Archive for the ‘Willapa Bay’ Category

Forums & Friendship & Ferries, Oh My!!!

Thursday, March 28th, 2024

Steamers Shamrock and Reliable — Passenger Ferries on Willapa Bay in the early 20th century

This is one of those Connect-the-Dots blogs.  The first item concerns the Pacific County History Forum and its final focus for the year — transportation.  (This is NOT next week’s Forum which is about Wrecks’N’Rescues.  This is a Planning-Ahead-to-May concern)

As many of you know, I give full credit (and blame) to Jim Sayce for getting me (and lots of others) into our love affair with history — with Pacific County history,  specifically.  Before he got all involved with making a living and being responsible, he often contributed to groups interested in pursuing local history.  He knows a bunch of stuff but where he really shines is in the matter of transportation — roads and bridges and where they were and why they aren’t there now and all sorts of things like that.

So, when I saw him on the front page of yesterday’s paper in his capacity as Port of Willapa Harbor Manager holding a map of bike routes  (of course!!!) in Pacific County and apparently discussing with a group of UW business students and the EDC the feasibility of having a “modest ferry servicing passengers and cyclists on Willapa Bay” and that it  looks to be “financially feasible,” I perked right up!  Wouldn’t it be grand if Jim could come and talk to the History Forum about such a project during our May gathering?

Jim Sayce, Port of Willapa Harbor Manager considers bike trails and bay ferry feasibilities.

More than one history buff has asked me about the old steamers, the Shamrock and the Reliable that served as passenger ferries and mail boats during my mother’s generation.  I never really thought of them as “ferries” but, of course, they were.  Passenger ferries!  I love to hear what lessons, if any, the students from UW’s Foster School of and the Pacific County Economic Development Council took from those earlier “ferries.”  And how can those of us who think it a great idea be helpful in making it happen?

So… here comes the Friendship part of this blog title.  If you are a friend of Jim’s (or a friend of ferries or of the History Forum) see if you can get in touch with him and ask him if he can’t figure out a way to come and talk with us on May 1st?  “When we’re gone, Sydney, who’s going to tell the stories?” he asked me fifteen years or so ago.  But, Jim!  We aren’t gone yet.  Come and share this fabulous story with us!

The Egg Count — Waxing by Moonlight?

Wednesday, July 21st, 2021

July 19th – Egg of the Month?

I’ve been noting “egg” on the kitchen calendar each time one appears in a nest box.  Actually in “the” nest box, for although there are three of them, only the north one has seen any deposits for the last several years.  The girls are silent on the reason(s) for this.

Day before yesterday, on the 19th, we received our first egg for this month. Last month we were gifted with three — on the 19th, the 21st, and the 22nd.  All in the same nest box and all by the same hen, at least as far as we can tell.  Each egg has been the same shape, size, texture and color — a sure give-away, but only to a point.  Same girl, but we are unsure as to exactly which girl.  Once again, I wish those eggs came with identifying initials!

We think, though, that it’s probably Slutvana.  She’s the only one who hangs out in the nest boxes — actually, always the north one.  However, though her nest box lounging is a daily activity, there is not always an egg involved.  Read:  hardly ever.

Moonrise Over Willapa Bay

Noting the dates of these last two months, I’m wondering if the egg-laying has anything to do with the phases of the moon. Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I know I’m reaching, but we’ve run out of other ideas.  Day before yesterday the moon was “Waxing Gibbous” and will be full day after tomorrow, the 23rd.  Last month on the 19th the moon was also Waxing Gibbous and was full on the 24th.

And for those who care — probably not the chickens — “Gibbous” comes from a root word meaning “hump-backed.”  According to the online Earth-Sky site:  People often see a waxing gibbous moon in the afternoon, shortly after moonrise, while it’s ascending in the east as the sun is descending in the west. It’s easy to see a waxing gibbous moon in the daytime because, at this phase of the moon, a respectably large fraction of the moon’s dayside faces our way.  And furthermore: Bottom line: A waxing gibbous moon is in the sky when darkness falls. It lights up the early evening. It appears more than half lighted, but less than full. A waxing gibbous moon comes between  first quarter moon and full moon. 

Note:  The site is silent on chickens.  And eggs.

Off on the Great Clam Hunt!

Thursday, June 10th, 2021

The Intrepid Clammers

Chef Nyel sent us intrepid ones off to tideflats to get a few clams for the paella.  “A couple of dozen should be plenty,” said he, and off we went — Alex and three of his kids with me as guide.  It was seven ayem; Charlie slept in.

Hard At It!

The morning was fabulous — blue skies with patches of fluffy white, still and windless.  We had the bay to ourselves and it seemed we could see from one end to the other.   Besides one another, the only signs of life to be seen were a few teeny-tiny crabs scuttling southwards.  I couldn’t help think how lucky we all are that our family has retained these second-class tidelands.  We represented three of the five generations since our great/great-great/great-great-great grandfather R.H. Espy first arrived on these very tideflats in 1854.  My fondest hope is that there will be many more Espy desescendents who will enjoy “Grandpa’s Village” of Oysterville and all it has to offer…

Dinner Companions’ First Meeting

There seemed to be a plethora of clams — but quite small.  We filled the chef’s request plus a few more and were back at the house by eight o’clock to scrub them clean and put them in a bucket of fresh bay water.  They spent yesterday cleaning themselves until the chef is ready to begin tonight’s dinner!  YUM!  I can scarcely wait!

Time and Tide and the Oysterville Regatta

Friday, May 14th, 2021

2017 Regatta Invitation

Most of us know that time and tide wait for no man.  Those of us who live a stone’s throw from the banks of Willapa Bay probably know it as well as anyone and so it stands to reason that Tucker would consult the Friday Nighters about which Saturday in August would be best for the Annual Oysterville Regatta.  It is an event that is almost totally dependent upon time and tides.

There are, of course, certain non-negotiable prerequisites.  The regatta needs to be in the afternoon (for the wind), on a Saturday (for optimum participation), preferably in August. In addition, the tide must be high enough to launch the boats from the moorage at the foot of Clay Street.

2015 Regatta Invitation

As it turned out, the decision wasn’t as easy as one would suppose.  It wasn’t a matter of “just consulting the tide tables” because, would you believe… the tide tables were not in agreement with one another!   So, Tucker did a little research — actually went to the Port at Nahcotta and did some measuring and calculating and tonight brought his findings to the group.

When presented with all the facts and possible alternatives, we decided that Saturday, August 21st will be perfect!  High tide is shortly after 2:00 so Tucker says that immediately following the Skipper’s Meeting at high noon, they’ll head for the bay and get their boats in the water asap.  A little earlier than former years and all of us spectators are more than ready.  Out came our cell phones so we could mark the date!

Tucker’s 2016 Regatta Invitation

Anticipation is running high, already.  After all, when that airhorn blasts out the start of the 2021 Oysterville Regatta, it will have been two full years since the last one.  And not only are we overdue — we can’t remember which number this is.  Calling it the umpty-umpth, while close to accurate, feels a bit bogus.  Tonight, though, we spectators agreed that we are more than ready!  We hope the sailors are, as well!  And if not, they have two full months plus seven days to prepare — which the chickens and I imagine means talking to their boats and spiffing up their outfits.  The rest, as we are often told, is a crap shoot.

On The Edge of Daylight

Monday, March 8th, 2021

December Sunrise

Our alarm goes off at 5:30 each morning no matter what.   Often we are already awake — just sort of drowsing and waiting.  At this time of year the view out our windows is “almost.”  We can almost see the bay.  We can almost see the fence at the east end of the garden.  It is almost daylight.

By the time I’ve made the coffee and brought it back to the bedroom, the sun is peeking over the Willapa Hills and we can get some sense of how the weather will be.  Not for the day, of course.  We are always aware of our coastal words to live by:  If you don’t like the weather, just wait a minute.  But at least I can tell if I need rainhat and boots to go down to the chicken coop.

Winter Sunrise 2012

According to WillyWeather, first light happened today at 6:10 and sunrise at 6:40.  Hmmm.  It all seemed a bit earlier to me… but no matter.  Things will begin about two minutes earlier by the clock until Sunday and then: Daylight Savings Time arrives.  We’ll be going backwards for a while, light-wise, with first light on May 14th at 6:58 and sunrise at 7:28.  Damn!

I’m really tired of getting up in the dark…  It’s one of the worst aspects of winter.  Perhaps we should change that pesky alarm for a few weeks until we catch up to ourselves.  Maybe until April 8th when first light is at 6:08 A.M. and sunrise is at  6:39.  Sounds perfect!

Another Run of King Tides Coming Up!

Friday, December 11th, 2020

High Tide on Clay Street, February 12, 2017

I’ve never put together until recently that the term “King Tide” has to do with Climate Change.  I knew, of course, that we didn’t have anything called “king tides” when I was a kid — just high, low, ebb, slack and a few other descriptors.  And every once in a while there’d be a ginormously high tide.   Folks would just say, “Wow!  That’s a really high tide!” and the wags would get out their rowboats and or canoes and paddle down Fourth Street (as Territory Road was then called.)

But when I heard on KMUN that this was to be another King Tide Weekend — the second in less than a month — I decided to find out a little more.  As in why have we only heard of king tides recently?  It all made sense when I learned that the term was originated in 2009 when Australia experienced their highest seasonal tides in almost 20 years.  Since then the concept of “king tides” has become a common colloquial term to describe higher than normal high tides.   So there you have it.

The Meadow at High Tide, February 10, 2017

According to a recent news report from Depoe Bay, just down the coast apiece, “Tourists, nature lovers and amateur scientists are whipping out their cameras to document the effects of extreme high tides on shorelines from the United States to New Zealand, and by doing so are helping better predict what rising sea levels will mean for coastal communities around the world.”  The article goes on to say that what we see this weekend will approximate what the shoreline will look like (as a result of climate change) in 2050 with the tide about a foot to a foot and half (30 to 46 centimeters) above “normal” (to us) water levels.

Wow!  Finally there will be a crystal ball (of sorts) right here in Oysterville and we will be able to look thirty years into the future!  And right out our east windows, too!  High tide times during daylight hours will be:  the 13th, 11:44 a.m. 12.6 feet; the 14th, 12:29 p.m. 12.8 feet; 1:14 p.m. 12. 7 feet.  (Actually these times are for Nahcotta four miles to our South, so they may be off by a few minutes.)  Of course, should there be an unexpected storm with high winds pushing that water shoreward, the high tides could be even higher…  Don’t forget to wear your rubber boots!


Oysterville’s Winter People

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020

Egret on Clay Street – Photo by Tucker Wachsmuth

The pair of egrets that showed up a month or so ago are still hanging out.  Their winter address seems to be “Willapa Bay at Clay Street.”  That’s where Tucker and Carol have been seeing them on their daily walks along the bay path in front of town.  Yesterday, Tucker took a few photographs that they may want for their Winter Vacation in Oysterville scrapbook — if egrets keep scrapbooks.  Which is doubtful.

Actually, the doubtful part might not be the scrapbooks.  Some folks could question whether or not these are egrets.  According to Wikipedia (whose information is also sometimes doubtful) the distinction between a heron and an egret is rather vague, and depends more on appearance than biology. The word “egret” comes from the French word “aigrette” that means both “silver heron” and “brush”, referring to the long filamentous feathers that seem to cascade down an egret’s back during the breeding season (also called “egrets”).

Egret In Flight – Photo by Tucker Wachsmuth

So some could wonder if this lovely white pair, who have apparently moved in for the season, are actually our year round great blue herons in their winter disguise.  After all, we have lots of great blue herons around Willapa Bay.  There are several GBH rookeries near Oysterville and the information about their winter plumage could cause confusion.

Accordingly, I investigated a bit further.  A National Wildlife Federation blog had this to say: Great egrets are a little smaller than the white-phase great blue heron, but the real giveaway is the color of the legs. Great egrets have black legs while white-phase great blue herons have much lighter legs. Herons also have slightly heavier beaks and “shaggier” feathers on their breast.

Carol on “The Bay Path” in Oysterville – Photo by Tucker Wachsmuth

Hooray for Tucker’s fabulous photographs!  The legs of our two visitors are clearly black, an obvious indicator that  these particular “winter people” (in contrast to the “summer kid” that I once was) are, indeed, “great egrets.”  Or just Esther and Ethan if they say so.  They are certainly a welcome and treasured addition to our little community for however long they choose to stay.

The Ebb and Flow

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019


Since first we met, Nyel and I have had an ongoing discussion that always begins – “If you could have a little getaway place, where would you choose.  My answer has varied over the years – Capri, Corfu, maybe Carmel but it is almost always somewhere near the sea.  Nyel is equally consistent – the mountains.  Any mountains.

“And, if you have to have water, we could choose a place near a mountain lake,” he assures me.

But… the lake is not the sea.  And the mountains aren’t at sea level.  I feel nervous in the mountains – perhaps it’s the rarified air.  Perhaps it’s that getting anyplace requires climbing, either up or down.  Perhaps I’m just basically lazy.

Mountain Lake 

“We could choose a nice, big lake.  It would feel like the sea.  And you could just sit beside it and relax – no need to hike.  Not up. Not down,” he teases.

“How about Paris?”  I counter.  We both love Paris.  Not by the sea.  And not in the mountains.  A compromise.

Maybe it’s because I’m a Pisces that I am drawn to the water.  And maybe it’s because I have always lived by tidal waters that I feel the need to be close to the sea.  For Nyel, maybe it’s because he’s a Leo that the mountains have appeal.  And maybe his childhood in inland, mountainous Idaho left an indelible yearning.  I don’t know the answer…

A Sunrise on Willapa Bay

Fortunately, perhaps, it’s only a game we play.  We aren’t really in the market for a getaway place – or even for a fantasy vacation.  We are content in Oysterville – admittedly, I more so than my lion mate.  From our house here across from the church, as my Uncle Willard wrote, I can watch the slow breathing of the bay, six hours in and six hours out. No matter where we are in the cycle, I am content that the ebb and flow will continue. Forever and ever.  Amen.

Oysterville? Or Oahu?

Monday, December 24th, 2018

Photo by Tucker (Lina’s Dad)

It’s not every day – actually, up to now it has been never – that we drive into Oysterville and see a couple in wetsuits off-loading their paddleboards and stepping from the road directly into the bay!  Wow!  The sky was sunny blue and rainy gray “intermittently” as they say, there was no wind at all and the only way we really knew that we weren’t in Hawaii was… no surf.  Not even a ripple.

We had been out doing errands and just happened to come back into the village when our neighbors Lina and Dave had decided to take their boards down to the meadow and go out for a spin.  Or whatever you call a short jaunt on a water-filled meadow adjacent to and, for a half hour or so, a part of Willapa Bay.  The unusual part wasn’t so much the high tide – those happen every winter about this time.  It was seeing ‘locals’ with paddleboards stepping into the water like it was an everyday event!

Yesterday on Willapa Bay – Tucker Wachsmuth Photo

December in my mother’s day, a hundred years ago now, often meant bundling up and heading for Skating Lake just west and south of the cemetery.  In those days, the lake was really large – it went south almost as far as Ocean Park, or so I’ve been told.  It wasn’t until the 1960s that they messed around with drainage for the Surfside Golf Course that the lake shrunk to its current size – or so I’ve been told.

Anyway, in Mom’s girlhood – and even in my own childhood (occasionally) – the winters were cold enough that the lake froze and everyone grabbed their skates (if they had them) and went up to the lake.  Parents and other non-skaters built bonfires around the edges and kept the hot chocolate warm for frost-bitten ‘Hans Brinkers’ – most of whom were simply slipping and sliding on their shoes with grand exuberance.

Meadow or Bay? Photo by Tucker Wachsmuth

And now?  Paddle-boarding in Oysterville in December?  My forebears would be sore amazed!  You’d almost think we were living in the banana belt – right here on the banks of Willapa Bay!  I doubt that you’d find many climate-change skeptics among the old-timers here.  Not yesterday, anyway.

Once in a Lifetime

Tuesday, January 30th, 2018

Music, Not Moons

I’m getting more and more skeptical about these “once in a lifetime events” that the media hypes.  Maybe it’s because I’m fast aging beyond the charts in terms of life expectancy for women in the United States.  It’s 81, according to a December 2017 HuffPost article and since I’ll be 82 toward the end of February,  once in a lifetime doesn’t always cut it anymore.

However, tomorrow night’s super blue blood moon that will be visible as a blue moon, a supermoon and a total lunar eclipse coincide to create the spectacle which experts say has not been viewed for 150 years.  If those experts are correct – another thing I am finding more reasons to doubt as I approach my BEY (Beyond Expectancy Years) – then, indeed, tomorrow night’s phenomenon will be new for me.


Part of the problem, I think, in these once-in-a-lifetime deals is that I’m having trouble remembering all the ones I’ve seen.  Some niggling little part of me thinks that ‘they’ are sneaking repeats in and counting on us older, fuzzier people not to remember.  Of course, tomorrow’s triple-header has not been seen since 1866.  If that’s true, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t around to see it.  Parts of it, yes, but not all in one fell swoop.

The parts involve our second full moon for this month, commonly called a “blue moon.”  Plus, a full eclipse caused by the moon passing through the earth’s shadow that will cause the moon to take on a coppery color for about an hour – the “blood” part.  And the “super” aspect is because this particular passage is happening when the moon is at the closest point in its elliptical orbit to the earth.  So…super blue blood moon!

Moonrise Over Willapa Bay, August 2013

Of course, for us here on the western edge, the biggest unknown is will it even be visible.  Cloud cover in January is always a distinct possibility.  One website said that the best chance for us would be to watch our TVs.  Well… wouldn’t you know?  Maybe that will be the once-in-a-lifetime event for me –   watching the moon on television instead of through my east windows as it rises over the bay.  A bit underwhelming as singular lifetime events go.  Just sayin’…