I was lucky enough to do something really pretty awesome while I was in Long Beach. Ariel Smith of Beachdog.com, who arranged my trip to Long Beach, arranged for me to have a bicycle tour of the area. On Saturday, June 16 I went to the lobby of The Breakers and was happily surprised to see that a cute purple colored beach cruiser bicycle had been delivered for me to use. The ladies at the front desk also provided me with a safety helmet to wear. My tour guide, Jim Sayce was already there and he immediately introduced himself. Ariel was also there. It was a pleasure to meet her in person. I liked having the opportunity to thank her for everything, especially the thoughtful goodies that were placed in our hotel room.
On that particular day, it was drizzling out. Jim offered to give me the tour by tour van but in all seriousness, a little rain never hurt anyone. So we took off towards the beach to get on the Discovery Trail. With the light rain in our faces, Jim admitted to me that I won serious brownie points by agreeing to continue with the tour in the drizzling rain. During the beginning of our trek, Jim explained the history of the Discovery Trail and how it relates to the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Of course, my history loving self was completely intrigued. Riding along the trail, you are in plain view of the Pacific Ocean and surrounded by tall grass. With not many other takers on the Discovery Trail that day, you would swear you were in the middle of nowhere all while enjoying the salty sea air and yes, even enjoying the rain. That is what adventure is all about, isn’t it?
The Discovery Trail itself was paved with the assistance of the Washington State National Guard, Air Guard, and Oregon National Guard. Stretching over eight miles, it features several historical monuments dedicated to the Lewis and Clark Expedition. I found it fascinating to stop and read the various monuments. One if a life-size bronze statue of Clark with a sturgeon and another features blue whale bones that were dug up and preserved. It represents one of the journal entries from the expedition that stated they had spotted a decaying whale on the beach. If you continue following the trail, you will eventually find yourself in Ilwaco. Since it was Saturday, we were just in time for the big Saturday Market near the Port of Ilwaco. Lucky us!
We dismounted our bicycles and walked by a few booths to see what people had for sale that day. Many people were selling locally made jewelry, fresh fruits, vegetables, and local artwork. We had an invitation to have lunch at Ole Bobs, which was conveniently located in the middle of the Saturday Market. Jim and I took a seat on their outdoor patio and ordered food.
I ordered the deep fried sea scallops. It was served with a side of fries, cole slaw, and dipping sauce. For seafood lovers, you know there is nothing like eating fresh seafood. It added to the ambience knowing that our lunch had no doubt been caught in the very waters we were sitting next to. Absolutely delicious. I found myself getting full but literally could not stop eating the scallops. Yes, I ended up eating it all. I justified it by saying not only was it incredibly tasty but I needed fuel for the trip home.
Jim and I chatted about history and our travels. Jim had been to significantly more places than I and he had incredibly stories. He told me a lot about Long Beach and Ilwaco as well. After we finished our lunch, we walked our bicycles along the Saturday Market. During our way, we ran into Blaine Walker, the owner of the 42nd Street Cafe & Bistro that is mentioned in my previous postings. It was so nice to meet him in person! Jim and I continued on our way. Having a tour guide that is passionate about local history made the tour that much more enjoyable. He pointed out the bronze statues of the California condor and what it represented (another tie in for the Lewis and Clark Expedition).
On our way back, the sun was out in full swing. We welcomed the sunshine in hopes that it would dry out our rain soaked clothing. Instead of riding the Discovery Trail, we rode more through the neighborhoods. Here I will bring out more of my nerdy self: many of the houses are beautiful historical homes. I think historical homes are just fascinating. Many of these homes feature two sets of numbers on the home. One is the address and the other is the year the home was built. A lot of them are vacation homes passed through families over the years. Others are available to rent to the public. Coasting through the neighborhoods was another history lesson on its own. Once we were back to The Breakers, we backtracked just a bit in order to see the bronze statue that was a recreation of the tree that Clark wrote about carving his name into. At first glance, you’d certainly think it was a real decaying tree. Who knew that it was bronze? If you dismount your bike and walk to the back of the tree, sure enough, you can see what Clark carved into the tree.
We rode our bicycles back to The Breakers and stopped at the lobby. Those sixteen miles went by fast. Starting our day out in the rain and ending it with sunshine sure made the day feel like a full blown adventure. Not all vacations have to be about spending wads of cash and doing stuff that everyone else does. Instead, why not bring (or rent!) a bicycle and get out on the Discovery Trail and create your very own adventure. It is an easy ride within yards of the beach that the whole family would enjoy. You can hear the waves crashing, the seagulls, and even see lighthouses in the distance. Jim said he couldn’t imagine giving that same tour by van. He was right. Getting out there and breathing in the fresh air while riding along a part of history gives you a sense of appreciation. It makes you feel like you could go anywhere. I asked Jim what his favorite part about living in Long Beach was. His response: “We are living on the very edge of the continent. There is something very powerful in knowing that.We take what Mother Nature throws at us.” I think while riding along the Discovery Trail, you get a sense of that power. You get a sense of that freedom. To me, that is beautiful.
A very special thank you to Jim Sayce for his wonderful tour of Long Beach and the Discovery Trail. I couldn’t have asked for a better tour guide.
My article regarding fun things to do in Long Beach was featured in the June 28, 2012 edition of The Ranger Newspaper: