Encouraged by a couple of successful day-trips, we decided it was time to try an overnight journey. A trip to the Washington coast, say, would let us practice our neglected packing skills and prove that we could find a place to charge our car.
We booked a suite at The Breakers in Long Beach, a town north of Deception Bay, the mouth of the Columbia River. It’s one of those places where you stay in somebody’s well-equipped condo, but there’s also hotel staff nearby to make sure that things go well.
It was pure luck, but we left Seattle just as August’s historic heat wave was beginning, and, except for some of our time enroute, we managed to miss all of it. It was 20 degrees cooler in Long Beach while we were there.
Every coast should have its Long Beach. For most of us the name probably evokes California, but the one in Washington is the longest on the West Coast, at 28 miles. For this purpose it has its own peninsula, lying between the Pacific Ocean and Willapa Bay.
Staying three nights gave us a chance to try two very different bike rides. The first took us east and north, offering access to both bay and ocean by turns. This route was was pretty urban (by beach-town standards) and involved some narrow highway shoulders, though traffic was light. We stopped for a while at a park that had a tall antenna-like structure; we figured out later that this was the tsunami warning device.
The second day’s ride was along the Discovery Trail, a dedicated bike-and-pedestrian path that starts in the parking lot of our hotel and runs south about seven miles, into the forest where the terrain starts looking hillier. It’s possible to continue well into Cape Disappointment State Park, but we were satisfied with our tour of the grassland and turned around near the Beard’s Hollow trailhead.
The linear organization typical of the beach town makes navigation easy. The little supermarket is right across from the little post office, and we visited often enough to have a favorite parking space. The Breakers itself offers the authentic beach-house experience: sturdy, versatile housewares, light-blue accents, a collection of maritime knick-knacks, and an easy intimacy with the outdoors. Every unit has a view straight out toward the ocean, and from the units on the ground floor, like ours, there’s nothing to keep you from just walking there from your back door. Our unit was near the Level 2 charging station, and we seemed to have it all to ourselves. We charged to 80% capacity, and had about 20% left after the 175 mile drive home, suggesting that the car used some of its energy to cool its battery in the unusual heat.
The trip home took us by the Willapa National Wildlife Reserve and since the weather there was still pleasant we parked and strolled along the walkway. We missed most of the wildlife, but there was public art and some explanatory material. By the way, Willapa Bay has a Long Island as well as a Long Beach, but we left it to others.