Raven and Chickadee

Navigation Menu

Return To The Edge Of The World: Neah Bay, WA

Return To The Edge Of The World: Neah Bay, WA

Posted by on Jul 21, 2017 in Gallery, Hiking, National Parks, Washington | 9 comments

At the furthest northwesternmost point of the continental U.S., the wild, stormy coastline meets the deep, mysterious rainforest. This far-flung, untamed place is the land of the Makah, a Northwest Coastal people who have called the remote headland home for thousands of years.

We first visited Neah Bay and the Makah Reservation a couple of years ago, despite the advice we received from someone who told us, “There’s nothing there worth seeing.” Au contraire. This is exactly the kind of place that captures our interest, and we returned in mid-June for an adventure we missed the first time around.

Hiking to Cape Flattery

Just like last time, we hiked the trail to Cape Flattery, which is as far as you can go and still be in the continental U.S. This is sacred tribal land, and the Makah have declared Cape Flattery a nature sanctuary. A three-quarter mile rugged trail winds through the dense rainforest. At the end of the trail, cedar platforms resembling the prow of a canoe jut above the churning ocean, dramatic headlands, and hidden sea caves.

Trail through the rainforest to Cape Flattery

Viewing platforms built like the prow of a canoe

Cape Flattery looking north, with hidden sea caves tucked into the headlands

Hanging over the railing, we scanned the ocean for whales and puffins. No whales or puffins, but a family of sea otters appeared, rolling and playing in the waves, mama holding baby close.

Scanning the horizon at what feels like the edge of the world

A family of sea otters

Standing on the tip of Cape Flattery, we could see tiny Tatoosh Island in the distance. Once a fishing camp for the Makah, a lighthouse here has pointed mariners to the entrance of the Strait of San Juan de Fuca since 1857.

Tatoosh Island from Cape Flattery

Visiting the Museum of the Makah

We also paid a return visit to the Museum of the Makah Indian Nation, one of the most intriguing museums we’ve encountered anywhere in our travels. The artifacts within were discovered in 1970 at Ozette, a Makah village 15 miles south of Neah Bay.

The Makah Cultural Museum and Research Center totem archway

Entrance to the Museum of the Makah Indian Nation

During a storm in 1750, a catastrophic mudslide buried the village in 10 feet of clay, creating an oxygen-free environment that perfectly preserved five longhouses and objects of everyday life. For more than a decade, archaeologists and tribal members worked together to unearth more than 55,000 artifacts. It’s considered to be one of the most significant archaeological finds in North America.

Despite living in a challenging environment, buffeted by wild storms and drenched in 100 inches of rain each year, the Makah shaped a life of rich traditions, comfort, and beauty, creating what they needed from the abundance of the rainforest and ocean surrounding them. The museum is arranged according to the seasonal life of the Makah; thousands of artifacts in pristine condition are engagingly displayed. There’s a replica of a full-size longhouse and four beautiful cedar dugout canoes built by tribal members, and an excellent hour-long film on the Makah and the Ozette site.

Blankets woven of woodpecker feathers, dog hair, and cattail fluff; clothing woven of cedar bark (the inner bark was pounded until soft and pliable); baskets and boxes of red cedar; intricately carved and decorated tools and ceremonial items made of bone, shell, and wood; all survived centuries of burial in mud. It’s a remarkable and beautiful display of a unique culture. I wanted so much to take photos, but the tribe asks that we refrain, and we did.

Fabulous 20-foot tall carved cedar figures outside the Museum of the Makah Indian Nation

Hiking to Shi Shi Beach and Point of Arches

“Generations of Makah people have used this area. If you are patient and respectful, its enduring beauty will enrich and teach you too.”

So reads a sign posted at the trail head to Shi Shi Beach (pronounced Shy-Shy). Located 8.5 miles south of Neah Bay, this remote beach bordering the Makah reservation became part of Olympic National Park in 1976. A two-mile hike through the rainforest (the first mile has partial boardwalk, built by the Makah) leads to the beach.

Trailhead for Shi Shi Beach

Cedar boardwalk through the forest; it starts off reasonably well

Beautiful fungi in the rainforest

Bridge on the Shi Shi Trail

We hiked this trail two years ago, but only to Shi Shi Beach. We returned this time to hike all the way to Point of Arches, for a total of 8 miles round-trip.

Never in all of our years of hiking have we encountered so much mud. The last time we hiked the trail to Shi Shi Beach it was muddy, but nothing like this. This was an epic mud bath, ankle deep in many places. We bushwhacked, made little bridges of logs, climbed trees, attempted great leaps. There was no way around the mud and the mud puddles. Why did we continue, you ask? Well, the worst of the mud didn’t start until about a mile in, and we kept thinking, “Surely this will improve!” It didn’t.

A muddy, miserable trail

Soggy, muddy, puddles—it has it all

Finally, after more than an hour of slogging, we reached the bluffs and caught our first glimpse of the beach below. A series of ropes help in navigating the 150-foot drop down to the beach. There, we stepped into the otherworldly landscape of rock spires, sea stacks, caves, and arches that decorate Shi Shi Beach.

Ropes help on the climb down the 150 foot bluff trail

Shi Shi Beach on a misty day

Otherworldly rock formations

We didn’t linger long, because our destination—Point of Arches—was another two miles down the beach. The hike was gorgeous, with exposed rock formations and tide pools all along the way, and views of Point of Arches coming closer as we walked.

Rock formations and tidepools on the hike to Point of Arches

Ochre sea stars and giant green anemones

Point of Arches in the distance

Crossing Petroleum Creek on the way to Point of Arches

A lone surfer on the beach (I can’t believe he hauled his surfboard down that muddy trail)

The ideal time to visit Point of Arches is at low tide, when the numerous tidepools are exposed. It’s a beautiful, peaceful hike, and the reward is a picturesque seascape of dozens of sea stacks, spires, arches, and caves, with tidepools surrounding it all. Ideally, we would have stayed overnight on the beach, which is what most people seem to do after making the effort to get here. The sunsets are reputed to be spectacular.

Point of Arches rock formations

Tidepools at Point of Arches

Seastack and arches at Point of Arches

Oystercatchers on the beach

Halfway back to Shi Shi Beach

Heading back up the bluff trail

(Note that before you hike on this or any trail or beach on the Makah Reservation, you must obtain a $10 annual recreation permit, available in Neah Bay or at Hobuck RV Park.)

About the campground:

Just like last time, we stayed at Hobuck Beach RV Park and Campground. Last time, we stayed in the RV Park, which offers 10 full-hook up RV sites ($40 per night) with a fabulous view of the Pacific and easy access to the beach. This time, we opted for the big open field. It’s a free-for-all. You pay your $20 and stake out your spot anywhere that looks good to you.

We arrived on a Thursday and found a choice location. By Saturday, we were surrounded by tents, VW campers, boats, and surfers. This is apparently a prime fishing and surfing locale. Everyone was well behaved, and we enjoyed our stay. We had speedy Verizon coverage, a place to fill our water tanks, and amazingly, there was a free, almost new shower house with unlimited hot water.

Hobuck Campground and RV Park

Choose your spot and set up camp

Sunset on Hobuck Beach

Next Up: A Delightful Week At Salt Creek 

Read More

Tidepools And Rainforests: Olympic National Park

Tidepools And Rainforests: Olympic National Park

Posted by on Jul 15, 2017 in Gallery, Hiking, National Parks, Washington | 40 comments

We first visited Olympic National Park two years ago in the fall, and immediately promised ourselves that we would return. With tidepools filled with colorful sea creatures, mysterious rainforests, snow-capped mountains, shimmering lakes, beautiful lodges, and a rich history of native culture, this is a diverse and enchanting park.

Although it’s possible to do a driving tour and get a quick peek at some of the splendors, Olympic National Park is not easy to corral into a day trip. No roads go through the park, travel is slow, and many of the treasures lie off the beaten path. We started our explorations this time with four days at the southwestern corner of the park, camped high on a bluff overlooking the mighty Pacific Ocean.

At first glance, South Beach Campground doesn’t look all that appealing—it’s a primitive campground within the national park and the sites are staked out in the open. But the expansive views of the Pacific and our sightings of gray whales spouting offshore and sea otters frolicking in the waves far outweighed the lack of water, electricity, or privacy.

South Beach Campground in Olympic National Park

Scanning the horizon for whales and otters

We got excellent tips from Ranger Birdie at Kalaloch Ranger Station

The campground is just 10 miles from Ruby Beach, which we were told has extraordinary tidepools. It lived up to its reputation, with dozens of pools filled to bursting with sea stars and anemones. We were thrilled to see hundreds of orange and purple ochre sea stars—they’re making a healthy comeback after a devastating virus several years ago. There’s something mesmerizing about tidepools, offering a glimpse into the lives of creatures that endure the radical extremes of changing tides twice a day. The anemones look so delicate, but they’re obviously resilient.

A peaceful morning at Ruby Beach

Tidepools exposed at low tide

Ochre sea star and green anemones

A baby ochre sea star in my favorite color

A cluster of delicate-looking green anemones

Purple sea star and green anemones

Sharing the wonders of the tidepools

Sea stacks on Ruby Beach

During our stay at South Beach, we made two trips into the rainforest. Olympic National Park contains four temperate rainforests, defined by moderate temperatures and a staggering amount of rainfall—somewhere around 14 feet per year. The result is a primeval world of ancient giant trees draped with curtains of lichen, and a landscape lushly upholstered with ferns and mosses.

Given that the Hoh Rain Forest is an iconic feature of the park, of course we needed to see it for ourselves. In the heart of Olympic National Park and almost 40 miles from our campground, it was a long and winding drive. Once there, we endured hordes of tourists at the visitor center focused more on snapping selfies than admiring the wonders of the rainforest. But stepping onto the trails, we left the crowds behind. We looped together the Hall of Mosses Trail with the Spruce Trail for three miles of mossy splendor—it felt as though we were hiking in a forest cathedral.

Mushroom exhibit in the Hoh Rain Forest visitor center

On The Hall of Mosses Trail

A moss-covered arch; it’s important to not stand still for too long lest the mosses take over

A cathedral of trees, mosses, and ferns

A raven in the rainforest

On our second foray into the rainforest, we drove 30 miles south to Lake Quinault on a misty day. Built in 1926, Lake Quinault Lodge is the quintessential national park lodge, with a cozy seating area, crackling fireplace, and stuffed elk decor. The grounds are lovely, with gently sloping lawns dotted with Adirondack chairs, a tranquil view of the lake, and a chimney adorned with a totem-pole rain gauge that measures rainfall in feet. We hiked from the lodge to the Gatton Creek Trail, picking up the Quinault Loop Trail for a six-mile hike. We finished out our day with a cup of tea in the lodge, followed by a drive on the 31-mile scenic road that loops around Lake Quinault and along the Quinault River. The scenic drive passes by several beautiful waterfalls, no hiking required.

Beautiful Lake Quinault Lodge; note the totem pole rain gauge on the chimney

It’s cozy inside the lodge

A scene from a gentler time

Geared up for a rainy day hike at Lake Quinault

One of many beautiful waterfalls

The negative ions are good medicine

On the shores of Lake Quinault

About the campground:

We loved our stay at South Beach Campground. The views are unsurpassed, even if you don’t score a front-row seat. We had to juggle sites to find one that we could get level in, but then life was grand (even on the day it rained non-stop for 24 hours). First-come, first-served, no hook-ups, bathroom with flush toilets but no potable water. Fresh water and a dump station are available at Kalaloch Campground, 3 miles up the road. Surprisingly, there was excellent Verizon coverage. $15 night/$7.50 for seniors.

Next Up: Revisiting The Edge Of The World: Neah Bay, WA

Read More

Cape Disappointment And The Long Beach Peninsula

Cape Disappointment And The Long Beach Peninsula

Posted by on Jul 8, 2017 in Biking, Food, Gallery, Washington | 34 comments

Leaving Fort Stevens and the delightful town of Astoria, we bid farewell to the Oregon Coast and drove a short 25 miles to Cape Disappointment. Located at the tip of the Long Beach Peninsula in the extreme southwestern corner of Washington, we arrived to gray skies, wind, rain, and a state park with zero internet connection.

But despite our less than enticing welcome, we extended our original two-day stay to five days. What kept us here was our desire to bike the Discovery Trail along the coast (but not in the rain!), our interest in Lewis and Clark National Historic Park (this is where they ended their epic journey), and a craving for oysters in historic Oystertown, at the far northwestern end of the peninsula.

Cape Disappointment really deserves a more appealing name. The gloomy moniker was bestowed in 1788 by British explorer John Meares, who was peeved when he failed to find the mouth of the great river reputed to be just around the cape. “No such river exists,” he declared. Imagine his embarrassment when just a few years later, American merchant sea captain Robert Gray sailed across the bar into the river. Gray claimed the land for the U.S. and named the river Columbia, in honor of his ship.

Cool Stuff on the Long Beach Peninsula:

• Lewis and Clark National Historic Park: Here, on the banks of the Columbia River and on bluffs and beaches overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the story of Lewis and Clark is brought to life. The 33-member Corps of Discovery arrived here in November 1805 after an arduous 4,000-mile journey from St. Louis to the Pacific. Their journey was commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson, who said: “Find a route to the Pacific. While you’re at it, draw good maps; discover and document plants and animals; establish relationships with the Indian tribes you meet; and get there before anyone else can lay claim to it.” (I’m paraphrasing here, but this was pretty much the essence of their mission.)

We started our explorations with the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, located high on a bluff in Cape Disappointment State Park. It kept us busy for several hours, with absorbing exhibits of their arduous journey, the many discoveries they made, and accounts of their interactions with the native peoples who lived along the Columbia. It was a perfect way to spend a rainy day.

“Your mission…the Pacific Ocean.” Coffee in hand, he’s ready to go.

A replica of the plant presses used by Lewis and Clark in their journey

The enormous replicas of Chinook canoes caught our attention at Middle Village/Station Camp. Just a few miles from Cape Disappointment, this marks the last camp the Corps made in its journey west; it was here that they decided where to spend the winter. Arriving in late fall, the Corps assumed it to be a deserted Native American settlement. But in fact, it was a summer fishing village for the Chinook, who had called this area home for thousands of years. The park at Middle Village/Station Camp focuses on the Chinook Indian Nation history, as well as telling the story of the Corps and the town of McGowan that was later founded here (hence, the church). We found the stories of the Chinook to be especially fascinating.

Middle Village/Station Camp with replicas of Chinook canoes

The river provided a natural water highway for the Chinook—they were far more skillful at navigating the unpredictable waters than the Corps. The abundance of the region, including salmon, shellfish, elk, berries, and tubers, sustained hundreds of villages along both sides of the river. Were it not for the food and other help provided by the Chinook and the Clatsop Indians on the opposite side of the river, the Corps would not have fared nearly as well.

With winter nipping at their heels, the Corps crossed the Columbia to set up camp, where elk were reputed to be plentiful. They built Fort Clatsop, named after the local Clatsop Indians, and spent the winter replenishing food supplies, making buckskin clothing, working on journals and maps, and preparing for the long journey home. When they left in the spring of 1806, they gave Fort Clatsop to Chief Coboway, who had been a helpful friend to the expedition.

A replica of Fort Clatsop, where the Corps spent the winter

Bigger than our trailer, but not as comfortable

• Biking The Discovery Trail: This multi-use trail is about as perfect a bike path as you’ll ever find. The Discovery Trail covers 8.5 miles of gently rolling terrain, from Long Beach to the North Beach Lighthouse in Cape Disappointment State Park—that last mile or so to the lighthouse is an uphill climb, but worth it. We had a blast cruising along the crest of the dunes, enjoying the ocean views and the interesting sculptures along the way commemorating the Lewis and Clark expedition. It’s a great 17-mile round-trip ride.

Biking the Discovery Trail; doesn’t get any better than this

A monument to Clark along the trail (with a sturgeon and a random bouquet)

Local school children’s artwork protecting birds along the shore

• Visiting the Lighthouses: Cape Disappointment overlooks the Columbia River Bar, AKA “The Graveyard of the Pacific.” It’s such a treacherous area that it requires two lighthouses, both still in operation, and both within the state park.

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse, built in 1856, is perched on a cliff, a three-quarter mile uphill hike through layers of lush green forest. It’s a fading beauty in need of restoration and not open for tours, but nonetheless photogenic. And the views from the bluff are wonderful.

North Head Lighthouse, built in 1898 on the northwestern spur of Cape Disappointment, is generally open for tours, but it’s currently closed while the park restores it to its original glory.

On the trail to Cape Disappointment Lighthouse

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse from Waikiki Beach

Cape D Lighthouse with a bit of color provided by a visiting school group

Looking across the bluffs to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center

Bald eagle enjoying the view

• Exploring the towns: Well, it’s certainly not Astoria, but we found some interesting little towns to explore. Long Beach is the poster child for a touristy beach town, but the long stretch of sandy beach is beautiful and the boardwalk along the dunes is lovely for a stroll. (The boardwalk parallels part of the Discovery Trail, so you can explore many of the cool sculptures from here.) We bypassed the shops along the way but couldn’t resist a quick visit to Marsh’s Free Museum. It’s stuffed full of a bizarre assortment of oddities, from taxidermy to vintage peep shows to antique arcade games.

Lovely boardwalk through the dunes in Long Beach

Downtown Long Beach and Marsh’s Museum of Bizarreness

I admit, we had some good laughs in here

The little fishing village of Ilwaco was much more to our liking. The harbor is picturesque, there’s a nice little farmers’ market on Saturdays, and we continued our seafood binge at Ole Bob’s Seafood Market—we came away with fresh mussels, cod, shrimp, and salmon. So good!

Picturesque Ilwaco Harbor

Ole Bob’s Seafood Market, the place to go for seriously good fresh seafood

Other local meanderings included the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum, a very local, old- fashioned museum (free on Thursdays). There’s lots of intriguing stuff here, including a life jacket made of corks from 1904 that is way more interesting than the vest I have for kayaking. I’m going to start saving our wine bottle corks. We also enjoyed happy hour at Salt Pub, overlooking the harbor, where we had a delicious North Head IPA (named after the lighthouse) from North Jetty Brewery. We were wishing we’d stopped by the brewery for a tasting of more of their offerings.

A collection of life vests at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum

The Salt Pub in Ilwaco

Local steamers and local IPA (and cranky because I want to take a photo before he can eat)

Oysterville was the final stop on our wish list, at the northwestern end of the peninsula. Built on the rich harvest of oysters from Willapa Bay (one tiny oyster brought as much as one silver dollar in San Francisco in the mid 1800’s!) the oyster boomtown is now a quiet village of well-preserved homes from the era. The smoked oysters and smoked salmon dip from Oysterville Sea Farms are among the best we’ve had, and their deck overlooking Willapa Bay is lovely.

Oysterville church, circa 1892

Oysterville Sea Farms; great smoked oysters and smoked salmon dip

Feeling pretty relaxed after those oysters (oh yeah, and a beer)

About the campground:

We had only two nights reserved at Cape Disappointment State Park and were unable to extend our reservation. But we found a wonderful spot to hang out for several more days just a few miles down the road at River’s End RV Park. We moved into a spacious site with blazing fast internet, and just across the river, Cape Disappointment lighthouse winked at us. (As an unexpected bonus, it was less expensive than the state park.) It was a great find, but unfortunately, the property has been sold and will no longer be an RV Park.

Cape Disappointment is a fine state park, though. We enjoyed our two nights there, even in the rain. The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, lighthouses, and hiking trails are all conveniently within the park. The campsites are arranged in spokes, offering plenty of privacy. We liked our site in Loop A, with the sound of the ocean lulling us to sleep at night. Full hookups, paved sites with picnic tables and fire pit, and absolutely no internet or cell connection whatsoever.

Our backyard for a few days at River’s End RV Park

Some of the bounty from the seafood market (Thai curry mussels)

 

 

Read More

Island Hopping: San Juan And Orcas

Island Hopping: San Juan And Orcas

Posted by on Feb 22, 2017 in Gallery, San Juan Islands, Travel, Washington | 36 comments

We spent two and a half months on Lopez Island last year, our sixth summer in the islands. And we didn’t return to the mainland until we sailed back on the ferry to Anacortes in September.

That’s a long time to be on an island that’s only 15 miles long and eight miles wide. Do we ever get island fever? Not really. In addition to magnificent outdoor recreation opportunities and a calendar filled with cultural events, Lopez has just about everything we need—superb local foods, a weekly farmer’s market, a delightful library, excellent coffee shops and cafés, and even a terrific bike shop (we do a lot of biking on the island, and there’s always something in need of repair). For everything else, there’s FedEx. We do, however, enjoy hopping on the inter-island ferry on day jaunts to explore nearby islands.

The San Juan archipelago has 172 named islands and reefs, most of which are too tiny to be inhabited. The Washington State ferries serve four: San Juan, Orcas, Lopez, and Shaw. Each island shares spectacular Pacific Northwest Island scenery—emerald forests, pastoral farmland, and sparkling jewel-like bays. But each also has a slightly different flavor, and it’s fun to explore all of them.

The first of July, we’ll be sailing once again to Lopez Island. We’ll be settling in as interpretive hosts for two months—a position we love, on an island we love, surrounded by people we love. We’ll once again be doing lots of inter-island journeys, and look forward to sharing our explorations with you. Meanwhile, I’ve been sorting through photos of last summer’s adventures. It gives me something to look forward to, especially since it’s snowing again today in Ashland. This has been one long, crazy winter.

Island Hopping

Bustling Friday Harbor On San Juan Island

Boats Docked At Friday Harbor

Summer In Friday Harbor

Our Favorite Friday Harbor Gallery

Delicious Lunch At San Juan Island Cheese Shop

San Juan Islands Museum Of Art

I Think He's Seen Enough

Lime Kiln Lighthouse

Searching For Whales

An Orca In The Distance

Pools Of Beautiful Aggregating Anemones

An Oystercatcher Looking For Lunch

At American Camp

Hiking Mt. Finlayson

View Of Cattle Point Lighthouse From The Trail

Pelindaba Lavender Farm

At The Lavender Festival

Sculptures In The Lavender Fields

Making A Lavender Wreath

San Juan Islands Sculpture Park

Kinetic Sculpture In The Garden

Orcas Island Ferry Landing

Eastsound Village On Orcas Island

Raven Sculpture In Eastsound Village

Darvill's Bookstore In Eastsound

A Merman Overlooking The Village

A Beautiful Labryinth Walk

Rustic And Charming Cottage Galleries

Turtleback Mountain Trailhead

Turtleback Mountain Views

Oyster Stout? Umm....No.

Hiking In Moran State Park

The View From Mt. Constitution

Island Hopping
Bustling Friday Harbor On San Juan Island
Boats Docked At Friday Harbor
Summer In Friday Harbor
Our Favorite Friday Harbor Gallery
Delicious Lunch At San Juan Island Cheese Shop
San Juan Islands Museum Of Art
I Think He's Seen Enough
Lime Kiln Lighthouse
Searching For Whales
An Orca In The Distance
Pools Of Beautiful Aggregating Anemones
An Oystercatcher Looking For Lunch
At American Camp
Hiking Mt. Finlayson
View Of Cattle Point Lighthouse From The Trail
Pelindaba Lavender Farm
At The Lavender Festival
Sculptures In The Lavender Fields
Making A Lavender Wreath
San Juan Islands Sculpture Park
Kinetic Sculpture In The Garden
Orcas Island Ferry Landing
Eastsound Village On Orcas Island
Raven Sculpture In Eastsound Village
Darvill's Bookstore In Eastsound
A Merman Overlooking The Village
A Beautiful Labryinth Walk
Rustic And Charming Cottage Galleries
Turtleback Mountain Trailhead
Turtleback Mountain Views
Oyster Stout? Umm....No.
Hiking In Moran State Park
The View From Mt. Constitution
Island Hopping thumbnail
Bustling Friday Harbor On San Juan Island thumbnail
Boats Docked At Friday Harbor thumbnail
Summer In Friday Harbor thumbnail
Our Favorite Friday Harbor Gallery thumbnail
Delicious Lunch At San Juan Island Cheese Shop thumbnail
San Juan Islands Museum Of Art thumbnail
I Think He's Seen Enough thumbnail
Lime Kiln Lighthouse thumbnail
Searching For Whales thumbnail
An Orca In The Distance thumbnail
Pools Of Beautiful Aggregating Anemones thumbnail
An Oystercatcher Looking For Lunch thumbnail
At American Camp thumbnail
Hiking Mt. Finlayson thumbnail
View Of Cattle Point Lighthouse From The Trail thumbnail
Pelindaba Lavender Farm thumbnail
At The Lavender Festival thumbnail
Sculptures In The Lavender Fields thumbnail
Making A Lavender Wreath thumbnail
San Juan Islands Sculpture Park thumbnail
Kinetic Sculpture In The Garden thumbnail
Orcas Island Ferry Landing thumbnail
Eastsound Village On Orcas Island thumbnail
Raven Sculpture In Eastsound Village thumbnail
Darvill's Bookstore In Eastsound thumbnail
A Merman Overlooking The Village thumbnail
A Beautiful Labryinth Walk thumbnail
Rustic And Charming Cottage Galleries thumbnail
Turtleback Mountain Trailhead thumbnail
Turtleback Mountain Views thumbnail
Oyster Stout? Umm....No. thumbnail
Hiking In Moran State Park thumbnail
The View From Mt. Constitution thumbnail

Read More

Another Summer On Lopez Island

Another Summer On Lopez Island

Posted by on Nov 2, 2016 in Biking, Birding, Friends, Gallery, Hiking, San Juan Islands, Travel, Washington | 37 comments

As of mid-October, we’re back in Ashland, Oregon, taking care of a myriad of things that need to be completed before we can again resume our travels. This is a challenging part of fulltime RV life—there’s always a mountain of stuff to deal with when we return to our hometown each year. It’s no different than what any other grown-up person has to deal with in life—traveling or not. But it feels a bit daunting when we’re compressing a year’s worth of necessary evils into a few weeks. (The wonderful part is that we’ve also rejoined the tribe of our dear Ashland friends.)

We’re in the midst of trailer repairs, medical and dental appointments, taxes, maintenance tasks on our Ashland home, rooting out our storage unit, trailer home-improvement projects, and more. Last but not least, I have a blog to catch up on. So without further ado, I’m going to whisk you back to mid-June and our summer on Lopez Island.

As the ferry churned through the cold waters of the Pacific and chugged past the maze of islands that make up the San Juan archipelago, we leaned over the railing, anticipating our first glimpse of the small island that would once again be our summer home.

This year, we spent two-and-a-half months on Lopez Island—our longest stretch yet. From mid-June until early September, we were once again temporary Lopezians, immersing ourselves fully in the unique culture of Pacific Northwest island life.

We fell in love with Lopez the first time we visited, almost a dozen years ago.

Six of the past seven years, we’ve spent part of every summer hosting at beautiful Spencer Spit State Park. We contemplate spending time other places, but each summer finds us once again on the ferry to the islands.

I don’t think life gets any better than summer in the San Juan’s. The weather is near perfect, with plenty of sunshine, low humidity, and temperatures in the 70’s. (This makes up for long, long winters of gray and chill and rain—one of the primary reasons we don’t seriously consider living in the islands year-round.)

The scenery is idyllic—pastoral farmland, deep green mossy forests, secluded coves, and rocky cliffs plunging to sapphire seas. Small wonder that the first European settlers to the island described Lopez as a paradise.

Perfect weather and idyllic scenery aside, the strongest draw for us now is our community of friends on Lopez. In our six summers on the island, we’ve developed enduring friendships that transcend time and distance. We gather often with friends for delicious meals, evenings of music, and a variety of island adventures, from biking and hiking to art openings, concerts, and wine tastings. Each summer, we also delight in sharing Lopez with friends visiting from Ashland and fellow full-time RVing friends we’ve met in our travels. To add to this year’s fun, our grandson Findlay sailed to “Camp Lopez” to stay with us for a week.

We’re fortunate to have a hosting position that fits perfectly with our interests. This was our fourth year teaching Interpretive Programs for kids and adults, including the Junior Ranger programs. We teach about native plants, birds found on Lopez, and the traditions of the Salish tribes who first inhabited the islands. Making hundreds of copies of the Jr. Ranger’s booklets gets tedious, but teaching never does. We often come away from a morning of teaching feeling uplifted and inspired by the brilliance, inquisitiveness, and hilarity of the kids we teach (a lot of the adults are just as much fun).

We’re lucky, too, in that the staff at Spencer Spit is terrific. Each summer when we return to the park, we feel like we’re returning home. Our relationship with Lopez and the community of wonderful people on the island continues to deepen—for this, we are deeply grateful. Thanks, Lopez and friends, for another delightful summer. We’ll be back!

I’ve written in detail about our Lopez adventures over the past several years. If you’re interested in reading more, type “Lopez” in the search box and you’ll find lots of posts and photos. Here’s a post with some basic information, should you be interested:

Living Local On Lopez Island

Next Up: Adventures On Orcas And San Juan Island

Another Summer On Lopez

Arriving On Lopez

Rustic Cabin On Spencer Spit

Peaceful View Across The Marsh

Fledgling Rough Winged Swallows On The Beach

Early Morning At Spencer Spit

Art On The Beach

Findlay And My Hat

A Map Of The Island

Peaceful Island Biking

Biking To Town

It's All Picturesque

The Beautiful Herb Labyrinth

Watching Peregrines At Watmough Bay

Magical Mossy Trails Above Watmough Bay

A View Of Mt. Baker

Shark Reef In Late Afternoon

San Juan Island From Shark Reef

Baby Harbor Seal

Barred Owl On The Trail

On The Trail To Iceberg Point

Endless Views From Iceberg Point

Biking To Fisherman's Bay

Overlooking Fisherman's Bay

A Beach Walk With Findlay

Kayaking One Of Many Bays On Lopez

We Have Company

Delightful Purple Sea Stars

In The Fields At Horse Drawn Farm

Our Favorite Farmstand

The Wonderful Lopez Library

It's Cozy Inside And Has Internet!

Peace Train At The Fourth Of July Parade

Saturday Farmer's Market

A Friendly Farmer At The Market

Our Home On Lopez

Our Outdoor Classroom

Teaching About Native Traditions

They Chose Wolf Totems

Birding For Kids

Findlay Earned His Jr. Ranger Badge

Coffee With The Birds Program

Visitor To Our Campsite (Pacific Wren)

Fledgling Pileated Woodpecker

Violet Green Swallows

Our Cohosts Stan And Georgia

Ranger Tina And Findlay

Meghan At The End Of A Long Summer

Dinner With Lopez Friends At Our Site

An Evening Of Music Around The Fire

Bruce And Sheila At Home

Music Evening With Nick And Susie

Michael And Ann In Her Studio

Del And Cindy At Vita's

Ashland Friends (Linda, Steve, & Family)

Traveling Friends Henry, Loretta & Jessica

Traveling Friends Perry And Beth

Ashland Friends Dick And Viki

Last Glimpse Of Spencer Spit

Until Next Time

Another Summer On Lopez
Arriving On Lopez
Rustic Cabin On Spencer Spit
Peaceful View Across The Marsh
Fledgling Rough Winged Swallows On The Beach
Early Morning At Spencer Spit
Art On The Beach
Findlay And My Hat
A Map Of The Island
Peaceful Island Biking
Biking To Town
It's All Picturesque
The Beautiful Herb Labyrinth
Watching Peregrines At Watmough Bay
Magical Mossy Trails Above Watmough Bay
A View Of Mt. Baker
Shark Reef In Late Afternoon
San Juan Island From Shark Reef
Baby Harbor Seal
Barred Owl On The Trail
On The Trail To Iceberg Point
Endless Views From Iceberg Point
Biking To Fisherman's Bay
Overlooking Fisherman's Bay
A Beach Walk With Findlay
Kayaking One Of Many Bays On Lopez
We Have Company
Delightful Purple Sea Stars
In The Fields At Horse Drawn Farm
Our Favorite Farmstand
The Wonderful Lopez Library
It's Cozy Inside And Has Internet!
Peace Train At The Fourth Of July Parade
Saturday Farmer's Market
A Friendly Farmer At The Market
Our Home On Lopez
Our Outdoor Classroom
Teaching About Native Traditions
They Chose Wolf Totems
Birding For Kids
Findlay Earned His Jr. Ranger Badge
Coffee With The Birds Program
Visitor To Our Campsite (Pacific Wren)
Fledgling Pileated Woodpecker
Violet Green Swallows
Our Cohosts Stan And Georgia
Ranger Tina And Findlay
Meghan At The End Of A Long Summer
Dinner With Lopez Friends At Our Site
An Evening Of Music Around The Fire
Bruce And Sheila At Home
Music Evening With Nick And Susie
Michael And Ann In Her Studio
Del And Cindy At Vita's
Ashland Friends (Linda, Steve, & Family)
Traveling Friends Henry, Loretta & Jessica
Traveling Friends Perry And Beth
Ashland Friends Dick And Viki
Last Glimpse Of Spencer Spit
Until Next Time
Another Summer On Lopez thumbnail
Arriving On Lopez thumbnail
Rustic Cabin On Spencer Spit thumbnail
Peaceful View Across The Marsh thumbnail
Fledgling Rough Winged Swallows On The Beach thumbnail
Early Morning At Spencer Spit thumbnail
Art On The Beach thumbnail
Findlay And My Hat thumbnail
A Map Of The Island thumbnail
Peaceful Island Biking thumbnail
Biking To Town thumbnail
It's All Picturesque thumbnail
The Beautiful Herb Labyrinth thumbnail
Watching Peregrines At Watmough Bay thumbnail
Magical Mossy Trails Above Watmough Bay thumbnail
A View Of Mt. Baker thumbnail
Shark Reef In Late Afternoon thumbnail
San Juan Island From Shark Reef thumbnail
Baby Harbor Seal thumbnail
Barred Owl On The Trail thumbnail
On The Trail To Iceberg Point thumbnail
Endless Views From Iceberg Point thumbnail
Biking To Fisherman's Bay thumbnail
Overlooking Fisherman's Bay thumbnail
A Beach Walk With Findlay thumbnail
Kayaking One Of Many Bays On Lopez thumbnail
We Have Company thumbnail
Delightful Purple Sea Stars thumbnail
In The Fields At Horse Drawn Farm thumbnail
Our Favorite Farmstand thumbnail
The Wonderful Lopez Library thumbnail
It's Cozy Inside And Has Internet! thumbnail
Peace Train At The Fourth Of July Parade thumbnail
Saturday Farmer's Market thumbnail
A Friendly Farmer At The Market thumbnail
Our Home On Lopez thumbnail
Our Outdoor Classroom thumbnail
Teaching About Native Traditions thumbnail
They Chose Wolf Totems thumbnail
Birding For Kids thumbnail
Findlay Earned His Jr. Ranger Badge thumbnail
Coffee With The Birds Program thumbnail
Visitor To Our Campsite (Pacific Wren) thumbnail
Fledgling Pileated Woodpecker thumbnail
Violet Green Swallows thumbnail
Our Cohosts Stan And Georgia thumbnail
Ranger Tina And Findlay thumbnail
Meghan At The End Of A Long Summer thumbnail
Dinner With Lopez Friends At Our Site thumbnail
An Evening Of Music Around The Fire thumbnail
Bruce And Sheila At Home thumbnail
Music Evening With Nick And Susie thumbnail
Michael And Ann In Her Studio thumbnail
Del And Cindy At Vita's thumbnail
Ashland Friends (Linda, Steve, & Family) thumbnail
Traveling Friends Henry, Loretta & Jessica thumbnail
Traveling Friends Perry And Beth thumbnail
Ashland Friends Dick And Viki thumbnail
Last Glimpse Of Spencer Spit thumbnail
Until Next Time thumbnail

Read More

On The Way To Lopez Island

On The Way To Lopez Island

Posted by on Oct 6, 2016 in Biking, Food, Gallery, Travel, Washington | 25 comments

On one of our first journeys to the San Juan Islands, we discovered the tiny hamlet of Edison, in the Skagit Valley of western Washington. With a population of only 133, it doesn’t seem like there could be much worth stopping for.

True, Edison is little more than a wide spot in the road. But this particular wide spot has a disproportionate number of seriously fine eating establishments and unique art galleries. Edison embodies the farm-to-table, healthy (with a side of local pastured bacon), environmentally conscious, creatively quirky ambiance that infuses much of the Pacific Northwest.

Leaving Winthrop and our adventures in the North Cascades, the drive along the North Cascades Scenic Byway and through the pastoral farmland of the Skagit Valley was a beautiful one. One hundred and forty miles later, we pulled into our favorite campground in the area—Bay View State Park, overlooking Padilla Bay. At only nine miles from the ferry landing in Anacortes, it puts us on the doorstep of the San Juan Islands—and it’s also perfectly positioned for a visit to Edison.

It’s an easy six-and-a-half mile bike ride along the bay and through acres of blueberry fields from Bay View State Park to Edison. Our destination is always Tweets, a former gas station turned café. (There are more good choices; this just happens to be our favorite.)

The big garage doors roll up Friday through Sunday, revealing a rustic interior with a charmingly eccentric décor of roughhewn wood tables, local artwork, random trinkets, and a twinkling chandelier. The food offerings are equally eclectic, prompted by what’s in season in the neighborhood (including eggs from the proprietors’ chickens and vegetables from their garden). The food is delicious, the atmosphere casual and relaxed, and the coffee excellent.

The two-block town is worth a leisurely exploration, including locally made treasures from reclaimed materials at the Lucky Dumpster; curiosities at Shop Curator that rival a small natural history museum; and lovely cheeses and wines at Slough Food. Even though breakfast is more than satisfying, we can never resist picking up a couple of bite-sized cocoa nib shortbread cookies from Breadfarm. (It’s also worth biking an additional mile to the even tinier hamlet of Bow; we’ve enjoyed both the Rhody Cafe and their sidekick Farm-To-Market Bakery.)

In the never-ending cycle of new adventures that traveling fulltime brings, we’ve found that we appreciate the familiarity of favorite places that we return to time and again. Stopping at Bay View State Park and biking into Edison has become something of a small tradition for us—a couple of days here gives us the opportunity to catch our breath from our long cross country journeys, and eases us into the laid-back island life that awaits.

About the campground:

At only nine miles from the ferry landing in Anacortes, Bay View State Park is perfectly located for a journey to the San Juan Islands. The best sites for RV’s are sites 1-9, which have partial hookups (water and electric) and also happen to be nearest Padilla Bay (the end sites even have views of the bay). There’s a nice biking/walking trail just a mile from the park that wends around the bay. Verizon coverage is good.

Next Up: Summer On Lopez Island 

Farmstand In The North Cascades

Heading West From Winthrop

Along The North Cascades Scenic Highway

Organic Treats From Cascadian Farm Stand

Blueberry Fields On The Way To Edison

Tweets Cafe

Inside Tweets Cafe

Slow Food On The Slough

The Lucky Dumpster Recycled Treasures

Baby Barn Swallows

Part Curio Shop, Part Gallery

Breadfarm Bakery In Edison

Yummy Cookies At Breadfarm

Biking To The Rhody Cafe

Inside Cozy Rhododendron Cafe

Biking Around Padilla Bay

Low Tide At Padilla Bay

RV Site At Bay View State Park

In Line For The Ferry To The Islands

Here Comes The Ferry!

Heading For The Islands

Sailing Past Mt. Baker

Arriving On Lopez Island

Farmstand In The North Cascades
Heading West From Winthrop
Along The North Cascades Scenic Highway
Organic Treats From Cascadian Farm Stand
Blueberry Fields On The Way To Edison
Tweets Cafe
Inside Tweets Cafe
Slow Food On The Slough
The Lucky Dumpster Recycled Treasures
Baby Barn Swallows
Part Curio Shop, Part Gallery
Breadfarm Bakery In Edison
Yummy Cookies At Breadfarm
Biking To The Rhody Cafe
Inside Cozy Rhododendron Cafe
Biking Around Padilla Bay
Low Tide At Padilla Bay
RV Site At Bay View State Park
In Line For The Ferry To The Islands
Here Comes The Ferry!
Heading For The Islands
Sailing Past Mt. Baker
Arriving On Lopez Island
Farmstand In The North Cascades thumbnail
Heading West From Winthrop thumbnail
Along The North Cascades Scenic Highway thumbnail
Organic Treats From Cascadian Farm Stand thumbnail
Blueberry Fields On The Way To Edison thumbnail
Tweets Cafe thumbnail
Inside Tweets Cafe thumbnail
Slow Food On The Slough thumbnail
The Lucky Dumpster Recycled Treasures thumbnail
Baby Barn Swallows thumbnail
Part Curio Shop, Part Gallery thumbnail
Breadfarm Bakery In Edison thumbnail
Yummy Cookies At Breadfarm thumbnail
Biking To The Rhody Cafe thumbnail
Inside Cozy Rhododendron Cafe thumbnail
Biking Around Padilla Bay thumbnail
Low Tide At Padilla Bay thumbnail
RV Site At Bay View State Park thumbnail
In Line For The Ferry To The Islands thumbnail
Here Comes The Ferry! thumbnail
Heading For The Islands thumbnail
Sailing Past Mt. Baker thumbnail
Arriving On Lopez Island thumbnail

Read More