Turning off Highway 101, just miles north of Lincoln City, is the coastal town and beach recreation area of Neskowin, Oregon. Hawk Street takes you right from the highway and then Salem Avenue by the public parking (with public restrooms!), past the bus stop, over Hawk Creek and straight through the small town.
Across from the day use parking are the Trading Post Deli and the Hawk Creek Café. For those continuing to drive into the community, sassy and eye catching homemade signs encourage drivers to proceed “at a snail’s pace” and welcome those who want to “watch the flowers bloom”. Other than maybe a hundred or so beach houses, Neskowin boasts a few small resorts, an RV campground and a hotel. Camping is not allowed on the beach. While certainly not deserted, the population seems to be one of those that flows with the seasons.
From the public parking lot the short trail, along Hawk Creek, to the beach is clearly marked. One of the first things noticed when you arrive on the beach is the gorgeous monolith. Unlike famous Haystack, this one has no signs instructing investigators to stay off. Leaving its ecological safety to the honor system, its raw beauty inspires those lucky to enjoy it. From it, the coast stretches clearly north for several miles with a great distance of sand between.
Despite the winter wind, enough walkers and dogs comb the beach keeping it alive and friendly. The Sunday I visited, the sun, glittering and twinkling on the wet sand, warmed our chaffed and salted faces. It sparkled on the foam edges of each wave fizzing and sliding up the sandy coast. While roaring and rolling in the distance, the water calmly darkened the sand as the tide rose. Soft sand in varying shades of tan, dry squeaked under my rapid steps and then lightly squishing wet as I loped along.
Days like these make wonder why people reserve the beach only for summer play.
Without a doubt Zuanich Point Park along the Squalicum Harbor is one of the places in Whatcom County, Washington, with which I am quite familiar. We refer to this spot simply as “the Marina”. In years past my Grandpa would take my Grandma, my sister and me with him here for his daily walk. The paved path along the water is short (something less than a mile), easy and smooth. It was here, on a grassy spot just east of the Safe Return Fishers’ memorial, where my uncle married his second wife. In the summer, the grassy recreation area is ideal for family gatherings with warming sunshine and a cool coastal breeze. Through the years our family’s annual after-Thanksgiving-dinner-walk has ensued here. Even in the chill of November, the walk is pleasant.
The southern view out to the islands always holds a lovely scene in any season. On clear days, Mount Baker and the Northern Cascade range rise up in the east. Benches invite even the able-bodied to sit and pause for a while.
According to signs along the Harbor, the Port of Bellingham is in the process of improving Squalicum Harbor and the Cornwall landfill area. The Water Front District is in the midst of redevelopment as well. Started in 2011, the park notice has been up for awhile now and the improvements are ongoing. (If you’re curious to the status of the improvements or wonder why the sign is still there, you can contact Mike Endsley, the Squalicum Harbormaster, Port of Bellingham 360.676.2542, or explore the Port of Bellingham’s website.)
In reading the sign, I found it fascinating to learn that to maintain navigation depth the harbor needs dredging every so often. The sediment removed, at least at first, has been used in the Cornwall Landfill clean up. Though the date was not given, it indicated that after awhile the sediment will be disposed of in eastern Washington.
One of the perks of the Zuanich Point Park is the play and exercise apparatus for both adults and children. Like most parks, there is a playground set-up, but this park also has equipment for adults. Although I have never seriously used them, along the park path there are about half a dozen different HealthBeat stations to aid the excise of adults and older youth.