Thursday, June 25, 2009

Low Alki Tide

\We went to Alki beach for the lowest tide of the year on Tuesday. After enjoying the beach we ran down to Olympia to take care of some administrative needs. We had the inside scoop from a native northwesterner to try Pegasus Pizza. You can sit and watch the beach antics while enjoying some good food. Traci had a touch of stomach yuck so Savannah and I shared a pizza while Shane, Sophia and Traci had buttered spaghetti noodles with mizithra cheese. The pizza was tasty and filling. I was able to sneak a taste of the buttered noodles and found them to be a delight, dancing through the taste buds with a shower of buttery cheesed goodness.

The low tide offered up some jellyfish, crabs, seas snails, starfish, and sea bugs. We wandered around a bit and took in all of the sites on the beach. We passed Lady Liberty shining her beacon of hope on all of Seattle.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Over the Sound, Through the Rain Forest and Off the Ocean

Grand Master Bob, Mary the Bartender, S.L.U.T., the Sidler Karaoke and Mormon Wedding Drinker all gather in one place on Friday night in Port Angeles, Reggie's Lounge.

My big brother Tom and I left for The Olympic Peninsula in the pouring rain from a ninety minute wait for the Kingston Ferry. We tempered our wait with a little Ivar's clam chowder, new music and tales from the Miller clan. We ventured over to see the sites offered there, mountains, ocean beaches, rain forests, sea stacks, waterfalls, wildflowers and night life. It was a long drive to Port Angeles after waiting for the ferry. We spent most of the drive comparing notes about our home lives, our children, our work, and our pasts. It was a nice feeling to be out with my brother.

The town of Edmonds held an art festival the same weekend and Traci kept the children entertained with fresh cooked goodies and a new craft every day. They had fun exploring the transformed playground they would usually run all over. The tents and vendors offered many new sights.

Tom and I were out to see some new sights for us. We spent most of the night singing and drinking at Reggie's. We went up to Hurricane Ridge early the next morning after raiding the continental breakfast for anything portable like pastries and apples. We drove up the park road to the end, loaded up some water and snacks and hiked out to Hurricane Hill. The hills were full of orange, purple, yellow and white streaks from alpine wildflowers in full bloom. There were patches of snow accenting views of cargo ships on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. We climbed up the hill resting our burning lungs often from the thinning air. The scenery was majestic. Tom and I stopped often to take pictures.

We left Hurricane Hill for the visitor's center in the main parking lot. Tom had heard of another destination on Hurricane Ridge, Obstruction Point, and we wanted to make sure the road was open. We stopped at the information desk and asked the ranger on duty. I thought her name tag displayed Jane so I took to calling her Ranger Jane. Ranger Jane enticed us with a little scouting mission to P.J. Lake. She promised a healthy steep hike to the lake past a waterfall and would appreciate a report on the condition of the trail. The road to the trail had only recently been reopened and there hadn't been enough time for any of the rangers to survey the trail.

We drove out a gravel road to the barricade where a marker for the P.J. Lake trail stood to direct people off the road and into grand adventure.

We walked down, the trail steep in sections, switch backed in other places, through thick evergreen forest. The cedar and spruce looked down on us as we slowly meandered down the trail. We stopped at one point so tom could find a walking stick to better steady his gait. He dug through some brush, sticks and fallen limbs eventually coming back to trail cut up and stick less. We started on finding the waterfall a pleasant display worthy of many pictures. Tom had forgotten to bring an extra memory card for his camera so he was constantly editing and conserving his photo opportunities. He would take five pictures, look through them all and discard things he thought he wouldn't even load to his hard drive at home. If something was truly photo worthy he would splurge and take two different angles of the same thing. I just pushed the button until I was bored and ready to move on.

P. J. Lake was around the waterfall and back up a hill, the waterfall being the outlet for the lake. We arrived to a clear blue green mirror reflecting trees and mountain peaks. We ate a pbj's and apples and headed back up the hill to the car. The hill was steeper going up. Our bodies struggled in the thin air and I had to stop often to let may heart shrink back to a normal size. We eventually made it back to the visitor's center and gave our report to the ranger on duty who told us we had spoken to a Ranger Janis not Jane.

We left Hurricane Ridge for Cape Flattery, where we were going to stand on the most northwestern tip of the contiguous United States. It was another three hours in the car but we drove up to the Makah tribal museum just in time to get a recreational permit allowing us to hike out to the cape. The Makah tribe owns and manages the land with expert care making the ten dollar donation a small dent in the costs of maintaining the area.

The ocean crashed against rocks as sea gulls chased each other in the sky. There were reports of puffin, eagles, seals, and whales in the area earlier in the day. I enjoyed the expansive view. Tom edited his limited memory and snapped off several pictures. I could then tell he decided this place was about twenty picture worthy, he had to save some memory for the next day.

We left Cape Flattery opting for an Indian taco on the way off the res. The matron fried the dough in her front yard, piled on beef, lettuce, tomato, shredded cheddar, onions and sour cream. She offered us some of her home made salsa and we made the last of it disappear into our tacos. I asked about salmon fry bread but the lady just laughed and said the beef tacos were good. She was right.

We drove down to La Push to a seaside resort only to find they were all booked up. They were hosting two wedding parties and the rooms went quickly. The young lady at the counter advised us to go into Forks and check out the accommodations there. The Olympic Inn was the first hotel off 101 as we entered Forks. Tucked back in the woods it's only evidence of existence was a bright sign by the road directing traffic down to the building. Tom went inside to find one room available. The old guy running the place apologized while he cut the rate for the two bedroom suite in half and gave Tom the keys. He first asked if we smoked cigarettes. Tom emphatically denied any cigarette smoking and we had our room. It wasn't on the beach but it was a place to stay.

Second and Third beach are about a ten mile drive and another mile or so hike from Forks so we headed out there to see if we could catch the sunset. We barely made it. Third beach is a mile and a half hike out and we took the Third beach trail. We did see several people camping on the beach and the sun was setting just in time for us to watch, from behind a huge point. We didn't see any of the actual burning orb floating into the horizon only a reflection of decaying colors in the clouds and water. We watched seals bob in the water just off the beach. It had been a long day with a nice finish.

The next day we went to Second beach, the Hoh Rain forest and Ruby beach then went back to Edmonds. It was an amazing trip. The best part was being with my big brother again.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Where To Go?

The last few days Traci and I were engaged in a long discussion has taken our minds to the edges of their not so startlingly limited abilities. We were talking about different areas of the country. We were stuck on where we should take the family next. We had heard all of the great things people have experienced all over the country and we were at a stand still. I needed to start my licensing process soon for a new destination so we started the long discussion and it has continued.

We finished the last few days of our visit with Grandma and Grandpa with more sight-seeing. They explored the Turner Joy destroyer in Bremerton while Grandpa highlighted their tour with a comparison of the boat to his boat when he had been in the Navy. I was disappointed I hadn't been able to go along on the trip. Grandpa had told many tales of Navy life on the high seas in such close quarters.

The next day I was able to be there. We headed down to Seattle to the aquarium and a harbor tour with plans to finish the day at the Salmon House restaurant across Lake Union from Seattle. It was a busy day and we all enjoyed it. The aquarium gave us opportunities to see an octopus, jellyfish, flashlight fish and several marine birds. We had a harbor tour take us from Lake Union to the Puget Sound through the Ballard locks. This was a great chance to see many sides of the city with an exhaustive and somewhat exhausting narrative during the entire trip. The Salmon House was a favorite place to eat. The Ivar's white clam chowder was a cup of hearty magic and the smoked salmon made me forget all of my troubles for fifteen wonderful minutes of gastronomic bliss. We were excited to have the chance to share these delights with Grandma and Grandpa.

A strong voice for a trip to Alaska came from a recent visitor to our trip, Ginny. Olin had e-mailed us and asked if we were going to be around in June. They had plans to visit the area and wanted to see where we lived. We drew them in with our pictures of the view of the Puget Sound from the living room. They arrived on the day Grandma and Grandpa left.

They had booked a hotel in Seattle and agreed to drive up to Edmonds for a little visit. We walked down to the Thai restaurant in town and learned Olin could speak Thai, limited Thai, but he made the server look twice. We shared stories from our trip and their adventures.
Olin had been to Seattle. He spent a few days in town and grew bored of the local scene deciding to explore the Olympic Peninsula. He ended up hiking up through the Hoh Rain forest to a huge blue glacier. He described the creaking noises the glacier made as it slowly shifted and changed shape. I wanted to see and hear the blue glacier.
Ginny had spent several years in Alaska in small villages out in the bush. She told of her adventures and made a strong pitch for our next destination to be in Alaska. She had us hooked. She had gone through three days with caribou clogging the entire village. The animals had wandered into town and all of the people in town worked around them. She had learned different trades from the members of the community, beading, cleaning animals and fish. We spent the next day scouring available resources and routes to Alaska.
We didn't find a way to make Alaska workable. Traci chastised me for not getting pictures with our Texan cousins.