Westport, Washington: Untamed Coast

Bay near Westport, with Olympic Mountains in the background
  • Bay near Westport, with Olympic Mountains in the background

I parked and walked into John’s River Lodge. It’s populated by the graying, the retired and plump. I’d just surfed Westport, and wanted a place to wet my whistle. I ordered a PBR and sat down at the bar.

It’s littered with random knick-knacks and t-shirts that would appeal to ironic twenty somethings. I sat there thinking that this bar would be a hit in North Park. What would be an even bigger hit are the men’s bathroom walls plastered with Playboy centerfolds. Maybe the half-dozen pickup trucks parked in front should have clued me in that this place was classy. This bar was an oddity, and much the same could be said for the area.

Westport is about a two-hour drive from Tacoma and is the last major habitation before entering the sparsely populated northern Washington coast. It’s an authentic fishing town with stacks of crab pots lining buildings, and a quaint, quiet feeling that’s not so much a trademark, but its condition.

The surf is a gamble, and you may be very well skunked. But the drive outside of Olympia into the mountains and forests makes this trek pleasant.

On your way to Westport you pass through the town of Aberdeen, the childhood home of Kurt Cobain. Tourists and rock historians do make pilgrimages here to check out places where the young Cobain inhabited.

What one is able to discover in the area in terms of food products is interesting. On the road from Westport to Aberdeen, on the right-hand side I found a grocery stand that smoked their own bacon. For a price of a Madison I bought some of the best maple smoked bacon I’ve ever eaten.

If you want fresh seafood you can find it here too; there is Merino’s Seafood Market at the harbor, but it’s better to dig or catch it yourself. Clam digging and crabbing are popular past times, with razor clams and Dungeness crabs being the prizes.

What overwhelms me about the Washington coast is its untamed feeling. There aren’t little beachside bars for your convenience, and if you want to drive your 4x4 right on the beach you can. But what I love about this area is being able to see the snow-capped Olympic Mountains even in May.

Lying on the rocks at the cove at Westport, hearing the ringing of the horn from the lighthouse, gives me a true sense of the ocean with its dangers and possibility. It feels wild out here, and maybe that’s why I like it.

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