Posts Tagged ‘Washington State Parks’

The North Head Lighthouse Celebrates 115 Years This Weekend

June 7th, 2013 by Susie Goldsmith

At Cape Disappointment State Park, a few miles down the road from Boreas Inn, in Ilwaco, Washington, there are two lighthouses, both enchanting, rugged and enduring, The North Head and Cape Disappointment Lighthouses.  Lighthouses are among our favorite buildings–hardy, yet vulnerable to the hurricane force winds we infrequently have along with those driving rains we frequently experience.  The lights project about 20 miles to the Pacific Ocean to guide vessels into the proper channel and hopefully away from the deadly rocks and spits  of the mighty and fearsome Mouth of the Columbia River. 2,000 vessels have sunk and many have died at the “Mouth” and along the Long Beach Peninsula; more disasters than the infamous Cape Horn!

As a child, my father would take our Lake Oswego, OR 16 foot waterski boat over the Mouth of the Columbia during larger than logical seas in an attempt, I believe to drown the family.  (Just kiddin’–sort of…) The waves instilled a life-long fear into this sea-loving woman.  I still have dreams about my father sitting atop the seat of our ski boat crying “Wahoo! Wahoo!” as waves crashed over us.  We bailed and bailed to keep from sinking.  The Coast Guard would shudder, I’m sure, whenever they saw my father, who occasionally needed towing over the Bar.  (I was not there for that–I would have been mortified!) I remember seeing the lighthouse beams during foggy times at sea and they were oddly, a comfort, while I tried to be brave…with my father.

That aside, this weekend, on Saturday, June 8th, there will be a long-awaited title transfer ceremony of the North Head Lighthouse from the US Coast Guard to Washington State Parks.  There will be lighthouse tours, open houses at the innkeeper’s residences and refreshments. The views are stunning, whales may be sighted, and a good time should be had by all.  So come visit the North Head Lighthouse on the SW Washington Coast, near Long Beach, Washington and celebrate 115 years of maritime history at the North Head Lighthouse at Cape Disappointment State Park.  If you’re lucky, you might snag the last room open at Boreas Bed & Breakfast Inn!

The North Head celebrates 115 of guarding the Mouth of the Columbia.

The North Head celebrates 115 of guarding the Mouth of the Columbia.

Cape Disappointment State Park on the Long Beach Peninsula–Our Favorite Place to Visit!

August 13th, 2011 by Susie Goldsmith

Bill and I just returned from our brief weekly disappearing act to eat Serious Pizza at Cape Disappointment State Park in Ilwaco on the Long Beach, Washington Peninsula.  First of  all, this park is NOT a disappointment–it is our favorite Washington State Park.  It was named “Cape Disappointment” because in 1788, Captain John Meares, a fur trader, was disappointed because this was not the opening to the river–and is, in fact, is located just north of the infamous Mouth of the Columbia River!  Cape Disappointment is also home to the National Park housing Maya Lin’s “Confluence Project” honoring the Indian tribes Lewis and Clark encountered at the confluences of the rivers on their journey west.  Captain Clark and 11 of the “Corps of Discovery” hiked all over the land that is now Cape Disappointment State Park and from McKenzie Head, saw their first panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean!  Then they proceeded to hike north up the Peninsula, right across the property that is now Boreas Inn, located on the 1805 high water mark. So you get to sleep right on the Lewis and Clark Trail!


Of course, one of the most scenic parts of the Park are the two lighthouses, The North Head Lighthouse and the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse.  The North Head is easily explored by parking in the lot and walking down to the lighthouse on a road alongside the rock face overlooking the Pacific Ocean and just north of Benson Beach.  This is a place to linger.  All day.  The waves, huge in the winter but omnipresent, are hypnotic. The color of the water seems to change from blue to green to gray in a storm, but always a stunning contrast with the white tips of the peaks of the waves.  Whale watching from the North Head is often rewarding.  We look for the clumps of kelp offshore and occasionally see the spouts. The pelicans, eagles, many varieties of gulls, terns and a huge array of seabirds make this spot make for some of the best birdwatching in the West. Cape D lighthouse is a hike from the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center (in winter and anytime, the best view of the Mouth of the Columbia and the jetties), around Dead Man’s Cove.  Our guests come from around the world to see these two lighthouses, within miles of Boreas!

I mentioned Serious Pizza!  Well–seriously now, take the combination of a wood-fired pizza oven, burning cherry and apple, the “00 fino” flour imported from Italy, imported cheeses, meats from a great Seattle butcher chop and a location at Waikiki Beach at Cape D (as we call it), and you have not only the recipe for the best wood-fired pizza in Southwest Washington, but a spectacular setting near the amphitheater at Cape D State Park.  With eagles flying overhead (perhaps looking hungrily at your pizza-or maybe at your dog) and osprey circling around with crows and gulls harrassing them, you have an experience you will never forget.  Our favorite pizza is, you guessed it, “The Boreas”–the vegetarian pizza with garlic olive oil base, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, olives and pepperoni.  How special is it to have a pizza named after Boreas Inn?  State Parks built Jim and Chi, the purveyors of this fine pizza, a permanent structure so that visitors to the park, including campers staying in the 240 campsites, can have pizza!  We call ahead to avoid waiting perhaps an hour for the most memorable pizza. It’s truly Neopolitano–a thin delectable crust and just the right amount of cheese for a non-guilt producing light meal.  They also have wood-fired oysters and mouth-watering wood-fired wings.  Homemade ice cream and brownies….oh my!  Watch for Jim and Chi’s Serious Pizza to come soon to the town of Long Beach!

I have attached a very fine video about Cape Disappointment State Park to this blog!  It stars a few of our favorite State Park employees and some of the best scenery this area has to offer.  The Park is located 10 minutes from Boreas Inn.  We are soooo lucky to have Cape D State Park in our backyard.  So come to Boreas Inn and we will direct you to our favorite park, Cape Disappointment!  Enjoy the YouTube about Cape D.!

 

 

 

An Ode to Fort Columbia State Park Near Long Beach, WA

April 3rd, 2009 by Susie Goldsmith

When driving on Hwy 101 N. after crossing the Astoria Megler Bridge or from Highway 4, you find yourself driving up the most spectacular piece of highway bordering the Columbia River heading northwest towards Long Beach, Washington. You will encounter Fort Columbia State Park, 2 miles west of the bridge, right after you drive through the tunnel. Lots of people miss the grand entrance to this park. This beautiful photo that I found on Flickr is of the restored Officer’s Quarters at Fort Columbia.

Fort Columbia State Park is almost 600 acres of historical parkland with 6,400 feet of freshwater shoreline right on the Columbia River. As State Parks puts it, “The park celebrates a military site that constituted the harbor defense of the Columbia River from 1896 to 1947. The fort was fully manned and operational through three wars. The area was also home for the Chinook Indians and their famed Chief Comcomly.” It was chosen as a key military defense site because of the unobstructed views of the Columbia River. The town of Astoria, Oregon glimmers across the expanse of water. There is an interpretive center, five mile of hiking trails and picnic tables… This is a great spot for a wedding or family reunion or a quiet time for exploring and imagining the time when the mighty Chinook Indians lived on the land.

The State of Washington currently plans to close around 25% of their state parks. They plan to “mothball” Fort Columbia because it is one of the lowest income producing parks in the system. Mothballing means that the gates will be chained and the park closed. This is a tragedy for the State of Washington, for our visitors and for the residents who love this park. The historic significance of Fort Columbia is important–and the vista’s from the park are simply beautiful. Perhaps there will be a reprieve. When you come stay at Boreas Inn, you should visit Fort Columbia and revel in it’s beauty and hike on it’s trails. You will never forget it!

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