Up The Coast — Weather is God’s way of keeping us humble


Fourth of July was greeted with the usual guessing game of coastal weather. Rain, sun, cold wind or hot sand for the holiday. Non-control of the weather must be God’s way of keeping the beachers humble. It is the time of year to reflect on the years and years of Carol Davis’ rousting out the funds to put on the annual “Fire Over the Water” that literally drew people from around the world. Crowded onto the beach you could trade comments with a sand pounder on one side, a girl from Australia on the other and listen to Canadians commenting on all view points. Getting on and off the beach turned a lot of county sheriff’s hair gray. Amazingly for all the years of Carol’s spectacular fire show there were few accidents. And, even if it rained the show went on with kids and dogs running all over the place and cars running away from the incoming tide in the middle of the fireworks show.

Speaking of fireworks, there is something comforting about seeing the Blackburn family’s neat, little fireworks stand at the side of the highway near Lake Quinault. It must be true that some member of the Blackburn family has been selling to tourists for over 100 years in the same area—probably everything from baskets to berries, salmon to shellfish.

There is a lot of joshing going on over Ocean Shores’ new flashers. But the solar operated flashers should slow traffic down on the abrupt curve out of town. Now if the out-of-town flatlanders can control their frenetic, drive like mad, impulses, we should all be more safe. Those folks just can’t understand why the beachers drive so slow and mind all those traffic signs. The beach folks just shake their heads and sigh about being glad they live on beach time and not city time.

Its also kinda nice, up the beach, to see newly painted Rayonier gates. That Rayonier blue has a lot of memories of local whose extended family was employed by a company that respected its workers in the old days. Those blue timber land gates sure brings back memories of seeing Buster Corrigan waving from his lokie window to the local kids as he was going down the tracks from the beach to Railroad Camp.

Down at old Rayonier Camp 6 the logging ghosts must be stirring now that the camp’s equipment that used to form Tacoma’s Camp 6 Museum is no longer side tracked in the bushes but is now part of the new railroad display at Elby. Sure would like to know if the huge, old Ligerwood loader is all set up. What a great piece of machinery.

The smolt piles at Pacific Beach and Neilton sure smell good as the intermittent sunshine causes the cedar-incensed steam to rise into the sky during this hide and seek weather.

For the camera buffs, this certainly is the time to go out and photograph foxgloves. The best show is just around Bunker Creek Road off of the Kirkpatrick Road. Holy cow! This year some are almost six feet high with amazing blossoms. Just ask Kelly Calhoun at Moclips. Another good photo op are the slash burns whose blackened slash look like sculptures in the early evening.

Thinking of fire, the Copalis Crossing Fire Department is looking for volunteers. Gender doesn’t matter, just a willing-to-learn heart. At the Crossing and Copalis the kids summer free lunch program is in swing at the churches. Donations of time or money is always helpful. Why not stop by to find out something to do besides get a suntan in July. And, right now Voss’s have both white and yellow corn ready to sell out of their garden.

The Crossing’s Red Neck Yacht Club has a couple of new boats out front. And, by golly, there is another photo op. Drive slow on those roads up the beach ‘cause the little wild blackberries are forming and you need to mark their locations. You can blame the weather for them not being ready to pick on the Fourth of July when they normally make an appearance. The salal is showing off its heart-shaped white berries. It might be a couple of weeks before they are ready for jam. The local Indian folk know what a valuable source of winter vitamin C those leather, ripe berries are. In the old days, they were picked, formed into cakes, sealed with seal oil and stored away for winter.

Sure hope some kids are making forts out of the pig weed patches. What great, secret forts they make during lazy summer months. And, the light filtering through those huge leaves is just perfect for reading books away from smaller siblings. Especially, if a kid has a stash of purloined food from the pantry. And, sorry Nancy Ness, but doggone pig weed, noxious as it is, still has a fabulous use.

You can tell the beach roads have been turned into vacation lands with RVs, campers, loaded pickups, all looking for get-a-way spots. And it is rather amusing to the beachers to see mud splattered city rigs whipping down the road, driven by the same guys, who they just know wash that rig every Saturday and tell their kids to keep their grubby paws off of the windows. Go figure.

It must be getting closer to summer as the Green Crow tree farm Doug firs are beginning to lose their new growth, chartreuse-green tips that are rapidly reaching the emerald green stage. Tree farms, forest growth cycles, slash burns, are all a part of the heritage of folks up the beach—kinda like Kansas wheat farmers—they just gotta take Sunday drives to check out which farm is doing the best right now.

One thing that is not like Kansas is the on-going southwest hunt for federal marina funding. The neighbors to the south at Tokeland will be getting $1.9 million to redevelop the red-tagged commercial pier. Port of Willapa Manager, Rebecca Chaffee said the biggest expense is replacing the 315-foot floating dock which is also a breakwater. That piece of action comes with a $600,000 price tag. The new dock of steel and concrete will provide trucks and forklift traffic with a hoist. The old cafe will be turned into a seafood and local market complete with a commercial kitchen. Public restrooms, a marina office, storage, landscaping, parking and lighting will be part of the improvements.

Another southwest coastal project is funding for the Port of Ilwaco to keep the channel open for commercial traffic. Jim Neva, port manager, has been fighting the funding battle even more so after the Corps of Engineers (responsible for channel dredging) announced in May that the entrance channels to both Ilwaco and Chinook was definitely not in store for 2013 and undoubtedly 2014. Those small ports compete with the huge shipping ports of Portland, Longview and Vancouver for the bucks. But those little towns are like Ocean Shores, no dredging for commercial traffic affects the ability to develop waterfront properties and business that are high tourism draws. Makes everyone wish for the old, strong Coastal Caucus system to cooperatively hammer away at the big boys largess.

Just think, if everyone could rally around the Ocean Shores marina problems, perhaps Neil Eldridge and Dennis could have pulled their recent halibut of 78” in length and approximately 254 pounds out of the marina’s offshore waters. It was so large it took a bucket on a Caterpillar to pull it off the boat onto the deck. Oh, by the way, they also caught 20 sockeye, also on the last day of their Alaska fishing trip.

So dream on. The only dreams that ever come true are from dreamers who dream.

Gene Woodwick can be contacted at 360/289-2805 or via email: genewoodwick@coastaccess.com