Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Cold Coast

Having lived near the beach in LA for 4 years, I'm accustomed to ocean waters bordering on warm temperatures, or at least tolerably cold. I've never been to the coast of Washington, beyond the Puget Sound channels of water where Seattle rests. So when a friend recommended we head to Westport - 2 1/2 hours West - where he could teach me to surf the Northwest Pacific waves, I was all kinds of about it.

What we did not anticipate was that surf shops close early and even in August, the ocean water this far North along the West Coast is absolutely frigid. I felt the chill all the way in my hips after standing in the small wake for :30 seconds. I will save learning to surf for a tropical location where sharks are more of a concern than hypothermia. But this left us a long afternoon to explore Westport, which happens to be the cutest damn beach town I've been to. Its a place where restaurants need names like "The One-Eyed Crab" or "Granny Hazel's Candy & Gifts."  The boardwalk wreaks of saltwater spray and oyster shells discarded by seagulls. You have multiple opportunities to purchase a windsock or a handmade lawn ornament. And you can see the mountains from the beach made of pulverized gray stones and white clam shells. It was a whole part of Washington I haven't seen before, and is a nod to part of our maritime culture that seeps Eastward into the city. There isn't much to do in this fisherman's town beyond listen to boat ropes creak and sea lions complain, fly a kite and watch the local color. But spending the day here had a funny way of putting a smile on my face that I didn't even know was there.