Saturday, June 24, 2017

Whidbey Island Summer

A summer right here on Whidbey Island, a summer at home, is unfolding…




Too often it seems to have fun, one is expected to be somewhere other than home.  Flying away to far off lands or driving to exotic places is how to explore and find adventure.   Or, so goes the common story line.  Telling a friend you are staying home for the summer too often is met with words of regret.  "Oh, we're sorry, too bad you have nothing planned for your summer vacation." 

Although we love our Thistle adventures, we also love our close to home explorations.   Despite the push-pull between staying put or another Thistle adventure, we don't think it's possible to make a bad decision.   

Our summer at home, with family and friends will be delightful as well as restful.  Our activities somewhat predictable, but predictability can be just the ticket on occasion.  Although we will not refer to our at-home activities as "adventures" we also will not relegate them to the trash heap of boring.  

Family, always a delight, will be high on our list of "time delightfully spent"…



Yessi, Fran, Brad, Ed


Thistle will rest in the driveway, perhaps a little too much, but we will definitely venture out on short outings, even setting our sights on the not-so-distant, but in a foreign land, Vancouver Island.  We also have visions of more deeply exploring Lake Chelan, the North Cascades and hiking on the ocean beaches…





Digging Brad and Yessi's Klepper out of storage and going for a sail sounds perfect…






And, as always, a bunch of riding is on the agenda.  This year we will repeat a past year's island explorations by again riding all the connecting roads on Whidbey Island…   






Each day we will try to be more like our pup, Benton -- enjoying every minute whether sleeping in the garden or romping on the beach.  Dogs are the prefect creatures to teach us to be happily in the moment…







Plus, what could be more beautiful than our summer garden.  Our Airbnb guests think they are in paradise, and so should we…






So yes, a summer at home is what's happening this year.  A summer of slow, lazy, happy days on a beautiful island in the Pacific Northwest.   And to enhance our at-home enjoyment we have an outdoor bedroom.  Upstairs, in the building housing our office and carport, that we call the barn, is a recently installed Murphy bed high above the garden…






~~~

"In wisdom gathered over time I have found that every experience is a form of exploration."

~  Ansel Adams






Tuesday, May 23, 2017

"Gardening is the Best Exercise of All!"

I don't know why I agreed.  A weak moment, perhaps?   It's not as if life is not busy enough with Thistle travels, political involvement,  running an Airbnb and just plain day-to-day life.  But I did hear "yes" come rushing out of my mouth.   I think it might have been my physical therapist's words, newly delivered, "gardening is the best exercise of all.  Keep gardening!"

So here I am, day in and day out, gardening my body into some semblance of fit as I prepare our garden for the Whidbey Island Garden Tour on Saturday, June 17.  As the day draws near,  preparation panic sweeps over me.  I rush to eliminate all weeds, prune all trees and nudge each and every garden corner into a thing I know doesn't exist, but I'm still striving to achieve, perfection.  Ha!  Both my garden and my body resist mightily.

But, despite the work-in-progress nature of a garden, welcome to our Fredley Garden.  Our home and garden are in the city limits of Langley, on Whidbey Island.  We have 1/3 acre of peace and quiet, hidden from neighbors, yet a short walk to town.

This is the front gate, built in our son's wild and playful style. His company, dbBrad, built our home and Brad is our family's creative genius.




First couple of steps through the gate…









A little stroll around the garden…











Our pond…





Please, come again…June 17?






Tickets are now on sale for the tour.  Proceeds from the annual Whidbey Island Garden Tour are donated to selected causes and non-profit organizations that support the improvement, restoration, and maintenance of our common island habitat. Projects that emphasize public space enhancement and education are of particular merit in the eyes of the WIGT Board.



~~~

If you want to be happy for a short time, get drunk;
happy for a long time, fall in love;
happy forever, take up gardening."

~ Arthur Smith






Friday, April 14, 2017

Life is a Dance


Our last night on the road we camped at Dungeness Recreation Area, where Clallam County provides 66 beautiful camping sites right next to Dungeness Spit.  The spit is walking paradise, plus there are other walking trails and equestrian trails throughout the park.

Both Ed and I were astonished when we compared notes and discovered neither of us had walked the spit.    Five and one-half miles of narrow spit beach walking, with unlimited views, culminating at a light house.  We did not walk the entire eleven mile round trip because tide and dog issues forced us into restraint, plus provided me with a good foil against needing to blame my ankle.   And then there was the threatening rain.

























Clallam County camping opportunities are vast.  They have about 16 county campgrounds so for camping close to home, head for the peninsula.  

Ed and I did our usual turn into homing pigeons once we finished our hike on the Dungeness Spit.  Although we thought we'd stay another night or two exploring the peninsula, instead we headed for home.  Before hiking the spit, we visited the Elwha Dam visitor's kiosk (dam removal recovery is impressive), walked the beach at Salt Creek Campground, camped one night at Dungeness Recreation Area, then hiked the spit the following morning.   But our hearts had already returned to Whidbey Island.  By mid day we were on the ferry to Whidbey.  By 7:00 we were enjoying dinner with our kids, Brad and Yessi.

~~~


"Life is a dance between making it happen and letting it happen."

~Arianna Huffington



Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Rain, Rain go Away!

Oh, wait, it's Washington. "Rain, rain, go away" won't work here. Yesterday we returned to Washington. Rain drizzled. Rain poured. Rain soaked everything. Rain came with thunder and lightning. Rain and wind arrived simultaneously. Rain came down from dark, angry looking clouds. Rain even emerged from fluffy white clouds. Without end...rain. Rain. Did. Not. Stop.

We camped at Pacific City State Park, where we mostly watched it rain, much to Benton's distress. Even for us webfooted Washingtonians, it was simply too wet to venture out. And, apparently, that was not unique. We barely saw movement in camp as the other fifteen, or so, campers hunkered down too.

Finally, at about 8:30 the next morning our windshield showed no rain drops so out onto the beach we go. Sticks and more sticks were tossed, to Benton's delight, before rain started up again. We scurried for Thistle, securing ourselves inside just before the torrent hit.











Moving on from Pacific City, we lunched at Quinault Lodge where we watched it rain (pour actually!) cozily ensconced in the lodge. After lunch we did a short walk with Benton before running for cover again.



Next we head to the Hoh Rain Forest, as if we're not getting enough rain at the beach and Quinault Lodge. The Hoh is beautiful...







And it rained. Rain gear protected us mostly, but huge puddles on the trails soaked our boots. The forest was soggy...everywhere.












In our wet-theme state of mind, we camped for the night next to the Hoh River and watched the river flow and the rain come down. Most of the campsites were flooded so tent campers needed to carefully evaluate their tent locations or expect a very wet night. Thank goodness for Thistle. We walk Benton when the rain stops, running quickly back to shelter when it started again. I'd say we've had rain today in a ratio of about 80 to 20, wet to dry, and it was no whimpy drizzle, but full on rain.

Home coming is weather dependent. We'll be home Wednesday or Thursday if conditions exist. If the sun comes out we'll delay to Friday or Saturday. Even friendship and adventure need sunshine.

~~~


"Being soaked alone is cold. Being soaked with your best friend is an adventure."
~ Emily Wing Smith



Saturday, April 8, 2017

Falling in Love...Again!

Several nights ago we shared a campfire with Bob, our camping neighbor in Pinnacles National Park. He is from Eugene, Oregon, but grew up in California. I too grew up in California. As we pondered life and traveling, Bob said, "traveling has made me fall in love with California again." What a note he struck.









I have fallen in love with California again -- the California I knew as a kid -- the territory I tromped through in my kid's bare, carefree, feet. The cities had no lure then and still have little. It's the backroads that entice us, almost beyond reason with their isolated, out of the way spots of beauty and intrigue.

The east-west roads, oh the wonder, as they wander through sparsely populated forests and grasslands. The elevations increase and then decrease. Hot switches to cold. Rain and fog are suddenly snow and ice. The flat lands turn to rolling hills. The rolling hill to jutting rocks. Oceans to orchards to mountains. Landscapes are kaleidoscope-like magic. And the people...ready to smile, talk, engage.

I imagine a trip, planning it in my head, dreaming... It would be from Washington to California, starting in Washington's Olympic National Forest. It would then proceed back-and-forth through the Oregon and California Coast Ranges. Zigzagging in a crazy fashion of enticing road and landscape beauty...east to west; west to east. The return trip would be north from the Mexican border. First, the ups and downs of the foothills and deserts, then venturing into the dizzying altitudes crisscrossing the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Mountain ranges, along east-west roads of scenic, isolated wonder.





















Not only are the roads narrow, twisty and enchanting, the shrubs, trees and understory change in remarkable ways. And the views, oh, the views. And the wildlife. So far we've seen wild hogs, bobcats, turkey vultures, condors, quail, turkeys, turtles and, we think, wolves. Not to mention deer, elk, lizards and coyotes. Still waiting for that cougar, but we did see a herd of zebras (yep!) near Mendocino. And the meadow larks sing as the blue jays squawk.

After enjoying family and friends in the Bay Area, we moved north for two wonderful days with camping buddies at their Petaluma home...





                                           


                              


                              


    


    


We boondocked, hiked and explored Pt. Reyes, lunching in Bolinas, the town with no signs announcing it's presence to the world. Bolinas is approximately 13 miles northwest of San Francisco as the crow flies and is known for its reclusive residents. The roads are unmarked. All road signs into town have, over the years, been torn down by local residents. County officials became so frustrated they offered a ballot measure and the voters' choice was no signs.






The next day, Mendocino, where we walked the headlands…






Our night was spent boondocking on a side road off the Avenue of the Giants, next to a small river. It began to rain, our first for some time. Today we will explore Highway 96, up into the Siskiyou Wilderness, finding another boondocking site, or perhaps a National Forest campground. At one potential camping spot, just below the snow line, we were advised a cougar had been spotted and tracks seen along the Klamath River. "Watch out for your dog," was the warning. This is the second time on this trip we've received this warning. We will heed it. Although we hope to spot a cougar, we don't want to bait it with Benton. Our night turned out to be raucous, with the wind howling and the rain coming down in torrents. Thistle swayed and rocked on our Highway 96 "pull off". And, this morning, our question is, "is the road open?" We've only seen one vehicle, a logging truck, pass by.





The many miles from the Bay Area to the northern tip of California are spectacular, as were all the miles we traveled from Sacramento south. We have celebrated California from tip-to-toe and side-to-side. It's beauty, diversity, spirit, wineries, creameries, breweries, parks, markets, beaches, ranches, orchards, towns, coffee shops, rivers, lakes, and people have all captivated us and restored my childhood love.

We recommend a slow, wandering trip on California's backroads. Twist and turn and explore and you will find a California different than promoted or criticized. Be exploratory kids again!








~~~



"Adults follow paths. Children explore. Adults are content to walk the same way, hundreds of times, or thousands; perhaps it never occurs to adults to step off the paths, to creep beneath rhododendrons, to find the spaces between fences."

~ Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane