A wonderful resort town
January 18, 2022
Although there is no definitive answer as to when something becomes a tradition, I can state unequivocally that my family has a tradition to visit this Washington State city at least once a year; we’ve been doing so for generations now.
The city of Long Beach was incorporated 100 years ago today on January 18, 1922. We go to the Infallible Wikipedia for a bit of history:
“Long Beach began when Henry Harrison Tinker bought a land claim from Charles E. Reed in 1880. He platted the town and called it ‘Tinkerville.’ (snip) From 1889 to 1930, a narrow gauge railroad called the Ilwaco Railway and Navigation Company ran up the whole peninsula.
The Long Beach depot was built between First and Second Streets on the east side of the track, which ran north along ‘B’ Street. A major destination in Long Beach was Tinker’s Hotel, later renamed the Long Beach Hotel, and built very close to the station. (snip)
The boardwalk area near the station was known as ‘Rubberneck Row.’ Businesses existing in August 1911 that can be identified along Rubberneck Row from photographs (see images in this article) include, on the west side of the tracks, an establishment advertising ‘Baths’ (possibly the Crystal Baths, an indoor swimming pool), Milton York Candies, a ‘Postal Shop,’ and a soda fountain just across from the station advertising ‘Milk Shake.’”
This description of Long Beach could, in many ways, fit nearly any small beach resort town throughout the United States. Hotels and eateries were soon joined by shops and activities all designed with the seasonal tourist in mind.
Over the years, attractions in Long Beach have come to include carnival rides, an arcade, museums, go carts, bike and surrey rentals, mini golf, and horseback rides. No doubt I’ve missed an attraction or three.
Driving through downtown Long Beach is one of those traditions which has to be honored upon arrival. In summertime, the main drag through town is a visual feast, awash in brightly colored kites and flags, firmly tethered, usually slapping in the near constant wind. The storefronts display a rainbow of souvenir products: clothes, beach toys, and every knickknack imaginable.
Flower boxes spill over in a confusion of pinks, purples, and green, inviting visitors to sit on the adjacent benches and rest for a moment or two. Tourists stroll along, licking ice cream cones, snacking on elephant ears, or savoring a doughnut from the local bakery.
The main draw for Long Beach is, however, found in its name: beach. At the north end of the business district, a left turn brings into view the large arch which proclaims that you have arrived at The World’s Longest Beach. Ahead of you are sand dunes and, finally, the mighty Pacific Ocean.
My first trip to Long Beach was 1961… at least that’s the first preserved photographic evidence. There are 8 mm home movies of our family along with my parent’s good friends,Walt and Barbara Lloid, and their family at Long Beach that summer.
While that was the only time we vacationed with the Lloid’s, over the next ten to fifteen years, we went every summer, joining my grandparents, who also stayed at the Klipsan Beach cottages. Every day of those two weeks was an adventure for a child: digging in the sand, playing at the ocean’s edge, beach fires every night.
But the special days were those when we drove to downtown Long Beach. We would visit Marsh’s Free Museum, drive the bumper cars and go to the carnival, see the World’s Largest Frying Pan, and buy candy at Milton York. It was a highlight of every visit.
By my own estimation, I’ve been to Long Beach at least once a year for 50 of the last 61 years. My parents gave our family a gift beyond compare when, in 1991, they decided to purchase a condominium at Long Beach. That year, my sister and I took our (then) two children – ages two and one and a half – to the beach and thus brought another generation into our long family tradition.
It would be impossible to encapsulate every single experience at Long Beach in this article. Even as I contemplated what to write, I simply could not pluck the most memorable event from the dozens which floated to the top.
As it turned out, I needn’t have worried. When I put Long Beach on my article calendar, I noted that it dovetailed with a planned trip with the hubby and sister. Great, I thought, I can get a current photo. We arrived on Wednesday, January 12, took care of some condo business, walked on the beach, met up with some friends, and then nature said ‘here’s your experience.’ On Friday, January 14, a mostly underwater volcano in Tonga erupted, it produced tsunami waves which spread across the Pacific Ocean. We heard the news on Friday night just before bed.
It didn’t take long for the Infallible Wikipedia to share:
“The National Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami advisory along the West Coast of the United States and British Columbia, Canada. The advisory contained all U.S. areas along the West Coast from Southern California to Alaska. Beaches were closed, and coastal residents were requested to move to higher grounds. A surfing contest with over 100 participants was cancelled in Santa Cruz, California. Tsunami waves measuring 0.30–0.61 metres (1–2 ft) were expected to hit the shores as early as 7:30 a.m. Pacific Standard Time (UTC−8) along the Central Coast. San Francisco was expected to receive waves at 8:10. The highest tsunami waves are expected one to two hours after the arrival of the first waves. A tsunami advisory was put in place for the entirety of Hawaii. Advisories in Canada were issued along the North and Central coasts of British Columbia, along with the Haida Gwaii archipelago and Vancouver Island. No evacuation order was issued, but people were urged to avoid beaches and marinas. The warning level was low due to the height of reported waves, as they were below the 91 centimetres (36 in) threshold which would warrant an upgrade.”
Anyone who has been on the west coast has, no doubt seen, the blue tsunami evacuation route signs. I had considered, many times, what my strategy would be IF a tsunami were ever to come ashore while I was at Long Beach. Which is why I was always careful to have my wallet, car keys, shoes, and any other ‘can’t live without’ items next to the bed each night. Even if I was only going for a walk to the beach I always had the car key, ID and a credit card ‘just in case’ safely zipped in a pocket.
As I lay in bed about to go to sleep, I wondered if that would be the night when the sirens would wake us and we’d have to evacuate. Thankfully, that was not the case. We did have to leave fairly early the next morning so we did not get to see any of the impacts.
And, although it wasn’t a full tsunami event, yet another Long Beach experience is added to the already rich storehouse of memories. Thanks Mother Nature, that was enough excitement for 2022.