When my mom mentioned that there was some sort of sandcastle building competition held in Washington each year, I had a couple of reactions.
First, I had a hard time believing there was a beach somewhere in the state that offered enough viable sand for this activity. While I love the rugged Pacific Northwest coast, it isn’t exactly known for its sandy beaches.
Second, I was puzzled by the fact that my mom knew more about the goings-on in the state where I live than I do!
While we’re still newbies to Washington, I subscribe to multiple regional magazines, do my best to drag Brian from the house to explore as often as possible, and feel like I have a pretty good pulse on what there is to see and do. Clearly I was mistaken as this was the first I was hearing about a sandcastle building competition!
My parents flew out and we joined them for the weekend so we could check out the Sandsations event in Long Beach, Washington. Brian picked me up after work and we headed southwest. Traffic was terrible and it took us an extra hour to get there, but when we did, we were welcomed by my parents and a cute condo on what I would in fact describe as a sandy beach!
It’s not easy to see in the pictures, but there was a trail behind our condo that meandered through the grassy embankment to a staircase that led up to the boardwalk. From there, you could travel in either direction along the beach and occasionally find an access point out to the beach itself. As you can see, there were a few others who enjoyed wandering through the grassy areas in between the beach and the condo as well!
After a busy morning checking out some of the hikes and history of the surrounding area, we headed out to the boardwalk ourselves and joined the throngs of people making their way down to the area where they were hosting the sandcastle building competition.
The boardwalk terminated where a road from town led straight into the sand. There were tons of people walking to and from town for the event, and the paved area was full of places to grab food or drinks, enjoy live music, or watch the professional sandcastle builders working on their art.
We stopped to watch one couple for a little while–they were working on an exhibit called Sophisticated Fox–before heading out to the beach to see the sculptures from the competition.
As it turned out, the day had been warmer than expected and a number of the sculptures were beginning to dry out and crumble! We were a little disappointed–although we weren’t there to watch the competition portion of the event, all of the event materials promoted the ability to come at any point during the day to see the final creations.
We were well within the event time frame but apparently we should have been there earlier to see them in their prime! Some were completely crumbled to the point where you couldn’t really make out what they were supposed to be, while others were just beginning to crumble. Thankfully there were a few that seemed to be completely together so we could get a sense for what they looked like earlier in the day.
The other slight disappointment was that we somehow missed in the materials that this was an amateur contest. After seeing the professional activity out on the walkway, I think we had slightly higher expectations of what we were going to see on the beach.
The good news was that once I wrapped my mind around the fact that these were all novice sculpters, I actually had a greater appreciation for their creations and was pretty impressed! Some of the concepts were really creative, and some of the execution seemed fairly professional and well done to me!
We walked along the beach to see all of the entries, navigating the other people who were there for both the competition and to enjoy the beach. There were families swimming, people working on their tan, and others who were wrapping up their day and heading back to town. The weather had cleared up that afternoon and the sun was still warm and shining, but it seemed a little chilly to me for so many people to have actually spent the day on the beach!
I couldn’t gather whether people were assigned a category or if their creations were entirely of their own creative doing, but there were several that depicted famous board and video games.
My favorites in that category were the sculptures of the Game of Life, Pac-Man, and Hungry, Hungry Hippos! They were still in pretty good shape, and the Game of Life in particular was well done.
Probably my favorite sculpture of all was one dedicated to the new Seven Wonders of the World! What an awesome idea! I quickly figured out the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Taj Majal, the Roman Colosseum and the Great Wall of China, but I couldn’t figure out the other three.
Only one of the three I couldn’t discern is visible in my picture below–the Chichen Itza in Mexico. Once I looked them up, I could make out the Treasury from Petra, Jordan on the other side of the pyramid.
Apparently the pyramid is actually considered among the ancient wonders of the world and isn’t one of the new wonders of the world. The two missing are Machu Picchu and the Christ the Redeemer statue–I couldn’t make out either in this sculpture so they probably hadn’t withstood the heat of the day and had crumbled before our arrival.
It turns out the Sandsations sandcastle building championship is an annual event and includes the competition as well as free sand sculpting lessons and the opportunity to view multiple masters at work. We only experienced one afternoon of this weekend-long event, but if you’re looking for an excuse to hit the beach, you might consider timing your trip around this annual activity!
After we had walked up and down the beach, checking out every sculpture along the way, we followed the walkway into town, which was bustling with people as well. My parents had explored a little the evening before when they grabbed dinner so we did a quick loop to check out some of the shops and restaurants before landing on a place to eat.
After dinner we made our way back toward the walkway with the intention of taking the boardwalk back to our condo. Along the way we passed Scoopers Market, which claimed to have the best and widest selection of ice cream in Long Beach. While I can’t verify the claim, I can attest to the fact that they had a TON of selections! You went through the line, ordered and paid, and then walked along the wall of ice cream picking out your flavors. We all grabbed some to go and had a delicious walk back to our condo–the perfect ending to our afternoon at the beach!