By Amy Rowley
We go for the razor clams. We go for the solitude. We go for the beach combing and the swimming, and to find fairies.
We go to switch gears.
Each winter, my family loads boots, clam shovels, warm hats, and cozy sweaters into overnight bags. We spend a long weekend at Seabrook along the coast of Washington.
We use the two-hour drive time to transition from daily life to a slower pace, suitable for beach living. We meet grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles in the same home, able to accommodate our growing family with a dog under foot as well. There is space for everyone, yet we feel like we’re all together.
Someone starts up a game of Uno. Another adult throws a pot of hot water on the stove, prepping for a family-style spaghetti feed. A kid suggests a meal of hot chocolate instead.
The wind blows and we hunker down a bit tighter. We pull on all our warm layers and set out to explore. We plan on catching our limit of clams but the weather may not make digging so easy. Regardless, it’s a tradition that we can’t help but continue, rain or shine.
Some of the younger kids opt to stay indoors, playing with toy cars near the fireplace. There’s a request to go swimming. The indoor swimming pool is lined with comfy lounge chairs that make it easy to read a book while kids splash. Centrally located, the swimming pool is an easy walk from any rental home.
Along the way, we meander through a trail, searching for elusive fairies that are known to call Pacific Beach home. Imaginations create fairy hideouts. The small creatures could be anywhere.
Our footsteps crunch oyster shells on the sidewalks. The custom homes are decorated with beach trinkets. Lamps line the pedestrian-friendly streets.
There is much written about Casey Roloff’s method of building the beach town. The concept of New Urbanism encourages a walkable town. Instead of backyards, the Seabrook cottages are close together, clustered around community-centered activities like a fire pit, the swimming pool, large lawn (great for kite flying) and a play park.
Falling asleep is simple. The ocean air calms your nerves and the sea winds lull you to sleep. The morning brings the smell of fresh coffee and a pancake breakfast fit for the entire town of Pacific Beach.
The grandparents depart with the kids for an hour or two of pottery painting. The creations are timeless keepsakes of a weekend spent exploring the ocean. The adults left behind relish in the quiet time – a book, a nap, an extra cup of coffee – or just sitting in stillness.
We talk each year about returning when the weather is more promising. We discuss traveling by bike around the town. We collaborate on the ideal tools to build the perfect sand castle.
But, inevitably someone reminds the crowd why we choose to visit Seabrook in the winter. It wouldn’t be the same with added tourists and more activity.
We go for the quiet and the stillness and the memories.