Following the current theme of social distance vacationing, which is the only sort that makes sense in the midst of a pandemic, we took a weekend getaway to the small oceanside community of Moclips, WA. The small unincorporated town has a tiny general store and a few hotels along with some houses and vacation homes. We rented a vacation house through Airbnb, down the road a bit outside of the town for us, my sister, and my husband’s sister and brother-in-law. The house turned out to be one side of a duplex, but they had separate entries and we had no contact with the people on the other side other than seeing them out in their backyard with a couple small dogs. We looked for a dog-friendly place intending to bring our dog, but they had too many rules Piper would not abide by so we sent her to her friend Brody’s place for the weekend. Brody is a golden retriever who lives in a beach house so she had her own beach vacation. She would have been about the only dog on a leash on the beach if she had come. Other people’s dogs seem able to stick with their owners unless they are off chasing a ball or stick, and come when called where Piper would be likely to take off after a flock of seagulls or to pounce on other dogs. She comes when called just fine when she’s undistracted and in an enclosed space, but never when it really matters.
It was over a 3-hour drive from our house, and even farther for the others who had to take a ferry and then drive an hour to get to our place before leaving for the ocean from there. It was shortly before Halloween at the time and my sister-in-law, Vicki, wanted to get a pumpkin to carve. We stopped at a store in Forks that seemed to have pretty much everything with sections for things ranging from hardware to groceries and all sorts of other things thrown in. Forks is the sort of small town nobody would have ever heard of if it weren’t for the Twilight books. Odds are the Twilight tours aren’t running during the pandemic, but items from it are still there as we passed by the place where Bella’s trucks are parked outside the Forks Visitor’s Center. They have both the book and movie versions there even though the movies were actually filmed elsewhere.
Other than a couple lakes scenery along the way was mostly misty forest as it was raining at the time. It wasn’t too cloudy to see the deciduous trees in their autumn finery standing out among the evergreens. Eventually we reached the coast with occasional views of the water through the burl-covered trees. For some reason a lot of the trees along parts of the coast had numerous burls on them. Google says burls are caused by things like injury, disease, fungus, or insects. Things next to the sea are often subject to heavy windstorms, but some areas had way more burls on the trees than could likely be accounted for from limbs blowing off in storms. Likely something else is going on there as well. Burls are a bit unsightly on the trees, but we’ve met an Alaskan carver who makes bowls out of them.
Eventually we passed through Moclips, which is mostly to say we saw the small general store on one side of the road. There’s also a beach access road near the store. The hotels and most of the houses and vacation homes in town are not beside the highway. We found our rental house down the road a bit. That house is on the highway, but there’s not a lot of traffic. It had a couple bedrooms and bathrooms, a kitchen, living room, and garage on the main floor with an upstairs loft bedroom. It also had an awesome ocean view. From the main floor the beach appeared to be just down a hill from the backyard. The even better loft view showed houses in between. While there was no direct beach access from the house, there was a beach access road just 4 houses down the street so not a bad walk.
We hadn’t made any menu plans prior to the trip so we all brought stuff and between us all we probably could have fed everyone for at least a week, but as we just had a 3-night stay we had plenty of food left over. The house had a full kitchen with pretty much any gadget you might want if you could find it, other than a toaster. We never found one of those, though it did have a toaster oven. They also had an array of spices and basic things like cooking oil available for anyone who didn’t come prepared.
We had some great sunset views from the house, which had some see-through sun screens we could pull down over the windows when it got too bright to look out of them directly. The house had games everywhere stuffed into drawers and closets so anyone staying there in stormy weather would have something to do even if they didn’t bring any of their own. Other than raining on the day we arrived, we had excellent weather with sunny skies for the next 3 days. Not exactly warm, but sunny. My sister Linda and I took lots of walks on the beach, sometimes accompanied by the others.
When my kids were growing up we used to take our horses camping at Ocean City to ride on the beach. Ocean City is a bit south of Moclips with Copalis and Pacific Beach in between. Those places I had heard of before, but not Seabrook, which did not exist at the time. One day we went out in search of gas for Vicki & Ron’s car, which we found was not available in Moclips. Pacific Beach had a gas station and since we were already out and about we went on down farther south to check things out, though Vicki and Ron didn’t follow. We came upon Seabrook just down the road a bit from Pacific Beach and drove through to investigate. By first impression we all felt the place seemed creepy.
Not that there’s actually anything sinister there, it was just the sameness of everything. Besides all resembling each other, each grouping of houses appeared to have been built around the same time. It’s a planned community with limited house plans to choose from so maybe that’s the point. Linda’s first thought was the Stepford Wives, a story about a place that looked like the perfect community at a glance, but it turned out all the wives had been replaced by robots. My first impression was more of a fake Disney town. Some of the streets near the front had nowhere for anyone to park at the houses so they all parked along the road, which left barely room enough for one car to drive down the middle on a two-way road. Farther in places did have driveways and some even had garages. We all liked a small grouping of tiny homes the best. It’s quite expensive to buy a house there, but there are so many vacation rentals among them that the competition must be enough to keep the rental price relatively low. Personally I’d rather stay in the sort of beach house we rented, but apparently a lot of people go there as it was quite crowded in their little business district. I guess not everyone goes out to the coast for a social distance vacation. At least it looked like they all had masks on. We just drove through and didn’t stop anywhere. We told Vicki and Ron about it and they went back later and drove even further in and found things like stables. Apparently they did get out of their car as a small container of fancy macaroons appeared on the kitchen counter and you can’t get anything like that at the Moclips general store.
Most of the time we just walked to the beach, but one day we drove up to the Moclips access road and walked north from there until we came to a river too big to cross without horses or very tall boots, of which we had neither. Following the river inland a short distance we came to many pilings, a remnant of the railway that once brought people to town over 100 years ago when Moclips had a short spell as a major resort town until storms washed all their beach hotels away. Up a small stairway near the pilings we found some trails in the woods and a bit of a clearing with rustic forest furniture. One of the town’s hotels sat next to that patch of woods so it probably belonged to them.
Linda and I took more walks than the others and going both directions on various walks we discovered that if you go far enough in either direction you come to a river emptying out into the sea that is too deep to cross without getting wet unless you have tall boots or a horse. Back when I used to take my kids to the ocean with our horses every summer we stayed in a field with a barn behind a private little RV camp about a block off the beach in Ocean City. The lady who ran it was old then so it may not still be there now. Those rivers were no problem then since we just rode across. Not so much now. In summer even if the water was still cold the air around it would be somewhat warmer so we might have looked for the shallowest place and given it a go, but since we were there in October it was way too cold to cross barefoot or get our only shoes wet so we just went as far as the river and then turned around.
After lapping calmly at the shore for most of our time there, on the last night the waves rose in height and roared in like a squadron of jets thundering past. We could see quite a lot of ocean, but never saw a ship go by. Either we were not within view of any shipping lanes or nobody looked out at the right time. The beach was pretty flat so it may have been too shallow for boats for quite some distance from shore.
Overall we had a nice relaxing weekend with lots of good food and beach time. Vicki carved her pumpkin which sat out on the picnic table in the backyard where we could see it along with the sunset, and then just the pumpkin all lit up with a candle after it got dark.
Copyright My Cruise Stories 2021