OK out there for about 30 minutes with my old wet suit,” Romero said. “Any longer than that, and I was suffering.”

I was downright toasty as I worked my way out to chest deep water, a bit deeper than the waist-deep surf Esty recommended for my first day. I crawled onboard and laid face down as I watched an approaching set of waves.

All I had to do, according to Esty, was paddle around to face shore, catch the wave and spring to my feet as the wave broke.

Sounds easy, but it wasn’t. I only managed to get parallel to the beach when the first wave promptly dumped me off the board.

I popped up, salt water running from my nose, and jumped on again – this time catching a wave and riding almost all the way to shore, lying on the board the entire way.

Even this, what must have been an extremely uncool-looking ride, was a bit of a rush.

I grabbed the board and waded back out for another set, anxious to try to stand.

If this story were a film, this would be the place for the music montage of me falling face first, then butt first, then tripping while carrying the board on the beach.

But, after a few hours of splashes and crashes, I finally got to my feet – for about two seconds. Just long enough to see why the true watermen, as they call themselves, live for this.

A few weeks later, back at The Surf Shop, I asked Perlee how long it takes to feel comfortable with a moving surfboard underfoot. I should have known how he’d reply.

“I can’t answer that,” Perlee said. “It depends on the individual.”

Learning to surf, after all, is a personal voyage.


PRACTICE: Cut out a piece of cardboard about 9 feet long and 22 inches wide then put a mark in the middle of your mock board. Lay on the board with your sternum on the mark. Then, with your hands on the side of the cardboard, practice thrusting up and whipping your front foot to the spot in the middle of the board where your sternum used to be.

DON’T FOLLOW THE PACK: If you’re a rookie and you see the surfing veterans riding big waves, pick some place else to get indoctrinated. That area is probably way over your head – literally. Pick an area where the water is about waist deep, says Al Perlee, owner of The Surf Shop.

LOSE THE SWIM TRUNKS: Those Bermuda trunks might look sweet on the beach, but they’ll bunch up on you if you try to wear them under a wet suit. The veterans recommend Speedos, bike shorts or, if you must, tighty whities (But please change in the car).

START ON A LONG BOARD: A 6-foot short board is ideal for precise turns and gnarly tricks, but it’s going to be hard to use. A 10-foot long board is for more powerful movements, and its size makes it more stable, perfect for getting a hang of the sport.

LET THE KIDS BOOGIE: Adam Foster of The Surf Shop in Westport suggests starting young kids off with a boogie board. The small foam boards are easier for the kids to play with in the surf and light enough for them to lug to and from the car. WESTPORT SURF SHOPS

THE SURF SHOP:, 360-268-0992. Rent a wet suit and board for $35. No lessons here, but the staff will direct you to locals who’ll teach you the basics.

STEEPWATER SURF SHOP:, 360-268-5527. A wet suit and board rental is $38 for the day or $26 for four hours. Lessons start at $50 for 90 minutes.

Craig Hill: 253-597-8497

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Westport's "Boat Basin Salmon Derby" offers chance to win up to $2,000

Annual fishing contest offers cash and prizes for largest Chinook and Coho salmon caught

WESTPORT - The coastal town of Westport welcomes returning salmon for the annual Boat Basin Salmon Derby scheduled to run from Sept. 15 until Oct. 31.

Anglers are invited to purchase a $5 derby ticket and fish anywhere in the Westport boat basin for Chinook/King and Coho/Silver salmon. Running seven days a week until the end of October, the long-term Boat Basin Derby offers cash prizes totaling more than $2,000 and ranges from more than $300 for the largest Chinook salmon, to $500 for the winning Coho, plus many merchandise prizes. All eligible fish must be caught during daylight hours and validated with a derby ticket at the official weigh station at the marina between 10 AM and 5 PM.

"The Westport Boat Basin Derby is intended for anglers of all ages and skill levels," said Leslie Eichner, Westport/Grayland Chamber of Commerce spokesperson. "The returning Westport salmon were fingerlings reared in pens three years ago and released under the direction of Ocosta High School conservation classes and the Humptulips Hatchery. After their time at sea, the salmon come back into the Marina - with the Coho salmon returning now.

You don't need a boat, just a fishing rod and license to fish from the dock," added Eichner.

Last year's winning Coho weighed in at more than 17.5 lbs., quite large for this type of salmon, according to Jim Jackson, the derby coordinator.

"I was down at the marina last year and you could see salmon schools with literally thousands of fish just off the floats," said Jackson. "This derby promises to be an excellent year for anglers as well. There is a limit of six fish, four adults and two jacks."

Complete Boat Basin Salmon Derby rules and regulations are available on-line at Derby Tickets can be purchased for five dollars each at local fishing charter offices, the Westport/Grayland Chamber of Commerce, Angler Charters and the Hungry Whale Grocery.

There are other activities in Westport including an historic lighthouse, a maritime museum, the lighthouse trail, fishing charters and outdoor amusements. For more tourist and travel information, click on or call the Westport Tourist Information Center at 1-800-345-6223.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Tokeland Golf Links

The Tokeland Golf Links is another one of those Washington Coast treasures that you stumble along and then scratch your head wondering why you never heard of it. Adjacent the Tokeland Hotel, this 18 (or so) hole golf course is truly unique. Guarded only by an "honor box" requesting $10 for your play, the entire golf course is actually situated on tidal lands. During winter high tides, most of this golf course is underwater.

A true "sustainable" golf course, no pesticides or fertilizers are used. Newcastle it aint, but for $10, it can't be beat. The vistas out over the bay where the WIllapa River meets the Pacific Ocean are breathtaking - whether rain or shine.

This is particularly great for a walking outing where dad can bring his clubs and mom can follow along with the baby stroller, as well as for beginners who can't see dumping $50 and up on green fees just to stub every other ball.

Feel free to picnic after your round in the parking lot, or have lunch in the dining room of the Tokeland Hotel.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Islander Resort presents Winemakers Dinner

I have just received a flyer for a very cool event taking place on September 8, 2007 at the Islander Resort, and I'm going to pass it along here verbatim:

The Islander Resort Presents
Tour the Italian Wine Regions
Winemaker's Dinner

Join us for an elegant six course dinner with each selection accented by just the right Italian Wine. Small vineyard importers from Seattle are hosting these wines and Cristina will be your sommelier for this bellisimo event. It will be an evening you won't soon forget!

421 E. Neddie Rose Drive
Westport, WA 98595

  • Oysters on the half shell with pomegranate mignonette and lemon. Paired with an extra dry prosecco.
  • Grilled bruschetta with eggplant roulade, caprese, prosciutto with reggiano and extra virgin olive oil. Paired with a 2006 bianco.
  • Pepper crusted albacore tuna with polenta crisps and caponata. Paired with a 2006 Vernaccia di san gimignano.
  • Lobster and butternut squash ravioli with chive nage sauce. Paired with a 2004 rita sangiovese.
  • Choice of: Bacon wrapped filet mignon served with garlic mashed potatoes and red wine demi-glaze OR seared duck breast with carrot risotto and cranberry demi glaze. Paired with a 2004 emilio primo.
  • Panna cotta with marion berry puree and candied citrus zest. Paired with a 2006 Moscato D'asti.

Tickets are $80/person and are available at the Islander front desk.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A New Point of View in Westport

Interesting reading in today's Tacoma News Tribune (yes, its a paid advertisement from the South Sound New Homes section, but still interesting reading):

A New Point of View in Westport

It's 5:00 a.m. on an August morning in 1977... There are 300 charter fishing boats cranking their engines to take an estimated 3,000 fishermen onto the high sea in search of the mighty king salmon. At the end of the day the boats return. After cleaning up, a dinner out and then dancing and celebrating into the week hours of the morning. In the 60's and 70's this scene played itself out every day between Memorial Day and Labor Day in this coastal village hailed as The Salmon Fishing Capital of the World.

Fast forward to an August morning in the present day. At 6:00 a.m. the 35 charter boats are warming up to take 400 men, women, and children out sportfishing. A new addition to the marina scene, walkers and joggers headed out for the paved waterfront path. The 2.5 mile path departs the marina, meandering along Halfmoon Bay to the Jetty where the first surfers are unloading their long boards for a day on the waves. The trail then borders the beach on one side, and on the other a 300-acre grassy dune, being sculpted into an oceanfront Scottish Links-style golf course. The trail ends at the Westport Lighthouse.

Back at the marina, the shops are beginning to open, but not just selling kites and ice cream. New shops are presenting an eclectic array of art, jewelry, and memorabilia. You can still find a great bowl of clam chowder, but the influx of culinary talent has infused a new energy into the menus. The Wild Salmon with Kumquat Ginger Butter at Takohachi or Seafood Cioppino at Anthony's at the Islander are delectable examples of the culinary evolution taking place in Westport.

Driving the revolution is the recent discovery that Westport offers the most beautiful and least known sandy beach in the state. That realization has inspired new residential development along the coast geared to meet the needs of today's beach cruisers. Besides the new golf course and convention center, several new residential communities within the city limits of Westport are taking beautiful shape.

The Point at Westport Harbor is a stunning example. This small community of condominiums boasts a 360 degree view of the Harbor and Olympic Mountains. The architecture is modern with a nod toward the maritime past and the interiors showcase the impressive views. While energy efficiency and sustainability directed the thoughtful design, carefree enjoyment was the goal. Your front door is just a few steps away from the private dock, where crab, perch and in the fall even coho salmon are landed! A short stroll away are the marina shops and restaurants an the start of the oceanfront walking/biking path.

It doesn't matter if you don't fish, surf, or hike... Westport was never about "all there is to do". Westport is about relationships. A relationship with the environment shared with family and good friends. It's about taking time to appreciate the beauty and tranquility that surrounds you on the coast. The air is pure, the weather is mild and a good book, a good friend or a great dinner can return a sense of balance to your life. Take the short journey to the coast to discover the"new point of view" in Westport.

61st Annual Westport Seafood Festival and Craft Show

Labor day is when my husband and I celebrate our wedding anniversary. I'd have to think twice to remember the actual date that we got married, but since it was on a Labor Day weekend, we just try to remember that and call it good.
So this Labor Day weekend (well Saturday), we get to do something that appeals to us both: The Westport Seafood Festival. He loves it because he gets to eat, and I love it because I get to shop. Needless to say, we're looking forward to it.
If you want a dose of small town eating festival, come down to Westport on Saturday, September 1, 2007. The event is being held at the Maritime Museum down on the Westport Marina (you can't miss it), from noon to about 6pm. In addition to live music and craft vendors the menu will consist of BBQ Salmon, White Fish, Tuna, oysters, salad (Ceasar salad from the Half Moon Bay Bar and Grill), corn on the cob and garlic bread. All this for $14 ($9 for seniors). Chowder, hot dogs, beer and wine will also be available separate from the seafood feast.

While you're down here, try your hand at catching some fish and get ready for the Boat Basin Salmon Derby thats coming up next month. The limits are 6 fish per day, and reports are that fish are being seen already under the docks.

Come on out - the weather should be perfect!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Westport SalmonFest and the Boat Basin Salmon Derby

My family eats out a lot, and last September, while we would be eating at the Half Moon Bay Bar and Grill, we would often watch people out fishing on the docks outside the restaurant. Having, at the time, a 3 month old, I didn't think much of it (most of my thoughts were focused on strategizing the next nights sleep patterns at that time). But talk about the Westport Boat Basin Salmon Derby has been surfacing and I want to share it with you all.

Apparently, the local High School (Ocosta) has an oceanography program, that follows a batch (I don't know what you'd call it - a litter?, hatch?) of salmon hatchlings that are eventually released into the Westport Marina. When the fish come back to spawn, they come through the Marina, and apparently, there are tons of fish. So many, that the catch limits are higher for this location at this time than most other places - each license can catch 4 adult and 2 jack salmons. The beauty of this is that the catching happens right off the docks on the Marina, so no boats, no seasickness, no fear - all you need is a rod and a pole. To hear the locals tell it, you can watch the salmon swimming in schools right under the docks and around the boats. HOW did we miss this before?

According to Jim at Angler Charters, the fish are starting to enter the Marina now, but the peak time to catch Salmon are from mid-September through the end of October, which is when the Derby is run. You can see the rules from last year's derby at the Angler Charters website (, and Jim says 2007 rules will be up shortly. Last years winners ranged from 15 - 19 pounds.

What do you need? A rod, reel, and lures. Again, deferring to the local expert, Jim says the equipment is fairly straightforward, and you can buy a whole setup from him for $40. I am going to do some research and see if anyone on the Marina rents this stuff, and will post back.

The derby is a friendly competition, tickets will be $2, and prizes will be somewhere around $2,000 total. Half Moon Bay Bar and Grill will be handing out free derby tickets with every salmon entree you purchase there.

I'm excited. The last time I went fishing, I was on a group trip on a boat in LA, and it was a lot of fun. We caught a lot of ... well, I don't really remember what we caught, but catching a nice fish made us all (cynical 20-somethings) feel like kids again, and its hard to replicate that feeling. So come next month, I will drag my husband down the marina and see if we can't catch the big one!

Friday, August 3, 2007

This Weekend at the Beach: Tokeland Woodfest, Run for the Light

TGIF! It's Friday, its August, and we have a fun filled weekend coming up here. Our plans for this weekend include:

The Tokeland Woodfest. This annual event held at the Historic Tokeland Hotel is a mecca for wood artisans all over the Pacific Northwest. They will be hosting chainsaw carving competitions, art displays, and of course, art for sale in various wood mediums. We will be checking this out Saturday and Sunday.

Washington Lightkeepers Assocition Run for the Light. This is a 5 mile run, starting at the Maritime Museum, running through town, past the Lighthouse, and back along the beach. Baby and I will be walking this Saturday morning. Onsite registration starts at 8:30 at McCausland Hall at the Maritime Museum.

And if we have time, we are going to make our first ever trip to Brady's World Famous Oyster Feed, in Ocosta.... I usually only eat oysters on the half shell, but there is something appealing about seeing the oysters, bubba gump style, prepared 101 ways by the folks that grew them.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Freshest Fish in the West

One of the more common questions people ask when they're driving through town, sticking their head out the window, yelling at you for directions, is "where can we buy some fresh___" (insert favorite type of locally caught seafood... halibut, salmon, crab, oysters, etc). It's one of the quintessential things to do when you're on the coast - the search and acquisition of fresh seafood.

Here in Westport, my favorite finds depend on what is in season, and as you get to know the locals, more often than not, someone will just bring you a fresh piece of salmon or halibut or a few dungeness crabs when their husband/cousin/brother comes in from a particularly fruitful trip. But the one favorite that I will pay the premium for all year long are local spot prawns. My husband is a shrimp fiend, and so we have always consumed more than our fair share of tiger prawns and mystery shrimp from Safeway. But since we have discovered Spot Prawns, this is all we can ever stand to eat. They are local, so you can actually buy them fresh, not frozen, and they are absolutely rich and tasty. It's like eating little tiny lobsters. I highly recommend everyone try them when they find them.

But I digress. The point of this post was to provide a primer here on the best places in town to hit when the urge hits:

(1) Merino's Seafood Market, 301 E. Harbor Street, in the Westport Marina. Merino's always has a fresh supply of whole and sectioned dungeness crab, crab cocktails, spot prawns, shrimp cocktails, razor clams, and whatever fish happens to be in season. They also sell the "fixin's": seasoning packets, cocktail sauces, tartar sauces, panko (for your fritters and crab cakes), as well as canned and smoked fish and seafood meats of all types. The best part is, if you're kind of squeamish, they can clean everything, for example, taking all the guts out of the crab so that you are just left with a perfect, shelled crab, to have the experience of cracking crab without all the yellow goo. Plus, if you're on your way out of town, they can package your catch on ice in a cooler, and even ship it ahead of you.

(2) Seafood Connection, Float 8. Besides the "atmosphere" of actually walking down a dock to buy your fresh fish, this little market offers most of the same seafood that Merino's does. They are basically brokering a deal between the consumers walking the marina and all the individual fishermen. The fish is "the freshest" available. This is where I go to get my spot prawns. The cool thing is that they have some great specials when the fishing is great (like albacore tuna fillets for $3.50/lb a few weeks back)

(3) "Boat Sales". Sometimes, and I have no idea what the rhyme or reason for these signs, but fishermen will decide to offer whatever they've caught right off their boat. So keep your eyes open for the signs, which are typically handmade a-boards on Montesano as you enter town. They'll usually give you three key pieces of info: (a) What's for sale (fresh-bled tuna is a popular one) (b) What float they're at and (c) the name of the boat to look for.

(4) Nelson Crab. Not quite in Westport, but in Tokeland, 15 minutes south, Nelson Crab is another old favorite that people know-of-but-can't-seem-to-find. So here's the basic directions, head South on Highway 105, turn left into Tokeland when you hit the casino (you'll know you're in the right place because the speed limit changes dramatically), and go all the way down until you see the Nelson Crab on the left hand side of the road (across the water). They have their own brand of canned crab, as well as fresh and frozen, shelled and whole, dungeness crab. I don't know the pattern for the other stuff, but they do carry a selection of other types of seafoods that I haven't every really paid much attention to. I have used Nelson Crab to ship crabmeat back to family in Hawaii, and can vouch for their professionalism in doing the crab shipping.

I hope this helps you find the fresh fish you've been dreaming of!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Shopping the Westport Marina

Today was one of those picture perfect sunny days that makes me remember what brought me to Westport to begin with. Since I had some visitors in town, we decided to walk the Westport Marina, and since I had my camera out, I thought it would be a good time to point you all out to some of the best shops on the Marina.
Yes, there is shopping in Westport, and its not all kites and T-shirts. The first store I'm going to talk about is the Picaroon Pelican. This is a very cute tea-themed shop that sells everything you need to put on a proper afternoon tea, as well as collectible teacups and tea paraphernalia. The owner is also the woman who coordinates the annual Pirate Daze festival, and she is very friendly. She also runs a little english tearoom out of the back of the store, but I have not made it in there as yet, so can't vouch for it. The next stop as you walk west (toward the blue tower) is Miss Avenue. This is a little clothing boutique which doesn't look like much from the outside, but has some surprising inventory on the inside. In addition to a cute gift section for little girls (think pink princess themed), Miss Avenue also carries some of the hippest stylish clothes West of Olympia. Her inventory includes 7 for all mankind and Citizens of Humanity jeans, as well as other lines that I'm clearly not hip enough to wear. They also have a great selection of accessories and other fun stuff. Definitely worth popping in.

Further down the marina, you'll find Cutting Edge Kites, which has every kind of bright flying item that you might want. Today there were some particularly cute garden spinners that looked like woodys (the surfers station wagon) with wheels that spun. (Note to self, buy one of those when you have a garden to show it off in). They also carry cheap kites for the day tripper, and elaborate set ups for those wanting to do kite fighting or kite ballet (see the post on the windriders festival).

At the end of the marina, there are two artsy galleries; the Albright Jewelry Gallery, and Art Talks. Both feature jewelry and glass art by local artists. Art Talks also sells a lot of local metal art, and lot of beach themed treasures. These places have stuff for inexpensive souveniers, the sometimes collector, as well as high end art. Needless to say, I can't bring baby in either store anymore, because I'm not interested in buying something he's broken, but I love to covet the beautiful metal sculpture in Art Talks.

So there you have it, my five favorite stores on the Westport Marina. I do stroll in the others, even the Charter offices, from time to time, because you never know what you might find. And of course, there's always Pomegranate's in Grayland, which is the queen of all coastal gift shops. But next time you're in Westport, stop in and see if you find a treasure to take home with you.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sometimes it rains in July...

This weekend we were supposed to be having the annual Hot Rod Show and Shine, which is a very cool car show for pre-1949 cars. Last year, I missed it because I was home with a 3-week old, and I was really looking forward to it this year. However, a major glitch that was ruining weekends from Bellingham to Eugene was ... the rain.

Yes, it does rain in July. Actually, I don't mind the rain so much (I accept the weather patterns I live in, and happily deal with the October through June onslaught of drizzle, clouds, fog, and other weather that makes most tropical folks run and hide), except that when it happens in late July, we all feel a little cheated. This is made a million times worse when it happens in late July on a WEEKEND. I mean, after all, there are five perfectly good work days when the skies could gray over and no one would care.

The good news is the plants get the water they need, the streets get rinsed, and my car (which rarely sees a car wash out here in the sticks) gets a washdown.

AND, interestingly, the surfers were still out in force, despite the weather. When I took a walk by the jetty, there seemed to even be more of them out than normal. I guess the storm that brought the rain must have brought some great swells as well. Seeing this reinforces that voice in the back of my head that wants me to try a surf lesson. Oh well, maybe when the sun comes out again.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Windriders Kite Festival

Prior to this weekend, the idea of hundreds of adults getting together to fly kites simply didn't trip my trigger. However, encouraged by a picture in the South Beach Bulletin, we packed up Baby and headed to Grayland Beach, which for those who've never heard of it, is about 5 minutes south of Westport, for the Annual Grayland Windriders Kite Festival.

And oh my goodness, if you have never seen a thousand kites flying in a beautiful blue sky, it is quite a sight. Kite enthusiasts take these festivals very seriously, staking out their areas with personalized "colors" that display the names of each person in their group. They had areas for novices, "kite acrobatics", and kite fighting. "Kite Ballet" set to music was almost as fascinating (sans the loud engines) as the Seafair Blue Angels. Baby was highly entertained by the various flags and balloon like wind socks that dotted the beach.

The weather started out overcast in the morning - a typical day at the beach, but by noon on both days, it was downright warm, high 60's at least, and warm enough for the water to be full of kids and adults playing and fishing in the surf.

So, as I understand it, these kinds of kite festivals are held all year long, from Bellingham, WA to Lincoln City, OR. The big mama of Kite Festivals is held in Long Beach, WA, every year. All are spectacular to see, the nice thing about this local festival is that its big enough to be worth attending, but small enough that you can attend without fighting traffic and getting lost in the crowds. It's one of the best small town festivals I've attending recently.

The Windriders Kite Festival is sponsored by the local Kite Flying community and local merchants in the South Beach area, and definitely worth a trip down to the beach next summer. And now, the mommy in me will end with the obligatory picture of baby with kite.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Zen Fishing

Occasionally I see men out in the surf fishing and I wonder what the heck they are fishing for (I supposed I could ask someone) and how it could be worth standing in that cold water for so long. But on days like today, when the weather is clear and the temperature is hot, I almost wish I was out there with them.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Fireworks, pyrotechnics

Okay, I get it, you guys like to blow stuff up. Yes, its fun. But its been 3 days since the holiday, can you please knock it the hell off!

Tourism is good for the economy.... tourism is good for the economy... tourism is good for the economy.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Visiting the Westport Maritime Museum

Calling all lighthouse lovers and coast guard buffs:

You should definitely check out the Westport Maritime Museum and the Grays Harbor Lighthouse. Both properties are operated by the South Beach Historical Society, whose mission is:
"to interpret and preserve the history of the South Beach area of Grays Harbor County in Washington State, with an emphasis on the impact of local natural resources on the regional growth and development of our maritime community."

Actually, the Museum itself is right on the Westport Marina, and its an old Coast Guard Station that was built in 1939. It was dedicated as a museum in the mid-80's once the modern Coast Guard facilities were in place at the east end of the Westport Marina.

Exhibits include some science related information about the ocean and what lives in local waters; local history; information about the local Cranberry industry; Whales and whaling history (including a full Whale Skeleton that has its own building); and the lighthouse lens from the Destruction Island lighthouse. There is also a "discovery room" which has activities and hands on exhibits for the kids.

I took baby into the discovery room on the 4th of July and he was a little young at 13 months to do anything more than stack and unstack the shelf of kids books, but there were other kids in there that seemed to enjoy the puzzles and toys (I am guessing the right age range is probably in the toddler to maybe 8 years old).

The Destruction Island lens is quite a site. It's in a separate building on Museum grounds, which has a skylight, and the lens flashes colors throughout the building. There is a great scientific explanation about the various types of lighthouse lenses and how they work for geeks, and for everyone else, its just darn pretty.

You can find their hours on their website: and the fee to get in is nominal (a few bucks, I'm not exactly sure). The volunteers are friendly and excited to be involved in the museum. I'm glad we finally got around to visiting and plan to be back soon!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Happy Independance Day!

The beach was made for the Fourth of July, and today did not disappoint. From the Maritime Museum's Old Fashioned Community Festival, to the fireworks on the beach, the area was hopping. It was hard to believe it was a Wednesday and we all had to wake up for work the next morning, but nonetheless, it was a fitting celebration.

Hope you all enjoyed your day off!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Arrgh Matey, Rusty Scupper Pirate Daze

Westport's Rusty Scuppers Pirate Daze took place this weekend with a "thar she blows" and an "aargh matey". This event, which is coordinated by local merchants and the Rusty Scupper Pirates (apparently community based pirate clubs abound in the Puget Sound area and they're not too unlike the Kiwanis or Lions Club, they just like to dress, um, differently).

We had dreams of decorating baby's stroller to look like a pirate ship, but like all really great home made craft projects, it died in committee. No problem, though, we figured we could still enjoy the festival, so, we packed up and headed again to festival central - the Westport Marina - sans costumes or decorations, but looking forward to the elephant ears.

The festival itself did not disappoint. You can't really go wrong with hundreds of people dressed in their fantasy costumes of pirates, wenches, and gypsies. It was a plethora of inappropriately costumed women (think lots of women with borderline S&M leather bustiers) and men. This is the renaissance faire type crowd who does not spare any detail, including the leather cup holder for the daschund. No kidding.

In addition to the people watching, there were costume contests (one for professional pirates - huh? - and one for regular joes), pirate bands, and lots and lots of pirate themed gift booths. Don't laugh - it took all of my personal restraint not to buy myself an inappropriate outfit to squeeze into for next year's pirate daze.

Baby loved the dogs dressed up as pirates and even wobbled along to some of the pirate music. In all, it was great to see the Marina so heavily populated and definitely one of those festivals worth traveling to at least once.

Note: Mark your calendars, the 2008 Event will take place June 20 - 22.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Best Breakfasts in Town

One of the best things about taking a weekend trip is that it gives you an excuse to eat out. Because, after all, you didn't just drive 3 hours from Edmunds to eat cheerios, right? And Westport doesn't disappoint. Whether you're looking for greasy spoon hash or bloody mary and crab cakes, here are some of the best places to start your day:

Best Coffee Stand: Hands down, Captain Jack's Espresso, conveniently located near the Red Apple (or at our only stoplight). Friendly service, sugar free flavors, expect to wait for at least a few cars ahead of you. It's the only place in town to drive through for your morning brew.

Best Bloody Marys: Islander aka Half Moon Bay Bar and Grill. I would also argue that its the most "sophisticated" breakfast menu in town, with crab benedict and fruit cups on the menu. If there's a big eater in your crowd, order the chicken fried steak, which is portion big enough to feed a family of four for a week. Yummy breakfast sandwich on ciabatta bread is great. Drawbacks - only open Saturday and Sunday. Definitely try "washington's best bloody mary" here and drink your breakfast.

Best family breakfast: Inn at the Westwind. It's low key, and there's nothing your kids can do here that hasn't already been done. Best hot chocolates with mountains of whipped cream, and kids will love the smiley face pancake, complete with cherry nose.

Best view: Hands down, the Fogcutter. This little diner (whose owners used to run "THE DINER" down the street which closed early last year), has a full breakfast menu with such standards as omelettes, eggs benedict, and pancakes as big as your head, but the real star here is the Grays Harbor Lighthouse immediately across the street. You can eat your breakfast and then walk over and climb to the top and work off, if not all, at least a little of breakfast.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Westport dining... we're moving on up...

I saw this press release today, which was very exciting... I knew these places were special, now I have corroboration!

Don’t Overlook Washington’s Best Kept Dining Secrets

Anthony’s Restaurant in Westport, Washington, gets 3-1/2 stars from “Best Places Northwest” guidebook, Half Moon Bay Bar and Grill receives 3 stars.

Westport, WA, June 12, 2007: Two of Westport’s restaurants were recently reviewed in the 16th edition of the popular “Best Places Northwest” guidebook and received among the guidebooks highest honors.

Anthony’s Restaurant, a 40-seat restaurant located on the Westport Marina in the Islander Resort, at 421 E. Neddie Rose Drive, received 3-1/2 stars (out of a maximum 4 stars). The reviewer recommends that guests try the grilled pear, blue cheese and prosciutto salad, apricot-glazed chicken and cranberry polenta for its melt in your mouth goodness. Anthony’s also received a note as being a romantic dining experience. It was recently touted locally as having the “Best Bloody Mary” in Washington.

The Half Moon Bay Bar and Grill, located adjacent Anthony’s Restaurant in the Islander Resort, was touted as “a superb dining spot by the sea” and received 3 stars (out of a maximum 4 stars) from the reviewer. They go on to note that “fresh fish is their forte:, and that “a combination of cozy booths and tables, warm earth tones, and Moroccan-style lanterns create a comfortable atmosphere.” Diners are encouraged to try the Jetty Surf Melt, “that will have you savoring every bite.”

The ratings show that Westport’s small eateries can compete with some of Seattle’s landmark dining spots such as El Gaucho (3 stars), Ray’s Boathouse (2-1/2 stars), Palace Kitchen (2 stars) and Wild Ginger (2-1/2 stars).

Josh Wood, Food and Beverage Manager for both venues found the reviews to be a pleasant surprise, “when we created the Half Moon Bay Bar and Grill and later Anthony’s restaurant in 2004 and 2006, we knew we were on to something special. It’s exciting to be recognized, and to know that although we’re in a remote location, we can compete with the finest establishments in the Seattle areas. I hope that people will make the short 2-1/2 hour drive from Seattle to enjoy the Anthony’s and Half Moon Bay Bar and Grill experience.”

Anthony’s Restaurant and Half Moon Bay Bar and Grill are both operated by Westport Investments, LLC, a local operating company that also operates the Vacations by the Sea Oceanfront Condo Rentals (which received 2-1/2 stars from “Best Places Northwest”), and several other motel, RV, and Charter properties in the South Beach area from Westport to Tokeland, Washington.

Westport, Washington, the often overlooked beach town across from Grays Harbor from Ocean Shores, is a 2-1/2 hour drive from downtown Seattle. Once known as the Salmon Fishing Capital of the World, it is being repositioned as the ideal destination resort for beach and ocean lovers in the Pacific Northwest.

“Best Places Northwest”, 16th Edition, is published by Sasquatch Books and is well known in the Northwest, being called “the bible for discriminating travelers,” and “the region’s undisputed heavyweight champ of guidebooks.”


Sunday, June 10, 2007

To Protect and to Surf

The Surfrider Foundation and the surf community descended onto Westport this weekend to celebrate the 6th Annual Cleanwater Classic, which is basically a small surf contest and big party.

I have always been fascinated with surfers and surfing. Growing up 20 minutes from the big wave surf of the North Shore of Oahu, I have a very solid respect for the ocean. I was caught in way too many close calls in the shorebreak to really ever feel comfortable in the surf, although I consider myself a strong swimmer. I was also quite a dork growing up, so I never had the opportunity to try surfing. So now as an adult, and with all of my adult wisdom, I am highly interested in learning. I do have an aversion to (1) squeezing my large body into a wetsuit and (2) immersing my island grown ass into 65 degree seas. However, its still on my list of "things to do", and maybe on day you'll read all about it here.

In the meantime, watching the surfing is an adventure in and of itself. The contest headquarters were located at the Islander Motel, and each morning, they would post where the surfing would occur (whether at Half Moon Bay or at the Jetty or the Groins).

Unfortunately, I won't be able to report what it was truly like at this particular time, because, well it was foggy and chilly and I can honestly say that I didn't actually make it to see any heats. I only peeked in at the post-surf party (and I mostly did that for the hawaiian plate lunch).

But, all around town, surfers were everywhere to be found, and do they ever know how to throw a party. The nice thing is that it increases awareness for the Surfrider Foundation, which is dedicated to the preservation of the oceans. Maybe next year, I'll be in the water.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Westport Wall Art (Murals of the Marina)

One of the most peculiar things about this little town is how common murals are on buildings. I am not sure if it is because of the haphazard way the town grew, or the "bootstrap" manner in which many businesses around here established themselves, requiring them to be resourceful in advertising, or maybe just an unexplainable eccentricity. But there is some very cool wall art in town.

So cool that I encourage any visitors to take the time to drive around and find these gems around town. Here are a few of my favorites:

On the Inn at the Westwind (also a great diner, especially for breakfast):

On the gift shop at Float 10 (in honor of the annual kite festival):

On the walls of the Ferry Office (this was painted in honor of the Washington Bicentennial

On the Mermaid Deli (just one sea creature on this building):

On the side of the Washington Crab processing building:

There are also murals on both surf shops in town (Steepwater and The Surf Shop), as well as other random buildings as you drive in on Montesano. Just another one of those things that make my new hometown special.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A note about where Westport came from

When we moved to Westport, almost 2 years ago, we didn't realize what a curiosity our little town would have among our "city" friends. People rarely know where Westport is, they usually think its near Ocean Shores (which its not) or that its a fishing ghost town (which it once was).

As the locals tell it, Westport was the Charter Fishing Capital of the World up until about the early 1980's. At that time, a Federal judge entered a decision (the Boelt Decision) which basically killed the fishing industry. It had something to do with fishing quotas, but I can't find the actual case reference (I haven't looked very hard) to verify this story. What I do know is that the Westport business community used to be completely fishing-centric, and it was hit hard in the early 80's: going from over 325+ charter boats to about 35.

So anyone who has visited Westport prior to maybe 2003 always has a pretty negative view of it as a vacation getaway. However, I can vouch for the fact that the economy in this town is diversifying, and the atmosphere of this town continues to morph as it grows.

It is still very fishing centric. Everyone that I work with is either neighbors with, married to, or used to be a fisherman. The charter offices still dominate the Marina district, selling bottom fishing, salmon, tuna, and the occasional whale watching trips alongside their hats and t-shirts and dramamine. But there is also a vibrant art community, as well as some other interesting retail spots in and near town.

Overall, its a small town that is blessed with some amazing natural resources (where else will you find a sandy beach and a full working marina within walking distance from one another) that is struggling to establish its identity. We have found a nice community here and are looking forward to having baby in a public school where his class size is 45 rather than 400. I do miss the anonymity of Downtown Seattle, where I could actually be in the grocery store without someone I work with inspecting my nutritional habits, but from a big picture point of view, we're glad to be here.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Crab Races?

I have never been one for unusual treatment of animals, but I do admit to partaking in turtle races at Brennan's Pub in my early 20's in Marina del Rey. For a nominal fee you could "race" a turtle in the back courtyard of this classy joint off of Lincoln Avenue. Basically a bunch of drunks would place their rented turtles in the center of a circle. If your turtle won, you could pick your prize out of a large garbage bag - perhaps a pack of gum, some sort of contraceptive or alternate penny prize that only 20-somethings with too little responsibility would find entertaining.

But my point here wasn't to relive my glorious 20's, but rather to talk about a similar event, albeit quite a bit more family oriented, that takes place right here in my back yard annually. Yes, I'm talking about the World Famous Westport Crab Races. 2007 was the year I was finally going to attend these oft-talked-about races and see what all the fuss is about.

I bundled up the baby, and the out of town friends and dragged everyone down to the Marina District just before lunch. It was cold, even for Westport in April, and I was amazed at the crowds that show up for this event. It's held in a huge tent on the Port parking lots just between the Coho Motel and the Marina area. There must have been hundreds of people crowded into that tent, hiding from rain, and munching on the locally caught and prepared crab feed.

The crab races? A tilted table, maybe the size of a dining room table, at about a 30 degree slope. Participants place their crab at the top and then pound on the table to get their crab to slide down to the finish line. I did not elbow my way to the front to see the actual spectacle take place, but the pounding and cheering could be heard from the other end of the tent.

This is one of those "only in Westport" events that you just have to see to believe. Shellfish lovers bedecked in crab headbands, crab t shirts, crab hats, spattered in crab flesh, chowing down on the fresh steamed (or boiled?) crabs, that may well have been just pulled in from the local waters.

As an added bonus, the commercial crab fishermen "seed" the marina with marked crabs for a fun and playful "crab derby". People can drop their crab pots off the fishermans boardwalk or one of the piers and if they catch the marked crab they can win cash and other prizes.

Overall, it was a fun "coming out of the winter closet" event, and I recommend it, particularly if you're one of those crab lovers that love to get down and dirty with your lunch.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Clamming is On!

The Department of Fish and Wildlife rules the roost when it comes to saying when you can gather food and what you can gather from our local beaches, and this weekend they told us it was okay to dig for clams. I have mostly avoided this local activity for the past few years because, frankly, I wouldn't know what to do with the clams if I did find some, and I hate to waste food.

But we had out of towners and it was a beautiful day, so we gathered up the necessary clam guns (big PVC pipe things that act like a coring tool), shellfish licenses, and containers and headed out to the beach.

The trick to clam digging, apparently, is to know what you are looking for. And what you are looking for is the clam "show". Which I like to describe as air bubbles. Which is impossible to notice in the sand if you've never seen it before. Our friends Mary and Matt were joining us for this little adventure, and for the first hour that we were out, I'm pretty sure they thought they had been scammed into thinking there was something to catch. However, once we figured it out, we caught a handful of clams, enough for Matt and Mary to make a homemade clam chowder, which would put any Seattle Restaurant to shame.

I think this might be our last clam dig for the season (until fall), but when the WDFW gives us the thumbs up again, it will be Clam On!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

What is that! It burns!

This week brought some of those beautiful, sunny, seventy degree, spring days that make all of life's problems just melt away. It was a great opportunity to head down to the beach at Westhaven State Park and let Baby munch on the sand without being bundled up in a million layers.

Despite the perfect weather, the beach was, as usual, completely empty. After being down there for maybe a half hour, I bumped into one of the local real estate agents walking her dog. It still amazes me that this area is so unspoiled and underused. I know come summer I'll be wishing for my solitude, but on days like today, its a little lonely.