I’ve gone to the beach on my birthday every year since 1994. Falling into the ocean is no reason to go breaking traditions. Although everything is changed, some things remain the same.

Beach barefoot b-day vert

There are the lumpy, shapely islands forming that I call the Turtles, the hallmark of summer.

June turtlesturtle patternbeach toesAnd my property’s still not totally gone. I mean, I have, what, six or seven trees left?

last of 3rd estateBut Blue Pacific Drive is certainly a shadow of its former self.

Blue Pacific Drive, 5-15

Now the neighbors on the other side of the street are waterfront, getting looted and trashed. This is the case with the property across from mine, where every blue moon they’d show up with an RV so immense that my friend Steve once shouted, “Riverdance is here!”

I have referred to them as Riverdance ever since. Poor Riverdance.

Riverdance debris 2

Riverdance debrisAt the end of the street, or what’s left of it, my neighbor Bruno’s place, so secluded in the woods it became popular with squatters, then tweakers, is now exposed.

Bruno's from afarBruno's close upBruno's broken window

They were rarely there. I couldn’t figure out why, a big 2-story house and all. Upon closer inspection, it was incredibly rugged, with a breakneck ladder to the second floor and no discernible toilet. Now it is a stew of curious binders and letters in German, with million-dollar views.

Bruno's censusBruno's German letter

Bruno's view 1

Bruno's view 3While there’s a part of me that’s still curious, there’s definitely the memory of recently being the one whose stuff was on display for the world to loot. And it’s heartbreaking to see, over and over, the demise of  places that were cute, that were loved. It’s personal.

flat house and debris

Like the Myles’s trailer.

Myles, fallen


Or this place.

Trailer on edge

curtain and shell wallpaperTire swing 2fallen husky art

Or this place, which makes me think of some Wild West movie set. Cowboys and villains should be  entering and exiting through the pink door to the saloon that I imagine was there.

wild west house 2 wild west set

Or my own sweet Vagabond, now moved up the street and rusted shut. At first glance it looked fine. Anyone can see there’s nothing to take in there. It’s empty, a sacred burial ground.

Vagabond, 5-15But no, someone smashed the window, for no good reason but the sound of it, I suppose.

Vagabond, broken 1

Vagabond, broken 3

Honestly, it was more than I could bear. I sat in my car and cried. Sometimes nice memories aren’t enough. Marcy asked me why I continue to visit my old place. I have no good answer. It never gets any better. It’s time to stop, for real.

For my birthday, I set out to create new, better memories of a different beach.

b-day selfie

I’ve told you already about the path through the enchanted forest, but it never stops being remarkable.

lily pad forestmoss forestmossy tree view 2mossy tree viewAnd then there are my excellent companions, the White Sock Wearers.

Guys with white socks Todd, crab potHugo yawning at Knutsen's

Birthday dinner.

Birthday dinner.

cakeAs always, the big lesson of Washaway is to savor precious, fleeting moments in  uncertain times.

My friend Susie asked if I’m “fracking” this story now, strip-mining it after all the essential nutrients are gone. Maybe. But if stories happen to those who tell them, I guess I’ll just keep talking.



About washybeach

Washaway Beach This Week is a blog by photojournalist Erika Langley. See more work at
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8 Responses to Passages

  1. Nancy Lilja says:

    Been to Resha’s place and such. Share your sentiments. Awesome catalog of time.

  2. Happy Birthday, Erika! Happy to hear you have a “New beach” to make memories on. Please do keep “talking”. It’s good to hear of your progress, and I don’t think I would call this fracking!! I was totally patiently waiting for a new blog and well, here it is! Thank you for keepin’ on! ❤

  3. Seaglass says:

    I just drove back from Grayland/Tokeland today. Yes, I was a gawker at Whipple but I tried to be a respectful tourist. I’ve been documenting the changes there in my own way for almost 10 years. I saw all these places on this post and wanted to poke around inside but didn’t feel that I had permission to do that. It was nice to have your camera do it for me. I hated to leave when the weather was so amazing.

    I hope you continue to document the winter storms and personal stories of this area even thought your property’s story is almost over. No one else really speaks for these people’s loss.

  4. bob says:

    Frack on, Erika! Your blog is fucking awesome, and I hope I can continue to read it. >

  5. Liz says:

    How can we not go back, it’s a part of us even when it’s gone. Mine has been gone for two years, but I still go check when I go down to Westport. The Miles place is the last of my relatives to go in. I still wait for your posts and Craig’s videos. Everyone I know that had a place down there still keeps up on what’s going on, it’s not just you. Thanks for the update.

  6. Sharman Ballantine says:

    I have loved your pictures and writing. I hope you compile all for a book. The location has memories for many of us, and it makes me sick to see your cool vintage trailer broken and rusted.

  7. Nick and LaDonna Daviscourt says:

    Happy birthday, still remember the day 4-5 years ago you called me to let me know that my place was in the drink, went up and there was nothing there, the ocean had claimed it all, even more sad is the takeover in the area by tweekers and vandals, we had a trailer on ours in the good years and someone took it right off the lot and left a burned out one on the street by our lot, obviously fire from a lab someone was using, needed another trailer so just took it

  8. Nancy Acker says:

    Your writing and your pictures fill my heart with so many memories and I feel compelled to check into your blog every month or so. My parents had a home on Whipple (we believe it is still there) where my cousins now go with their motorhomes and trailers to fish on occasional weekends. I personally haven’t been to the coast for over 2 years but I live in the memories of lots of family love and fun and I will always love that beach and ocean. Thanks for all of your information. I hope it continues for a long time.

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