Washington's hidden coast

Escape to the Long Beach Peninsula for fresh seafood, beach strolls, and the rough charm of shore towns

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A place you wouldn't want to leave

State 103 ends at Leadbetter Point State Park, with its hiking trails and bird-watching platform, but we stopped in little Oysterville, a place out of time, its well-preserved 19th-century houses and picket fences wresting order from the seaside tangle of cypress and salal, shore pine and alder.

At Oysterville Sea Farms we tasted smoked oyster spread and smoked salmon spread and dried cranberries and blueberries set out in the little shop inside the Oysterville Cannery Building. One of the oystermen stopped long enough to sell us a bag of cranberry-studded granola and two flavors of smoked oysters. (We'd seen sense in the sign outside: When in Honolulu, take home pineapples. When in Oysterville, take home oysters.)

Undecided about where to dine, we turned around and headed south again, taking the beach road this time. But passing through Klipsan Beach, we were pulled off the road by a saucy yellow fish with big red lips ― the sign, it turned out, for the new Jimella's Seafood Market, tucked next to Mike's Auto Repair.

And inside was Jimella Lucas herself, holding sway behind big coolers containing organically farmed prawns, fresh fillets of local fish, and all sizes of Willapa Bay oysters, smoked and raw. Shelves held wines and specialty foods, some from the peninsula; in one corner were tables and chairs and a sign advertising hot bowls of Jimella's Famous Clam Chowder.

"Glad you're still here!" I gushed.

Why, she asked, would she leave?

"Anything I want I can have here," she continued, gesturing at the wines from the Willamette Valley, the cheeses from Jumpin' Good Goat Dairy ― just down the road in Ocean Park ― and her own fresh prawn salsa.

"And the pace of life and the quality of life that I have here I can't have anywhere else," she added. "You can really slow down and appreciate who you are."

And what's on your plate.

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