Sunday Drive to Birch Bay, Washington
Activity:I'm going to tell you a story. It goes back to the time my Dad was a kid. He was born in the '50s, so we're talkin' a long time ago. Apparently it was popular then to rent trailers for the summer at seaside resorts. That's where my story starts: Birch Bay. Over the years Dad told us a bunch of stories about his summers at Birch Bay: digging for clams, fishing off the docks, sandy beaches that stretched out forever, an amusement park with rides, Ringley Bros. Circus, hotrods and corvettes cruisin' down the main drag, the candy store, and soft chocolate ice-cream. We couldn't wait to go.
I should've known things weren't going to be the same when I saw the sign "Birch Bay," it was faded and old. As we drove through the town Dad kept saying, "that's where so and so," used to be as he pointed to an empty lot or dilapidated building. In less than five minutes we'd seen the town. At the other end was the state park. We didn't stay there long; not much going on except for the birds. Apparently Birch Bay is noted by the Audubon Society as one of the best places to watch birds in Washington State.
We ventured back into the town. Everyone was hungry, so we took on the painful job of deciding where to eat. There were only a handful of places to pick from, which made the decision simpler. After several deliberations we went for the patio restaurant that sold mostly burgers and sandwiches. I don't remember much about it, except the view was nice and Coleman ordered prawns - a first for him. After lunch we crossed the street to the beach. Dad was right, it does go way out - only I didn't feel like going in the water. It was too oozy for me. Dad and Jen didn't seem to mind, either did the bunch of kids swimming, building castles in the sand, and sliding on wakeboards. One thing is for sure, the water is warm. I guess all that sand heats up the water every time the tide rolls in and out.
Our next stop was a little more down my alley: Borderland Mini-Golf. If you ever go to Birch Bay, don't miss this place It's an indoor mini-golf course on the south end of the bay. You should see how complicated some of the holes are. I think the owner had a hand in making the course, which might be why he's so fussy with the rules. Everywhere you look is a rule card. Jen even had to spit out her gum before we could play. But don't let that stop you. It's a real experience. We had a blast. Dad even won a free game.
Right next door to the mini-golf is the candy store. It goes without saying we made a stop there for ice-cream cones. After that we went exploring on our scooters. You can see some of the neatest beach cottages when you go along the back lanes. Some people really deck up their home; I guess they must live there all year round. It was kind of neat just putting along and not having to worry about cars speeding by.
By then it was about time for us to leave. As we drove out of town Coleman spotted the water slides, go-carts and outdoor mini-golf. "How did we miss that?" "Can we go there?" "Stop the car!" Everybody blurted out at the same time. I can still hear Dad now, "Unfortunately kids, we don't have time - maybe next year." This made me think that maybe we'd missed other fun stuff as well. I guess Birch Bay wasn't as sleepy as I thought.
On the outskirts of town Mom spotted a huge white tent selling suns made out of clay. Of course we had to stop for that. Well, as it turns out, Mom didn't buy a sun but I ended up buying two "Fox" t-shirts for the rock-bottom price of five bucks each. They even had "Fox" t-shirts Coleman's size. Mom said they'd probably fade or fall apart, but this is two months later and the t-shirts still look good.
Age group:All ages
:Around where we live, there are lots of cars and people. Sometimes it's nice to relax and not feel like you have to rush around. Birch Bay lets you do that. It's like going for a mini-holiday: you do everything in a day and still get back home before dark.
:I think the beach needs a facelift. Maybe a gigantic vacuum cleaner would help, to suck up all the gucky stuff.
Details:Birch Bay is in Washington State. It's like 15 minutes from the Peace Arch US-Canada border crossing. You can't miss it; just take exits 266 or 270.
Area:Washington State, USA
Season:All seasons, but summer is best
Educational highlights:Did you know Birch Bay got its name from Captain George Vancouver. I guess he was sailing by and noticed a whole bunch of black birch trees lining the bay, and said, "I'm going to name this spot Birch Bay." Maybe I should name something - how does Nathan Bay sound?
Fun for the adult?:Birch Bay is the perfect spot for my parents. It someplace different, relaxing, on the ocean, and it's close enough, so they don't have to spend money on a hotel. Plus, if they're like my Dad, and used to spend summer vacation there, you won't be able to stop them from talking about the good old days.