Sunday, September 21, 2008

Find Peace at the North Jetty in Ocean Shores

When I moved to Washington from Oregon in 2004, there were a number of culture shocks. The lack of access to rivers and shorelines was just the beginning, but nowhere is the culture more intrusive than when trying to find a quiet place on an ocean beach.

I recently took my entire family on a exploration to the Ocean Shores area along the northwest entrance to Gray’s Harbor. I had not been to Ocean Shores since the late 70s when my brother owned a seafood store downstairs from his attic apartment. The growth over the past 20 years has been remarkable if not alarming.

Our first stop was at Ocean City State Park to access the beach. I was relieved to see the “no-motorized vehicles beyond this point” signs on the trail to the surf, but forgot about the freeway that is the beach in Washington. Sure enough, once we hiked the 200 meters to the sand, we could see the constant cross traffic that included cars, trucks, motorcycles, ATVs and even large groups of horses. We walked to the surf’s edge as my youngest dodged the small waves only to find ourselves repositioning for traffic or watching for our own safety.

The beach at Ocean City State Park was an absolute zoo of motorized and non-motorized activity.

After about 20 minutes at this location, it was time to move on. We drove to the southern edge of the peninsula where the north jetty juts out into open waters to protect the entrance to Gray’s Harbor. Here, we found a small section of beach where beach traffic did not exist as if it was restricted. There were plenty of people on the beach, but as far as the eye could see, there was no road traffic creating a pleasant beach experience. Families were flying kites, throwing Frisbees and building sand castles.

A look west on the north jetty at Ocean Shores.

As if were an added bonus, the jetty itself supplied many private locations to sit, contemplate, cuddle and enjoy the power of the scene at hand. The large rocks also offered a haven from the winds.

The view of the harbor entrance shows a tug and freight departing for open waters.

I also enjoyed hiking,/climbing out towards the end of the jetty. Not something that I would recommend in rough weather, but for me, it provided a few unique photo angles and a little badly needed exercise.

Looking north from the jetty at Ocean Shores.

To reach the north jetty, take Highway 101 to Hoquiam and follow the signs to Ocean Shores. You will take SR 109 and then turn south on SR 115. While it is easy enough to say, drive south, it is a thin peninsula that runs north to south and getting lost is nearly impossible, your most effective route in Ocean Shores is on Ocean Shores Boulevard, but there are some twists and turns in the process. The highway will turn right onto Damon Road and go about ¼ mile before you need to take a left onto Point Brown Ave. Then a quick right onto Ocean Shores Boulevard. Drive to the end of the road where you will find a parking lot and what appears to be a big pile of rocks.

On our visit, the weather couldn't have been more gentle or mild. If boulders could only talk!
Just up the road, on SR 109, the City of Copalis restricts vehicles on its beaches. It might also be a good place to pull up a quiet stretch of beach, but for me, that is a trip for another day.

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