Top 5 Places to Visit in Cape Disappointment

Picture of Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. Photo by Julie Manthey

Cape Disappointment is only a 2-hour drive from Portland, Oregon or 3-hours from Seattle. It’s an easy day trip from either, yet it feels worlds away! I highly recommend stopping at these ‘must see’ places for an excellent trip that won’t disapoint! Don’t forget to pack your copy of the novel, The Magic of Cape Disappointmentas well!

  1. Engage with History at the Cape Disappointment Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center

    • This updated, beautifully designed museum overlooks ocean waves on a dramatic cliff in Cape Disappointment State Park and marks – quite literally — the end of the Lewis and Clark Trail. Learn about Lewis and Clark and the local Native American tribes. There are several interactive exhibits and increadible views which make it an ideal location to watch the waves and the many birds, especially if the weather is a little rainy or foggy for a hike. History buffs should also add a visit to the nearby Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum as well!
  2. Hike near the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse

    • In addition to two lighthouses, Cape Disappointment State Park also has several miles of hiking trails! See the oldest lighthouse still in use on the West Coast. Completed in 1856, today the lighthouse is managed by the Coast Guard and its’ light still protects sailors. The Columbia bar is one of the most dangerous bar crossings in the world, known widely as the ‘Graveyard of the Pacific.’ The well-maintained trail from the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center takes you closer to the lighthouse, or simply view it from the center. Although the lighthouse has been closed to the public since July 2020, you can still hike around the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center for closer views and experience the lush landscape overlooking the ocean and river. Once you see the inspiring and breathtaking views around this lighthouse, you’ll understand why it plays a starring role in the novel, ‘The Magic of Cape Disappointment!’
  3. Tour the North Head Lighthouse (or spend the night!)

    • Only two miles away from the Cape Disappointment lighthouse, you’ll find the North Head lighthouse complete in 1898 for added safety around the treacherous Columbia bar. North Head is also one of only five lighthouses in Washington State where you can stay overnight in the Lighthouse Keepers house, to get a real sense of a keeper’s life! It was meticulously restored in 2016. It’s also a prime location for whale watching in winter and spring.
  4. Stroll Along the Charming Ilwaco Harbor Boardwalk

    • Ilwaco’s small town harbor has a delightful boardwalk with a alluring independent coffee shops, bookstore, art galleries, and pub restaurants. Eat outdoors and enjoy the quiet harbor view of the vast Columbia River. The boardwalk is a wonderful place to spend a relaxed afternoon along the water! Don’t miss the lively Saturday market with almost 70 different vendors or the weekly Friday Ilwaco Art Walks in the summer. From the harbor, you can also charter a fishing adventure or moor your own boat.
  5. Enjoy Art (and even catch a concert) at Cape Disappointment’s Waikiki Beach

    • While everyone knows about Maya Lin’s famous Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., she also completed several art installments in Cape Disappointment State Park’s Waikiki Beach. The art commemorates both Chinook stories and the Lewis & Clark journals. Also in the summer, bring a picnice basket to enjoy an outdoor weekend concert at the (slightly less tropical) Waikiki Beach ampitheater with stunning views of the ocean.

When to Go:

The best time to visit is probably June through August, when the weather is the nicest and the Saturday market, concerts, and art walks are keeping things lively. However, storm watchers and photographers might want to plan their visit for December and January to catch the dramatic King Tides. Both January and March are the peak time for whale watching. Birdwatchers can always find much to see any time of year, since the area is a prime spot.

Where to Stay:

While Cape Disappointment is a wonderful day trip from Seattle or Portland, there’s so much to do in the local area that you will probably want to extend your stay. There are several lodging options in the immediate Cape Disappointment area to choose from. This list represents a few highlights:

Getting There:

  • From Portland: Approximately 2-hour drive via US-26W to US-101N or take I-5N to US-30W.
  • From Seattle: Approximately 3-hour drive via I-5S to US-101S.

You won’t forget (or be disappointed by) The Magic of Cape Disappointment! Happy travels!

Top 3 Beach Reads

Summer is the season of beach reading! Here are Julie Manthey’s top 3 beach read recommendations for this summer. Follow Julie on Goodreads for more reading recommendations.

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Back to the Editing Board

Like most writers, I’ve read my books a million times. Maybe not literally one million, but it certainly feels like it. They are both terrifically fun novels to read, by the way, just ask me. 🙂 No matter how many times I review them or how many editors I have, there is always a sneaky little typo hiding like a ghost in a corner. They jump out at me and I catch my breath.

Where was it hiding and how did it manage to evade my notice for months? I don’t have any answers on that outside of the obvious ones like writers ‘know’ what’s going to happen next so our brains just skip the typos. My typos usually fall into two categories: The missing word and the right word, wrong spelling. I can tell you from experience that ‘spell check’ is generally rendered useless by those circumstances. Grammar check likewise, and grammar check also toys with my inability to correctly use a semi-colon.

When I first started sharing my writing with people not related to me, I would nearly hyperventilate if anyone told me about a typo or missed word.

Writing is hard and sharing one’s writing with strangers is probably up there on the chart of scary things like jumping out of airplanes, online dating, joining the circus, or cooking lobsters.

My biggest fear of someone finding that my writing wasn’t perfect has been realized a few times and I survived to write another day. I’ve grown a sort of writer’s leathery thick skin that means I can survive a bad review or a grammarian’s scolding. That said, even today when I find a typo or bad form in one of my novels or works in progress, I still feel that sense of dread and shame.

And then I get over it.

I fix it and try to do better next time. I hope that gentle readers out there find a way to forgive and are still able to enjoy the story and the worlds created for them.

Hope is more powerful than fear. It’s what keeps me from giving up. My novels may be rather unknown with a few readers, but as I continue along this journey, there are more and more readers who have never heard of me, seen me at Christmas in my home town, or been exposed to my high school yearbook photo – yet they still find my books and enjoy the read.

Thanks to the gentle readers who can see the story through the glitches and thanks also to the critical readers who point the way toward improvement. I’m very grateful that you read my novels and took a chance on some writer you never heard of.

I’ve just re-published my latest novel, Christmas at Maplemont Manor, and I’m cautiously optimistic that I’ve neutralized any outstanding gremlin typos. Each of us gets better every day and that only happens by not giving up. Keep writing and editing. Onward!

Small Things Shine Brightly

Recently I had the fun opportunity to visit a lighthouse that had been moved to the shore, after it was decommissioned. At the top of a second set of very narrow stairs, I found the light itself and snapped this photo of the upside view of the water outside when looking through the light.

As anyone who has visited a lighthouse before knows, while the glass around the light is quite large, the light bulb itself is small. Of course there’s some excellent science involved about how a small light can extend miles away to show the safe path home for those at sea.

Small things can always shine brightly, which gives me hope and a reason for optimism. It’s easy to get discouraged when things don’t work out the way that we hoped, but important to keep shining anyway.

As a writer, it can be easy to feel discouraged when someone else doesn’t share the same joy after reading your novel or first chapter. However, those moments also provide opportunities to improve and grow.

The novel editing process can be like the trial and error involved in building the first lighthouse light designs. Each improvement and even small adjustment can result in that final, dazzling beam of light which can illuminate and connect with readers.

Keep shining brightly. Eventually the fog will clear, the glass will be adjusted, and that small light will dazzle in brightness.

Safe Harbor

Character development is a key factor of any writing project, and that includes challenging the characters with struggle.

John Shedd is known to have said, “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” Character development in a novel relates to that sentiment because a character can be safe in their world, but that’s not what the novel is built for.

Novels are built for longer stories that immerse a writer into a new world where the protagonists must endure some sort of struggle.

In my most recent novel, ‘The Magic of Cape Disappointment,‘ the protagonist’s return to the safe harbor of her childhood is when her real adventure begins. This photo is a picture of the Ilwaco, Washington harbor where the protagonist grew up and returns after completing medical school in order to take care of her grandmother.

One of the concepts I thought was interesting to explore in the character development within the novel was the idea of the safe harbor both literally, in the case of Ilwaco, and figuratively with the protagonist’s soul mate. When the protagonist first returns to Ilwaco after many years in New York City, she first views this safe harbor as anything but, and her goal is focused on returning to New York as quickly as possible.

As the novel progresses and her safe harbor hometown is threatened by an unexpected force, she starts to realize the value of home and belonging. Of course, those lessons are learned not from quiet observation of her daily life, but by enduring several tests of strength.

I hope that wherever you are, that you’ve found a safe harbor, but that you also don’t let it stifle your development.

As for my character, by the end of the novel (and a theme in the following) she echoes the famous Louisa May Alcott quote, “I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.”

Novels are built to challenge the characters and character development includes their journey. As readers, we want to succeed vicariously with the characters as they move through their challenges to live happily ever after in their own safe harbors.