Monthly Archives: July 2018

Sandy Beaches – 26 July 2018

For our final day of adventure, we were up at 7:00 to enjoy our yogurt in the room and pack all our belongings.  Once the car was packed, we headed directly for Dungeness Spit. A refreshing walk through tall forest trees led us down the bluff to the sandy shores of the spit – a narrow bar of sand that winds 11 miles out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It’s only yards wide, but beautiful on both sides. The morning was lovely; sunny skies; not too hot yet; no wind; few visitors; deep blue waters; gentle waves and cooling, soft breezes. A tiny bit of haze still surrounded the shores of B.C. in the distance, but the fog from the previous days was totally gone.

Taking my trusty Makah walking stick, I walked out along the spit for one and a half miles before turning back to the trail up the bluff. There is something so primal about the beach for me. The mountains may have been calling John Muir, and I can hear that, too, but it is the beach that calls to me and I must go! The sound of the waves, the patterns of the sand and rocks; the wildness of the landscape all lure me to the center and the sacred. I could stay on the beach forever.

But, there is a time to go. We walked back up through the forest and found the car again. Next stop: a local lavender farm where I picked some fragrant lavender that is so prevalent in this area. The farm was stunningly beautiful with all their flowers blooming and being harvested. I cut a handful to take back with me and the soothing aroma filled the car for our ride home.

One last pass through the little community of Sequim and we decided to stop for a late lunch at the Oak Table Cafe again, only for lunch this time. It was superb. My driver ordered the apple pancake he didn’t get yesterday for breakfast and I had the best bacon cheeseburger I think I’ve ever had.

Before getting back in the car for the ride home, we strolled through town and visited some of the little shops. My driver found some coffee and I enjoyed the many lavender shops with their lavender products for sale. As the day continued to heat up, we decided to move on. One last stop at the local Costco for a few groceries to have upon arriving home and we were set to go. But, wait, there’s more. Passing by Home Depot we stopped to purchase two lavender plants for our front yard. Why not get them from their home territory?

The ferry wait at Kingston was over an hour and the sun beating on the parking lot roasted the cars and everyone in them! The views were beautiful, though. We waited. What else could we do?  We got on the 5:30 ferry and I stood out on the front of the car deck to take advantage of the natural air conditioning. It was amazingly exhilarating. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been on a ferry where we could hardly get out of the car without freezing. This was quite a change from those experiences.

There was haze in the air, obstructing any views of Mt. Rainier, but the time on the water was still a joy. We docked at 6:15 and made our way through the evening traffic to arrive home. We were completely spent, but in a good and satisfying way. The days away, the hikes, the views, the food, and each location seemed made to order just for us. How could it be anything but grace?

Mountain Heights – July 25, 2018

After our full day yesterday we began this morning slowly and took ourselves out to breakfast at the Oak Table Cafe in Sequim. It was exceptional and we enjoyed it immensely. A short walk through town after breakfast preceded our drive up to Hurricane Ridge. Once again, the day was bright and beautiful and this time we escaped to the mountain heights above Sequim and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Our destination was only one hour away, but it seemed longer because of road work and delays along the route to the Ridge Visitor Center.

As we advanced in elevation we began to see mountain flowers among the green brilliance of the trees as thick as grass. At the top (5,242 feet!) we visited the Visitor Center, watched the informative movie about features in the park and made our decision as to where we would like to hike. I wanted to see the meadow and the wild flowers, but it seems we were too late. Since the last two weeks have been both sunny and hot, without a hint of moisture, only remnants of wild flowers remained. That fact, however, did little to mar the beauty of the spot.

We hiked the Big Meadow trail; the Cirque Rim trail; and the High Ridge Loop. The last trail was a bit of a challenge for these visitors who both are a bit adverse to heights. Once again, our trusty Makah walking sticks were welcome companions and may have actually saved our lives. I had to curtail my photo pursuits because if I didn’t I’d still be up on one of the trails. It was more than beautiful – vistas where we could see in every direction – majestic peaks; snow and glaciers; trees and valleys, as well as butterflies, bees and many deer. At one point we could see Victoria B.C. across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, as well as some of the San Juan Islands. To the South we could see the snow capped line of peaks that make up the Olympic Mountain Range with all their corresponding valleys and ridges. We were breathless – not only from the demanding inclines of our hikes, but from the spectacular views. The air was clear; skies blue; snow white; trees emerald green; and fellow hikers friendly and companionable. We felt we were at the top of the world.

To send us on our way, a local deer, who had been in the meadow, walked into the parking lot to wish us well. We were so grateful he was willing to share his beautiful home with us for the day.

We came down the mountain and found ourselves famished. Well, it was 5:00. We pulled off the road to select a dinner destination only to realize we were parked right outside one of the areas “Best Restaurants.” So, we went into Tendy’s Garden Chinese Restaurant and were not disappointed. Chicken chow mein and Mu Shu Pork filled us with fresh and tasty flavors as it nourished and delighted us. What a happy occurrence. Grace had guided us to this spot after treating us to the wonders of nature on the mountains.

An after dinner walk through Sequim’s brand new air conditioned Michael’s store completed the day. What a happy, restful, renewing, spontaneous getaway this has been and all of it only 40 miles from home.

Why don’t we do this more often?

Hard to Imagine – July 24, 2018

It is hard to imagine how we could have had a more beautiful day than yesterday, but if there was one to be had, this was it.

After a quick yogurt in our room, we left early and were on the road by 8:30. But, we did have to stop for some coffee for my driver. Not a problem. The plan was to go to the Hoh Rain Forest in the Olympic National Park, then out to Cape Flattery, the most Northern and Western point in the contiguous United States; returning to Sequim by dinner time.

Last evening’s marine fog still lay over the water like a fluffy, billowy quilt that was being pushed slowly back by the increasing heat of the mid-morning sun. The entire drive was one into extreme wilderness on a winding, two-lane road with little other traffic. About half way to our turn off to the Hoh, we decided to bypass it in favor of going straight to Cape Flattery first, returning past Forks and then on to the Hoh.

Along the drive, we marveled at the extreme blue of the strait waters – usually only ever seen as grey. The skies were just as blue and clear above the fog layer that was dissipating. In the distance we saw the peaks from Vancouver Island, B.C. and along the way, a bald eagle sunning himself on a coastal rock. As we pulled the car to the shoulder so I could snap a picture, he decided he didn’t necessarily want any company and moved stealthily behind the big rock.

We arrived in Neah Bay on the Makah Reservation about 12:30, badly in need of a comfort stop. The beautiful Makah Museum offered us not only comfort, but a lovely tribute to the culture of the people who first inhabited these shores. I especially enjoyed the exquisite detail of the dioramas of their early settlements. Unfortunately, they do not allow photography. You must go and see it for yourself. I highly recommend it.

Before we had arrived at the museum, because we were so badly in need of comfort, we had all but decided to skip the trip to Cape Flattery and go on to the Hoh without seeing the edge of the world at the Cape. But, once we felt better and were nourished by the wonderful information of the museum exhibits, we were in a much better mood to be influenced by the cheerful docent at the museum desk.  She encouraged us to make the hike out to the Cape; it was only a mile; it was only a 200 foot change in elevation; it would only take about 15 minutes down and 20 minutes back up; it was a well groomed trail with resting benches and boardwalks; and the day was relatively clear so views should be abundant. Well, yes, how could we refuse? We changed our plans again and decided to go for the hike out to Cape Flattery as originally planned.

And we are so glad we did. We stopped at the trail head and picked up a hefty walking stick adorned with beads and feathers and set out down the trail. The tall quiet majestic trees comforted us; silence enveloped us; coolness and fog swirled around us; and we picked our way carefully farther and farther into the dense forest. The walking stick turned out to be an essential aid and without it I may never have made it to the end of the trail, much less made the return trip! When we reached the Cape, we could hear the rush of the waves beneath us; see the fog dancing around the rocks before us; and the expanse of the Pacific Ocean beyond us, and we stopped in stunned appreciation. Fellow hikers from all over the world who were basking in the beauty of the spot were respectful, yet genial and friendly, sharing amazement and stories. This vista; this beauty; this trek through the forest had reminded us we are all family and we shared our joy.

Returning to the car after the hike back up, I knew I would not be able to part with the trusty hiking stick I had picked up at the trail head. Gratefully, we found a box where donations were accepted if we wanted to take our sticks with us. Well, we both certainly did. They will remain mementos of our hike to the “end of the world.” Well, no, not the end of the world. As the curator at the museum had told us, the Makah call it “The beginning of the world.” These sticks will be mementos of our hike to “The beginning of the world.” What a turn of perspective!

Stopping back in Neah Bay, we had hoped to find a deli sandwich at Washburn’s General Store, however, there were none to be had. So, we decided to move on to Forks, a somewhat larger community, to find some lunch. But, before we left I couldn’t help but ask if I could take a picture of an artist refurbishing the totem pole outside the store. He graciously granted permission and I have this lovely memory, too.

Getting back in the car, we survived on peanuts and dried fruit while deciding to skip the Hoh Rain Forest entirely; skip Forks; and take the more scenic route along the shores of Lake Crescent. We kept looking ahead on the phone to see if we could find a lunch spot – well, by now an early dinner spot – but the wireless service was so spotty it was impossible. So, we did it the old fashioned way. When we saw the large sign that said “Hungry Bear Cafe” we pulled right in. We felt as hungry as bears, that was for sure.  The food was nothing exceptional, but it was nourishing and hot and much better than nothing. We were grateful.

Now, on to drive the south shore of the lake while the sun was setting. We found our way back to our room in Sequim by 7:30 – eleven hours from when we had left – and settled in with the lovely memories of our very eventful and energizing day.

Grace is everywhere, and can not only be seen and felt, but also touched, smelled, tasted, and heard. This day was a testament to grace in all its forms. Hard to imagine anything more beautiful.

A short Getaway

With great delight, we threw a couple of things in the car and set out for the ferry. In these extra hot days of summer we decided to escape to the coast and the mountains. Where else is there with such opportunity? Only on the Olympic Peninsula!

We rode the 12:10 ferry Puyallup to great gusts of ocean breezes; crossed the Hood Canal Bridge and found our way to the Coyote BBQ & Grill in Port Angeles. It was delightfully tasty & filling – exactly what we needed to journey on.

We found our way to the Olympic National Park visitor center where we oriented ouselves and made the decision to avoid the traffic on the way to Hurricane Ridge due to road work for five miles along the route. So we made the choice to find a little state park, Cline Spit, along the coastline near Dungeness Spit. It was windy,  chilly and wild as the tide came in close to our feet. Seagulls clamored to be the first to capture some expossed crab. A local gentleman put his trap out to capture some smelt for dinner. I felt very close to nature; very close to God.

From the park, we drove along the cliff above the waves and backtracked to the Sequim Bay Lodge to find  our accommodations.

We wanted to catch the news. It was only last night we learned Archbishop Hunthausen had died. We felt we were remembering him today with appropriate honor as he was not only a great and holy man, but a great lover of nature and the graces of the natural world.

It was a beautiful getaway.