Pacific Beach

A few years ago, during the last few days in August of 2012, we decided to spend some summer vacation time at Pacific Beach. My husband had heard that the cabins at Pacific Beach Resort & Conference Center were a nice place to stay, so we decided to give them a try. Although called cabins, lodgings are, in fact, houses. And because we booked early, we were able to get a place near the beach.

The beach was beautiful, flat and sandy and extending for what seemed like miles.

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There wasn’t much to do in town, where there was little more than a couple of mini-marts and a nice little coffee house that also served food called Surf House Espresso. But we didn’t care. For entertainment we could go to the main building at the Conference Center which had an activity center for younger kids, a game room for teenagers, a bowling alley, a hot tub and a restaurant. Sometimes we ate there, other times, we prepared meals in our cottage. We brought our dog along because the complex was pet-friendly.

Of course, the best place to be was the beach. From our cottage we could venture down the street and access it from a sandy trail. I found this view from Google Maps that must have been taken during a kite festival. It shows the entrance to Pacific Beach State Park, which is located at the southernmost end, near the place we reached the beach.

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From there we would typically walk north about a mile to Analyde Gap Road, head up the hill and enter the Resort and Conference Center through a gate along the northernmost side of the complex.

The biggest bird surprise was the presence of pelicans, which seemed too big to fly. They were everywhere and weren’t bothered much by beach goers.

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I also noticed a bird species that looked like a turnstone. It doesn’t necessarily impress with its basic look (white and black with a twittery call) but they fly in flocks, moving in unison and putting on an impressive show.

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Of course, there were also gulls.

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And the sunsets were spectacular.

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We left thinking that we’d like to return some day, and did.

This past summer, my immediate family plus three caravanned back to Pacific Beach. My sister had her heart set on Horseback riding at Ocean Shores, but I was dying to be reunited with the pelicans. We arrived three weeks earlier than we’d been there the last time, again in August. Pelicans were nowhere to be found.

This time we were in a bigger place with four bedrooms that was, because we waited until the last minute, off the beach though not a long walk to it.

After dropping off our stuff, my sister and I walked down to the shore. We both noticed something we’d never seen before: plastic-toy-like things strewn everywhere along the water line. On closer inspection, we realized that they were some sort of sea creature. Eventually we learned that they were velella velella, a type of jellyfish also called By-the-Wind Sailor, that contain a sail to help propel them along the water. Although they weren’t much to look at, these sea creatures fascinated us, mostly because they were so abundant.

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We also saw a couple of dead sea creatures that had washed up on the shore, including a Lion’s Mane jellyfish and another type with which I we were not familiar.

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The last time we’d been there we hadn’t seen sand dollars, but this time they were pretty prevalent.

When we saw a guy with his family, a cool tool and a bucket, we asked if he’d mind showing us what they were doing. Turns out they were collecting shrimp for bait to catch perch. He’d stick the tube-like tool into the sand, dump what looked like a soil boring sample and riffle through it for shrimp.

One afternoon, my sister and I headed out northward during low tide. We noticed and started picking up sand dollars. When we had too many to carry, we started stuffing them into our pockets and the cuffs of our clam digger jeans. We kept saying we wouldn’t collect any more, but couldn’t resist when we saw them. All told, we ended up with nearly twenty.

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Although most of the sand along the shore was very smooth, in some places the waves had created a pattern. IMG_4534

Further up, we saw lots of sea gulls and their tracks.

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The turnstones were back, but they were kind of shy and would fly off, so I didn’t get a good shot.

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On our last day, we arose really early to comb the beach and saw, for the first time, persons wading through tide pools in search of crabs. We also stopped to watch a live sand dollar propelling itself along.

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After our seemed-too-short, several day trip, it was time to head home. But we’ll be back…in hopes of reuniting with the pelicans.

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