I’ve spent the last few weeks in a state of heart-pounding retroactive dread. It’s not especially practical, as there’s nothing left to lose. This is supposed to be freedom, right?

wintry treesIt was this time last year that my place washed away. Now the erosion does not impact me. But the wind howls, and the rain flies sideways, and it all still seems fresh. I remember being at work last year, spending the day pruning some  shrubs I hate, Pittosporums, while the wind roared and I knew for certain that my next-door neighbor Craig’s house was falling into the ocean. I still hate the Pittosporums for that day.

October churn

The dread, the waiting for the shoe to drop, knowing but not knowing when, was paralyzing. So I was worried about my friend Ken. He was recently on the news for their traditional “Storms Equal Doom at Washaway Beach!” story.

“Just riding out the storm, waiting for the erosion to take the house,” Ken told the reporter. “Mother Nature’s gonna take it. Just have to live with it. Hey, but look at the view!”

toppled trees

So I went to see Ken and I was pleased to see that he was actually Next To Next, with the abandoned trailer of the rock hound, who left a pile of geodes behind, still ahead of him, doom-wise.

moon over rockhound trailerKen’s immediate problems were coming from wind damage: roof leaks and such. We went for a photo safari walk in the enchanted forest, and he spoke of hoping to go to the southwest somewhere, Arizona or Utah maybe, where it would be not raining and great for pictures.

Ken Watanabe

Ken Watanabe

Strange as it sounds, going to Washaway helped soothe my dread. For one thing, things were about the same. Bruno’s place was still waterfront. Belly-Acres By The Sea was still its same sad crumble of elaborate masonry.

Bruno's, November 2015

Bruno’s, November 2015



My poor Vagabond, I suspect, must be taking a turn for the worse, with the tarp blown sideways, and the hole in the roof where the stovepipe was open to the elements. I will not let myself look closely.

Twilight Vagabond rear viewlow light Vagabond, 11-15I walked on my old street, Blue Pacific Drive, at dusk with Marcy and Bob and two big dogs. The old neighborhood I find quite creepy, what with all the tweakers and ghosts, the zombie apocalypse. So I was glad to have a posse, though we didn’t see anyone.

I am determined to still find comfort here at Washaway, even though I should know better now.

pine needle raindrops

Spanish moss-2Tracks, September

sun through treesOctober sun break

P.S. to local types, check out my story and photographs about my adventures falling into the ocean last year in the winter issue of Washington Coast magazine.

Erika Langley:Washington Coast cover



About washybeach

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

  1. Robert Snyder says:

    I can’t for the life of me see why you folks take this washing away of your property and homes. This is “NOT” a natural thing. It all started with the lengthening of Jetty “B” at the mouth of the Columbia. This changed the currents and threw an eddy action at the mouth of Willapa Bay causing the “Wash-A-Way” problem. That along with the Corps of Engineers not dredging thee Willapa channel since the 60’s. I used to watch what was happening from the “other” side of the channel on the Long Beach side since I lived there. I still remember driving to Leadbetter point
    one week and seeing the lighthouse still there and then the next week and it was gone.
    Has nobody done any studies on the ocean currents off Long Beach and Grayland? I place the blame on all this squarely on the government and the Corps of Engineers.

    • Nancy Acker says:

      Wow! My dad used to collect and research papers on this and came to the very same result. He even contacted them in the 80’s (however, to no avail). My parents purchased their home on Whipple in 1976 and moved there in 1977. He always said the ocean would end up taking his home, but smiled that he wouldn’t be around then anyway. He was right. He passed away in 1997. My mother stayed there alone until 2008 when we moved her up to Graham, WA. Her property is still there (we think) but the house is in extremely poor condition. This entire area holds so many priceless memories for all of my family and it brings great sadness that nothing was ever done to fix the problem. We all remember the days when we had to “drive” to washaway beach, not be a part of it.

      • Debbie Roman says:

        Just wondering who your parents were since we lived on the next street over more then likely knew them or maybe my parents did

      • Nancy Acker says:

        My parents were/are John and Beverly Furnish. Did you know them?

      • Debbie Roman says:

        I kind of thought it may have been John and Beverly they lived behind us were really good friends of my parents Don and Ruth Kiel. Recently I drove out to that area hadn’t been there since selling my parents home in 2010 I was shocked to see how at the end of Whipple St. it was almost up to the corner where we use to turn to go to Blue Pacific Dr. where I lived with my parents and I was also shocked to see the end of our old street gone as well. Your parents old house is still there. If your mom is still alive tell her I said hi if she remembers me.

  2. Katherine White says:

    Thank you, Erika. I know Ken from the Tokeland/North Cove Block Watch Committee. I had no idea he was in the flood plain. Dang. 

  3. Debbie Roman says:

    Back in the 1970’s my parents bought property on Blue Pacific Dr. where we camped for many years then in 1986 we moved out there and now my parents are not longer living and back in 2009 we sold the property where their mobile home sits. I drove out that way back in October was so sad to see that at the other end of the street where I once lived is disappearing. That area was once a beautiful place

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