Much More than a Fantastic Kite Festival – Long Beach WA

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August 29th 2017
Published: November 8th 2017
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The 95-mile drive from Copalis Beach Resort in Copalis Beach WA to Driftwood RV Park in Long Beach WA was short, even by Uncle Larry’s standards and was totally uneventful. From the time I first became aware of the Washington State International Kite Festival, it has been on my short list, and, given that the Washington coast was on the 2017 agenda, I fashioned the itinerary around the festival. With my normal “one week at a time” from Wednesday through Tuesday, I had either a) to drastically alter my travel schedule, or b) to stay in Long Beach for two weeks. Since there were numerous area attractions I wanted to visit, in addition to the festival, that was a no-brainer. The festival schedule did cause me to scratch my head, as “greater-than-a-long-weekend” festivals typically begin on Thursday or Friday and run through the following weekend, ending on Sunday. The Washington State International Kite Festival lasts seven days. I was told that a city ordinance limits tents (vendors) on the beach to seven days. I can only imagine how many more vendors would show up if they had two full weekends to purvey their wares and how many more people might attend who work every other weekend, like many medical personnel, or who have other calendar conflicts.

Perhaps, a smaller festival IS the goal of city officials. I somehow doubt members of the chamber of commerce would concur, because Long Beach is another one of those communities that embraces tourism as a major revenue generator. About 6-8 blocks of the main drag are lined with restaurants, watering holes and souvenir shops. Away from the immediate city center are motels, bed-and-breakfasts, rental condos and apartments as well as RV parks. Since my RV park was about a mile from city center, it was a nice walk to downtown (and another 6 blocks or so to the beach and site of the kite festival). On the days I drove so I could have breakfast or supper away from city center, parking a block or so east of the main business district was never a problem.

After a day with a little of this and a little of that (housekeeping), Friday found me chasing down a half-dozen attractions. First on the list was the Northwest Carriage Museum in Raymond WA. I have seen several transportation museums but never a carriage museum. This first-class facility has a diverse collection of excellently restored specimens, and there is not a lot more I can comment about except to say that this attraction is well worth a one-hour stop when in the area for almost any tourist and is worth a significant detour for the history or transportation buff. I’ll let several captioned pictures speak for the institution and for me.

My next stop was the Pacific County Historical Society Museum in South Bend WA. In addition to logging, shipbuilding and cranberry farming, several locals are spotlighted in this small, nicely done local history museum. There are interesting artifacts, but I saw nothing that I had not previously seen in other facilities; however, if the tourist has not yet been to a local history museum in the Pacific Northwest, this is a good one to patronize. For the locals who have not yet attended, shame on you! The docent on duty gave me a great lead on a place for some fantastic fried oysters – Chester Club and Oyster Bar (established in 1897), right across the street from the museum. It’s nothing fancy, just a shot-and-a-beer joint, but yummy! Oftentimes, the exceptional is enclosed in a plain brown wrapper.

My next
Placards with Photos and Explanatory Narratives Are the Strength of the Visitor ExperiencePlacards with Photos and Explanatory Narratives Are the Strength of the Visitor ExperiencePlacards with Photos and Explanatory Narratives Are the Strength of the Visitor Experience

Pacific Coast Cranberry Research Foundation Museum - Long Beach WA
stop was up the hill at the Pacific County Courthouse. I enjoy seeing the old, architecturally significant buildings around our country as I travel. This interest does not stem from the skills of the architect but from those of the craftsmen who were able to produce such works of art with, what many would consider, such primitive tools and, usually, in such a short period of time. I guess my attendance is a tribute to them and their skills. This particular courthouse has one of the best skylights I have ever seen, indeed, better than those found in many state capitol rotundas.

On my return to the RV park, I made two stops. First was at the Pacific Coast Cranberry Research Foundation Museum on the outskirts of Long Beach. Make no mistake (and as I had expected), this is an educational attraction. Well done placards explain the varieties of cranberries, production locales, bog construction and preparation, pest control, dry vs. wet harvesting and sorting as well as highlighting some of the industry icons. A collection of cranberry-related equipment is on display which gives the visitor an understanding of the processes presented in the narratives without embracing duplication. The museum and the bogs are self-guided. I found the museum interesting and feel it augmented the information I had learned the previous week at the Furford Cranberry Museum.

My second stop on my return trip was at the World Kite Museum in Long Beach. Surprisingly, the museum is not conveniently located near the kite festival site. Hmmm! Surprisingly, the museum has no presentation explaining the various types of kites for the kiting novice. Hmmm! Surprisingly, the museum has almost no information about the history of kiting; and, what little history there is, has very few dates to place the events into an historical perspective. Hmmm! Surprisingly, the museum has about half its space occupied with Japanese and Chinese kites and the mythology associated with various symbols, such as the Chinese Carp, the Eight Immortals of a Birthday Celebration, the Pig General, Insect Bites Bring Good Luck and the Monkey King. Hmmm!

Surprisingly, and aside from some very interesting and visually appealing artifacts and a small exhibit about World War II kites, the museum has very little to offer the kiting aficionado and nothing to offer the novice. Indeed, this “museum” appears more to be a building housing somebody’s personal collection that (probably) has managed to gain tax exempt status. Those
A Velocipede with a Story!A Velocipede with a Story!A Velocipede with a Story!

Appelo Archive Center and Logging Museum - Naselle WA
who follow my blog know I usually find something positive to say about most of the attractions I visit; however, the World Kite Museum is way overpriced and, even were it free, is a waste of time, save the visual appeal of the artifacts on display.

One fine Saturday found me out for a scenic drive and stops at three attractions. I didn’t believe any of the attractions would be earth-shattering, but they helped define my itinerary and augmented my understand of the area’s heritage. The first stop was the Appelo Archive Center and Logging Museum in Naselle WA. This small museum falls into the “pretty much what I expected” category with the exception of “The Deep River Velocipede.” First, the machine itself is slightly different that others I have seen. Second, this machine has a story. The velocipede was owned by a local milk man and was used to deliver milk. His niece procured the conveyance upon his death, held it in storage for over 35 years, had it refurbished and presented it to the museum in 2011. Since its inclusion in the museum collection, the velocipede has resurrected the memories of many locals who rode it as children. Other artifacts are nicely
The View from the Park Is Quite PhotogenicThe View from the Park Is Quite PhotogenicThe View from the Park Is Quite Photogenic

Grays River 158' Covered Bridge - Grays River WA
displayed and visually relate the community’s history. This is not a must-see attraction but is nice and worthwhile.

My second stop was to examine a covered bridge – not unheard of but somewhat rare in the Northwestern United States. Built in 1905, the 158-foot Grays River Covered Bridge in Grays River WA is the only one of its kind in the state and is considered the oldest remaining covered bridge in the Northwest. The one-lane span over the Grays River is the only covered bridge still in use as a public roadway in Washington State. The bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. A park is adjacent to the bridge, and a kiosk displays historical information and photographs. The attraction is a nice stop and is worth a slight detour for the average tourist. Oh yes, the wild blackberries were quite tasty!

My final “pre-kite festival” stop was at Redmen Hall - River Life Interpretive Center in Skamokawa WA. Redmen Hall is the former Skamokawa Central School which was built in 1894 and closed in 1927. The building was threatened by highway construction in the mid-1930s but was saved from destruction and moved to its present location by the
The Map Helps Place the Subjects of the Placards in PerspectiveThe Map Helps Place the Subjects of the Placards in PerspectiveThe Map Helps Place the Subjects of the Placards in Perspective

Redmen Hall - River Life Interpretive Center - Skamokawa WA
Fraternal Order of Redmen, who used it for its meeting house. The building was later abandoned. The Friends of Skamokawa Foundation was formed in 1985, purchased the building and had it restored it to its present condition. The River Life Interpretive Center is housed in the facility and relates the early history of Skamokawa by conveying information about the previously dominant industries of fishing, logging and farming. Fourteen placards convey interesting information on subjects from “Legacy of Salmon” to “Legacy in a Tradition of Boat-building” and from “Legacy in the Ethnicities of the Fishing Fleet” to “Legacy of Traditional Tools and Skills.” This museum is a learning opportunity and not an artifact-laden attraction.

With a day off for NASCAR, Monday, August 21, 2017, the first day of the Washington State International Kite Festival, found me beginning to walk down to the festival and encountered a couple in the RV park who had equipment set up to visually record the solar eclipse. After about two blocks of pondering my options, I decided to return to the Bighorn, turn on the television and watch the eclipse myself. There would be lots of additional opportunities to watch the kites, but the eclipse – well, not so
Colorful Might Be an UnderstatementColorful Might Be an UnderstatementColorful Might Be an Understatement

37th Annual Washington State International Kite Festival - Long Beach WA
much. I spent Tuesday through Friday watching the kites and was impressed by the variety of kites the competitors had fashioned and by the number of different events that were contested.

The kite festival! Hmmm. What can I say. It’s a visual thing. You sorta have to be there. Some of the dozen or so different types of kites include delta, rokkaku, cellular, stunt or sport, traction, inflatable, diamond or eddy, novelty and roller. Many of the competitions were defined by age or experience level while others were defined by kite type. Some kites are flown with a single line while others are multi-line (or dual controls). Sometimes the competition is accompanied by music (ballet) while sometimes there is no music (precision) – analogous to freestyle and compulsory competitions in Olympic figure skating. There is indoor kite flying wherein the kites are so lightweight that the backward movement of the flyer provides sufficient lift to launch the kite. Numerous activities and workshops were directed specifically toward children, and, throughout the festival, kite enthusiasts had static displays launched. On the kite fields and adjoining areas, several fliers launched two kites simultaneously, one kite controlled by each hand; while, down at
Positioned Just Outside the Barrier Rope from the Competition Field, Uncle Larry Had a Great Vantage PointPositioned Just Outside the Barrier Rope from the Competition Field, Uncle Larry Had a Great Vantage PointPositioned Just Outside the Barrier Rope from the Competition Field, Uncle Larry Had a Great Vantage Point

37th Annual Washington State International Kite Festival - Long Beach WA
the beach, a couple of experts flew three dual line kites with one set of controls in each hand and the third set affixed to the flier’s waist. The hip gyrations were something to behold as all three kites synchronously dipped and rose, bobbed and weaved and circled clockwise and counterclockwise. One expert flier flew a train of 78 identical kites all attached to the same line and spaced about 12-15 inches apart. Elsewhere on the beach, kite buggy pilots/drivers were having fun.

A sample of the titles of some of the events/competitions were “Kite Trains – Arches and Sport Kite Stacks” wherein awards were given in four categories: Trains, Ohashi Arches, European Arches and Stunt Kite Stacks; Individual (and Team) Rokkaku Battle wherein a kite is eliminated for touching the ground; Mass Ascension #1 – Deltas and Delta Derivatives (#2 – Cellular Kites, #3 – Flat and Bowed Kites and #4 – Sparless Soft Kites); Senior Ballet, wherein all the competitors must be at least 50; The Smallest Kite; and, my favorite, The Mystery Ballet wherein the competitors and the music are randomly paired with music widely familiar to almost everybody, such as “Piano Man” by Billy Joel, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Judy Garland, “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra or “Hey Jude” by The Beatles. Incredible skills were on display! Many might find the kite festival boring, but I found it fascinating. You’ll have to attend one and decide for yourself.

On Saturday, my friend drove down to Long Beach from his “summer” home in Shelton WA. I met him through my friend Gary while he was wintering in the Phoenix metro. We met at an amazing breakfast/ lunch establishment, Laurie's Homestead Breakfast House, (which closes in early afternoon) and spent the remainder of the day BSing about soup to nuts. After dinner, he headed back to Shelton while I got enlivened with some good ‘ole fashion Cajun music. Cape Disappointment State Park hosts The Waikiki Beach Concert Series each summer and features a variety of music genres. Timing is everything, and I was lucky enough to have Savoy Family Cajun Band (YouTube 24:52) performing during my stay in Long Beach. Although my Native American/Cajun “second family” in Louisiana speaks Creole, a language developed from elements of French (primarily), Spanish, African and Native American dialects, I don’t have a clue what any of the lyrics mean, because I speak no
The Placard Verbiage Is Supplemented by Intermittent PaintingsThe Placard Verbiage Is Supplemented by Intermittent PaintingsThe Placard Verbiage Is Supplemented by Intermittent Paintings

Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center - Ilwaco WA
French whatsoever! I do, however, love the music. Its upbeat tempo is contagious. Kiteless Saturday was a great day.

My first stop on Monday, August 28, 2017 was at Cape Disappointment State Park near Ilwaco WA where I had three attractions to visit. Cape Disappointment is located where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean, and stands sentinel over a lot of shipping traffic. North Head Lighthouse is one of two lighthouses on the cape that guide mariners through the treacherous waters. I knew that, unfortunately, the facilities were closed while the tower was undergoing restoration but wanted to see the structures and the hazardous waters where the light stood sentinel.

Up the other fork in the trail to North Head Lighthouse was the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. This facility provided me with incredible background into the preparation of the members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition which took place between May 1804 and September 1806. The educational displays include information about the individuals that formed the Corps of Discovery, a specially-established unit of the United States Army which formed the nucleus of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, as well as the “instructors” that provided Corps members with the tools they needed to make the expedition a success. Corps members were schooled on subjects such as surveying (and the use of instruments to determine latitude and longitude), medicine, botany and zoology, as well as a word list to record Indian vocabularies. Thomas Jefferson personally schooled Lewis, who had lived in the White House as Jefferson’s personal secretary from 1801 to 1803, in leadership under adverse conditions.

Accounts from the diaries of Corps members provide insight into life on the expedition and insight into the minds of many Corps members. One August 15, 1804 entry from Patrick Gass relates the illness, probably appendicitis, that befell Sergeant Charles Floyd and led to his death five days hence. An entry from the diary of Private Joseph Whitehouse relates the celebration of Christmas 1804 at Fort Mandan. Other panels tell of the hiring of interpreters, one of whom, Sacagawea, gave birth to a son on February 11, 1805 while travelling with the Corps. One panel reveals William Clark’s thoughts about his exploration of Cape Disappointment. This facility is not a museum but a compilation of interesting facts and background information that brings the Corps of Discovery to life and, in my case, amalgamates other information I have harvested at other Lewis and Clark facilities. Most of the artifacts on display do not relate to the Lewis and Clark Expedition or to the Corps of Discovery but to Cape Disappointment, i.e., the first-order Fresnel lens formerly used in the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse.

My final stop at Cape Disappointment State Park was at Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. The 53-foot lighthouse, built in 1856, is located on a U.S. Coast Guard station and remains an active aid to navigation, but access to the immediate area surrounding the tower is permitted and the walk to the tower is, let’s say, invigorating. Signs admonish visitors not to disturb the lighthouse sentry in any way. Makes sense to me.

On my way to the northern tip of the Long Beach Peninsula, I stopped for a sandwich and headed for Willapa National Wildlife Refuge in Ocean Park WA with hopes of finding a scenic vista for my dining venue before making a stop at the final attraction during my two-week stay in Long Beach – Oysterville WA. Historic Oysterville, as the literature describes the community, is not a quaint seaside village ripe for tourism. Indeed, there is no downtown per se, and there are no souvenir shops but there are numerous
Crab Pots Adorn the Exterior of Oysterville Sea FarmsCrab Pots Adorn the Exterior of Oysterville Sea FarmsCrab Pots Adorn the Exterior of Oysterville Sea Farms

Historic Oysterville - Oysterville WA
historic houses, a working commercial fishing marina and the Oysterville Store, established in 1919. I arrived just as Greg Rogers, the new owner, was about to unlock the front door after he had taken a lunch break at his home near the store. Attached to the store is the oldest continually running post office in Washington, established in 1858, which he graciously showed me as he provided an interesting narrative. Initially, the Post Office was run from private homes, and once even a saloon, before it found a permanent home next to the general store.

The Oysterville Store is a work in progress as Greg learns the needs of the community and its visitors but contains a small collection of food items, prints of works by local artists and a selection of souvenirs. He did tell me to make sure I made a stop at Oysterville Sea Farms for some phenomenal squid salad and the best seafood breeding he has ever tasted. I took his advice and bought some of each. I found the squid salad good and unparalleled in my experience but believe the descriptor “phenomenal” might be a slight overstatement. Of course, taste is in the buds! The breading, Willabay® Best Breading for Everything, is very good on fish and chicken. Revenue generated from in-store and online sales is earmarked for the restoration and preservation of Oysterville Sea Farms and the Oysterville Sea Farms cannery. Oysterville is interesting but, especially in light of its remote location, is nothing I could put on my highly recommended list.

I had a very nice stay in the Long Beach area, and my itinerary was about as diverse as I have had during my seven-plus years on the road. I visited a first-class carriage museum, saw the “scholarly” side of cranberry farming, dined on some great seafood, drove over the only covered bridge still in use as a public roadway in Washington, listened to some mighty fine Cajun music, learned personal perspectives of some of the members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, spent the day with a friend, harvested some more knowledge about the logging and fishing industries, witnessed a solar eclipse, made stops at two lighthouses and one historic courthouse and visited a fishing community whose name drew me in like a barker on the midway. Oh, yes, and saw some kites that were nothing like I, or Ben Franklin, had ever seen before. Alas, the week was not entirely nirvana – the World Kite Museum is one of the biggest disappointments of The Great Adventure. I had a busy TWO weeks in Long Beach, but there is plenty to keep virtually any tourist busy for the better part of one week, with or without a day at the kite festival. I will put both the community and the kite festival on my recommended list.

Additional photos below
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After the Festival, There Was Room to BreatheAfter the Festival, There Was Room to Breathe
After the Festival, There Was Room to Breathe

Driftwood RV Park – Long Beach WA

4th June 2018

Thoroughly enjoyed reading your adventures on the peninsula. I'm new to the area and have meant to visit some of those places written about but lost my motivation. You have inspired me. For the 2017 Kite Festival I was in SoCal so I'm looking forward to witness it this year (2018). I Thank You so very much for the insights to the places where I now live. I too am a retired firefighter, 26 years US NAVY.
17th June 2018

Long Beach WA area
Thanks for the comment. It's good to know that I'm not doing this exercise merely for my personal nostalgia down the road a few years. I genuinely enjoyed exploring your new home and hope you do as well.

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