Sunday, August 31, 2008

Four Parents Escape to Westport

This day we four parents left our kids (six of them ages 5 to 18) at the beach house, and escaped for a day trip to Westport. The day was rainy, so we needed a place with a couple indoor attractions. The drive from Pacific Beach to Westport via Aberdeen lasts about one hour.

We started at the Grays Harbor lighthouse - the tallest in Washington state. I've written about the lighthouse before, so I'll just mention a few things. We had a different docent than the time before, so I learned a few different facts. One thing of note is that the 135 step iron spiral staircase is freestanding - not bolted to the building. It does rest on a few ledges built out of the walls, but otherwise it supports itself by several braces propped against the inside of the building. Iron and concrete expand and contract at different rates, so any bolts drilled into the walls would have pulled loose over time.

From the lighthouse we hurried over to the maritime museum before closing time. Three attractions here made this visit very worthwhile: the main building itself, the former coastguard station, is very beautiful; two whale skeletons are displayed outside; and a neighboring building is devoted to the Fresnel lens (pictured above) from the Destruction Island lighthouse. The lens, when they turn it on so that it rotates and shines light out from the inside, is a surpassingly beautiful sight. Destruction Island is otherwise inaccessible to tourists, so it is fortunate that the lens was moved here.

Next, we went for a walk through the town in a light drizzle. Across the street was the marina, where some boats were selling freshly caught fish (tuna, in this case). We stopped at the One Eyed Crab for some wonderful seafood and clam chowder. Next, we bought saltwater taffy at Granny Hazel's candy store. They offer 50 flavors of saltwater taffy. We located the aquarium, but a sign on the door said that the pumps had failed and the attraction was closed indefinitely. We ended our stroll at the blue observation tower at the north end of town. We spotted several surfers in the cold water below us. The waves were pretty active, so some of them were managing to catch a good wave.

I'll post more pictures here:

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