Tuesday, February 19, 2008

"We're on a peninsula?"

DMV and I went to Long Beach, WA this last weekend. Our landlady had told us that, since we were good renters, she would let us use her condo for a weekend. We drove up in the dark and so missed all of the "beautiful scenery" viewable from the Washington side of the road (it traveled along the Columbia and so looked like the Mississippi between Winona and La Crosse only with more pine trees). We drove into Long Beach and through it without finding out condo. The town is very beachy but not quite as touristy as say, Wisconsin Dells. There were surf shops and arcades and lots of restaurants, plus two museums.

Finally found our place, a tiny two room single-story condo that was about 1/4 mi from the beach. Although the decor left something to be desired. Giant badly-painted fish and water pitchers covered in clay polyps is not my idea of whimsy.

The next day we first went to the tourist bureau and spoke with the old gent there who made sure to tell us that the Highschool Sport Booster's annual Crab Feed was happening on Sunday at the Elk's (not kidding here.) He also told us the pizza place DMV's friend told to check out was not real. Then we went to the beach despite howling winds, 40 degree temps and overcast skies. The beach is supposedly the longest in the world. But it is rather dull. There are hardly any items that wash up for beachcombers that haven't been smashed to bits by the pounding waves. Plus, the one pile of flotsam we did find interesting (buoys tied together with fire-hose sized sea weed stems) was reclaimed as we pawed through it by a sneaker wave!

We went to the free museum which is really a huge tourist shop that also sells taxidermy animal heads and other "curiosities." They exhibit Jake, the Alligator man (half a mummified human body stuck on the back half of a alligator) who was sitting in a box with a Santa hat on. I made a squished penny of him from the machine next to his cabinet for KH. On their shopping bag they have a pic of Jake and the words "Also on exhibit: 8 legged sheep! 2 headed pig (note: apparently the only one ever known of), shrunken head, two headed calf, large old time music box collection." I was looking for a taxidermy bat for my friend, but all I found was this bat skeleton. I also found one of the old time music boxes with a note on it saying "This music box played for over 50 years in a bawdy house in La Crosse, WI"!

We also went to the kite museum; Long Beach being one of the kite capitals of the world. The most interesting thing was the fighting kites from India. People make these tiny little square kites and lace the strings with glass dust and try to saw each others kites up! Apparently this is a major plot point of the book "The Kite Runner" but that book is set in Afghanistan. The rest of the museum was filled with old people working on kites and it was a little strange. They had a cool display of Japanese kites and told about the different mythological beings represented on them (the red skinned boy riding the fish, the samurai etc.) Also, Japan has probably the largest kite created on a regular basis. It is about the size of a tennis court, weighs almost 5 tons and is pulled into the air by 50 people. Ah, the Japanese.

Donnie shared a story about Ben Franklin and how strange he was and his affinity with kites. Apparently it was a hot day and Ben was flying his kite near a river. Then he got too hot so he wanted to go for a swim, but he still wanted to fly his kite, so he took off all his clothes and laid on his back in the river and started to float. His kite caught the wind and he started floating across the river "with little to no effort." So, being the weirdest of the founding fathers, he calls to a boy at the shore (no doubt looking at a naked Ben Franklin and going "WTF?") and tells the boy to carry his clothes to the other side so he can fly across with his kite. "Hey you there Boy! Take my clothes to the other shoah. What? I'm Benjamin Franklin you little twerp! I invented the eyeglasses! And the... pot! And the internet! What? What's that you say? Oh yeah? Well, you're a turkey!"

Anyway, Long Beach on the whole was fun. Sunday was much sunnier and we went south to Cape Disappointment (named by a guy who was looking for the mouth of the Columbia but missed it somehow) and climbed up a Lighthouse that was manned by two old geezer volunteers and a dog (all very nice.) We ended the vacation by buying some clams from Ilwako ("an unpretentious fishing village") and some crabs from Linda's Crabs (she sells them out of her garage). We left by driving over the giant Astoria bridge, past the town used in the movies Goonies and Short Circuit, and on home.

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