Westport is a song inspired by a Washington surf spot west of Olympia. I used to drive from Bellingham and sleep in the bed of my pickup truck that I parked on the beach. Once, the truck got stuck and we needed to head back that night. We tried everything to get the truck out of the sand but ended up needing to call a tow truck. About an hour later, we saw headlights bobbing through the misty, windy darkness. We waived down the rickety tow truck and out stumbled the wiry, mustached driver in a tank top with cigarette hanging out of mouth. It didn’t take us long to see that this guy had been drinking – a lot -before we called him. My friend said the T.V. was blaring on the other end of the line when he called. I imagined one of the many single-wide trailers, ash tray, cheap food and beer. We didn’t have far to drive with him before we made it to the road and got out of dodge for the night, but not forever.
Westport is dark, often shrouded in cold coastal fog, with some of the heaviest rainfall in the state. The wind often whips off of the coast at high speeds. Once a fishing industry town, much of the commerce has gone belly up, leaving the flickering fluorescent lights in bar windows and drunken tales of a life at sea. Surfers drive in from all around, drink a lot, camp, and leave. A few stay and work at the grocery store. There was a time when I wanted to do just that in order to dedicate more time to surfing. The town is run down in a haunted kind of way and the signs of vice are evident in gas stations and defunct businesses now abandoned.
I remember catching my first lengthy ride at the Westport jetty as the sun was sinking and it was rapidly becoming dark. My friend Edwin was paddling out and got to see it. I was riding a 70’s Owl board that had belonged to my dad. I remember the camp fire, shivering as I got out of my wetsuit, and smoking a pipe on the beach after surfing. There was also an incredible sunset right before I caught the wave.
Westport holds a place in my heart. It is a surf ghost town. I think I will continue to be drawn to it for the rest of my life. These are a few of the stories and images behind the song.