Ocean Shores … Final Post on the Washington Coast Series

Grays Harbor photo by Curtis Mekemson.

There is no doubt about the beauty of Ocean Shores. This photo looks out into Grays Harbor. The Pacific Ocean is off to the right.


Several years ago, Peggy owned some property in Florida down around Port Charlotte. She and her first husband had purchased two pieces as an investment in one of the huge Florida land schemes. The first parcel, located on a man-made canal, had sold easily long before I knew Peggy. The second piece, which might best be described as swamp-land, was still hanging around when we met many years later and was valued at less than the original price. With skyrocketing real estate values in the mid 2000s, we were finally able to sell the land to some questionable characters out of Miami who had dollars to burn for a small profit. We breathed a huge sigh of relief and turned the money over to our kids.

I only tell this story now because Ocean Shores on the central coast of Washington has a similar history. Developers were going crazy in the 60s and purchasing oceanfront property as cheaply and as quickly as they could put together deals. Land was then subdivided, roads put in, and prices jacked up to create substantial profits. Potential buyers were fed glowing stories about the beauty of the land, its recreational value, and the potential for future profit. It didn’t matter if the land was part of a swamp or that profits would be far into the future.

Land speculation in the US is as old as our country. George Washington may have been the “Father of the Nation” but he was also the father of rampant land speculation, a pursuit he was joined in by the likes of Ben Franklin, John Adams, and other founding fathers who invested in as much land out on the western frontier as they could lay their hands on. (It didn’t matter if the land was already occupied by Native Americans.) It can be argued that one of the reasons for the Revolution was that the British wanted to curtail such speculation.

The Ocean Shores Development Company purchased the area that would become Ocean Shores in 1960 for $1 million. Its location on a peninsula with the Pacific Ocean on one side and Grays Harbor on the other provided a lot of waterfront property to sell. The company quickly brought in a dredge to build canals to create more.  Hollywood personalities such as Pat Boone were recruited for promotion and the land boom was underway. In 2003, National Recreation Properties bought hundreds of lots in Ocean Shores and then resold them at three and four times what it paid. Eric Estrada from CHIPS was brought in for promotion purposes this time. Today, with limited oceanfront property available on the West Coast, property values continue to escalate.

Ocean Shores

Ocean Shores’ peninsula location means it has lots of waterfront property. Man-made canals built throughout the area have added even more. We were staying north of the community up toward the Highway 109 marker.

Peggy and I drove around the peninsula and checked things out. It was an attractive area and I could see why people would want to live in Ocean Shores, but I couldn’t help but think about the community’s low elevation. It would provide scant protection in a Tsunami and, barring that disaster, might be inundated by rising ocean levels. But that’s me. I am sure potential buyers and real estate agents see it differently. Following are a few photos from Ocean Shores and more from where we were staying at Copalis Beach.

Tide coming in at Grays Harbor

Another view looking out into Grays Harbor as the tide rolls in.

Driftwood seahorse at Ocean Shores

The city of Ocean Shores has added some neat driftwood art as an attraction. This seahorse was decked out for Christmas. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Photo of a driftwood seahorse in Ocean Shores, Washington by Peggy Mekemson.

Another perspective by Peggy.

Driftwood horse at Ocean Shores, Washington photo by Peggy Mekemson.

Having decided that she really liked the driftwood art, Peggy walked across the road and captured this skinny-legged horse.

Driftwood deer in Ocean Shores, Washington photo by Curtis Mekemson.

While I photographed a deer. I liked its antlers.

Small lake at Ocean City Washington

A small lake north of Ocean Shores caught our attention. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Seagrass and dunes at Copalis Beach

Back at where we were staying in Copalis, we decided to celebrate our final evening by hiking out to the ocean again. It was just across the small dunes.

Copalis beach sunset in Washington

As the sun started to set, we were joined by a bald eagle.

Sunset central coast of state of Washington

Then the sun captured our attention.

Peggy Mekemson at Copalis Beach

Peggy decided to go in search of it across the long, flat beach…

Peggy Mekemson at Copalis Beach

And celebrated…

Peggy Mekemson and sunset at Copalis Beach

Before returning…

Moon over Copalis Beach

Where she was greeted by moonrise.

Sunset central coast of Washington

We stood holding hands as the sun completed its journey. And then returned to the condo. It was time to pack up and head home…


WEDNESDAY’S POST: The gorgeous red rock country of Sedona, Arizona

FRIDAY’S POST: Nancy Jo and the attack of the Graveyard Ghost




49 thoughts on “Ocean Shores … Final Post on the Washington Coast Series

  1. You refer to land schemes; we call them land scams. Our home, Cape Coral just south of Port Charlotte, was one of the biggest. But eventually, it was featured in a book “The Lie That Came True.” A $10,000 lot on the river now goes easily for over a million. But I suspect buyers now hope be gone when the water rises. After all, almost all of Florida was under water at one time.

    • 198 my Mother in Law purchased a home in Caped Coral on an inlet and a two bedroom house. The Interesting thing that we heard from the neighbors was that the island was overrun with Nile Monitor Lizards. They even swam out to Sanibel Island. And with rising tides, it could be a mess

      • Ouch! One more introduced species in Florida. Like the boa constrictors. And Cape Coral isn’t that far from where we had our property. One can only wonder what a few long lizards could do to property values. 🙂 –Curt

    • True about the million dollar properties, Ray. I don’t know if the land at Ocean Shores has reached those astronomical heights, but, as I said, available land along the coast is limited…
      Few people are more optimistic than people buying real estate. And there’s a reason! Then there was the total bust a few years ago… 🙂 –Curt

  2. Despite the threats of tsunami or flooding, there is something special about living near water. Frosting on the cake is catching marvelous sunset images like yours and Peggy’s. I still am hoping to make it up to explore northward someday, including Gray’s Harbor, but for now we’re planning a trip to your point of origin and to revisit some of the places I grew to love in El Dorado. I’m a bit worried about how much it’s all grown having looked around in the Google maps, but from there we’ll be heading for the desert to get away from it all. 😀

    • We really enjoyed our trip up north, Gunta, but I still prefer the Oregon and Northern California Coasts.
      Main Street Placervilles still looks pretty much the same, although they have gussied it up a bit. Lot’s of growth in the surrounding region. Diamond has changed almost beyond recognition from my childhood, but that has been true for a long time.
      And, as you say, you will soon be out in the deserts where you can still find remote areas with few people. (Not so much the National Parks but they should be pretty good this time of year.)
      Looking forward to your posts! –Curt

  3. I’d take mountains any day over ocean shores but a water source would be important, like a lake or river. While I plan my utopian home, I do have serious doubts about the word often considered positive, ‘development.”
    Loved your pictures: nature is at it’s best, as are the eyes beholding it.

  4. Yes, at times it must be tempting to live near water and the sea. I wonder if water views are preferred over country views.
    We have had both but I prefer the look of country and the bush.
    Great post, Curt.

    • I’ve often thought as I driven up and down shoreline highways in Northern California and Oregon, Peggy, that I would like a home that looked out on the ocean on a secure cliff maybe a hundred feet high. I’d want it to back up to a national forest of course. But then I don’t want much, eh? 🙂 –Curt

  5. Oh talk about land speculation! In Asia it seems real estate is the only safe haven… which is why it has gone to astronomical levels. It now takes 15 years or more of annual salary to pay for a tiny apartment of 1000 square feet…

  6. I enjoyed the driftwood art, and the first photo, especially. We don’t get much driftwood here, partly because of our flat, sloping beaches. Like you, I prefer a rockier coastline, but we take what we can get.

    Land speculation took on some interesting forms back in the day, particularly since there were no videos or cell phone cameras or other quick ways to check on claims. After two hurricanes wiped out Indianola, Texas, some entrepreneurs (from Dallas, I believe) gave it a try and sold lots in a “seaside” community, until the buyers figured out it was Texas, not Tahiti. I had a great uncle in Louisiana who took his own turn at it: enticing Iowa farmers down to the “fertile plains” of coastal Louisiana. It gave them a chance to learn that crawfish aren’t corn! Most of them beat it back to Iowa — sadder but wiser, as the saying goes.

    • There will never be a shortage of get quick schemes and plenty of people to bite. If not land, then something else. The world of scams is alive and well!
      The huge forests of the west and logging help with the driftwood. Rivers carry the wood down to the ocean. The oceans beat it up for a while, and then return it to the shore. These include huge logs in winter storms. Ever so much better than plastic! –Curt

  7. Oh I do love the Pacific Ocean. These are just beautiful photos, and can anything rival a sunset on the Pacific Ocean? Thank you.

  8. Glad you could unload your parcels of land in Florida, and I’m fascinated that this selling of less than desirable land happens all over the place. Ocean Shores looks pretty nice when you focus on sunrises and sunsets and driftwood sculptures. But the truth may be in the exploration of all that land sold as vacation sites.

    • Some of those parcels in Ocean Shores and Florida may be worth a lot today, long after the speculators have moved on, Rusha. Others not so much. Maybe if you have a generation or two to wait… –Curt

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s