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Terry & Dave Taylor

To the tip of the Long Beach peninsula

Long Beach, Washington: Another dreary day - it isn't windy and it is warm, so I shouldn't complain too much. We decided to drive the Honda north to the end of the road. It isn't a long drive - 15 miles or so - but it is very pretty and we found a few interesting stops along the way.

Our first stop was near Nahcotta to the Willapa Bay Oyster House Interpretive Center. Pronounced Willa-paw, this bay is one of the richest oyster beds in America. The bay has the perfect combination of sea water and fresh water from incoming rivers to produce fabulous oysters. Displays line the walls, explaining the history of the oyster industry in the bay. The Interpretive center is built to resemble one of the eight Oyster Houses that once dotted the bay. Each Oyster House quartered a oysterman guarding the precious crop. Willapa Bay is entirely commercial... if you step into the water and harvest an oyster, you could be arrested for poaching.

Oysterville, Washington
Willapa Bay Interpretive Center

Willapa Bay Interpretive Center
A map of the bay inside the Willapa Bay Interpretive Center

From the center: "Oysters are often hatchery-spawned. The free-swimming larvae soon seek a hard surface (preferably recycled oyster shell, called "cultch"), to anchor on. The cultch are spread out over Willapa Bay. After the oysters are 3 to 5 years old, they are harvested. Dredges scoop them up from the tideland, dump them onto the deck, and take them to the cannery, where oyster workers open (shuck) and process the oysters. The discarded shell is stored outside in piles, awaiting recycling as cultch."

Willapa Bay Oysters
Cultch

Peninsula Port
Peninsula Port in Nahcotta, Washington

We continued north to Oysterville, one of the oldest settlements in Washington State. The entire village is a historic district and most of the homes were built in the late 1800's. The homes are very charming and sit along the shore of the pretty bay.

Willapa Bay
Panorama of Willapa Bay

Oysterville Sea Farms
Oysterville Sea Farms has a shop selling fresh whole, shucked, smoked and canned oysters

The northern tip of the peninsula, Willapa Bay Wildlife Refuge, is closed as a Snowy Plover breeding area. We tried to do some hiking... but mosquitoes were swarming more than the plovers, so we ran back to the car and headed south in search of deep-fried seafood. We stopped at the Dunes Restaurant in Oceanview. The Dunes was extremely casual and the food was really good - the breading was crisp and not gummy at all! Yeah! (And the fries were really good too.)

Fried Oysters
DT had fried oysters. Again, they were absolutely massive.

Halibut Fish & Chips
I had the dainty little child's portion of halibut fish & chips

Marsh's Free Museum in Long Beach, WashingtonTwo more stops on our tour today!

The first was to a super-tacky, super-huge, super-busy tourist trap known as Marsh's Free Museum. We had to see their main attraction - Jake the Alligator Man. (Hey, I've been to some of the great museums in the world -  The Louvre, The Smithsonian and The Hermitage - and didn't see anything like Jake the Alligator Man. Not even THE THING? in Arizona is as tacky as Jake the Alligator Man. Plus Jake is free and THE THING? is $1.) However, Jake the Alligator Man is impossible to photograph because he is displayed in a mirrored cabinet... but here is the general idea:

Jake the Alligator Man
I bought a postcard and took a photo of the card for your viewing pleasure. He's creepy, eh?
In the corner is a shrunken head, also on display in the junk shop museum.

Marsh's Free Museum
Marsh's Free Museum in Long Beach, Washington

Look who we found
Look who we spotted in Marsh's Free Museum?
Remember these girls from our swing through the south this winter? We saw them in every
gift shop for weeks. Looks like they had a little damage on their trip across the country.

The final stop of the day was to the Cranberry Museum. The Long Beach peninsula is home to many Ocean Spray cranberry growers. Washington State University has an agricultural station here and offer a self-guided tour through their cranberry bogs. The museum explains how the berries are grown and harvested and they sell everything-cranberry in a cute little shop. The museum also has a large collection of antique cranberry farming implements.

Cranberry Museum
Cranberry Museum

Cranberry Museum
Cranberry Museum display

Pacific Coast Cranberry Research Foundation
Pacific Coast Cranberry Research Foundation bogs

Pacific Coast Cranberry Research Foundation
The cranberries will be ripe in September or October

Pacific Coast Cranberry Research Foundation
The museum from the cranberry bogs

Pacific Coast Cranberry Rearch Foundation
Should we become cranberry growers? No!

While we were in Oceanview, we bought two Yukon Gold potatoes at the local market. I knew we had a nice tenderloin steak in the freezer, but little else in the bus to cook... and we had probably run the course of restaurant possibilities on the peninsula. When we arrived back to the Magna Peregrinus, I realized the packet in the freezer contained two whole chicken legs. Oops! Improvise! DT grilled the chicken and I roasted the potatoes (and two roma tomatoes) with chopped garlic and chopped fresh basil. At the last minute, I added a thin slice of fresh mozzarella to the top of the roasted tomatoes. Yummy dinner! (Everyone carries fresh buffalo mozzarella and basil in their RV, right?)

Roasted tomatoes with garlic, basil and mozzarella cheese
Roma tomatoes roasted with garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil and basil - topped with fresh mozzarella

The campground is about half-full tonight. Weekenders have gone home. Vacations and people escaping the terrible heat on the other side of the coastal mountains remain. Another full day of activity and exploring on the Long Beach peninsula. Did not see the sun all day though... think we will hit the road tomorrow looking for the sunshine.

Until my next update, I remain, your Coastal Correspondent.

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