"Could I have this dance for the rest of my life?" - Anne Murray

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Poulsbo, Washington

We spent the day on Bainbridge Island, (see next post) we stopped in the little port town of Poulsbo, Washington.

Poulsbo is also known as "Little Norway" for the heritage that has shaped the community.  Many Norwegian immigrants settled here to engage in the livelihoods that are also common in Norway - fishing and forestry. The climate seems like a milder version of Norway's as well.

On the main street of town we stopped at Sluy's Bakery, a fantasy come true. The world cannot have too many bakeries like this one.  I didn't know about it, but could just tell by the town and by the front of the store that it was going to be great. I want to move to Poulsbo just to try everything in the bakery. It would take awhile.  We came away with an apple strudel and chocolate chip cookies. 

We passed the port itself and spotted a children's sailing class at the yacht club. 

Unfortunately there was no wind so they were heading in.

Once on Bainbridge, we headed south down the length of the island and caught some lunch in Eagle Harbor at the Harbor Public House.  This cozy little waterfront pub specializes in locally sourced produce, meats, wines and microbrews (as is the trend in this area).  Rick had what I think was probably the best chowder ever. 

The rest of the afternoon was spent at Bloedel Reserve, which needs a whole post of its own. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

"Sunny" Sequim

Well, that may be an overstatement. It's how Sequim (say "skwim") markets itself. It is among the areas just northeast of the Olympic Range that can claim that they are in the rain shadow of the mountains, which means they get less rain than the other side of the mountains, and more sunshine. So that's a relative statement. We've still been having a lot of cloudy weather here. And that's also compared to what we've become used to here in the West.

Nevertheless, we have been out and about. What they say here is "There's no such thing as bad weather - just bad clothes" and we have taken that to heart. We travel with many layers, rubber boots, rain gear, umbrellas and towels in addition to all our kayak gear, water, dog food, binoculars, cameras, snacks. We can pack a lot in Ms. Subaru.

That said, we do manage to take some pictures on days that are less gloomy. Recently we have explored in all directions on the Olympic Peninsula and nearby. (See previous posts.) We've revisited Port Angeles several times because Rick loves to see what ships are there.

I've gone exploring nearby with Kona. One evening on Dungeness Bay, at the northern end of Sequim, we got this unusual view of Mt. Baker.

Another day we took a little drive and hike into Olympic National Park along the Dungeness River. 

The trail ran along a steep bank of the river, and it was kind of a long way down below the path.

We had to climb under and over fallen trees, and Kona was a real trooper. She got to take a little swim in a quiet part of what must have been a pretty frigid river.

Careful observation along the way revealed this giant slug with leopard markings among the mushrooms, and lovely wild sedum of some sort along the steep rocky bank.

Yesterday Rick and I biked about 13 miles (round trip) to Blynn, a small town at the bottom of Sequim Bay, and the main location of the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe.

This tribe has an unusual history that includes their purchase of local land in 1840 and choosing to lose their recognition by the federal government as an official Native American tribe, in order to maintain their independence and not be moved to a reservation. (More than a century later they changed that decision and applied for recognition. I think that may have also allowed them to have a casino.) They have maintained a remarkable community and governing system that is centered in Blynn. We've been impressed with the buildings, landscaping and art that is evident everywhere in Blynn. There just seems to be a sense of well-being and integrity throughout the community. Of course pictures can't really show that, but they may give a sense of the strong aesthetic that is present in everything they've created there.

We had our lunch overlooking this little park area behind the tribe's official buildings. All the tribe's governmental and community service buildings are located here, in addition to tourist oriented buildings such as a gallery, gift shop, gas station, quick-stop type grocery and unfortunately the ubiquitous casino.

This is a large sculpture of an orca (killer whale).

This is a totem pole (above and below) outside the natural resources management building.

A little landscaped but natural stream runs through the buildings and out to the bay.

The tunnel to the other side of the main road is topped by more art work and carvings. 

Even the stair railings and garbage screens are art.

This is a house pole, in contrast to a totem pole. Evidently it stays inside, as this one was covered.The largest character on it represents a sea spirit. The one on top is an eagle, and the smaller one that looks like a person is the sea spirit's grandson.

This totem pole represents a grizzly bear holding a salmon.

We have about one more week here in Sequim. We'll be visiting our friends James and Linda, and Rick's niece Sarah, nephew-in-law Michael and grand niece Caroline over on Bainbridge Island, and getting ourselves ready to move again. Our next post may come from Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, if we have decent internet service. If not, there may be a pause for about a month while we're in Canada.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Eagle Spa

Bald eagles are not uncommon up here, but this was a rare sight. There we were at the John Wayne Marina, looking out over Sequim Bay when we spotted this bald eagle at the spa - I mean taking a bath in the fresh stream that feeds into the salt water bay.

At first a couple of crows were harassing him (her? Who knows.), but it didn't seem to phase him. He started by taking a few drinks. 

Then he got right down into the water to get as wet as possible,  
splashing water over his head, back and wings. 

Then after about 20 minutes of bathing, he flew over to a nearby rock to dry in the sun. 
He was really soaked and it took a long time for him to dry off.

He spread his wings like a cormorant to let the sun and the wind dry them.

Rick really wanted to get a picture of him flying off* but being the good wildlife watchers that we are, we didn't want to disturb him.  We might have sat there the whole day, but thankfully a woman walking her dog on the beach got close enough to scare him off.

Since then we've been back to the marina several times, but no eagle spa was happening. Then today we were back there for a picnic with our friends Linda and James and we told them the story. Wouldn't you know, after about ten minutes here comes the eagle and the crows, and we got to watch all over again. This time he skipped the bath, but just had a drink. He must be a regular imbiber, but bathes only on sunny days. 

*All photos in this post by Rick.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Hurricane Ridge

I woke up at 5:30, looked out the window and saw the mountains bathed in the light from the rising sun, with blue skies all around, and said "Let's go to Hurricane Ridge!"  My adventure buddy Rick was up for it too. There's no sense going up the mountains for the incredible views if they're in the clouds, which they have been since we got here. This was the first really clear day, and lucky for us it stayed that way all day.

On the drive up we were the only ones on the road, and the only ones at the Visitor's Center up top, which wasn't open yet when we got there. It was totally silent, except for the singing of a few birds. 

Hurricane Ridge is one of the "must see" places around here, as it gives you a view of the whole Olympic Range and a 360 degree perspective of the peninsula in relation to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Salish Sea, Vancouver Island and even the Cascades.  

In the next photo you can just barely make out a faint but huge Mt. Baker in the distance, 
across the Salish Sea, about 100 miles way. (Salish Sea is one of the ways to describe the total of all the straits, bays, sounds, etc. that stretch from Canada down to Tacoma.)

This is the view north over the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Vancouver and the San Juan Islands. Unfortunately they're too far away to get a good picture of. You'll just have to believe me.

In the next picture, Mt. Olympus is the peak on the far left, 
and just below it and to the right, the wrinkly snow marks the Blue Glacier.  

On the way back down we got the best view of all - 
a mother bear and her very young cub crossing the road. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Hoh Rainforest

In the depths of the Olympic National Park there are valleys of temperate rainforests, one of which is the Hoh. It gets about 12 FEET of rain per year.  Unbelievably, it was not raining at the time we visited, though it rained on our way there and back. We walked the Spruce Trail.  The experience is kind of other worldly - timeless.

The mosses grow so long that they form drapes or curtains on the tree limbs.

The undergrowth is lush with mosses, ferns, shamrocks, flowers, seedlings, and plenty of green things that I can't identify.

Moss up close.

A tiny white flower about the size of golf T.

Close up of another even smaller plant that grows on downed trees, with almost transparent leaves. 

OK, back to the real world. Oops, not this way... No calling out allowed.

Speaking of other worlds, nearby is the town of Forks, which is the central location for the Twilight book series about adolescents, vampires and werewolves. We drove through Forks, and it appeared to be a very normal town, with the incredible "Forks Outfitters" store which had everything you could ever need for an extended stay in another world.