Leadbetter State Park

Oh man, I went back through my old park folders seeing how bad I had failed to finish this blog and I opened up the pictures to this deadbeat state park and it almost brought the nightmares back. This image should sum it up pretty well.

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That bad? really, you ask? Lets start from the parking lot that was just bubbling with excitement and overflowing with visitors. Now there is the off chance that we did visit during the off season (if May is the off season) so there could be reasons why it wasn’t full of people… or had been on the State Parks list to clean up for summer.

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But less people should be the delight of an adventurer, so what made this such a poor experience. One word: Mosquitos!!!! We got bombarded a bit in the parking lot, but not so many you couldn’t deal with it.

Second not fun thing was there are basically three trails from the parking lot, not very well marked. We started down one and within about an hundred feet it dead ended. So back to the parking lot we went, and decided we must just head in the complete opposite direction to find the fruitful success we desired.

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It started open and pretty, but the nagging mosquitos started to intensify. I can’t recall how far the beach was supposed to be from the parking lot, but something just over a mile. Certainly you can endure anything for just one mile, right? We pressed on determined to make the best of our decision.

Soon claustrophobia started to set in as the trail started to not be up kept. Top it off the rain started to kick in, and we weren’t really prepared for the moisture. We also came across several very large swampy sections of the trail that we managed to skirt pass without death, but it was closer than I want to think about.

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By then the mosquitos made it impossible to stop. My woman patrolled the rear exit and examined that I had about 50 blood suckers on my hood at any given moment. I’m a stubborn man and we did press for a good 45 minutes before even I couldn’t handle it anymore; my wife was pretty much over it in about 5 minutes, so kudos to her for sucking it up for a bit.

We turned around and made extraordinary time back to the parking lot. My woman needed to restroom so I decided I’d go ahead and check the last trail, because why not, right?

Not even a two minute walk down the third trail this beautiful beach appeared. But it didn’t matter, my hatred for this state park was set in concrete and I wasn’t about to jackhammer some happiness out of it. I took the necessary picture and headed back to the parking lot and we sped away at unconventional speeds to put this nasty place behind us.

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Conclusion of the matter: 2 out of 5 stars. Two stars you wonder! how can that experience get you more than one star!? The second beach was gorgeous and I have a feeling that summer time it wouldn’t be this disgusting, but honestly I’ll never bother going back to this place. And there is still one place we have been that has the glory of 1 out of 5 stars… whether I get around to sharing that is dependent on my will to relive it.

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Westport Light State Park

Wesport Light State Park is just a happy walk south of Westhaven State Park, so if you visit one, you should likely visit the other.

WAIT! you say… it’s been near 3 years since your last update and then you start out without even giving so much as an explanation?!!?!?!?

Answer: Money/Life/Priorities/Choices.

Okay, so moving on. It is really a blissful jaunt to get from one park to the other, and on a paved path no less. This means you can rollerblade (as if anyone really still does that right?), bike, or just be generally happy that you are not getting sand in your shoes due to your sand phobia.

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This walk is actually not in the registered state park land, but it may as well be since you can’t tell difference. The real reason you want to come to Westport Light though; is because of the proclaimed “Tallest Lighthouse in Washington.” Which will instantly confuse you; since it is about 0.5 miles from the beach itself, but none the less its worth checking out.

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There was a small fee for entering it and being allowed to kill your thighs and travel to the top of it. However, it has lots of character and will brighten your dull day once you stop and admire the details of the construction. Along the path to the top they have pictures that tell the story of the lighthouse, and give reasoning’s as to why the beach has moved itself farther out into the sea (I’m sure you’re relieved to know the lighthouse didn’t move itself, or that by the off chance was a poor decision by someone who doesn’t understand the purposeĀ  of a lighthouse.)

Back to the shiny details of the innards. They are intricate and well planned, and made for some great and unique pictures.

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Once you’ve managed to get yourself to the peak of this towering concrete cylinder, you’ll find a decent view of the surroundings, but honestly the inside has a bit more charm. It should be noted that we did get there on a pretty cloudy type day, so our view was slightly limited.

Also for the sake of this being a “review” blog there is a picnic area at the parking lot for those who feel they need such accommodations to find their inner peace.

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Conclusion of the matter: 3 out of 5 Stars. It makes a decent stop if you’re in the area, and it’s a bit off putting to have to pay to go up the lighthouse, even if it’s understandable. But in the end it has great beach access and that is likely the real reason you strapped yourself in your car and headed west anyways.

Westhaven State Park

Oh snap… It’s been borderline forever since my last update, but I have returned with a slew of new parks to titillate your senses with. Winter and money played a factor in our inability to increase this blog. This is a half truth, as I had about three parks from last year that I never got around to writing. Good I’ve cleared the air and now you know just how honest I am, but you are here for a park review, not a selfish rant of my integrity.

Westhaven State Park is a beach; there is sand, water, and sometimes a glimpse of sunshine. It should be noted off the top that this is a day use only park, so don’t bring your tent and expect to stay. Unless you are like me; I brought my tent so I could set it up and stay out of the wind. Which was quite genius. Although many people pointed and giggled at me for this. It also doubled as an epic hiding place while I took ever increasingly awesome pictures of people utilizing beach space in fantastic ways.

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Long Walks on the Beach

People walk along the beach, and play fetch with their dogs. If you squint your eyes you can see kite surfers in the above pictures. Also there is a plethora of “normal” surfers that use this break for riding too. This is because of the jetty that separates Westport and Ocean Shores and keeps the tsunami size waves from breaching into Grays Harbor. You won’t be riding ten foot wave wonders, but I’d imagine this is more of a beginners zone.

What else can you do at Westhaven? The Boardwalk is what. It connects from Westport Light State Park (just a lighthouse, I’ll review that later) all the way to Westport. It is a couple of miles long, and ofcourse the views are just sweepingly large in scale. Thankfully they put benches in so you can rest your feet. Also it is paved! This means bring your rollerblades and remember the glory days of the 90’s.

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Let’s get down to the crutch of what you want to find. Assuming there isn’t a raging storm after I post this; seek out the Raging Bull. Some master craftsman of imagination has put the most intriguing thing on this beach. It is a sculpture of a bull out of a tree stump. I actually missed it walking down the beach, but thankfully witnessed it’s grandeur on my return walk back to the wife.

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Honestly that really sums up this beach. It comes down to your needs in a beach. This so far has been one of the busiest places for a human headcount, but there seemed to be enough space for all surfers, kite surfers, and beach wanderers. I do recommend staying for sunsets here, as I’ve witnessed several amazing ones here.

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Conclusion of the matter: I’d say 4 out of 5 Stars. It caters to everything outside of your need to drive on the beach (there are several beaches close by for that.) This park is rather large, and as I mentioned, you won’t feel cramped on this beach at all. The jetty is also nice to look at; incase you aren’t interested in a 100% view of oceanscape. Boats and large tanker ships come into the harbor as well, helping make the scenery more interesting.

Bridgeport State Park

First off, you have to find Bridgeport on a map and come to the gripping reality that you must make this trip by choice. You won’t just happen to be driving by and stopping in. It certainly isn’t the most remote state park in Washington State, but it isn’t in a convenient location either. Ofcourse you’re here to determine if it is worth your gas expenditure to see this little pot of gold. More accurately it would be fools gold. Not because it is a cheap and fake experience to visit Bridgeport State Park; but rather it is because it is shiny and beautiful like fools gold, it just isn’t the real deal.

Grassland

It has a gorgeous platform of grass that blends right into the massive Columbia River. We have seen our fair share of grasslands at State Parks already, but this one might be the best. The way it slopes into a vast bowl is just incredible. Someone should just set up a stage here and have mini concerts. Outside of that use it is kind of an annoying waste; beautiful to look at, but not useful in the slightest.

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Outside this gorgeous little spot what else lurks inside this park; it might be equally important to figure out why this is a park at all. The answer lies down the river. Just a few miles down river is the Chief Joseph Dam; a fantastic marvel of engineering. That also means upstream, where the park is located, is a slow flowing calm river. We are starting to realize if there is a dam near by, look for the park upstream. Bridgeport sports most if not all the usual fixings of a river based State Park. Camping, swimming, small cliff diving, paddle boarding, boating, gazebos, and rattlesnakes!

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Sadly, or gratefully, we didn’t see a rattlesnake. Signs were posted in plenty; meaning it was posted once on the information board and nowhere else. Something my wife and I are learning from our State Park adventures is seek the information board first, because it will list the various ways you can get killed in the park. The board probably should have mentioned the staircase you must descend into the park. Maybe it’s the fact that it only has a slight chance of death that it wasn’t mentioned.

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The stairs aren’t really that bad; also there is a handicap ramp about 300 feet long you can zig-zag your way down if you require it.

You’re still wondering about the small cliff diving aren’t you? Don’t be shocked when I say that is only ten feet or less, but there are multiple ledges that can be used for large groups of teenage craziness. There wasn’t really a way to get a picture of the edges, but I managed to get a shot of just how the view will look once you’re out near the edge. This water will entice you like a Siren of the sea, so I’d be careful to not linger out there if you aren’t planning to jump. My wife had to coax me back; I have a sneaking suspicion she was worried about the camera and not so much my safety.

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Conclusion of the matter is 3 out of 5 stars. Beside location and rattlesnakes. It also feels rather confined since you are basically sitting in a bowl, throwing frisbees and footballs could be tough unless you are a true expert in park playtime. This is why I said it is fools gold. On paper and when you are there it feels like a perfect little slice of State Park, but the more you wonder and mull over it, the less intrigued you’ll be by it. Three stars is likely a day only visit. Camping here would probably turn it into a 4 star experience.

Lincoln Rock State Park

Near the middle of Washington State stands the strangest rock that may just prove that Abraham Lincoln was destined to do great things. This rock was clearly there well before the man made his mark on history as one of the true great Americans, and is now a reminder for those that visit this pristine little park near Wenatchee. When we arrived at the park I didn’t give much thought to the name. I just figured it another generic name placeholder. As we wandered through the park my mind said, “I wonder if there really is a rock that looks like Lincoln around here.” I started to look at the surrounding landscape. POW! There is was, it is almost impossible to miss if you are infact looking for it. On the flip side, if you don’t have a brain to make you think things like this, you’ll probably never see it. Except that in the parking lot is a huge memorial telling you were to look. I didn’t need this sign to discover it. Call it genius, or dumb luck, but there it was in all it’s splendor.

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Obviously this picture is tiny, and probably with squinting eyes is the only way you’ll really get a view of it. I do recommend you visit and see this natural wonder for yourself. Of course, if Lincoln hadn’t become famous this rock would be just that. A Rock. Now lets discuss what else can be found in this “monumental” park. This place has just about everything you can imagine. From Swimming to Soccer. Sprawling sports fields are all over this park. Basketball, tennis, baseball diamonds; the only thing it lacks that may hold this park down is it doesn’t have a cycling race course.

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The Swimming area is sublime. With a massive concave of concrete with steps to the water, it almost makes you feel as though maybe you’re entering the tranquil Pool of Bethesda. Well, we don’t know if the pool of Bethesda was tranquil, but it may have had an epic entry like this one nonetheless.

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Goggles

The usual suspects were about. As if spies from the above world, they watched us. Chirping codes of our whereabouts to others. They were seemingly fearless, as this one character allowed us to get about ten feet from her before she flew away. Others were bombarding the picnic areas. Scavenging like tiny vultures, the droppings of human wastefulness. Maybe it is an advanced litter patrol employed by the state. We may never know where our taxes are really going, bird litter patrol seems feasible enough to me.

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The last thing needing mention is that, yes, this is on the river. It is useable for boats and swimmers alike. Also you will be treated to the wonders of open space landscapes and huge power lines. It’s breathless and barren all at the same time. Take a moment to soak it up, both literally, and visually. The river seemed to have very few boats in the area too, so plenty of room for yourself.

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Conclusion of the matter: 4 out of 5 for sure here. It caters to every need a human can desire, but lacks that special statement of amazing. The Lincoln Rock may be unique and interesting, but that feeling won’t last. This park will come down to whether or not you have an active lifestyle. Absolutely worth a visit, and if you have a boat, kids, a family get together, this place will be just perfect for that. As for the awe-inspiring location of “must visit,” maybe not so much.

Fort Worden State Park

I’ll admit it. My wife and I are actually scouting the state for places we can escape to in the event of a zombie apocalypse. And we may have been successful in that endeavor with our visit to Fort Worden State Park. What a wonderfully different location than the places we have been so far. It truly has something for everyone; from panning vistas of the Puget Sound, to sandy rugged beaches, to huge grassy landscapes, to camping, to exploration… I really could keep going, but I think you’d get bored with a list of its features. Let’s delve deeper into the site and see what I can show you through the lens of my camera. Now this is only seven pictures, and I took hundreds here. It is a dream come true to those who love black and white; and I’m the leading sucker in the category.

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I mentioned beaches and vistas in my list, and there is definitely no shortage of places to stop and soak the scenery up. First you should know you’re basically on a peninsula jutting into the Puget Sound, so you have a near full surrounding of panoramic awesomeness. Top that off with the fact you’re on top of a hill. It’s simple to understand why the military placed this fort here. And exactly why I will be fleeing to this location when the face eating flesh walkers come my way.

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Now let’s talk about the battle fort itself. You do have to hike to it, but it’s a rather leisurely hike on a blocked off road. It is worth the small amounts of effort required to reach the “summit”. It’s a hill, not a mountain, so summit might be stretching it for a descriptive reference. None the less it leads to the crown jewel of this state park. A pile of concrete decaying into modern works of art.

I’ll explain that in a minute; but here is the fortress that the survivors will hold up in while the warriors are out fighting the hordes of hordes. Also you should know that there are multiple areas to visit, this is just a small piece of the pie. Removing those that are disrupting the peace to their own designated area shouldn’t be a problem.

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Alright, about the modern art. Thankfully there has been many artist here who have visited the fort. They have spruced up the walls with living color; and profanity, which I decided I wouldn’t share with you, simply because I don’t want to the spoil the surprise if you visit this place yourself. Some though do stand out as interesting and mind-boggling. I can’t say I’m in full appreciation of them defacing such a place. However, if something intrigues me I can’t help but clap my hands to their efforts to appease those they will never see enjoy their art. Although I don’t think they are really trying to impress anyone; you be the judge.

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Beware of Kong. As he may be lurking in the shadows. Thankfully, again, the artists have given us a glimpse of what to look for.

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And the last thing to show you, is this boat that is down by the beach on the way to the lighthouse. It has been there for countless ages, and no one will remove it because the person had their name put on it. It stands to reason everyone is just waiting for him to come back and claim his boat and remove it from the premises. Or maybe someone is saving this for a quick get away from the zombies when they come. Either way, stop marvel, and take a picture.

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Conclusion of the matter. Easy to give this 5 out of 5 stars. It truly was one of our best visits yet, and you don’t need to be a diehard hiker to enjoy it. Just go and be happy, and take in the sites, and snicker that you have indeed found a place of refuge if indeed the T-virus escapes the Umbrella Corp.

Bottle Beach State Park

This place is less than interesting on paper, and even more bleak once you arrive at the parking lot. All you see is a marsh landscape and a sturdily built outhouse. But there it is taunting you, an elevated pathway to the beach. Coaxing you to leave your valuables in your car and head off to the unknown; I ofcourse assumed it was going to be a death march. Before we headed off we read the plaque telling us about the history of the park and why it was important to save the land. Then off we went down the grey Boardwalk of Doom. Once we reach the end of the elevated walkway they provided us with this lovely bench, as though the less than a quarter-mile walk had destroyed all hope of making it to the beach.

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Then we pressed on using the paved pathway. Finding our way to what I had decided was going to lead us to treasures untold. Because after all we had already survived the Boardwalk of Doom. The journey was uninspiring to say the least. Nothing but pesky birds jeering me on, and more marshy landscape than I could shake a stick at.

Speaking of birds, that is the point of this state park. It is a refuge for birds, a place for them to gather and plan their evils on the world; it is apparently the first place to be “state approved” as a refuge.

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After what seemed like miles of the same boring landscape we came to a structure that as a builder I was very intrigued by. It was designed by every imaginable left over item one could have lying around their house from projects abandoned. From huge over sized timber posts to retaining wall blocks for foundation. It impressed me so much that I took a picture. Ofcourse, in this picture you won’t be able to see the awesomeness I’m talking about, but you’ll still be impressed I’m sure.

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Here is where the experience can be vastly different; at high tide, it would end here basically, but if you get there at low tide, the options will abound. We happened to get there at low tide, maybe even a very low tide, and were able to walk deep out into the beach. There we found all kinds of things to look at. Old docking posts, huge open views of the Olympic Mountains, crabs, sea weed, algae, rusted strange objects, even sand! It was all there for our viewing pleasure. There was no treasure to be found though, so don’t bother heading there with hopes of striking it rich. Unless you like failure, then I highly recommend you seek this place out for treasure hunting.

Sand

The strangest thing we came across was this “pit.” After much thinking and mind bending thoughts I’ve come to the conclusion that this spot is possibly where the Ninja Turtles were really turned. Beside the green “ooze” being some strange algae, there was the pipe of never-ending water. So if it wasn’t where the turtles came into the contact with the ooze, then clearly I have stumbled upon the fountain of youth.

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There you have it. The fountain of youth is near Grays Harbor and Aberdeen, and you must be there at low tide to find it.

The conclusion of the matter: 2 out of 5 stars. HOWEVER, if you are there at low tide, and get to see all the cool stuff out in the sand, you may just get lucky like us, and obtain the 4 out of 5 star experience. This is a nice place if you are on your way to Westhaven or Westport, but as a single destination, it’s probably not worth your time. Also, the walk to the beach is not miles, like I implied. It’s very easy and short.