Every Christmas since they moved there, my mom and step-father always invited Ryan and me out to their place in Long Beach, WA for Christmas but we always turned them down. In his last job, Ryan could never take off for Christmas or New Years and in addition, Long Beach is HARD to get to. A 3-hour drive from the nearest airport and that airport doesn’t have nearly as many flights in and out of it as compared to the one that is over 4 hours away. Add that to a 5+ hour flight from the East Coast (or Hawaii) and you have a 2-day round-trip commute. It didn’t sound too appealling to me just to stay at a place that was too cold to sunbath at during the summer and closed down during the winter (it’s one of those summer resort town that loses the majority of their population after labor day).
I did visit once years ago when I was in Seattle for a friend’s wedding and had a great time so I always figured I’d get back there… someday. 6 years later (this past April) I finally returned upon hearing the news that my step-father passed away. And while by no means can I say it was a great trip given the circumstances, I realized what a wonderful place it was and how much I would miss getting to come here over the years (with Emma and Ryan in tow). There’s amazing seafood restaurants, a boardwalk and biking trail surrounding a beach,
and even a horse back riding place literally a block away from my mom’s place.
And so as a multi-purposed trip to 1) have Emma meet my sister for the first time (who visited with her boyfriend for a couple of days), 2) introduce Emma to Long Beach, and 3) spend time with my mom, the two of us jetted off last week to Long Beach (sans Ryan… he started his new job too recently to ask for time off).
Now I’m not going to lie, I came back from Washington in need of a vacation from my solo-parenting venture (despite the extreme helpfulness of my sister and mom) but by far the best thing about the trip was how much Emma enjoyed every part of it. For a kid that spent 3 of her first 6 months of life covered up in winter jackets, Emma was even amazed by the concept of a jacket.
It turned out that we showed up at the start of the week long international kite festival, which meant that our daily walk on the boardwalk included watching the ever-changing kites soaring in the air, eating lots of unhealthy fried goodies, and dog-watching…. and Emma LOVES dogs.
We took some trips to the neighboring seaside towns of Astoria and Seaside. Our visit to Seaside was my absolute favorite part of the trip (even though I had to work each morning boo hiss).
A total walking town, there were shops and restaurants everywhere, an arcade with bumper cars and a beautiful carousel that I made Emma ride 3 times… she got braver and braver each time. Maybe next time she won’t insist on staying in those boring chairs that don’t do anything.
Our favorite part however was the beach. It was HUMONGOUS and even fulfilled my lifelong dream (okay my dream for the last 13 months) of getting Emma in a baby swing. I was ecstatic. Emma… not so much.
Our hotel had a wonderful balcony with a view of the beach, which brings me to the coolest thing. You can ask your hotel to make you a bonfire on the beach. I counted 20 fires all spread out on that beach while I was out on the balcony that night. I also saw the police patroling for non-fire-pit-loving loiterers once it hit 11 PM at night.
We took the stroller off-roading as we hiked around Cape Disappointment.
And because I’m a dorky history buff I dragged Emma and my mom to Fort Clatsop on our way back to the Portland airport to see what the place looked like when Lewis and Clark blazed their trail 200+ years ago.