To hear some talking head pundits around Grays Harbor these days, you’d think the sky is falling. While that possibility can never be dismissed entirely, how ‘bout we focus on the positive for a nano-second or two? Sitting down? Good. Here’s my cliff’s notes version of What’s Good in Grays Harbor.
12 Good Things in Grays Harbor (in no particular order):
- Lake Quinault. Simply stunning. Far enough away to be away, but not so far that you have to spend light years getting there from town. Our favorite local hiking spot. Yes, the Falls Creek trail is the one everyone knows about. But it’s the one everyone knows about. If you’re up for an adventure, try Wolf Bar/Halfway House/Ellip Creek out of the north shore. About 13 miles RT if you make it to the creek and back.
- Hanging flower baskets along downtown Hoquiam streets. I wait for them puppies to burst into bloom every year. They light up the lanes like neon signs.
- Pioneer Park, Aberdeen. Baseball fields galore!
- Wynoochee Lake, Montesano. At the southern end of the Olympic National Forest. Quiet and secluded. Swimming in the lake if you’re part Polar Bear. Visit on a week day and you’re likely to have the Coho campground and lakefront picnic tables all to yourself. Don’t forget to check out Lake Sylvia State Park in Monte and Schafer State Park along the Satsop River. The latter is about 12 miles north of Elma (you’ll need a Discover Pass). Beautiful spots for fishing, picnicking, camping and hiking.
- The Grays Harbor County Fair, Every August. Fun for all ages. Reasonable admission fees.
- YMCA of Grays Harbor. 2500 Simpson Avenue, Hoquiam. Family activities, youth programs, fitness classes (don’t remind me!). They have just about everything, for just about every age.
- Elton-Bennett Park Nature Trail, Hoquiam. Below Sunset Memorial Park. Maybe dubbing this minute stretch of woods a “trail” is a stretch. With micro short walking trails, streams, and towering trees, however, this is still a nice place to roam. Especially on a warm summer day.
- The Salmon House, 516 S. Shore Road, Lake Quinault. Best local restaurant honors, hands down. Here’s my review.
- Hoquiam Police Department. Haven’t had a lot of contact with Hoquiam’s finest – thank you very much – but on the few occasions I have, I’ve been impressed. Thoroughly professional. The few times I’ve moseyed on over to the police station opposite Swanson’s for whatever, they are helpful, informative, polite and responsive. Oh, and did I mention patient? Every time I see one of those gray cruisers drive by, I feel a little safer. Thank you.
- Damon Point, Ocean Shores. Four miles of beach walking. Water on three sides.
- Festival of Lights Parade, Montesano. I’ve only been to a few of these because I have this thing about drowning or freezing to death. I prefer not to. But in halfway decent weather, this annual December event is terrif. A great holiday tradition for the whole family.
- Sea Breeze Oval @ Hoquiam High School. Back in my track team days – when dinosaurs roamed the earth – we ran the old-fashioned way: on concrete. Naw. Not really. Running on hard-packed dirt tracks just felt like running on concrete. Try that for a few years. Then talk to your joints. Sea Breeze Oval, my knees thank you!
Baker’s Dozen/Honorable Mention: The library. Did I mention I was born in a library? Naw. It just feels like… oh, never mind.
Anyway, I picked up my very own copy of O. Henry’s Collected Stories at the Hoquiam Library the other day. Two hundred and twelve short stories by the master. Hardback. In mint condition. For 75 cents! There was also that first edition Isak Dinesen I snagged for a song… Oh, happy day!
What good things about Grays Harbor can you add?