The Enchanted Valley

July 2nd, 2010

the view from the outhouse

Back about 40 years ago when I lived in LA and was just getting my feet wet with backpacking, the Sierra Club offered a hike into the Enchanted Valley on the Olympic Peninsula.  The hike was canceled that year due to lack of interest.  But MY interest kept going until this summer, when my dream finally came true.

The Enchanted Valley is up in the headwaters of the Quinault River.  You drive to the end of the road beyond Lake Quinault, park, and start walking, 13 miles to be exact – we took 2 days to do it.  A small group from MeetUp had planned this trip, and I was not disappointed!

Green on Green

It’s only about a 4-hour drive from here to the upper Quinault River, to a whole different ecosystem, one where green is the only color and human sounds surrender to rushing water.  Bears, indifferent to hikers, barely (scuse me) look up from their leisurely grazing for berries in the meadows.

The Enchanted Valley was a privately-owned destination in the 20’s, until the National Park took it over and maintained it as a ranger station and emergency shelter. It’s the first major clearing – there are many beyond it as the trees start thinning and shrinking – and I think it got its name from the myriad waterfalls that grace the cliffs surrounding it.  While we were there – 2 nights in June – a crew was replacing the original cedar-shake roof, faithfully duplicating the original shingles, which were almost three feet long!  They had had to mill them themselves – you just can’t buy shakes like that anymore.

Reminded me of an old, old shack I stumbled across once in the Sierras many years ago.

On the way home, a few of us visited charming Port Townsend and Fort Worden, staying in the youth hostel there by the beach.  It’s definitely shorter to go south through Olympia and Hoquiam, but it makes a nice loop to continue the circle.

I’m so glad I finally got to actually experience the Enchanted Valley, one of the many amazing places on the  spectacular Olympic Peninsula!

You can see 130 photos from the trip, contributed by myself and the 7 other backpackers, on the Seattle Backpackers website.

This is OUR watch!

June 5th, 2010

How do you feel when people criticize the government, politicians, and “the system” – but don’t do anything – not even vote? Would you like to have a positive influence on the world we’re leaving to our children?  I would!

Photo by Brett Fish

So I went to a community “town hall” meeting the other night, where my Congressman Adam Smith was answering questions and opinions from his voters.  I like him.  A thoughtful Democrat.  Co-sponsor of both the Fair Elections Now Act and the new Disclose Act.

Here I am gathering signatures on a petition for clean elections.  My friend Jean and I have been on the Board of Washington Public Campaigns for several years.  I’m really lucky to have the time, now that I’m semi-retired,  to get involved in these activities.

In 2004,  when my younger daughter was 20, we went to Washington, DC, to join the Women’s March.  What a thrill!  1.2 million people in support of a woman’s right to make up her mind. Here’s an aerial photo of all of us jamming the mall.

I burn biodiesel in my oil furnace in my home because I’m an environmentalist.  The cottage has efficient, quiet Convect-Air wall heaters.

Several times a week, I tutor refugee kids as a volunteer, helping them learn a new language, a new alphabet.  To read from left to right.  It’s so hard for some of them.  They’re fresh from Latin America, East Africa, and Southeast Asia.  One’s from Iraq, via Jordan.  How brave they are!  They’re so grateful for help.

I’ve been a member of South End Neighbors for Peace & Justice since I moved to Burien five years ago.  We raise money for Afghan schools, we vigil for peace on “our” street corner (1st & 148th), we register voters, and we get together twice a month for a potluck supper and good friendship. Here’s a booth we hosted at the Burien Strawberry Festival last year.  My peace buddy June turned 90 today – what a role model!

If I didn’t “read” the news every morning (online), and learn about events and issues, if I didn’t try to promote my beliefs while respecting the opinions of others, if I just decided to “sit it out,” I would feel rather useless.  I’m glad I live in a country where I can try to make a difference.

This is the only watch we’ll have on Spaceship Earth, Folks.  It’s up to us.  For the sake of our children, stand up.  Get involved.

History of Three Tree Point is Published

May 19th, 2010

Three residents of Three Tree Point have recently published a book about our unique Burien waterfront community, tracing its history through more than 200 vintage photographs. Soundview is just south of the Point, on a high bluff overlooking the Sound.

The Point received its name from three massive fir trees that stood on its north side at the beginning of the 20th century. The area was largely undeveloped until 1903 when the Three Tree Point Company began marketing the community as a place to build summer homes for those desiring a beach lifestyle.

“A Mosquito Fleet” of ferries served all the South Sound coastal villages in the early days.  They landed at Three Tree Point, bringing supplies to the general store, which still stands, now converted into a home.  (The current city fathers won’t allow any commercial activities in these parts.)  Many of the original beach residences, some more than 100 years old, are lovingly maintained and inhabited, despite dozens of stairs that have to be negotiated between the road and the beach.  (No worries – Soundview’s off-road parking is just a few level steps from the red door.)Cottage Front Door

This neighborhood is still a quiet backwater of greater Seattle, enjoying tranquil views of the Sound, the mountains, and Vashon Island.  I’ve only lived here five years now, but some of my neighbors are third generation residents!  There’s something mesmerizing about this place.  It would be hard to leave.

The history book presents images of a diverse mixture of family life, unusual characters, holiday celebrations, shipwrecks, fishing derbies and storytelling.  Sepia-tone photos of old geezers, prim wives and roudy children adorn the pages.  If you’re interested in perusing the book during your visit in the cottage, please let me know and I’ll lend you my copy.

Chasing Whales with Captain Jim

May 19th, 2010

Whale with Mt Baker in the BackgroundLast week I stole away to Friday Harbor for my annual whale watching fix with Captain Jim Maya.  Jim almost always finds whales, and often other sea creatures as well, like dolphins, sea lions and eagles.  It’s a fun ride on his fast 27′ Glacier Bay twin-engine boat “Peregrine.”  Last Wednesday we found a pod ‘way out in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  The weather’s been a little iffy lately, but we lucked out and got sun AND whales!  And Jim’s grandson “Ike,” almost 3 1/2, was along, too.

It makes for a long day, but you can get an express ferry from Anacortes in the morning and be on the Peregrine by 1 pm – and be back home to Soundview by bedtime.

Another Dazzling Spring Day in Eastern Washington

May 10th, 2010

Summited Mt. Whiskey Dick near Vantage yesterday!  The high desert, just west of the Columbia River, surprises the hiker with dozens of different kinds of spring flowers – from phlox to balsam, from cactus blossoms to lupines, all popping up among the sage brush.  And look at all those beautiful clean-energy wind turbines!  The weather was spectacular, and it was thrilling to get out and tromp across the hills and up to a majestic outcropping of lichen-encrusted basalt.

Burien Farmer's Market Opens!

May 7th, 2010
Every Thursday afternoon from now til October, our local Burien farmers’ market will delight with fresh fruits and vegetables, arts & crafts, amazing bouquets of flowers, plants to grow in your own yard, and food-related items like baked goods, fresh fish, meats and sausage.  There’s usually live music and a lively crowd.  Bring your own grocery bags if you can remember.  When the farmer’s market opens and the cottage gets busy (like now!!), I know summer’s just around the corner.

photo courtesy b-town blog

For more things to do while staying at Soundview Cottage, visit our Things to Do page.

Spring has Sprung!

April 25th, 2010

Spring has burst upon Puget Sound, ready or not!  Wave upon wave of chaotic color engulfs the cottage door and mine, the windows, the decks, and the driveway, as each new bulb, perennial, or rhodie takes center stage.  Ferns shyly unfurl.  Poppies brashly pop.  Primroses kick the CanCan!  Lilacs languidly lean over the driveway, exhaling fragrance into the breeze.  Every day at Soundview is a new cirque du soleil – except the sun is still often absent.   But who cares? Summer is on her way!

Weekend in San Francisco

April 13th, 2010

Friday night I boarded a plane to San Francisco to visit my younger daughter and her partner, who live in the city.  Fun, relaxing weekend.  It rained most of the time I was there, except for our touristy “Sunset Bay Cruise” on Saturday night, which was really delightful.  Most of the photos are from that cruise.  The cruise offers a moving vista of the bay and its skyscrapers, bridges, parks, neighborhoods, marinas, maritime industries, hills, and morbid history (Alcatraz and Angel islands).  The on-board entertainment (two live singer/guitarists) was high quality but charmingly informal.  A proposal/engagement happened right before our eyes and of course we all celebrated, even though we didn’t know the young couple. Passengers receive a free glass of wine and an abundant buffet of light fare, including sandwiches. Of course, since we were in San Francisco, we went out to eat twice on Sunday (brunch and dinner).  We also stayed IN and played Bananagrams a lot, and watched two episodes of the stunning series Life that Allison and Peter had stored on their TIVO.

It’s good to be back in Seattle, though.  I always marvel how handy the airport is here, yet how peaceful and quiet it is. Our cottage guests are always surprised at the restfulness of Soundview.

Ferry to Bainbridge

April 7th, 2010

Today I took the ferry to Bainbridge Island to visit a friend.  I love the ferries!  The crossing to Bainbridge takes only 25 minutes, but you feel like you’re in a very different place when you land.  I’m disappointed in myself, though.  I had wanted to be really “green” and take the bus from Burien to the ferry dock and then walk onto the ferry as a foot passenger instead of driving my car on – but I was running late, so I spent the money and the gas and drove on.  Oh well – next time!

One of my favorite views in the Seattle area is the skyline as you return to the mainland, as viewed from the Bainbridge ferry.  I heard rumors of whale sightings from the ferries the last few days, but I didn’t spot any today.

A different kind of beauty

April 2nd, 2010

It’s a good time of year to go backpacking in Central Washington.  The wildflowers are starting; it’s not high enough for snow.  And there’s still lots of water, in lakes, streams and waterfalls.

I visited the Channeled Scablands with a small group, mid-March.  Eight fairly flat miles in, eight out.  Weather was good – it got down to about 40 at night, but a campfire of old sagebrush and a flask passed among friends thwarted the chill.  This area, called Ancient Lakes, reveals remnants of the sudden flood caused by the bursting of the ice dam which held back Glacial Lake Missoula until the end of the last ice age.

This area has a desolate kind of beauty.  Quiet, peaceful, lonely.  A retreat from the ordinary.

But driving home, Snoqualmie Pass was hammered by one of the hardest rains I’ve ever experienced, and there’s new snow in the mountains on April Fool’s Day!