Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Long Beach and Longer Nights

It was our Anniversary get away. Oh thank you, you're so kind... yes, it's been 6 years, can you imagine it? Just a year, before the supposed itch kicks in. 

Anyway, so we decided we needed a vacation, from the daily cooking - my husband more than me - he was the one who always had to make approving sounds even if what I served him was burnt beyond repair. So this get-away was something he had earned - for marrying me - six years ago. 

This was also our first road trip. I hadn't gotten my license yet - yes, yet. So it was upon him to take us to this haven that was so hyped. 

We decided the best time to leave was after Driti's swimming lesson - that way, she would fall asleep and we would get sometime by ourselves. It was perfect planning, and we got time for ourselves to talk - about the various HR interventions to aid a growing organization. Yes, we're that romantic! By the time we reached Long Beach, we could've written an entire paper on career and succession planning and earned big bucks. But we're not that ambitious and are super lazy, so we let the opportunity pass, as we did with the first Gas station, when we realized we were running real low. We panicked before we reached the next station, to ensure we have enough fuel for the long drive. 

We stopped for refueling and Driti stopped for hers - cakes, chips and sandwiches. 'It's a vacation, after all', I reasoned and let her have some of the forbidden treats.

The route from our place is such that we need to touch Oregon, to reenter Long Beach in WA. So we filled in fuel in Oregon and it was tax free! Yay, so glad we didn't stop at the first gas station!

There is this beautiful bridge, the  Astoria–Megler Bridge that spans the Columbia River between Astoria, Oregon and Point Ellice near Megler, Washington. It is A.MA.ZING! If it is of interest to you, it is also the longest continuous truss bridge in North America. We did not have to ask Driti to keep silent while we could take the beauty of it all in, she just naturally did - a nature lover that one.

It takes about four hours to travel from Seattle to Long Beach and you cannot but notice the stark contrast between the city that Seattle is and the countryside feeling you get in Long Beach. We haven't seen any town quite like that in India. It was so small and so warm (not from a deg F or deg C point of view, but from a feeling stand point). It was just a cozy little place where everybody seemed to know everybody else - It was straight out of 'Cheers' where 'Everybody knows your name' Not ours - we just visited, but the rest. 

We reached around 6 in the evening, to our hotel, and decided the only thing we could do now was to find a place to eat. I wanted to get a hair cut but considering not many salons had a Yelp rating, I kept my urge for a 'new look' under wraps. We checked out reviews for the various restaurants and one particular Thai restaurant had the best reviews, so we decided to give it a try. It was called - "Long Beach Thai Cuisine" (Surprise!!) and the place itself is not too much to write about - small square room with tables and chairs set, for dining - yes the basics. The upholstery reminded me of India - Elephants embroidered on silk - but guess Thailand also has elephants. 

We had to wait to be seated. For a small place, it was quite full, which was a good sign - people liked dining here or they were all tourists who had read reviews and come to test it like us. But the owner seemed to know most of them, so well, maybe they were regulars - which was  a good sign. 

I am usually averse to Thai food - allergic to peanuts and coconuts, so I was looking for every possible excuse to get out - but hubby insisted on this one because this claimed to be 'Authentic' and besides he hadn't really seen me throw up. 

To be honest, when we sat down for our food, we waited close to an eternity (15 mins). But the wait was worth it. The food was simply awesome - unlike any Thai food I've ever tasted. I finished almost the entire plate - that says something. I loved the food and so did hubby. I should've taken some yogurt for Driti for to eat her yogurt rice. She did not like anything, because the food was nutritious - it had vegetables or Chicken. So if you're going with a picky eater, go prepared.  Driti came back to the hotel and ate some 'cool fruits'. We really liked the owner/waitress/ cook. She was very friendly, and talked a lot to us. This is definitely a recommended place when you go to Long Beach. Whether you catch clams or not, get the Thai food. 

After that, we went to the Museum of Kites, and there were so many different varieties from Indonesia, China, India, Japan, Afghanistan and so on.. and they also had various videos on how kites were used for rescue and transportation. Driti made a pink kite for herself and with that, we moved out of the place. 

We then went to Benson's for lunch. The owner, the senior lady is so good with kids. She can keep any kid engaged and do her job at the same time. Our little daughter could just keep talking to her.

Just across the street is Marsh's free museum, which is a tourist trap. You cannot just go in there and come out empty handed. And Marsh is also the home for Jake the Alligator Man. We didn't believe it at first, but with so many signs everywhere and after some research, we got a shot glass of the half human, half legend. 

Coming back to the hotel, Ady and Driti went for a little swim in the hotel where they met a nice family of 10. The dad insisted on a clam digger to Ady so our daughter will have a great experience. Ady politely accepted, but we didn't eat clams and it just felt mean to get them for fun - so we skipped it. 

We then explored the town a little more and celebrated our Anniversary at ' The Depot' which is supposed to be the fine dining hub of LB. But if you're a vegetarian, your options are limited. I had artichoke hearts for dinner!

The next day, we checked out and went to the North Point Light House. It was straight out of the movies - the weather I mean - too windy, almost blowing your skirt away, if you were wearing one. But the light house as such isn't such a great experience. Maybe if we had braved the wind and gone up , but it was only for kids 7 and up and we decided to re explore in 4 years. But Ady loved the guest house there and the ambiance is just great. You should check it out.

One thing you will notice is the place seems to be made for RVs. There are so many parking spots in so many places! One thing we didn't try is the Cape Disappointment Park. We had heard it may be a little low key for our hyper energetic kid, so we visited Mc D's play place instead, before heading back home at rush hour on Monday. 

All in all, a relaxing trip. Good fun, great beach. It was worth it even in January!


  1. Hi Padmaja,
    I love reading about your American adventures, and I'm glad you had such a good time in Long Beach. It's fun to read about a place we know pretty well, as experienced by you, coming from so far. You were brave to visit in January, when the wind, always strong at the peninsula, blows hard and cold!
    We've been to the area quite often, we usually stay close to The Depot (although we've never eaten there due to my dietary restrictions, and because the kitchen of Laurel's Beach House is so well outfitted, I love to cook, even while we're on vacation. We were surprised that you chose the route via Oregon, although it makes sense to make a circle, it's not necessary. When we go, we leave I-5 "turning right" quite soon after Washington's capitol Olympia, heading west to Montesano, to meet Highway 101 South, to reach Long Beach via Raymond. Those "minor" roads are more scenic than the I-5, and all tarmac covered. From the Peninsula we'll go to Astoria for a day trip hitting the herbs & tea shop, the book store etc.
    Perhaps, if your schedule permits we can visit the area together, and do Ilwaco and Cape Disappointment State Park, which is far from disappointing, even if the Park's Waikiki Beach is not tropical at all.

  2. Oh Judith, just saw your post. Yes ofcourse!

  3. Oh Judith, just saw your post. Yes ofcourse!