Why visit Oregon coast?

It may offend someone, but why would anyone travel to Oregon to visit a wild ocean beach and marvel at the offshore remnants of a tattered continent?

Two hours from Sequim, there are three beaches that I know are every bit as awe-inspiring as any in Oregon. Another hour or so and there are at least three more.

My favorite beach in the world is Rialto Beach. I stumbled upon this beach 40 years ago when my sisters and I left Seattle to circumnavigate the Olympic Peninsula in a single day.

It was a killer trip, but I never forgot Rialto Beach. It was the first time that I saw the true potential of "driftwood." Huge ancient trees were tossed around like pick-up sticks by an angry ocean. And, there were those magical spots where each wave would throw small pebbles on the shore and thousands of other pebbles would chase the wave backwards into the ocean.

It is a sound that captures the magic of creation.

Rialto Beach is the nearest ocean beach to those of us in Sequim and it is unique. It is also the most accessible beach. You can drive in, park and a minute later be on the beach.

For those who can walk a ways, there is the gift of Hole-in-the-Wall - a wave-carved opening in a rocky headland. And, once through the hole or after climbing up and over the headland, there are wondrous tide pools to explore.

The geology here is fantastic and gets more exciting the farther you go. You can see rock faces carved in fantastic patterns by wind blown-sand. Of course, not everyone is turned on by rocks.

My wife knew a lady who grew up in Port Angeles and never had been to Rialto Beach or even heard of it. This is a place that truly deserves the designation of a national treasure.

It was surprising to me that this place also had an emotional tie to my East Coast past.

Mora, the campground just before Rialto Beach, used to be the family retreat of the Douglas family. I used to participate in a yearly hike with Supreme Court Justice William Douglas along the route of the C&O Canal in an effort to have it made a national historic site, if not a national park. I'm always amazed when people and places connect, and past and present, especially when I'm not expecting any such connections.

Rialto Beach is not the only special place in this corner of the world.

Just a few miles past the turnoff to Rialto Beach are Beach No. 3 and Beach No. 2 (and, I suppose, an untitled Beach No. 1 at La Push). Each of these beaches is different and each deserves a

separate trip.

Beach No. 2 has its own Hole-in-the-Wall and if you can plan for a minus tide, you can explore around some of the offshore islands.

Beach No. 3 is a longer hike and gives you a lot more beach to explore than Beach No. 2. Typically, beaches 2 and 3 are less rocky than Rialto Beach and they seem a little quieter.

To be honest, when I hike either Beach No. 2 or No. 3, I usually will stop at Rialto Beach for a brief visit. The waves there are bigger, the wind is often more vigorous, and there is always the special sounds as the shore and the waves collide.

Sometimes during the summer, the pelicans come to Rialto Beach and cruise offshore looking for their next meal. I've not seen the pelicans this year, but on Beach No. 2 I did see a cormorant fly overhead with a fish dangling from its beak.

Richard Olmer can be reached at columnists@

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