Kites are a common sight on the beaches of Southwestern Washington. I remember staying at Ocean Shores with family many years ago and being fascinated by the stunt kites being flown in the mornings and later afternoons almost every day.
Get Inspired To Go Fly a Kite!
Most of us remember flying a single string kite of some kind when we were kids; begging Mom and Dad to buy a brightly colored bit of plastic or nylon that would take to the skies with the aid of some light pieces of wood and a ball of cotton string.
Good times to be had, but mostly it was fun to make Dad run back and forth trying to get the kite off the ground before we lost interest.
Stunt Kites – A Step Up
Stunt kites are a different matter; they are exciting for grownups. Using two or four lines of string, stunt kites can be turned to catch the wind at different angles. The result is a kite that roars through the air like a airplane on a string, except it won’t catch fire when you inevitably learn about the kite-ground interface.
My trip to Ocean Shores that year ended with a selection of two-string stunt kites in the trunk when we headed home. You can find these amazing kites in the air on the beaches up and down the coast, but mostly in Ocean Shores and Long Beach.
A Bit Of Kite History…
So just how did kites get started? Who first had the idea to fasten some cloth across some sticks and then tie a length of string to the contraption? What are the biggest kites? The smallest? Are kites good for anything besides making Dad tired on the beach?
Glad you asked.
The answers to these and other interesting questions can be found at the World Kite Museum, along with examples of kites from many cultures and periods of history.
The Kite Museum in Long Beach
The museum is worth the drive to Long Beach, and actually, the drive is worth it on its own: you’ll be seeing some of the most beautiful coastal areas of Southwestern Washington from rolling hills blanketed in evergreens to water views across coves and bays.
Long Beach is a vibrant coastal town all year long, with a great variety of restaurants and shops to visit. Plan to spend a few hours at the World Kite Museum, as there is a lot to see and do. If you have kids with you, there are opportunities to get hands on with some crafts.
When I visited, there were tables set up where you could make your own single string kite and another table where you could learn origami.
So what are the answers to some of those questions about kites?
The origin of kites is still somewhat of a mystery, but it is believed that the first kite was flown in China more than a thousand years ago.
The smallest kite at the museum is the size of a fingernail. The largest is a “bomber” kite from Japan that is used in their famous kite battles, which measures about ten feet high and eight feet across. And then there is the very large and interesting Chinese-style dragon kite that was around forty feet in length.
As for the usefulness of kites, there is a room dedicated to the kites of the World Wars, including examples of the kites that could carry a person aloft to observe enemy movements, and other kites that were used for target practice. Another exhibit provides examples of the wind-driven carts that race up and down the beaches at certain times of year, and of course kite surfing.
More Info on The Kite Museum:
So if you find yourself in Long Beach, or are looking for a great reason to visit, be sure to check out the World Kite Museum. You can find them at 303 Sid Snyder Drive, Long Beach WA 98631, or on the web at http://www.worldkitemuseum.com.