by Darcy Waits (DarcyDishes@gmail.com)
Summers in the Pacific Northwest can swing wildly from unbearably hot to freezing, windy, and raining sideways from one day to the next. But foul weather doesn’t stand in the way of hardy PNWers at all. You’ll see them mowing their lawn or washing their car in the rain! Otherwise, when are they going to get those things done?
It’s a stormy day in Portland, so we head to Cape Disappointment at the very tip of the southwestern coast of Washington state. We hope to capture an iconic photo of huge, billowy waves crashing against the rocks at the base of Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. We’ll shoot and picnic from the vantage point of Waikiki Beach… which has almost nothing in common with the other Waikiki Beach.
What’s So Disappointing?
Cape Disappointment did not get its name from, “Hey, he said he was taking me to Waikiki Beach!” Or, “Hey, where are the bathrooms?” Rather, the Cape is three miles south of the town of Illwaco, Washington on a bar where the Columbia River empties into the Pacific Ocean. It acquired its name in 1788 when Captain John Mears failed to cross the river bar, and was apparently – wait for it – disappointed! In 1805, the Lewis and Clark Expedition made a stop at Cape Disappointment before deciding it was appropriately named, and it would be a better idea to head south to Fort Clatsop in what is now Oregon to wait out the harsh winter.
We drive two hours west from Portland in a pouring rain. But by the time we reach our photography spot, the storm is long gone, though dark clouds linger. Even the picnic benches were dry. So no iconic crashing wave photos on this day. (Turns out you have to be there at high tide to see the storm surge make amazing waves crash on the rocks.) But no worries, we have a great view, a picnic basket full of gourmet munchies, and a bottle of wine!
In the basket, we have tarragon chicken avocado wraps (now dubbed Cape Disappointment Wraps). That’s my chicken and avocado salad, seasoned with tarragon and lemon, garnished with arugula, and wrapped in a soft flour tortilla. The charcuterie plate includes brie cheese, crackers, salami, gourmet olives, and a shrimp cocktail. (I wonder what Lewis and Clark had to eat when they reached the beach?)
We went for a Washington wine: Château Saint Michelle Riesling. (I know, we are getting fancy now, right? Upping the game from $3 wine to $7 wine! Things must be getting serious!) Word had gotten out to my friends and clients that this is one of my favorite wines, so I was gifted bottles of the sweet, fruity, inexpensive white on the regular. Well, if it’s free it’s for me… and if it’s for me, it’s for him!
Break Out the Unbreakable Glasses!
We spread out our feast and drink a toast, declaring it, “The Summer of the Traveling Wine Glasses!” I had bought a pair of green stemmed plastic wine glasses at Fred Meyer. But the former Mr. Darcy rejected them because he found them tacky, so they languished unused – like myself – for years.
Our entertainment for the afternoon is a pair of eagles soaring in the sky above us, and ships and boats of every size sailing in and out of the mouth of the Columbia River. There are still plenty of photos to capture at Golden Hour, and I get to enjoy a rare good hair day on the PNW coast. Okay, my hair is really hot today! Best ever! “Snap that picture quick!”
The only disappointment… we can’t find bathrooms! But we won’t talk about that other than to say, hey, it’s natural.
Before we pack up, we meet an older married couple. They chat with us about being retired and touring the countryside in a camper. And I think, “Wouldn’t it be great if we ended up an old married couple going on road trips?” To be continued….
For other hiking related stories see: