Saturday, May 3, 2008

The end of an Era: Saying Goodbye to Neddie Rose Farrington

Here in Westport, a lot has changed over the past 4 years, but some things don't change. This is a small community, everyone knows everyone, and if you need something: dinner, advice, seek out Neddie Rose.

Neddie Rose Farrington was the unofficial matriarch of the South Beach. The owner and operator of the Islander Motel & Charters for over 40 years, she was the very living heartbeat of the Marina. She was a hardworking business woman who ran a tight ship. Even after her retirement, when she visited the Islander for lunch and one of her old employees stopped to say hello, Neddie would bark "are you on a break?!"

I personally only met her a few times. I can recall her sharply criticizing the new Islander owner for having too many employees, and not working hard enough. She scolded him, going step by step in detail how she would run it in her day, stopping every few minutes to offer to come in a shape up his staff.

I had heard for years of the love story, how she cared for her husband who was injured in World War 2 for over 50 years. I have heard from countless old timers how she fed them, offered advice, or loaned some money when they were in need.

She was a beautiful woman who had lived an amazing life. The kind of woman you can only hope to be like.

Neddie's family will be holding a Memorial Service on Saturday, May 10, at Ocosta High School at 1PM. A reception will follow, to be announced at the service.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Last Dig of the Season! And the Shorebirds!

Twin Harbors Beach and Long Beach will be open for morning digging May 3-7, while Copalis and Mocrocks will be open only on May 4-5. No digging will be allowed after noon on any beach. Kalaloch Beach will remain closed.

Details at

Happy Hunting!!

And if clam digging doesn't float your boat, Grays Harbor will be celebrating the Shorebirds this weekend as well. for more info.

See you at the beach!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Weather at the Beach

We have a saying out on the coast: "If you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes". I have some great photos from 2 weeks ago with the kids out on the beach in t-shirts, and evidence of patches of snow from an earlier snowfall that depicts this well.

The weather was particluarly playful this past weekend, with 70 degrees and sunshine on Saturday, and then 50's and drizzly on Sunday. Mother nature giveth and then Mother Nature taketh away.

In any case, Spring has sprung, the days are longer, and the path is full of families on bikes and on foot experiencing the splendor. It's nice to get a deep breath of ocean air and look forward to the summer ahead!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Westport Winery Grand Opening

I was able to get a sneak taste of the new Westport Winery wines, and also dropped in on their debut at the Half Moon Bay Bar and Grill... I will try to post photos and more details soon, but definitely if you can make it to their grand opening on Sunday March 30, you really should. What the Roberts family has done there is really something amazing. Their facility is beautiful, the wines are great, and they have a huge selection of wines, which is impressive for their first year.

The winery is not quite halfway to Westport from Aberdeen on highway 105 (if you're familiar with Lily Lane, they are just to the East). You can stop, taste the wines, buy your favorite bottle, and stock up on snacks and supplies for a beach picnic.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

April Clam digs at Grayland and Westport Beaches

WDFW declared 2 weekends in April open for clam digging! This marks a new season, so if you buy the annual pass, its time to get a new one.

Here are the details:

Tentative early-April dates and low tides are:

  • Sunday, April 6, 7:23 a.m., -0.7 ft: Long Beach and Twin Harbors only
  • Monday, April 7, 8:09 a.m., -1.2 ft: Long Beach and Twin Harbors only
  • Tuesday, April 8, 8:55 a.m., -1.5 ft: Long Beach and Twin Harbors only
  • Wednesday, April 9, 9:43 a.m., -1.4 ft: Twin Harbors only

Tentative mid-April dates and low tides are:

  • Saturday, April 19, 6:40 a.m., -0.1 ft: Long beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks
  • Sunday, April 20, 7:18 a.m., -0.4 ft: Long beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks
  • Monday, April 21, 7:55 a.m., -0.6 ft: Twin Harbors only
  • Tuesday, April 22, 8:30 a.m., -0.6 ft: Twin Harbors only
  • Wednesday, April 23, 9:06 a.m., -0.5 ft: Twin Harbors onl

Again, Twin Harbors include the beaches between the South Jetty of Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay. Tokeland, Grayland, and Westport area each great places to stay if you are coming down for a dig. And if you aren't much a clamdigger, but you're curious about razor clams, the Half Moon Bay Bar & Grill has a razor clam basket, with clams fresh from local beaches.

Happy digging!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Westport and Grayland March Clam Digs

Don't forget about this weekend's clam dig - it's a long one - 6 days, a gift from WDFW for last month's bad weather!

Opening dates and tides are:

  • March 7, Friday, 6:21 p.m., +0.3: Twin Harbors only
  • March 8, Saturday, 6:58 p.m., +0.5: Twin Harbors and Longbeach only
  • March 9, Sunday, 8:28 a.m., +0.3: Twin Harbors and Longbeach only (switch to morning tides)
  • March 10, Monday, 9:12 a.m., 0.0: Twin Harbors only
  • March 11, Tuesday, 9:59 a.m., -0.1: Twin Harbors only
  • March 12, Wednesday, 10:51 a.m., 0.0: Twin Harbors only

  • Here is a repost of my map of the Twin Harbors clam dig areas. I think the Grayland area is better for first timers, because there are so many people out there and you're more likely to find someone to give you pointers.

    Happy hunting!

Beach Glass Treasures in Westport and Grayland

On a recent weekend road trip to Ocean Shores, I met an artist who happens to be a neighbor here in Westport. Beth is the proprietor of Seashore Collections, a small art studio that specializes in Beach Glass Jewelry. She was participating in small beachcombers fair there at the Ocean Shores Convention Center. Beth had some of her jewelry on display and for sale, and it was so beautiful.

She told me that she finds almost all of her glass on the Westport and Grayland Beaches. I love that. I love hearing about finding treasure. I don't have the patience to comb the beaches and find cool stuff. I try to keep my head down when I walk the beach in front of our home, but I don't really have the patience (and now I'm usually chasing my 2 year old). But the payoff is gorgeous, as you can see in these pictures.

To own a piece of beach treasure without the long walk, find Beth on ebay (search for Seashore Collections Westport), or at one of Westport's many street fairs this summer.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Grayland Driftwood Show

The Cranberry Coast Chamber of Commerce will be hosting its 46th Annual Driftwood Show on March 15 and 16, 2008 at the Grayland Community Hall. I have wanted to attend this for years, and am looking forward to finally making it this year.

You can purchase a "hunting license" for $3, which entitles you to "hunt" in designated locations on Grayland Beach for a specially marked sand dollar. If you find one, you can exchange it for a glass float. It looks like a lot of fun - who doesn't love a treasure hunt?

Additionally, there will be tons of driftwood, flotsam, jetsam, and the like on display (and being judged for awards). You can enter your interesting driftwood and beachcombing finds, as well as photography on Friday afternoon or early Saturday morning. For more information, check out the Cranberry Coast Chamber's website at

Good luck!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Winter Beach Day

After a long hard winter, full of 133 miles per hour winds, weeks on end of overcast weather, and the most rain I have seen since I moved here, we are having a fantastic February. This past week we have been treated to clear skies, a fantastic lunar eclipse, and warm (for winter) weather. The weatherman is forecasting 50's and sunny for the next few days, and we are taking advantage of as much sunshine as we can get our hands on.

As an added bonus, the end of winter and beginning of spring means the start of shorebirding season. I am looking forward to seeing what kinds of birds the recent clearing at the Links site might bring, as well as the changes made a Bottle Beach State Park. Today, we enjoyed the sandpipers on the beach here in Westport.

Entertaining the Family in Westport

People always ask me what there is to do in Westport. It's a pretty simple place, after all. So, I thought that I would share my family's list of our favorite things to do. We have a almost-2 year old, and a 2 year old cousin, a 4 year old cousin, a 6 year old cousin and an 8 year old Cousin.

(1) Visit the playgrounds at one of Westport's many public parks. Here is a shot from the Westport City Park, which is behind Anchor Bank off of Montesano (look for the green sign). There is also a great playground at the Ocosta School (you can see it from the parking lot) as well as behind the lighthouse (I'm not sure if this one is supposed to be private for the Coast Guard housing, but it's not locked). Also a small playground for those staying at Westport by the Sea is convenient for smaller children.

(2) Go to the beach. No tools, no toys, no equipment required. Kids love the beach. And Westport and Grayland are special because the auto traffic is low compared to the North Beaches. My son and his cousins can spend hours, in the warm and cold weather, combing the beach, finding treasures, chasing birds, running from the waves, digging in the sand.

(3) Maritime Museum. There is a special discovery room for small children with learning toys and games on all things nautical, including a full size whale skeleton. The Historical Society also runs the tours to the lighthouse, but note if you have children shorter than 40", they won't be allowed to climb.

(4) Fish off the pier, go clam digging, drop a crab pot, anything to bring the kids a little closer to their dinner. Even if you've never done it before, if you go to Angler Charters on the marina, they will set you up with everything you need to drop a hook and tell you what you might be finding at that particular time of year (all for about $40). Clam guns can be purchased at the Red Apple for about $12. Crab pots can be rented up and down the marina. Licenses are also available at various locations on the marina, but often times, the kids don't need them. There are few things more satisfying to most kids than cooking and eating something they helped catch.

(5) Bike or walk along the Westhaven State Park path. Park either at Westport Light State Park or Westhaven State Park, and bring out your bikes, skates, or feet for a nice mile walk (2 miles round trip). For more exercise, you can walk from Westport Light State Park to the Marina, but that is about 5 miles round trip. This provides some interesting signage, deer sighting, I've even seen eagles out there. There are typically not a lot of people out there, this is not the Burke Gilman Trail, so bring your slowest family members, and don't worry about having folks yell "on your left" as you take the time to smell the beach grass.

Other things that are fun include kite flying, paddle boats (on the marina), watching the surfers, shopping in the Marina, and bowling. Of course, in the summer time, just getting a ice cream cone from Whale of a Cone and sitting out in the sunshine is a treat in itself.

See you at the beach!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Crack Crab for Kids

The 11th Annual Ocosta Schools Booster Club annual Crab and Spaghetti Feed is taking place this weekend, Feburary 23, from noon to 8PM at the Ocosta Rec Hall. Tickets are $20 for those over 13 and $10 for those 6 - 12, and free for kids under 5. All proceeds will be used to provide scholarships, sports uniforms and equipment, camps, and provide support for various programs of the Ocosta Jr/Sr High School.

Go get some yummy fresh crab and support local students at the same time!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Valentines Dinner, by the light of the ... destruction island lens

It's not too late to get take your sweet someone out for a romantic evening they will not soon forget. The South Beach Historical Society hosts a Valentines Dinner, with a 4-course meal and a bottle of wine for each couple, set by the light of the Destruction Island Lens, in the comfort of the lens house. Wine and dine your special girl or guy and help support the mission of Westport south Beach Historical Society all at the same time!

For tickets, call or visit the Westport Maritime Museum at 360-268-0078, they are $90/couple and include dinner and a bottle of wine.

March 2008 Clam Digs

Since the weather was so bad at last month's digs, the WDFW has decided to open a very long March Dig at Twin Harbors - March 7 - 12, 2008. March 7 and 8 will be morning digs, and 9 - 12 will be evening digs. Make your reservations now.

On a separate note, spring has sprung and its a beautiful 50 and sunny today at the beach! The weatherman is predicting a beautiful President's Day Weekend (sunny and 50's)! Hooray! Come visit us!

See you at the beach!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Westport Winery Debut, March 22, 2008

On March 22, 2008, 6:30 PM, the Roberts will be debuting their wines at a special Winemakers Dinner at the Half Moon Bay Bar and Grill.

Wines that will be available for tasting include the Grays Harbor Gewurztraminer, Elk River Riesling, Compass Rose, Surfer's Last Syrah, Shorebird Chardonnay, Mermaid's Merlot, Charterboat Chuck's Cabernet, Ancient Mariner's Asian Pear, Red Sky at Night (Raspberry Wine with Chocolate flavor).

The wine will be accompanied by a four course meal including such delights as baked brie, grilled pear, and cabrales crostini; procuitto wrapped scallops, seared prawns with braised leeks; hazelnut crusted wild salmon with beet risotto and butter roasted parsnips; grilled new york steak with sauteed wild mushrooms; and tiramisu and candied citrus.

Entertainment will be provided by the Electric Park Jazz Band, along with wine tasting notes by Kim and Blaine Roberts and their winemaker Dan Wood.

It should be a night to remember, and a great way to welcome the Westport Winery to our little town, so don't miss it! The dinner, including the wines is $75 per person. Reservations are required, and can be made at the Islander front desk at 360-268-9166. The address is 421 E. Neddie Rose Drive, Westport, WA 98595. Josh Wood, the Half Moon Bay Bar and Grill manager can answer any questions you have, and he can be reached at 360-268-9166.

Westport Winery 2008 - 2009 Releases

The Westport Winery is expected to open near the end of March, depending on Construction. They will also have a 90-person gathering room and 250-person display garden for events. I have been watching their 40' tall lighthouse go up over the past several weeks, which I believe will also be open to the public as part of their winery tours.

Sneak peek at wines expected in the next year from the Westport Winery:

Rapture of the Deep: A cran-boggling bubbly. Divers call it nitrogen narcosis. Oh how those little bubbles change everything. Fortunately, our sparkling wine doesn't negatively affect your central nervous system. In fact, you can forget nerves all together as you relax and drink to the mysteries of the deep blue sea. This is your celebration. A portion of the proceeds from this wine benefits the Driftwood Theater.

Pinot Noirvana: Grays Harbor is known for its creative souls and none have left greater footprints than the band Nirvana. This wine is created to honor their impact on the community. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this wine benefits the Kurt Cobain Memorial Committee.

Any Port in a Storm: Imagine stormy seas and howling winds. All you want is a safe harbor and healthy repast. This is it. In our book - and anyone else's - a fine port is well-suited to accompany a deep, dark chocolate. Together these foods have more antioxidants than... well anything we can think of, so enjoy. You only go around once.

In 2010, we can expect the Maritime Muscat, Bordello Blonde, Smoky Nor'wester Pinot Precoce, Seashell Selgerrebe.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Half Moon Bay Bar and Grill Winemakers Dinner

Well, this past weekend's clam dig was a bit of a bust, as the weather was cold, gray, and rainy - basically miserable weather for digging in the sand. But it was perfect weather for warming up with a glass (or 5) of wine and a fantastic meal.

I was lucky enough to get to hang out in the kitchen at the Half Moon Bay Bar and Grill's Winemaker's Dinner on Saturday night, and it was a quite a scene. Chef Donny Silver reminds me that his restaurant has consistently received 100% marks from the health department, which makes me feel a lot better about the numbers of meals I eat there. The "back of the house" as those in the know call it, provides an amazing show when they are serving as many meals at one time as they were on Saturday (51 entrees in 25 minutes).

They served a 6 course dinner, which was paired with a selection of 6 different spanish wines - starting with an apertif of marcona almonds and chorizo sausage, a seared scallop on what looked like something yummy, followed by calamari (half moon bay style), a baked goat cheese dish, and then the entree was a choice of (1) seafood paella, (2) new york strip with some kind of creamy blue cheese on it, and (3) rack of lamb. Dessert was a choice of rice pudding, almond flan, or chocolate cake. Mmmmm.... the sights and smells in the kitchen were amazing. Chef Donny and his assistants Jose and Patricia are like artists, putting their special touch on every dish. It was a great experience, and I didn't even have to wash any dishes!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Crush Me, Squeeze Me, Make Me Wine At The Beach

Mark your calendars!

The First Annual "Crush Me, Squeeze Me, Make Me Wine At the Beach" festival will take place at the Westport Winery on the first weekend of October 2008. The Westport Winery and Vineyards by the Sea will host a grape-stomping-good-time with free music, chowder, and wine tasting, as they harvest our grapes.

More info to follow as it becomes available!

Friday, February 8, 2008

February 9 - Winemakers Dinner at the Islander

If you can find a babysitter on Saturday night, do not miss the Half Moon Bay Bar and Grill's Winemaker's Dinner. It will feature a tour of Spain, through a 5 course meal and tasting of Spanish wines imported by Casa Ventura.

The menu presented by chef Donny Silver sounds great, with spanish almonds and scallops as appetizers, paella and lamb as choices for the main dish, and an almond flan for desert. There are others, but I don't have the menu handy. Donovan told me today that they are almost sold out for tomorrow night's dinner. Sounds like a great Valentine's dinner for your sweetie.

Tickets can be purchased at the Islander Front Desk at 360-268-9166.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Where to dig for Razor Clams near Westport

Since I was asked, I thought I would share the following:

The WDFW website lists "Twin Harbors" as the location for a 4 day clam dig. That is actually code for the 18 miles of beach that stretches from Willapa Bay to Grays Harbor, ie. Westport/Grayland/Tokeland.

I have made a little primitive map which shows where the best places to find Razor Clams are. If you want to go to Westhaven, I recommend following the map to Westport, then turning toward Westhaven State Park on Jetty Access Road. Park at the state park and walk down to the beach.

To try Grayland, you can access the beach either on Bonge Road or Grayland Beach Road. The area in between these two roads are prime razor clam habitat.

Note that there IS a beach access where 105 T's off to either Westport or Grayland, but the sand is very soft there, and I've seen enough hefty 4WD vehicles get stuck there to keep me away.

Good luck!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Clam Dig Tide Timetables

Just a quick amendment for the post on the Jan 18 - 21, 2008 clam dig... here are the tide timelines:
  • Jan. 18, Friday, 2:56 p.m., +0.6, Twin Harbors only.
  • Jan. 19, Saturday, 3:58 p.m., +0.1, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis.
  • Jan. 20, Sunday, 4:53 p.m., -0.4, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis.
  • Jan. 21, 2008; Monday; 5:44 p.m., -0.6, Twin Harbors only.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Wine Country coming to Westport

I recently had the pleasure to meet Kim and Blaine Roberts, the new winemakers that are moving into the Westport/Ocosta area. Yes, I said winemakers. Westport is getting its very own winery, called Vineyards-by-the-sea and Westport Winery. The facility will be complete with vineyards and tasting room. Wow!

The actual vineyards will be in Ocosta, about 10 minutes outside of Westport toward Aberdeen, right next to the lily farm, if you're familiar with the neighborhood. They are going to be opening up their tasting room this spring (2008), and I understand there will be a winemakers dinner sometime in late February at the Half Moon Bay Bar and Grill.

It's all very exciting, and a sneak peek in their holiday letter of some of their proposed wine bottle labels are great. Everything is ocean themed, with Mermaid's Merlot, and Charterboat Chuck's Cabernet Sauvignon among their wines.

For a quick overview, you can check them out at at

I will keep you posted on events and openings!

Razor Clam Digs for January

It's that time again, the WDFW has announced that the next clam digs will occur January 18 - 21, 2008, which happens to coincide with a 3-day weekend (MLKjr holiday). So its a great time to visit Westport. As a bonus, the accuweather is forecasting "brilliant sunshine" for that weekend (hey, I know the weatherfolks are almost never accurate, but we can hope right?).

So, in honor of that upcoming clam dig, I am going to publish my version of "how to clean a clam". These are by no means official instructions, I have ruined a lot of clams before I got to this point, but its how I do it.

(1) Catch your limit of 15 clams.

(2) Put said clams into a colander in the sink. An outdoor sink works well, if available, or you can do it out in your yard. You probably don't want to do this in a sink in a rental, you'll probably totally mess it up and get charged for breaking their garbage disposal or something.

(3) Boil a pot of water. Slowly pour boiling water over colander of clams. You have to have enough water to be able to get each clam for a full 2 - 3 seconds. Alternatively, if your pot is big enough, you can immerse the colander into the boiling water, and then pull it out. This is very similar to blanching vegetables. You don't want to leave it in the boiling water for too long, because it will get chewy. Once out of boiling water, rinse with cold water.

(4) The clams should have "opened up" after this. If they didn't, you either didn't expose the clam to enough hot water, or your clam is bad. My philosophy on shellfish is "when in doubt, throw it out". I know you worked hard for that clam, but you don't want to risk getting sick and ruining your trip to the beach. Some people say to cut the clams out of their shell at this point, but I have found that they just slip right off the shell.

(5) Now you should have the whole clam and you want to cut that puppy open. Now, I'm not going to pretend to know all the names of the parts, you can read other websites for that, but here's the secret. Cut off anything that looks yucky and brown, and leave everything that is white and meaty. See my pictures below for what is yucky and what is meaty. There is also a clear straw like piece that you should make sure to remove. Again, I'm not sure what it is, but it doesn't taste good. Please don't ask why I know.

(6) There you go. Now your clam is clean and ready for whatever great chowder or fritter recipe you have downloaded off the internet. Congratulations!!