From the Blog

Travel Tuesday: Ilwaco, Cape Disappointment and the North Jetty

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You guys. Last week, we took a nice day and decided we’d go across the bridge and check out the campground at Cape Disappointment. We thought it would sort of be a quick drive and weren’t thinking the campground was going to be our style. We had driven by before, and from the road we saw a field with some trees filled with big RVs. So we didn’t hold out much hope.

But it turned out to be a ridiculous, epic day. And just a half hour from home.

First off, Dave wanted to pull off the road to find where they hold the Ilwaco Saturday Market. We might have gotten lost if Ilwaco weren’t so tiny, and if there wasn’t only so much land between the road and the marina.

Did I mention it was a ridiculously gorgeous day out? It’s fun to take pictures at marinas. There’s boats and colors and surfaces and lines and repetitive shapes. This had to be the nicest day of the year.

I know nothing about boats and I don’t visit marinas every day. So my fascination was on par to that of a three year old, seeing boats for the first time. Instead of pointing and saying “Ooooooooo!” I took photos willy nilly.

I like that this boat is clearly made of wood. Right? Isn’t it? I don’t know a thing about boats. It looks like it’s old and it was made of wood.

We strolled along the waterfront and popped into a few shops. It was a Tuesday, so there weren’t too many people out and about. We had a lovely conversation with water color artist Don Nisbett. I always wonder about how hard it is to make a living from creating art. I love talking to people who are actually doing it. Don’s been doing this for a while, and he’s given it some thought. It was great to talk with him and he has a lovely shop full of fun, whimsical art. If you are ever in this part of the world, go see him.

It was mostly deserted on this lovely weekday. But we are looking forward to coming back on a Saturday sometime soon.

We headed back to the car, but first…

A rooster with a fork, and a beaky old man’s face. Creepy and awesome at the same time. I suggest buying one and hanging it above your significant others’ side of the bed. Or outside your kids’ window.

We’ve visited Cape Disappointment before (here and here). We thought we’d seen pretty much all there was to see except for the campground. Our plan was just to drive through really quick, take notes on campgrounds and then skedaddle. We got to the gate and we were told it would be $10 to enter the park. I told the young woman behind the counter we were just driving through, we’d be in and out, and she was like, yeah, $10. She reminded me a lot of Aubrey Plaza in this sketch from Portlandia.

I was a little irritated that it was going to cost us $10 just to enter the park. Or we could get a yearly pass for $30. Dave shelled out the $30 for the yearly Discover Pass which covers all Washington State parks. Okay, fine. Let’s support our state parks, etc. We began driving through the park and saw signs that said you’d get a $99 ticket for not showing your pass. And I thought, wow, Washington is a dick.

But then, we started driving. And I realized, this is a big park, not just a campground. This was a whole part of Cape Disappointment we hadn’t yet seen. We drove for what seemed like miles. And there were many beaches, picnic areas and multiple campgrounds. Then I understood why they charged the fee. There was no “just driving through.” You enter the park and get lost in there. In fact, we parked at the north jetty and saw a car with a ticket for not displaying their Discover pass. Suckers! Should have bought a damned pass!

These weren’t just beaches. They were ridiculously fricken beautiful beaches. This is looking north from the jetty, at North Head Light House.

This is looking east, back at Cape Disappointment Lighthouse.

And this never gets old to me.

We walked out on the north jetty which was flat and easily accessible. There were pelicans and gulls and sea lions and waves and sand and lighthouses and trees and wind and sun and it was just amazingly perfect. We could see all the way to Saddle Mountain.

Most of the people we saw on this midsummer Tuesday were at Waikiki Beach, tucked into a sheltered notch of land between the north jetty and Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. It was almost warm enough to want to go into the water.

Not too many days like this one. If our weather was always like this, a lot more people would live in this part of the country. But most of the time, the gray, dreary weather here makes you want to stick a fork in your eye. It’s a good population deterrent. “How did Ned get a fork in his eye?” “Oh, you know, he lives on the coast in the Pacific Northwest.”

From here we checked out the campground in another part of the park. The sites were arranged in little cul-de-sacs of 10 each. Some were packed in tightly together, and some were full service with hookups for RVs. But there were a few that were well spaced and looked good for the kind of tent camping we like. Some campsites backed into the base of volcanic cliffs and were just a few hundred yards from the beach. These would suit us just fine. Since we can camp in the middle of the week, we may try for a spontaneous trip sometime soon. It’s so close to home, we can come back and check on the cat if we need to.

Before heading home, we stopped at a boat ramp on the south side of the cape and watched the boats come home for the day.

If you were to call us lucky shits, I’d have to agree with you. It couldn’t have been a more perfect day.

It makes the nine months of gray weather and the forks in the eye worth it.



  1. Now I know where the town of Forks got its name. Thanks!

    (Note: Not a Twilight fan, but the teflon coating on my brain has scratched off over time & some shit randomly sticks.)

  2. Wow, gorgeous pictures again!

  3. Thanks for visiting! Next time you’re in town, try the Imperial Schooner Restaurant at the west end of the port, across from Jessie’s Ilwaco Fish Company!

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