In these days of Covid-19, for people who want to get away the middle of nowhere is the best place to go. Keeping with local travel, we found the middle of nowhere in Moclips. This unincorporated town on Washington State’s pacific coast at the western edge of the Olympic Peninsula fits the bill. We found an Airbnb house to rent for a weekend. Having an entire place to yourselves is ideal for travel during a pandemic as there are no common areas with strangers walking through like in a hotel. Although our rental was half of a duplex, we had no contact with the guests on the other side.
Houses, cottages, and cabins also have kitchens eliminating the need to eat in restaurants, further making travel safer. Of course we all had masks in case of any need to visit a store or for any other possible encounters with other people that we weren’t with. We brought along my sister and my husband’s sister and brother-in-law as this house had enough room for everyone to sleep with two bedrooms on the main floor plus a loft. It was listed as pet friendly, but had way too many rules my dog would never follow. We left her with a friend she adores who has dogs she can play with so she got a weekend vacation too.
Moclips is located north of Ocean Shores and southwest of Forks, the most likely places anyone not from the area may have heard of. Traveling north from Ocean Shores you find the smaller town of Ocean City. Copalis Beach sits north of that, followed by Seabrook, Pacific Beach, and Moclips. Pacific Beach has a campground by the beach. Seabrook is a planned community with many rental homes on a hillside across the highway from the beach. Other than a few homes or places to stay there’s not much between towns but forest and long stretches of often deserted beach. Those long stretches of deserted beach were our whole point of going there. It’s a great place for long hikes with an ocean view. We’ve missed the sea during the pandemic and even though we can’t cruise we could at least see the ocean, both from the beach and from the windows of our weekend rental.
Moclips has a small general store right alongside the highway. The town was much bigger in the early 1900’s, a favorite place of tourists. It had railroad service, a fancy hotel, and seaside spas at the time. It also had mills, canneries, and schools. Its glory days didn’t last long though. Storms of 1911- 1913 washed much of the town away, followed by fires destroying most of what was left near the beach. A hilltop welding fire in 1948 destroyed many homes and businesses there.
Old weathered pilings crossing a river where it empties onto the beach are all that remains of the former beach resort area. The pilings once held train tracks, but trains have long since vanished from the Olympic Peninsula north of Gray’s Harbor, which sits at the southern boundary of the peninsula. Freight trains still service Aberdeen at the inside tip of Gray’s Harbor, but no passenger trains go there. There were once 600-700 miles of track on the peninsula, some of which is now the Olympic Discovery Trail at the north end of the peninsula.
Nearby Pacific Beach is a bit bigger town than Moclips. Pacific Beach had a naval and air force base during World War 2. The navy still has property on a bluff, now used for recreational purposes. There’s currently a gas station in Pacific Beach which good to know since there isn’t one in Moclips.
Besides beachside motels – near the beach, but not on it as the ones that washed away were – Moclips currently has a small resort and some vacation rental homes. Mostly it has beach. Miles and miles of long wide sandy ocean beach. In a warmer place it would probably be full of people, but the Washington coast is not generally warm and even in summer the water is cold.
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