Archive for December, 2011

Vancouver, B.C., Canada – day 1

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Sunday, today, we were up early.  We’d decided to take off north towards Canada early and Chris needed to be at work at 8:30 AM so we gave him a ride in and then took off from there at Green Lake.

The ride north on Interstate 5 was, like all rides on U.S. Interstates, fast efficient and rather boring.   

We drove up past Everett and onto Marysville where we stopped at the huge Tulalip Premium Outlets area just beside their casino and hotel.   It was a 40 minutes before the shops opened at 10 AM so we found our way to the Starbucks in the complex which was open and set ourselves up with coffees and our small computers at a table.  This is something we’ve done once or twice daily for these last 30+ days as we’ve travelled.   The free WiFi that Starbucks offers is of huge benefit to travelers. 

The stores opened after a bit and we shopped for an hour or so.   Colette noted a few things she’d like to get but her shopping style is to look at things, go off and think about it all for a day or two and then make the buy, if she’s still motivated.    I’m much more an impulse buyer when I’m shopping (which I don’t do much of) and I swooped on a Body Armor jacket that I liked for $54 and carried it away with me.

Back on the road north.   The weather alternating between rain, mist, overcast and bursts of sunlight.  The temperature down near freezing.    Pretty country.   I’ve always liked this lost little corner of the U.S. between Seattle and the Canadian border.   I was telling Colette that Bellingham is a really nice city up there that most Americans outside of Washington State probably don’t know exists.

We stopped in Bellingham at an “Applebees” Restaurant.   I wanted to show Colette what a U.S. corporate restaurant chain store looked like.

In fact, it was a good experience once we got past the fact that Colette and our waiter couldn’t seem to understand each other over the barrier of her accent which caused some good laughter.   We each had a chicken something with low calories and were both well satisfied with our meals.

And away again, up the road ever northward.  Finally we came to the border crossing and drove up.   I passed our passports over and moments later, after a few perfunctory questions, we were over the border and into a new country.   

Colette laughed as she’d had on a cap and dark glasses and said nothings during the questions.  She could have been anyone sitting next to me at the border station.   Quite a different experience entering Canada than it is from entering the USA.

We had a bit of an adventure finding the Days Inn on  but we did and got settled in.  It’s not a great place and, if we had it all to do again, I think I’d opt for someplace else but it’s functional.   And the rates aren’t bad.

Then we decided to to take the car into the downtown area and do an initial exploration.   It’s been 30 years since I’ve been here other than for a quick pass through and it amazes me how much the city has grown and changed.

We drove Broadway, where I used to work very near for two years, and I could hardly recognize anything.  All the old Victorian homes have given way to three and four story apartment and condominium complexes.

Memory is an interesting thing, though.    After we roamed a bit, the layout of the city and many other memories began to come back to me.   It was like the pieces of a long lost puzzle slowly restoring themselves into a pattern.

We crossed the False Creek inlet over into the central downtown and the West End area by crossing on a bridge over Granville Island and then rooted around downtown until I got on the correct road to cross the Lion’s Gate Bridge into North Vancouver and up and over it we went then.   Now, we drove east exploring and got as far as the Lonsdale Quay area.  We also went uphill trying to get a nice view of the city from the north shore but we didn’t have much luck with that.

 Finally, we were hungry so I stopped at a shopping area with a nice bookstore and some restaurants nearby and we settled on one.   We sat at the bar and I had a beer and some Calamari and Colette had a bottled water and a wrap of some sort.   It was nice and I enjoyed it.

But, when we got ready to leave, the bar fellow forgot (?) to bring me my credit card back.   It felt suspicious to me the way it went down.   I had to wait several minutes before I could ask him for it back and I didn’t like the vibe I got from him when I did – like he knew he’d not given it back and was waiting to see if I’d notice.   All just impressions, I know, and it could have ben an honest mistake – but I didn’t think so.  

So, on the way out, I had a waitress point out to me who the manager was and told him what had happened as a ‘heads up’ and suggested he should watch and see if there’s pattern here with folks losing their cards.

Losing a card like this can be bad news.   It may be hours or even days before you notice and you may be unsure where you left it.   We’ve all had that experience.   In the meantime, the fellows off buying whatever he can anonymously and tosses the card after a day or so.  Bad news.

We drove home and got in after another most excellent day.   Tomorrow, we’re going to ditch the car and go see the city using their transport system.


Bothell, Washington – day 4

Sunday, December 11th, 2011

On our last full day at Chris and Nikki’s place, they both had to work so we took off for a day of entertaining ourselves.

We took the car down to Green Lake again and parked it behind Duke’s where Chris works and took off for the full walk around the lake which we’d missed previously.   Green Lake is such a pretty place.   The entire walk is a great pleasure.   We took a small side trip when we got near the portion where the older buildings beside the lake sit.   The old downtown, you might call it except it’s too small for that, really.   I noted a Masonic Hall upstairs in one building and we discussed how, now that I’ve read Dan Brown’s latest book, “The Lost Symbol”, I am seeing Masonic Lodges everywhere we go.

Dan Brown’s book was excellent and has provoked a lot of discussion among myself, Colette and other friends and relations.

I wish the power that Brown assigns to the Masons in D.C. was as he describes because, if the Masons are as far-sighted and idealistic as he suggests then it’s unlikely that Washington, D.C. and the U.S. in general would be in the bad shape they are now.   

I have no doubt that they had a tremendous influence on the birth of the U.S. and in much that happened afterwards but the U.S. and its finances and politics have gone badly astray since then and if the Masons were as powerful and benign as Brown’s suggests, then I doubt that could have happened.  Ergo, their influence is not now nearly as much as he suggests.

After the walk around the lake, we dropped into Duke’s again and had their most excellent clam chowder.   Yum and yum!

Then we took off for the Capital Hill neighborhood to find a big art supplies store, Blicks, that Colette wanted to have a look at.   I liked the idea because Capital Hill is a fun place to walk and look at any time.  We found the store and parked and walked to it.   Colette was going to be awhile looking around and there was an Occupy Wall Street (OWS) encampment just across the street and I decided to go and have a look and take a few photos.

Imagine my amazement when, 10 seconds after I arrived, I saw an old friend of mine standing just a few feet from the stage on which an orator was talking to the small crowd.  

It was Michael Douglas whom I’ve known since the late 90’s when we were both members of Michael Torresan’s Group Four.   Michael T. teaches what is called the Diamond Heart Method ( which is based on the work of A.H. Almaas ( and both Michael D. and I spend nearly four years absorbing this teaching from Michael T.

Michael is a pastor of the Sufi Faith and was volunteering his time as well as participating in the OWS movement.   He and I talked for about 20 minutes and he told me about the police tactics and about how he and his wife, along with many other people, had been pepper sprayed by the police twice so far.

He told me that the police herd the non-violent protestors and push and harass them until someone shows resistance and then they use that as an excuse to pepper spray everyone.   I’ve know him for many years and trust his honesty so I believe he’s telling me the truth.   Interesting stuff.

Colette came over from the Art Supplies place and I introduced her to Michael and then we took off down to the the old downtown areas of Seattle.   I’m talking about Pioneer Square here.   We got down there and made several passes back and forth up and down the waterfront along the piers and beside Pike Place Market and then parked a block from Pioneer Square.

Colette checked out a dress shop and I walked the square and took photos.   Then we had a beer and a mineral water in a small place and, as it was now getting dark, we took off back to Chris and Nikki’s in Bothell.   Along the way, we popped into a Safeway and got some General Tso’s Chicken and some Chop Suey for supper.

Back to C & N’s place, we turned the TV on and watched two episodes of Wild China and then Nikki came home and then, and hour or two later, Chris arrived.

Chris and I stayed up until midnight talking as we often do when we’re together and then finally turned in.

Tomorrow, we’re off to Canada and the Great White North, eh?   If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you’re a hoser, eh  (smile)


Ps something fun I saw on a sign in a shop a few days ago:

“Put on your big girl panties and get over it.”  

Wow, I really laughed when I saw that.   And no, this has nothing to do with Colette who is an absolute model of sanity.

Bothell, Washington – day 3

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

Nice day, indeed, today.   Up with Colette and out for coffee.   Nikki’s gone to school and Chris is sleeping in.

Then back, Chris is up and we make plans to take off into Seattle before we need to deliver him to his work at Duke’s on Green Lake when he goes on shift as manager there.

We drive into Seattle.   This time, we so south on the 405 until we hit the I90 and take it west.   I wanted to take Colette over the other bridge that crosses Lake Washington.   Nice.   Across Mercer Island, through the tunnels and then into Seattle, proper.   A quick jaunt south on the 5 and then we’re going west again over the bridge into West Seattle and the Alki area where we are bound.

Once we’re into West Seattle, some amazing views of downtown Seattle presented themselves.  We stopped and shot some pictures and then continued around the peninsula into the Alki Beach area.   What a nice area.   It looks out onto Puget sound and various islands and the far shore with Kingston.   Lots of beautiful apartment buildings and not at all far from downtown Seattle with the bus system.

After we roamed round and explored a bit, we came back over into the main area of Seattle and drove north to Green Lake where we all had lunch in the Duke’s that Chris works in.    I’ve been there before and it is a neat place.   Chris told us a good deal about Duke’s philosophy of how restaurants should be run and it’s inspiring that folks still think like that.

After lunch, we left Chris and walked part way around Green Lake.   It would have been nice to do the whole round but it was getting too late and cool and time was pressing us to get on out to Monroe where we were to meet friends at Sockeyes.

I had hopes that Colette was finally going to see Monroe in the sunlight without the deep fog cover that’s been laying over it since we arrived.   But, as we approached the Snohomish River, a huge fog bank reared up and it was obvious that the town was still blanketed.

No matter.   We pressed on and parked ourselves at my favorite Starbucks for a coffee and some necessary tasks.   The coffee was welcome.   I called Budget car rental to see if I could get the rental contracts for our car sorted out.   But, alas, it wasn’t to be so.   I need to wait another two days until we are definitively into the second contract’s period before they will FAX us a copy of the 2nd contract and before I can prove that the 1st contract has been terminated (at less than 45 days).

After Starbucks, we drove to the other end of Monroe in the deep fog to Sockeye’s Restaurant over by Lake Tye.

Lot’s of good friends were waiting there for us and it was an excellent occasion.

Dave and Sally, Hiller, and Larry and Candice all came down to visit with us.   Beer, snacks and good conversation was the order of the evening.   Local politics, Hiller’s new job in Astoria, New Zealand and Christchurch’s earthquakes were just a few of the many topics that flowed.

About 7 pm, we took off back to Bothell and cleared the fog before we passed Echo Lake on the 522.   At Chris and Nikki’s place, Chris was still working (until late tonight) and Nikki was home.   She’s made some nice pasta and I had a bit and we all visited.

Another fine day with good friends.   I feel very lucky about all that is happening and to have such fine and supportive friends. I’ve been gone from Monroe living in New Zealand for two years now and when I return, it feels just as close and warm as it did back when. Truly nice.


Bothell, Washington – day 2

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

We went out to breakfast and coffee this morning quietly so Chris and Nikki could sleep in. We went over to Top Foods Market in Woodinville and sat and ate and played on on computers in their WiFi.

Then we came back and everyone organized themselves for a day trip adventure.   But, there were other things to be done as well and these included putting Sammy the dog somewhere where he’d be watched and safe and getting Nikki’s car over to her dad’s place since there seems to be a problem with its clutch. 

So, we all went over to Mike’s place, Nikki’s Dad, and visited the folks who were there for awhile.   I really find Mike a likable guy.  I knew this when I met him the first time a few years ago.

From there, Nikki, Chris, Colette and I went into Seattle via Like City Way which goes around the north end of Lake Washington on city streets.   It’s a drive and route I’ve always loved though it’s changed a fair amount over the years.

We went to Niiki’s workplace on Lake Union and went in and chatted with folks for a bit.   Colette and I went outside and shot photos and looked around.

We left the car there in the lot because it is cheaper and easier than trying to park downtown and we took the tram into the city center.   It dropped us near the WestLake Center and from there we walked down to Pike Place Market which is a Seattle Classic.

It’s where they throw the fish among other things.   We also walked down Post Alley which in interesting.   Pike Place has been where it is for 100 years and has grown and morphed many ways in that time.   It’s easy to see this as the shops and levels lead haphazardly from one place to the next like a huge three dimensional maze.   We had lunch in a place that looked out over Puget Sound where we could watch the ferries come and go.   Colette and I had crab sandwiches which were great.

When it was getting into late afternoon, we walked six or eight blocks back over to the Seattle Center where the Space Needle is and had a look around there.   This is a place where I brought Chris many times when he was a boy when we were off on Father / Son outings.

Then we caught the same trolly back to Nikki’s workplace, Duke’s, at Lake Union and then drove home.

To top a nice day off, Nikki made us all a nice Salmon supper.  Yum    She’s a sweetie and I am very happy that she and Chris are together.


Bothell, Washington – day 1

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

We went for our last Monroe Starbuck’s visit this morning after saying good by to Larry and Candice at their place.  We sat and talked to folks at Stabucks until about 8:30 AM and then we took off for Chris and Nikki’s place.

Except that it was way to early to arrive so I took Colette on a loop ride down the 425, over the 520 floating bridge into Seattle and then up the 5 and back east on the 522 to the 522 and 425 where we started.

At that point, we  went to Chris and Nikki’s place.   Nikki was at school and Chris was out walking their dog, Sammy, so we let ourselves in and made ourselves at home and played on our computers.

Chris came home and we watched movies on TV.   Two episodes of “Wild China” and “Vicky Christina Barcelona”.   The latter was a definite ‘chick flick’ though I have to say I enjoyed it.   Not sure I could do a steady diet of such though.

Nikki had started a crock pot of good stuff before she’d taken off for school and when she came home, we all enjoyed it.

It’s nice here at Chris & Nikki’s.   They really make us feel at home and welcomed.   They even gave us their bedroom over our protests and they slept on a couch and a blow up bed. If their bed wasn’t so comfortable, I’d have felt guilty.   But the bed was too nice to allow any of that (smile).


Monroe, Washington – day 3

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Up again at Larry and Candice’s for coffee at Starbucks.   Went in and had another great gathering of folks. 

Joel S. was there and after all the regulars left, he joined Colette and I at the Pattie’s Egg Nest place a few doors down for breakfast.   Always good to talk to Joel.   I meet few people with such an intense desire to be a good person.   And he walks his talk as well.

After breakfast, Colette and I returned to Starbucks to sit and use their free Internet and to catch up on our E-Mail and Blogs.

We then took off to the other side of Monroe to drop in on my friend, Van.   It was a come without calling visit and we were lucky that he was home.   Even luckier, he was free for lunch so we made a plan to meet him at Jeno’s on Main Street and then took off so he could catch a shower before coming.

We returned to Main Street early and while we were waiting for Van, Colette and I walked up and down looking at the store fronts.   I told her about Dan buying his green guitar at Mills music and about my turning in many of the books in my person library at Main Street Books before I left for NZ in November of 2009.   There were many more stories, layered quite deep, that I could have told about events and memories all over town but they are old stories and probably not that interesting unless you’d been there.   So I told a few and remembered many more which has been the inevitable pattern as we’ve toured around this town that was a central part of my life for 20 years.

Van showed up and we all had a nice lunch at Jeno’s.   He’s another Monroe favorite of mine.   I heard about the economics of how his nursery’s going and about Social Security and Medicare which are both subjects of interest to me.

After we finished lunch with Van, I got a call back from Kim W. whom I’d called earlier to try to setup a meeting.   

She was home and she was free so Colette and I took off for the Echo Lake area where I’d lived for the first 10 years I’d lived in this area.   She lives there in a big log home that she and her husband (now passed on) had build many years ago.   She’s a beautiful lady and a friend of nearly 20 years.   I introduced her to Colette and we all sat in her kitchen, drank tea and talked and then we looked at her art work.   She’s quite talented and I always enjoy seeing what new phase she’s gotten into.

When we left Kim’s, we went shopping.   First we picked up a prescription I’d turned in and then we went to Fred Meyer’s and bought a small tea pot for Candice as a thank you gift for having us at their place.   We returned then to Larry and Candice’s and Larry was there ands he said that Candice was going to meet us at The Tijuana restaurant where we were going to buy them dinner (Larry’d cooked us meals the last two nights).

Tijuana was great.   I got to see Martha and Felipe, the owners whom I haven’t seen in two years and Larry, Candice, Colette and I had a good time at dinner.   I got my old favorite, Campechana.  Yum.  This is the only Mexican restaurant that makes it that I know of.

Finally, after a long day of socializing and catching up with good friends, it was home to Larry and Candice’s again and off to bed.

Great day.


Monroe, Washington – day 2

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

Up this morning at Larry and Candice’s place outside of Monroe and then off to Starbucks with Larry for coffee and a reunion with many of my Starbucks friends.   This was also an opportunity to introduce Colette to a lot of these folks.

It all went great.  There were a lot of folks there and Colette was introduced to many of them and the talk flowed and it was all great fun.   IN fact, there were simply too many people to do a decent catchup with more than a few of them.   Ah well, there’s tomorrow and Wednesday.

After Starbuck’s, we’d dreamed up a plan with Larry to take a ride over to Leavenworth on the other side of Stevens Pass.    I liked it as it is was great opportunity to show Colette the ful length of the Sky Valley.

Would have been nice if natural cooperated a bit better.   Monroe and much of the lower-lying parts of the valley have been shrouded in deep fog since we arrived last night and today wasn’t much different so much of the valley up past Goldbar was in serious fog.   But, no matter, we pressed on up.

Larry showed us a cool water fall along the way and once the fog cleared, the mountains were stunning as always.   We did stop in for a look around in both Index and then Skycomish.   Then up and over the top at Stevens Pass and then on out to Leavenworth where we walked around and enjoyed the German ambiance.

We ate lunch at the South Restaurant which had been recommended to us that morning by Dave D. at coffee.   Apparently, his friend manages it.   It was nice and Mexican was the order of the day.   A Chicken Fajitas sandwich for me!

Then we began the drive back.   All of this side is in brilliant sunshine.   Larry took us a slightly different way back by lake Wenatchee which was quite pretty.   And then, further along, I stopped on Highway 2 at mile marker 39 and took Colette down to see a favorite spot of mine on the river.

As we reentered the lower portions of the Sky Valley, the fog was still there denser than ever.   We dropped Larry off at home as he wanted to get started on the evening’s meal and Colette and I went off to find, gasoline, turn in a prescription and get our dirty car washed.

Then it was home to rejoin Candice and Larry, enjoy a beautiful meal of Salmon and rice and then some excellent conversation afterwards.   A very pleasant evening indeed.


Monroe, Washington – day 1

Monday, December 5th, 2011

We left La Push ay 830 AM this morning and headed off towards Monroe after I bought myself a “La Push” hat (smile).   The drive from there was fairly unremarkable until we passed Crescent Lake which is quite beautiful.

Soon we came into Port Angeles and immediately  turned up the road toward Hurricane Ridge at 5242 feet which will probably be our highest ascent on this trip.   It’s a long winding and ever upwards road up to the top and the temperature and scenery gets cooler and better as you go.   Finally, we were driving with snow banks on either side and with patches of ice on the road when we came to the end and the most amazing vista opened out before us.   Hurricane Ridge offers a tremendous view into the interior of the Olympic Mountains and down into the deep valleys, below.   Photos were taken which I think we both fear may not truly address the beauty of the place.

After the drive back down, we stopped at a Safeway for lunch and for some WiFi which we’d been unable to connect with in La Push for the last day and a half.  We each checked E-Mail and uploaded some of the things we’d written and responded to a few E-Mails. Neither of us were particularly hungry so we each grabbed an bagel and an apple and were ready to press on.

Pressing on saw us driving further east from Port Angeles towards Hood Canal and its bridge and then Kingston and the Washington State Ferry Terminal where we could catch the car ferry over to the other side of Puget Sound to Edmonds.  It was still not 3 PM and the weekend crowds over on the Olympic Peninsula had not yet started all jamming the terminal for rides back to the Seattle side so a 15 minute wait saw us easily onto the first ferry, The Spokane, that arrived.  The beautiful weather was still holding and after we parked, we went up top side and forward and saw the coastline on the far side.  Beautiful!

To the right stood Mt. Rainier with the skyline of Seattle’s tallest buildings silhouetted against it like the smallest of toys; all crystal clear.  Then proceeding to the left, the entire coastline from Ballard until far past Edmonds.   And then, still further north, Mt. Baker standing tall like Rainier.   Two examples of the huge volcanos that dominate this entire Western Washington coastline.

The ferry started off and it got cool at the extreme front outside so we found a nice interior warm window seat.  I’d been sipping a nice cup of coffee from the onboard cafeteria.   After 15 to 20 minutes of crossing, it was time to go back to the car and prepare to exit which we did.   The ferries are so organized.   They have to be given the many people they transport from day to day all over the Puget Sound area.

Once on the road again, it was up the 5 and then down the 405 and 522 east to Monroe; a route I know like the back of my hand.

We’d agreed to wash the car before we showed up at Larry and Candice’s since it was such a dirtbag after 3700 miles.   But, lo and behold, when I drove to where the car wash used to be in Monroe, it was gone in favor of a new off ramp.   Ding – plan abandoned – at least for the moment.

Then I pulled the car towards the direction that I hoped I could remember to get us to Larry’s house.  It was a guess but I got us there.  Larry and Candice greeted us and put on a fine meal for us.


La Push, Washington – day 3

Sunday, December 4th, 2011

Still struggling with a cold’s aftermath so I’m feeling more tired that I might otherwise.

So, the day began slowly.   We haven’t planned as much for the day as we have in the past.

The La Push Ocean Park Resort has gotten Internet and WiFi of a limited sort since I was last here two year ago.   By that, I mean that they have WiFi broadcasting for the folks in the office and if the guests want to access it, they have to come over near the office to pick it up.   This has worked OK for us so far but last night we discovered that it wasn’t working and when I requested that they reset their WiFi modem, it turned out that it is in the locked manager’s office and no one has the key until she returns.   Bummer!  All day today’s it’s been off and she may be back Sunday (tomorrow) but no one knows for sure.

After a good sleep in, I took my clothes down to the Quileutte Tribe’s general store where they have some coin-operated washers and dryers around the back and I did my laundry.   This took $2 and about 2.5 hours.   I spent a lot of the time sipping coffee, reading “OnThe Road” and sitting in the general store at a table in the center where everyone sits that wants to visit or pass time.   I really like the small town homey feel of such places.  If you send off friendly vibes, everyone accepts you and things go on much as they would if you weren’t there.

Colette, at one point, walked down to see me and see how I was doing.   She’s been hanging out in the room reading.   

I think some relaxed downtime is good for both of us.   This trip, has been absolutely wonderful but it’s also been fairly non-stop moving from town to town or staying in folk’s homes and socializing.   All of which we love but some quiet rest time has its place as well and that’s what La Push has been for us; three nights with only us out on the remote Washington coast in the Quiluette Tribe’s Ocean Park Resort at very nearly the end of the earth.   No TV, no telephone, no radio and barely any Wifi.   One small restaurant in town and for everything else, you have to go 14 miles up the road to Forks; population 3,000.   Yep, that’s sounds good to me.

In the afternoon, we drove into Forks and got some lunch at the deli counter in the Thriftway store and then drove about 25 miles out to the Olympic National Park’s Hoh Rainforest.  A magical place where they have 14 feet or better of rainfall a year as the winter storms sweep in off the North Pacific and dump their enormous loads of water against the western facing flanks of the Olympic Mountains of the Olympic Peninsula.  Moss hangs from the trees in a deeply surreal manner and everything is alive with every possible shade of green the eye can see.   

The ranger who took our money for admission asked me if I was 62 and I replied that I was 64.   She said, this was my lucky day because for $10, she was going to sell me a senior pass to all the USA’s National Parks that’s good for life.  And, it would also get the two of us in to the Hoh Rainforest for the day which would have been $15.  Sweet.   So now I have this little gem of a card in my wallet and we’ll probably use it a few more times before this trip’s over.

We took two of the loop trails and saw the Halls of Moss the the Spruce Loop.   Interesting stuff that I’ve seen before but I always enjoy it and it was, of course, all new for Colette.

After that, it was back to Forks and then back to La Push where we arrived back to our room at late Twilight.   Some organizing and some reading.   Colette cooked us a Risotto with asparagus, broccoli and mushrooms.   Yum.   And then some granola, yogurt and cantaloupe bits for dessert.   I washed up the dishes and we were done.

We’d been discussing how to organize the 2nd half of our trip.   It’s pretty undefined once we finish in Vancouver, B.C. on December 13th and begin to head south again.   She started working on a suggested itinerary which we’re going to tweak until we both agree that it’s optimal.

And now I’m typing up notes for this Blog.   And that’s how it is on this 3rd of December, 2011 out on the western coast of the Olympic Peninsula.   This is your correspondant, Dennis Gallagher, signing off for now.

La Push, Washington – day 2

Sunday, December 4th, 2011

This is our first full day here, having arrived last night from Astoria.   The morning broke clear and beautiful which is rare for this coastline.   The locals says it’s pretty amazing but there’s nearly a week of fine weather descending on the area.

Outside the waves are breaking against the cliffs and the sea-stacks that I’ve loved for nearly 20 years now since I first came this way in 1991.   Like music listened to for many years, the views here are part of some of my favorite memories of time and place.

Colette and I walked down to the beach but we  could’t get there over the logs stacked up at the first path so we switched to the next path west and were able to get through.   All winter long, all the rivers here disgorge tree trucks into the sea from the vast mountains and forests in this area and they wash up along the entire coastline making a beautiful sight.   Once onto the mixed rock and sand beach, we walked west and just took it all in.   (The Sacred) James Island, the breakwater, the sea-stacks and the little fishing town of La Push.   Once to the end, we clambered up a small cliff and got back into the town’s roads.

We had a quick look at the River’s Edge Restaurant which is open again all year after an on again and off again pattern these last ten years.   We talked to the owner and decided to come back and eat at least one meal there to support her and the place.

Then we walked back to the room and took right off on a walk up toSecond Beach (we’d been on First Beach) which is about a mile to the east of where we were.   

Once there, you enter the forest and follow a long twisty path until it begins to descend down the the beach.   The path is through thick and wild forest and then descends down until you emerge at the beach behind an enormous piles of logs.   Above you, high up on a tree is a round sign with a highly visible “X” on it.   It says, “here is the path”.   Because, from out on the beach, the forest just looks like a wild and solid wall of trees.   Such signs have helped me in the past when hiking these beaches.

After several false starts, we find our way over the piled logs and out onto the beach proper and we go for a long walk; first one way and then the other.   We’re taking pictures, collecting rocks and we have the entire two-miles of beach to ourselves.   Our footsteps are the first of the day though they look like the first that have ever been made there; the beach looks so pristine.   No trash, no flotsam or jetsam of humanity washed up.   Just sand, rock, green and the waves and sea-stacks.   We run to cross a small stream in one jump.  We see the places where the sand has separated into slightly different colors and we see the small curly markings of some unknown small beach animal.

We’re back from Second Beach by noon and have a quick lunch Colette prepares.   We’re still so early in the day that I suggest we take off for Neah Bay and the Makah Tribal Museum since we have so much of the day left.   Colette’s game so by 1 or 1:15, we’re on the road heading north and then west on our way to the uttermost western point of the lower contiguous U.S. states.

500 years ago, the Makah people lived on the shores of Lake Ozette on the far western side of the Olympic Peninsula.   There was an earthquake and part of their village was covered in a huge mud slide.   In 1980, a storm washed away some of the mud exposing the buried portions of the village and a scientific excavation was done and an enormous amount of day to day items from long houses to combs were recovered.   This is what the Makah Museum is all about.

Unlike other peoples whose early history has been lost to time, the Makah people have suddenly had their past from 500 years ago returned.   The lady at the museum told us that until these things were dug up some of the objects were only known through oral tradition and it was  revelation to see that the stories of the elders were true and accurate. 

After a long drive back, we arrive just after sunset tired but pleased with a long and adventurous day.

It wasn’t over though.   At 4:15 AM, I awoke to see a crystal clear night time sky which is very rare here so I woke Colette and asked if she wanted me to how her the northern stars and constellations she’d only just heard described.   She agreed and we put on some warn gear and went out for a look.

Orion (upside down from how it looks in New Zealand), Sirius, The Pleiades.  Then I pointed out the Big Dipper which cannot be seen from New Zealand and showed her how to locate Polaris, the North Star from the Dipper.   We tried to find Andromeda but I’d forgotten just how to do it.   And then we got too cold to stay out so we went back into our warm room and retired again.