One Cape, Two Lights -- Sunday, Aug 30th, 2015

The four of us were happy to see sunshine this morning, esp after Saturday's storm and last night's heavy rain. Our plan was to spend the day exploring Cape Disappointment State Park, off Hwy 101 in Washington, where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean.  I can tell you this confluence makes for some dramatic scenery!

Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center:  History comes alive.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition arrived at Cape Disappointment in 1805.  Clark wrote in his journal, "men appear much satisfied with their trip beholding with astonishment the high waves dashing against the rock and this emence Ocian".  We saw some of those huge swells and crashing waves, but not anywhere near the kind that shows up in those monster winter storms from the Gulf of Alaska.  The area's first recorded history began in 1788 when English Explorer, Capt. John Meares, in seeking the Columbia River, wrote of missing the passage over the river bar, and in his discouragement, he named the nearby headland Cape Disappointment.  The ever present fog, high waves and treacherous river bar create what seamen called the "Graveyard of the Pacific."  Hundreds of ships and lives were lost in this area.  

Consequently, the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse was built and began operating in 1856. It's the oldest lighthouse still in use on the west coast, but not open to the public now.  A working Coast Guard room is adjacent to the lighthouse with a sign on the door that read, in effect:  If the door is closed don't disturb the man inside.  I think every visitor peeked in the window, tho.  We'd lugged our picnic stuff with us, so we staked but a bench and ate our picnic lunch.  The wind was cool, but the sun felt good.

Huge old Sitka Spruce and Western Hemlock trees dominate the region,
and everything is lush and green.

Following lunch, we drove to the picturesque North Head Lighthouse, perched on a basalt bluff about two miles north of Cape D Lighthouse, surrounded by the ocean in all its glory! Here is where we really saw ocean swells and huge waves!  This lighthouse is open to the public, so of course we trooped 75 steps to the top, where a volunteer explained lighthouse facts and the lens, currently a VRB-25 aerobeacon, installed in 1999.  The outside was closed off, hence you won't see photos from the top; they were lousy taken thru the glass.

Looks like wind and weather has taken a toll on the lighthouse base (both lighthouses, in fact).  Nannie and Jimmy are helping keep it together!  Renovations are slated for next year.

Of course, every cliff harbors hundreds of (smelly) cormorants

Better find another restroom!
Winds on the Cape were clocked at 70 mph in yesterday's storm.

One of (two) North Head Light keepers houses.
I think it's so cool you can stay overnight in one of the houses!
Check it out here.

Another half mile hike from the North Head Lighthouse parking lot to Bell's view.
Beautiful grounds, and the paved path is wheelchair accessible.

No way, Nannie, can you climb to the top!

I spotted a couple of these smallish Northern Red-legged Frogs.

Not positive, but these old cement structures may date from the Civil War when a garrison was established here. Me and Nannie wandered in, over and around several.

In Seaview, we capped our day with a fantastic dinner (Chef/Owner Lalewicz has "food angels singing in the kitchen" ... NW Palate) and Restaurant of the Year.  We'd picked randomly, although Nannie checked reviews of area restaurants; we picked well.  Yum Yum! Since we'd spent all day on our feet, hiking in Cape D State Park, we were hungry (and ready for coffee!).  It was a grand day, Out and About, and we returned to our RV's in Ocean Park, tired and happy.

This Black-tailed Deer says, "The End."  I second the motion.


  1. Um, sister-o-mine, if I remember the sign correctly, those cement thingies were from WWII. And yes we sure do have fun, us four, stomping around and having adventures!

  2. So, wondering if Cape Disappointment is on the Washington side...I guess so. I think we saw it once but I don't remember all the cool stuff in your photos. Maybe we skipped the actual park on our way somewhere. I guess I'll have to read my own blog to remember what we did. Cool stuff!


We love hearing from you -- please leave us a note! (Comment moderation is turned on, and your comments, including anonymous comments, will be visible after they have been reviewed and published.)