I took a day off a few weeks ago to head down to Ocean Shores for the opening of Razor Clamming season. Last year was a lot of fun, so we recruited my mother and my sister to come with us this year. Tenille’s big requirement this year was that our housing include Internet service, because last year, there was a lot of downtime, and we watched a lot of movies between low tides…
We rented a condo called Anchors Ashore, which was great. It had 2 bedrooms. It was new. Had a great kitchen. They had a TV, DVD player, and some movies. And, of course, they had Internet. In some ways, I somewhat regret the Internet connection, because it would have forced us to do more creative things with my mom and sister (play games, explore the town, etc)… Next year, we’ll see how many people are coming, and use our judgment on this aspect of the trip.
Day 1: After a few stops, we ended up leaving our house about 1:30pm. There were a few major traffic jams on I-5, which ate up almost an hour, and we ended up pulling into the condo about 5pm. Low tide was 5:40, so we hustled to get everyone ready in their clamming gear and headed toward the beach. On the way out to the car, we met some folks that were just returning, and they had apparently caught their limit. It was raining pretty good, and so I was prepared for a bit of a rough time. When we got out to the beach, I would classify the precipitation as no less than a torrential downpour. To make it worse, the wind was almost unbearable. You could see the rain streaking sideways, and if you’re looking the wrong way, it was like looking straight into a hose. All this rain caused a sheet of water on the sand. Typically to find clam, you need to find a little hole or a divot where the clam is digging. With this excess of water, all the holes and divots were getting washed away. There were no clam divots. I saw Caleb and Tenille in full rain gear starting to walk towards us. When I looked up again, they were walking back toward the van. Apparently a few minutes was enough in these conditions. My sister was out there for about 15 minutes with me. The water had soaked through to her feet by about the 2nd minute and she expressed some dismay at walking around in wet socks and boots. She was quite a good sport considering how miserable it was out there… My mother, ever the wise one, opted to stay in the van and watch Andrew, our baby. That left me, the lone clammer, out on the beach with other loser clammers that got to the beach too late, desperately looking for a clam hole. After another 15 minutes of aimless wandering, I noticed a few people that were on a sand island. I crossed the channel which came up my mid-thigh and the surge of the current was a bit frightening. I wore my waders again this year, which was great for this kind of thing, but was also thinking that it’s probably allowing me to do things I shouldn’t… Luckily, I didn’t get swept out to sea, and made it to the island. During a 2 minute break when the rain slowed down, I found a divot and started digging. I got on my hands and knees and dug up the sand as fast as I could. Victory at last! One clam! The rain started pouring again. No divots. After another 15 minutes, I gave up and came back to the van, a bit disappointed. It ends up that the cops had visited the van while I was out. They asked my family if they had clamming licenses. When they all produced licenses, they gave the limit of clam to each of them. Apparently, they had confiscated some clams from illegal diggers. Ended up that they got 45 clams just sitting in the van… Add my one clam, and the daily haul was 46 clams!
We got back to our condo and cleaned them all up, and fried up a plateful of clams. Tenille and the kids didn’t like them and opted for something else, but the rest of us finished off the plate. I can somewhat understand. Razor clams are enormous, and when you fry them up without cutting them into bite size pieces, they look grotesquely big. Nevertheless, they were delicious.
Day 2: We spent a lazy morning watching some TV, playing on the computer and bumming around the house. We made some clam chowder for lunch which was quite good. It was basically cream, bacon, and some clams… Tenille ate the chowder, but picked out most of the clams.
In the afternoon, we went driving around Ocean Shores to kill time before clamming. We were afraid that it was going to be another rainy day. And my fear was that my sister and my mom who have never been razor clamming would go home without having experienced the thrill of the dig… But when we stopped at the grocery store in the afternoon, the sun started poking out. By the time we got home, the sun was blazing and it was even a bit hot inside the condo. We excitedly got all our gear on and got the kids ready, then headed for the beach. There were clumps of people all up and down the beach, and we found a little section that didn’t seem to be too crowded. Later, we found out that the reason it wasn’t occupied was because there weren’t very many clams. Tip for next year: Just go where all the people are digging- they’re there for a reason… Once we started walking down the beach and got to an area where a lot of folks were digging, we saw divots everywhere… Sometimes there were 3 or 4 clumped super close together. And under almost every divot was a razor clam. After I dug up a couple clams, my sister rolled up her sleeve on her hot pink jacket and wanted to give it a try. I used the shovel to dig down about 6 inches, then let her start digging with her hands. You don’t want to dig too deep with the shovel, because it will cut off pieces of the clam or sometimes bust the clam. On the first dig, she felt the clam and tried to wrestle it up from the sand. But alas, the clam was too strong and she didn’t dig enough around the clam, and had to let it go. By this time, Tenille started rolling up her sleeve and gave it a try. She never dug for a clam last year, because she was watching the kids. This year, Tenille got a clam on her first try, and became a clam digging machine. My sister also after a few tries developed her clam digging technique and within an hour, we had caught our limit – 45 clams!
When we got back to the van, we found mom and Andrew eagerly waiting. Mom was impressed at how quickly we had caught our clams. We went back to the condo, dropped off the clams, and went to Alec’s for dinner. There might be other semi-nice restaurants in Ocean Shores, but it seems we always end up here. The food is decent, and everyone had their fill. After returning to the condo, my mom and I cleaned all the clams (which took longer than digging them), and put them in some water in ziploc bags and froze them. A guy at the Ocean Shores supermarket told us to preserve them this way last year.
Sunday morning, we packed up our things and headed back to our home. Another successful clamming trip. Razor Clams are delicious. They are sometimes referred to as the filet mignon of clam. If you want to try some, there are cheaper and easier ways to try them (like a restaurant or Uwajimaya supermarket). But, you’ll miss out on the thrill of the dig…