A small coastal town with a population of just over 2,000 people has taught me much more than I could have expected. Westport, Washington is a sleepy beach town during off season in the Fall, Winter, and Spring. There is just one stop light, one grocery store, and a handful of restaurants and shops. The Elementary, Middle, and High schools are all side by side with little separation between buildings. Westport relies heavily on the fishing industry and tourist season. So what makes it special? Because I’ve met dozens of people who have yet to appreciate all Westport has to offer. I know many people who failed to find it’s appeal. Common complaints include “it rains too much,” and “there’s nothing to do.”
I admit, when I first moved to Westport, I too struggled to settle in. My husband and I moved to the Washington coast from busy, bustling, warm and sunny San Diego. Westport’s pace is slow, it’s location is remote, and yes there is plenty of rain. It’s true that most of what you need is in other towns. Nearly every single person I know has to drive the 30-45 minutes “into town” to do their shopping or run other important errands. And then again drive the same distance home. If you’re looking for a specialty item or to stock up at Costco or shop at the nearest mall, then your round trip stretches to over 2 hours. So, again, what makes Westport special? I’ll tell you.
Westport taught me the importance of slowing down. I have come to love the no-rush lifestyle we get to experience. Traffic? Not here! Waiting in line? Not really. Chatting up your neighbors to catch up or talk about the that cute little deer who just appeared this Spring? Definitely.
Westport taught me that rain isn’t a big deal. Life goes on. The world doesn’t stop. And, most people don’t even use umbrellas. Back home in California, when it rains people forget how to function. Driving is impossible and dangerous; and going out is the last thing on everyone’s mind, so a rainy day is an excuse to stay curled up on the couch in pajamas eating soup. Not here. Here you just slip on your rain boots, grab a jacket and get to work. PLUS, Washingtonians respect the element and drive accordingly. The only element that keeps people home is snow.
Westport taught me how to find happiness in everyday moments. When the weather is warm, my daughter and I loved spending time outdoors. One of our favorite activities was walking the beach path and soaking in ocean spray and crashing waves. It’s a popular spot for locals and visitors. If you’ve ever been, it’s easy to see why. My family and I also loved driving on the beach. Then, we’d pick a spot, get out and our toddler would run straight for the ocean. Sometimes, we’d grab pizza from Blackbeard’s on the way home to complete the day. On rainy days, we splashed in puddles and seized the opportunity to finger paint on our patio. Thankfully, we were covered by our awning.
Westport taught me the importance of small businesses and the community they serve. A small town means small businesses. And there are some of the cutest shops I’ve ever visited, like Granny Hazel’s Candy & Gifts. My family and I enjoyed this adorable candy shop often. The shop owners Randy and Janene searched all over for the perfect spot for their business. Hawaii was even a consideration, but they lovingly chose Westport, for sentiment and purpose, and have been in business for many years. Randy’s specialty is homemade fudge, while Janene instantly makes you feel at home with the warmest smile.
Westport taught me that small towns know how to have a good time! There are so many fun, family-friendly festivals in Westport and its neighbor town, Grayland. Some favorites are Pirate Daze, the Cranberry festival, the Kite Festival, 30 Miles of Junk which is essentially the largest yard sale I’ve ever witnessed! And so many more. I encourage you to check out as many as you can.
Westport taught me community. Small towns really pull together; it’s part of the charm and appeal. The local school has a program in place that takes clothing donations and gives them to local children. Every year, Mayor Rob Bearden, beloved resident Verna MacDonald, and local businesses throw a Coast Guard appreciation dinner to give back. When the government shutdown allowed local Coast Guard members to go without pay, the town of Westport stepped up by donating any way they could with meal vouchers, grocery certificates, cups of coffee, and prayer. Myself and my friends couldn’t have been more grateful for such kindness.
Westport taught me to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves. I learned this when there was a record number of rain one year. When the rain broke and the sun came, we spent our time outdoors. We’d grill and invite friends over, or throw an impromptu pool party for the kiddos or play at the park. Never let a sunny day pass you by. Open yourself to possibilities. I’m happy to say I’ve spent plenty of sunny days enjoying all Westport has to offer.
Thank you Westport for all that you’ve taught me. I will keep these memories close.