I do believe that October is a great month in so many places around the world! It is for sure an incredible time in the Pacific Northwest!! It was stated on the news that our October temperatures were 10° higher than the historical average. I have more information gleaned in Italy that I’ll be sharing, yet I really feel like highlighting the enjoyment of our own special piece of the world in recent months since I’ve been home in the Pacific Northwest!
I am always coming or going it seems!!! I admit it, I am super busy – all the time. Honestly, I continually reevaluate my choices that result in this crazy schedule and always CHOOSE to forge onward, full steam – so much life to live!!! Many of my friends and most of my family implore me to “slow down and smell the roses!” Not only do I stop to smell roses and other flowers, a tremendous thrill that NEVER gets old in my activities is observing the astounding layers of God’s Creation that fuse into so many unique patterns and miracles for us to behold!!
The various textures and hues of fauna, leaf shape, size, thickness – their stems (with or without thorns) and branches, bark, flowers, fruits, nuts, cones, seeds and amongst those also an array of shapes and shades! No matter where I travel there are the native plants and those that have been transplanted from other regions – all beautiful in their own way yet the latter not always having a big fan base for one reason or another. From the huge list of mushrooms, blackberries, huckleberries, salmon berries, figs, walnuts, apricots, plums, clover, nasturtiums and countless other edibles to forage while walking, amazingly delicious with an expansive scope of skins, colors, fragrances and tastes – to herbs of lavender, rosemary, sage, fennel and mint that spark joy and rejuvenation just by rubbing my fingers through their waving tendrils! And the trees!!! Saplings to majestic and towering elders – their barks and sun-reaching limbs, the fragrances they impart – the new life they foster even as they die. The luscious scents of pine, alder, cedar, eucalyptus, fir…. Oh how mind blowing the seasonal showing and fragrance of the changing foliage – such colors!! And the ongoing richness of the evergreens! Some roots go straight down beyond vision, others clamor along and over trails, all purported and which I sincerely believe, to actually be communicating and supporting one another through rough times and their thriving! Even the dirt exudes in me a fascination and deep appreciation!
Don’t get me started on the fuzzy caterpillars, buzzing bees, spectacularly colorful butterflies, elusive crickets, cicada, grasshoppers – with their surprisingly bold colors when they leap, lizards, turtles, frogs and toads, ladybugs and beetles!! 0wls, eagles, osprey, flickers, Rufus sided towhee, doves, quail, crows and ravens, woodpeckers, cedar waxwing, the goldfinch, hummingbirds, gulls, herons, robins, jays, chickadees and warblers!!!! The pelicans and chaukalakas I have seen in Mexico, and the storks and cukucuku birds of Spain… Plus we occasionally see swans on Lake Washington in our neck of the woods! Needless to say, I could go ON AND ON! Tomes and anthems are devoted to each and every subject of nature, as you know. I am a beholder, believer and beneficiary!!
I arrived in San Francisco from Europe on Tuesday, September 27th and had a brief visit with Delightful Daughter, Savvy Son-in-Law and the grand kiddos.
Then it was back to Seattle on Thursday, September 29th for an evening dining out with Handsome Hubby. Friday morning had us bound on a nearly six hour road trip across the Cascade Mountain range, north through the Okanogan section of Eastern Washington and into Beautiful British Columbia, Canada. It was sadly so smokey from nearby, still burning forest fires that I donned my mask for a couple of hours.
Our destination of Osoyoos was sunny, blue skied and inviting, the lake sparkling as if studded with gems! We come for the rural, Annual Festival of The Grape (FOG) this year celebrating its 50th anniversary! We always make time for some hiking, wine tasting and favorite eats!
We couldn’t get a dining date with Fabulous Chef and Friend, Chris Vanhooydonk, yet we took him up on his invitation to stop in and visit as he was prepping for a big catered dinner. Always so Great to see him and the progress being made at his Backyard Farms’ kitchen and in his business/family’s bounty producing yard!!!
Whidbey Island here we come!!Considered one of the San Juan Islands, there is a spit of land that can be traversed to get there. Monday morning, however, we chose to take the twenty minute ferry crossing out of Mukilteo, as it’s always nice to get out on the water – especially on a stellar day!
Our tent camping site at Fort Ebey was technically not available until 2:00, so we parked at the trailhead of Ebey Landing and hiked the Bluff Trail, taking advantage of far reaching views all the way south to Mt. Rainier, across the unusually calm Straits of Juan de Fuca, to the Olympic Mountain range in the west – Truly Awesome!!!
And a Huge Bonus – we took the option of returning along the beach!!! What an Amazingly Beautiful portion of the Earth we live on!!
After getting our tent set up, we did a few additional miles of forest trails, literally adjacent to our campsite. There are so many great camping opportunities nationally in the United States, especially in Washington state – and Fort Ebey is definitely one of The Best I have had the pleasure to enjoy multiple times. The grounds are well maintained with conveniently locatedgarbage receptacles, restrooms with showers and grate equipped fire pits, in fairly private, well distanced camping sites. There are group sites as well as cycle/hike in only areas. We couldn’t quite see the western sky from our picnic table, yet a trail directly from our designated spot took us through dappled sun (in the evening and morning hours, the full moon’s rays) right out to the bluff, overlooking an expansive kite flying field, the Straits of Juan de Fuca and ultimately an awesome sunset over the Olympic Mountains!
This is a gem of a park, with acres of intersecting forest trails of various terrain, even joining up the the adjacent county park system of more hiking trail acreage!!
The winds were expected to blow and Boy Did They!!! The temperatures dropped, too, and we hunkered down in added clothing layers around the fire – none of which diminished our PNW camping joy nor the delicious steak, brown rice and green salad dinner!
Tuesday morning we hiked three hours, around seven miles of trails, and then headed “to town” to find a television for watching the Seattle Mariners in their 12:30 pm Major League Baseball playoff game!
We found one at the Tyee Motel and Restaurant/bar in Coopeville. It was pretty much too nice of a day to be indoors, but A Fan’s gotta do what a Fan’s gotta do!!! It was a great game even though they ultimately lost. We had another great meal and cozy evening around the campfire, restful sleep in our tent – and we will certainly be back in the future to enjoy this awesome park, it’s views and it’s trails!!
On our way out we stopped at a new park we had not yet been to, and enjoyed the whole estate to ourselves!! Merkerk Garden on Whidbey Island is a not-for-profit garden open to the public.
Meerkerk Gardens has ten acres of display gardens, forty-three acres of forest trails , a huge rhododendron section, music and festive events as well as botany education for children and adults. We Highly recommend a visit!
Whenever we can fit it in, we LOVE to head to the little town of Lilliwaup on Hoods Canal for a fabulous drive, some short hikes at any variety of places – the ultimate goal – Oysters!!!Hama Hama Oyster Company is a fifth generation family-run shellfish farm on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula with beds located at the mouth of one of the shortest, coldest, and least developed rivers in Washington State, resulting a clean, crisp flavor of the oysters downstream. We like to sit in an A-frame on the beach in the “oyster saloon” and have a dozen each, “Grillers” and “Chillers” – and sometimes a bucket of steamed clams! So delicious!!
So much to see, discover and enjoy!!