I didn’t realize it until I went back to L.A. for a visit years ago, but if there is one huge difference between Western Washington and L.A., it’s the lack of horizons up here. In L.A., you can drive down roads that seem to go on forever, disappearing at a single point on a distant horizon. That’s not the case in Western Washington. Even if a road extends over enough flat terrain to vanish before bending, it vanishes into a wall or trees, and beyond the trees, there are invariably mountains, The Cascades to the East, the Olympics to the West, and Mount Rainier and Mount Baker to the South and North respectively. Here, to find a horizon, you have to travel. Eastern Washington has some wide open spaces, but if you go west, well south and then west, actually, you get to that greatest horizon ever, the vast, endless expanse of the Pacific Ocean.
It was to this vista, this edge of the world that we traveled yesterday. We drove out to Grayland on the Washington coast. After miles and miles of evergreens, we finally came to Grays Harbor. Eventually, we found ourselves on a narrow road, bordered with meadows full of coastal grasses. The road topped a rise, a sand dune, that held out the tantalizing promise of the Pacific. The beach at Grayland is wide and flat, the ocean floor a shallow slope that yields rank after rank of breakers marching ashore under slate gray skies.
We spent the day on that beach with friends, the children playing in the sand and water and exploring the meadows. We played. We ate. We grilled, and we laughed. We even celebrated my birthday. It was a wonderful way to do so, and it was even worth the late night drive home.