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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 4, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 09
Washington's Long Beach: ?It's all about the timing
Arts & Entertainment
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Washington's Long Beach: ?It's all about the timing

by Scott Rice - SGN Contributing Writer

Every time I mentioned I was going to Long Beach to a native Washingtonian, I got the same question: 'Really? Why?'

They would make this inquiry while curling up their noses disdainfully as if they had just smelled a room-temp round of Limburger cheese stuffed into the belly of a rotting salmon carcass and tossed into a plastic bag with a pair of Russell Brand's musty skivvies (is it me, or does he always look like he needs a bath?).

Apparently Washington's Long Beach has a reputation for tacky T-shirts, saltwater taffy, packs of hooligan teenagers straight out of suburbia, and bumper-to-bumper traffic that will leave you wondering why you left Seattle. And that may be fairly accurate during the busy summer months. However, Long Beach has much more to offer if you know where and when to look.

Summer is busy. It is, after all, a beach (the world's longest drivable one, too). If the crowds are going to put you off, try visiting before Memorial Day, especially if you're more interested in hiking, biking, and birding than you are in gift shops with beer cozies that say things like, 'My wife says she's leavin' if I go fishin' one more time. I sure will miss her.' You'll also likely be trading sunshine for a bit of the famous Pacific Northwest wind and drizzle, but we're accustomed to that, and I sort of like my ocean vistas like my men: moody and brooding.

Helpful tip: Use the Peninsula Highway located on the Willapa Bay side of the peninsula. There's less traffic and the scenery is prettier.

While I don't mind being pampered and having every amenity imaginable at my fingertips, I sometimes seek out a less conventional travel experience. The kitschy-fun and Queer-owned Anthony's Home Court has eight funky '30s-era cottages decorated with everything from antique ladies' hats to photos of famous Hollywood starlets. There are 25 RV hookups in the back, and beach access is just across the street. The cottages are clean, comfy, and well maintained, but they are ancient. Each has a kitchen, television, and free Wi-Fi and offers a sweet spot to hide away in the heart of the peninsula with easy access to everything.

On top of all this goodness, the best reason to stay at Anthony's Home Court is because the boys who run the place are so damn nice. Dan Hickey and Wayne Fancher met over 40 years ago while studying at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California. They've been running Anthony's since the mid-'90s and obviously love what they do. Stop in the office to say hello and you just might be offered a cup of coffee and some good conversation (ask how they met; it's a sublimely romantic story complete with secret trysts and mortuary slumber rooms).

Bailey's Bakery and Cafe is tucked away on the north end of the peninsula in the east side community of Nahcotta. This charming little local fave is worth seeking out. The simple d├ęcor is charming, and the sandwiches, soups, and baked goods are tops. I hear the Sunday-only Thunderbuns are insane.

If you're looking for relaxed elegance with world-class cuisine, stop by The Depot. Owner/chef Michael Lalewicz turns out familiar Northwest favorites like Columbia River sturgeon with his distinctive flair, along with an unorthodox mix 'n' match of tastes and textures that reminded me of those musical mash-ups from Glee. The Depot features an international wine list, local microbrews on tap, heated outdoor decks, and a lovely old historic building in the historic community of Seaview.

Ever seen a bird and thought, 'What the hell is that?' It need never happen again because Mary Atherton, education coordinator with the Discovery Coast Audubon Society, teaches free beginning birding classes at 2 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of each month in the conference room at Lighthouse Oceanfront Resort. Though you may have missed February's loons and grebes class, you have plenty of time to make arrangements for her lecture on bushtits and nuthatches in June.

Finally, you can put your new birding skills to the test by checking out the Discovery Trail that stretches 8.5 miles from Ilwaco to North Long Beach. The newly surfaced trail has everything from bridges to verdant forests to sand dunes to, uh, birds. You can hike it or bike it, all or part, hilly or flat. It's a great way to enjoy the sea air and beautiful Washington Coast landscapes.

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