Up the Beach — Things they are a changin’ on the North Beach

Well, Dorothy, you are not on the old North Beach anymore, to paraphrase a famous movie line from the Wizard of Oz. Things they are a changin’.

New looks at Ocean city

At Ocean City, all the old RV camping spots are getting cleaned up and filling up. In past years during clam seasons, the Sturgeon Trailer Harbor grounds were full of “meat hunters” with outdoor sinks with running water everywhere. Now the fifth-wheels, big RVs and tip out trailers are replacing the old campers on pickups, small travel trailers and pickups with canopies.

West Winds family cabins are slowly turning into summer homes and the old Blue Pacific is getting all spiffed up.

The hamlet long ago lost the old bakery that is now an upscale accommodation. At Sunset Market, the long-time booster and mainstay of the community, Carol Davis, is thinking about retiring and joining the vacationers instead of supplying their needs. Wonder what Norah and Sarge Berg would have thought about all this?

All of the chain RV parks along SR109 near the old cranberry bogs and clam canneries are booming, with the Ocean Mist Resort also installing a long line of new RV hookups. Out-of-towners buying properties in the area are remodeling small homes and the cabins built of drift from the beach.

No more funky places with multi-sized windows and doors picked up out of the surf. No Siree, Bob. The remodels call for multi-paned windows, siding, square porches, and topped with all the same color roofing.

Copalis upgrades

Copalis is experiencing the same upgrading with out-of-towners busy converting beach shacks into vacation homes.

One thing still there, looking lonely and waiting for some TLC, is Chuck’s Chili Bowl. What a piece of locally-loved history. But, if one knows where to look, one can still see the remains of the clam cannery peeking out of the beach grass and bushes.

Roosevelt Beach real estate

Real estate is beginning to move at Roosevelt Beach, as well, and just before the curve at the Sandpiper, Seabrook has installed a new sign announcing the land on the east, all the way to Santa Claus, is now under their jurisdiction. It takes a while for the old beachers’ eyes to adjust to the hill above the ocean that no longer sport trees, but instead, big buildings. A portend of things to come.

Navy Base sparkling

The Navy Base, an improved beach access area and RV Park, is sparkling with improvements. Along the street, the familiar old beach homes and cottages have given way to lots of square boxes painted in California and New Mexico colors that appeal to the city folks and rather sets back the old beachers more used to colors that fade into the beach environment. Downtown houses many, many overnight rentals, from cabins to motels to houses.

Moclips movin’ on up

At Moclips — Wow — the bluff areas more and more resemble King County’s walls of houses lining the highway. No more peeks at the Pacific Ocean. The North Beach Museum is keeping daily Facebook updates on the progression of the rebuilding of the Ocean Crest and Helm’s Resort located at the old North Beach High School.

Down on the Moclips flats, things keep progressing. The Moclips Motel is now the Lycan House. The old Moonstone Motel is now blue. The oldsters along the beach wonder how all those vacationers find their way back to the motel areas without the Moonstone’s familiar bright orange color that led many a clam digger and beachcomber out of the foggy beach and into warm, dry clothes and hot coffee in their rooms.

Yes, Dorothy, you definitely are not in the old North Beach anymore, but instead in a new Transient Rental Zone!

Discover Passes required where?

The new signage on the beach access roads announcing the Conservation Areas that has caused some consternation as to using the Discover Pass to park on the Ocean Beach Accesses (OBAs) can be better understood now that Dan Ayers, WDFW shellfish specialist helped out.

According to Dan Zimmerman, WDFW Customer Service Specialist 2 at the Recreational Customer Service Call Center, the signs posted are in reference to parking areas near the beach that are managed by State Parks, not the beach itself. A Discover Pass is not required for access to the beach. But, it is required to park in the State Parks-managed parking area.

James Schmidt, head ranger at the Ocean City Washington State Park adds, the approach roads are the responsibility of Grays Harbor County - up to the End of County Road signs. From those signs westward most, if not all, OBAs are signed for no parking. Otherwise, there would be quite a bit of congestion at the western end of those roads where they meet the beach.

The city of Ocean Shores is responsible for the OBAs within its city limits. Schmidt further explained, “We do not charge a fee for beach access. The signs are posted at our OBA restrooms located at Ocean City, Oyehut, Chance a La Mer, and Moclips. If folks use our restroom parking lots for other than a 15-minute restroom break (e.g. park at a restroom and then walk down to the beach to dig clams), they would need to pay the $10 access fee or have the Discover Pass.”

‘Official’ beachcombing season

The season of beachcombing is upon us officially now that the Beachcomber Fun Fair has set things in motion. Ayers passed along something to discuss over coffee. “One interesting thing we heard about last month came from Karen Ferry, a long time South Beach resident. She and a friend made an unusual find of peanut worms that washed in on the Grayland Beach after a high surf event,” he reports.

He explained, “Peanut worms (sipunculid worms) can wash ashore en mass after a period of very heavy surf conditions. They are their own phylum (sipuncula) and there are a few hundred species. These are likely the genus species sipunculus nudus and they occur in sub-tidal firm sand or mud or among eel grass roots. The heavy surf washes them loose and onto the intertidal beaches. The only place I’ve seen them is on the Twin Harbors beach — and I’ve only seen them once in more than 30 years on the job. That was near North Cove.” he said.

58-year-old floater

Although it did not happen on Pacific Ocean waters, beachcomb finds are like dog stories — folks can’t get enough of them. About a month ago in Nova Scotia, biologist James Woods found a bottle on a beach southeast of Halifax that had been dumped into the ocean 58 years previously as a part of Bumpus’ studies of surface and bottom currents.

He contacted the Woods Hole scientists who had released the bottle not far off Nova Scotia — one of 12 dropped there, on April 26, 1956. Just 10 percent of the 300,000 bottles released in that study have been found over the years.

Think maybe with the Arctic Ocean opening up, some of those bottles will find their way to local beaches? Keep your eyes peeled, beachers!

Gene Woodwick may be reached at 360-289-2805 or genewoodwick@coastaccess.com.


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