“You know, you’re looking for a ruby in a mountain of rocks, but there ain’t no Coupe de Ville hiding at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box.”

-Meat Loaf, “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad.”


“There’s a growing trend among property owners along the north side of Willapa Bay,” proclaimed the Daily World . “Hope!”

Maybe hope can be one of my eccentricities, like liking crows or Meat Loaf. Certainly we go through this march every March, don’t we?  Spring scratching at the heart’s door, the songs of the froggies, flowers bursting through the scorched earth, my thinking my bone marrow would save my Mom, the promise of regrowth. And any good news is welcome these days.

So I am trying to figure out why I’m being a hater about the rocks.

“She prayed to no saints, but she believed in steadiness and luck.” -Louise Erdrich, The Bingo Palace.

Bye Chicken

Hope comes in the form of rocks. There were big trucks moving them around next to the highway in January. I stopped and chatted with a guy in a big truck. He talked about “four-man rocks” and explained the theory of “dynamic revetment” to me. Dumping rocks, or, officially speaking, “cobble” of different sizes, will “redirect the wave energy” and stop the erosion!

“That’s the theory, anyway,” he said.

“The ocean is a slippery creature,” I said. (Like hope.)

You will have to take my word for it that there were photographs of trucks and rocks that I took on my roadside photo safari, because I tried to upgrade my computer’s operating system and almost everything I shot in January went POOF! as surely as if the pictures had fallen into the ocean.

But, back to being the curmudgeon of cobble. I’ve been trying to read up about the project and it is pretty clunky reading. Essentially, cranberry growers, one of whom is the irrigation district director, the Shoalwater tribe, Pacific County, the North Willapa Harbor Grange and assorted citizenry banded together to get the state to spring for some rocks. $300,000 was “earmarked” for Washaway. Supposedly “dynamic revetment” has worked in California and Oregon. Why wouldn’t it work at one of the fastest eroding places in our hemisphere?

It is widely agreed that doing something is better than nothing. And, you know, I made a patio one time and I put 5/8 minus crushed gravel underneath it and it compacted very nicely. I was doing dynamic revetment before it was cool. But my little patio was not the ocean.

Erosion control techniques


So, back to me, because it’s all about me, my selfish Nope On Hope doubts are as follows.

#1: Why would it work?


You will recall that the town of North Cove has been falling into the ocean since the late 1800s. Millions of dollars have been spent, there have been wild ideas like dumping the car bodies in the ocean in the ’60’s. (See my post “Erosion Control Techniques”). There is the dubious “success” of the Rockpile Peninsula Project, where the ocean just carves around to where the rocks are not, and the guy has switched from rocks to chunks of broken concrete. I picture him sitting there with his mouth shut and his checkbook open, like the Mother of the Groom. I also will hypothesize that the past three winters here have been pretty mild, so the true test of a real storm has not yet occurred. We are about due.

I was chatting with Vern at my favorite hardware store and he thought a better and cheaper alternative would be to sink an old warship out in the channel, creating habitat for fish and pelicans AND a tourist attraction. “Maybe the Bremerton shipyard could spare one,” he suggested. “Maybe the Nimitz.”

Pelicans. I like pelicans. That’s how I roll.

#2: It’s too late for me! Like closing the barn door after the horse is gone. Like putting on hearing protection after using power equipment for ten years. I am not proud of myself for saying this, but Waaaahh, boo hoo, I miss my compound so much!

Vagabond and foxgloves

The cookhouse.

It does also seem as though the rocks’ placement favors the tribe, the cranberry bogs, and the highway. It is a work in progress, I suppose. Other areas, like my former street, Blue Pacific, have such laughable rock piles that I would not build a half-assed patio on them.

Of course, it would be great for other people if this really did work! Like my friend Ken, who is the likeliest candidate for Willy B. Next. It would be really nice if he didn’t lose his home. Or my friends Marcy and Bob, on whose property my Airstream resides, and abides. Or my friends Roberta and Dave. Or my nice friends who let me stay in their cabin sometimes. Or anyone else who loves this enchanted land, our boneyard of guests and ghosts.

#3: The shirts need improvement. (As does this photo). As they used to say at art school, “I’d like to see it taken further.” I think it would be so much funnier to use Pacific County’s own logo! Nothing says “Wash Away No More” like “Don’t try to outrun a tsunami while concurrently getting clocked on the head with a boulder!”


This could be silkscreened onto wife-beater tank tops, a la The Lusty Lady. I would totally “rock” one!





About washybeach

Washaway Beach This Week is a blog by photojournalist Erika Langley. See more work at www.erikalangley.com.
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3 Responses to Dynamics

  1. patricepbp says:

    I drove over Monday. It was gorgeous. Will send my pics of the rocks! Found a re-creation of my childhood Driftwood Beach…Nostalgia stings like salt in a wound sometimes…

  2. CINDY L HOLBEN says:

    That section of beach where they are adding the rock used to be one of my favorites for exploring. Last time I was there (2 years ago) they had added so many giant boulders to the sides that it was impossible to get down to the beach. I can’t even imagine where they are putting more of those rocks.

  3. Loveisneverending says:

    WashawayBeach has been a favorite of ours since our son first introduced it to us 25 years ago. He loved it there. He passed away almost 20 years ago and while the destruction of the coastline saddens us, it is still a place we occasionally go to remember happier times. I love your blog entries and your photos. Thanks for reminding me of what we had and what we lost.

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