North Head Lighthouse, Cape Disappointment State Park

North Head Lighthouse, Cape Disappointment State Park

We approached out road trip to Cape Disappointment State Park with the spirit of adventure.  Neither my husband nor I had ever been there before.  It is in the far southwest corner of Washington state, where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean.  It was here that Lewis and Clark fulfilled the mission of their expedition to find a route to the Pacific Ocean.  For them, it was a journey of 4, 132 miles.

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The confluence of the Columbia River and the ocean is anything but pacific.  The currents, surf, fog, and shifting sand bars make it a notoriously difficult place to navigate.  In fact, Cape Disappointment got its name from a sea captain who, to his frustration, could not even find the Columbia River despite searching hard for it.

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These days there are two long jetties that mark the entrance to the Columbia River from the ocean — one on the Oregon side of the river and one at Cape Disappointment.

You can see the jetties in the distance.

You can see the jetties in the distance.

Cape Disappointment State Park is spread out across a large area and contains two lighthouses, miles of beach, a huge campground, hiking and biking trails, a jetty and boat launch, an interpretive center, forested slopes, seagulls, cormorants, and raccoons among other wildlife.  It felt so good to be outside experiencing the wild ocean (always awesome) and natural environment.  It even felt good to sleep in a tent.  Here are some photos to give you a sense of the place:

North Head Lighthouse

North Head Lighthouse

North Head Lighthouse

North Head Lighthouse

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse

Wild beach at Cape Disappointment

Wild beach at Cape Disappointment

The beach just a few steps from our campsite.

The beach just a few steps from our campsite.

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Now that we are back at work in Seattle, I can’t believe how often my thoughts turn back to our weekend away.  I remember how much I like camping, but we so rarely do it.  We were drawn to the Pacific NW for its accessibility to mountains, ocean, hiking trails, etc.  but have fallen away from making effort to enjoy those things.  I will have to make outings a higher priority this summer and in the years to come.

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North Head Lighthouse at sunset, Cape Disappointment State Park

North Head Lighthouse at sunset, Cape Disappointment State Park

“Far away in the west the sun was setting and the last glow of all too fleeting day lingered lovingly on sea and strand . . .”
— James Joyce, Ulysses

We had a short, but truly wonderful, weekend getaway to the Pacific Coast.  Our friends invited us to share their camping spot at Cape Disappointment State Park, so we enjoyed prime oceanside “lodging” for the price of an extra car at the campgrounds.  What a bargain — good company, fresh sea air, spectacular surroundings, good food, sunshine, and an amazing sunset.

Multicolored sky nearing sunset

Multicolored sky nearing sunset

“A large drop of sun lingered on the horizon and then dripped over and was gone, and the sky was brilliant over the spot where it had gone, and a torn cloud, like a bloody rag, hung over the spot of its going.  And dusk crept over the sky from the eastern horizon, and darkness crept over the land from the east.”
— John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

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Several years ago a stranger who was standing next to us while we were watching the sunset said, “Don’t leave the moment the sun sinks behind the horizon.  Most people leave too soon.  The best skies come in the five or ten minutes after the sun has set.”  Good advice.  Always linger.

North Head Lighthouse, Cape Disappointment State Park

North Head Lighthouse, Cape Disappointment State Park

 

Enhanced photo

Enhanced photo

“There is no way in which a man can earn a star or deserve a sunset.”
— G. K. Chesterton