Change of Scenery

I drove up from Arizona to Washington these past few days. Along the way I met up with old friends, stayed in some fun cities, and slowly watched the scenery outside the car change.

It’s old hat at this point to draw the parallels between slowly changing scenery and the changes in ones life but I did find it very interesting how different and startling that change was. The trip began in the hot, hot, hot deserts of Arizona – a place that I find very beautiful – and slowly changed as we approached the Inland Empire of California and the cities that came with it. Eventually, lush farmland pasted by and was replaced with more cities – San Jose and San Francisco – before reaching to the jagged mountains of Northern California and Southern Oregon, a very foreign sight to a flat-lander like myself. Then the stunning green of Central Oregon and Washington – another odd image for my desert rat eyes – which I will be calling home for a short time.

The vastly different landscapes are so odd to think back on. How can one roll into the next in such a short time without there being a break for the scenery to be rearranged for the next environment? How do all these starkly different but stunningly beautiful worlds exist within a 25 hour drive of each other?

If I wasn’t a college educated lass I would have half a mind to believe small gnomes and woodland creatures are hard at work behind the scenes re-arranging things to suit their whims. As it is, even with the college education it’s not too much of a stretch of the imagination to believe it could be real… maybe.

Knowing that there is a world that exists between the desert and sprawling cities intrigues me, as does the idea the somewhere there is a land between farmland and mountain. I don’t think I’ve ever consciously been aware of this in-between land, just the knowledge of it makes me wonder what it’s like to live between two distinct environments inhabiting certain traits of both. What does this gray area look like? Who lives there? Do they consider themselves city-folk or mountain dweller?

I know that there isn’t a conscious realization of this change and that the technical definition of the in-between land I imagine doesn’t exist in reality but I would love to see the city-dwelling mountain man (though, I feel like he/she might look like a flannel loving-hipster and I can’t decide if I’m a fan yet or not). The people that thrive in the margin.

Now the world has stopped spinning and I’m off the road for more than a night. Sitting still is sometimes the hardest speed to travel by. Still, if nothing else, it means that I can study the environment around me and know that it’s not going to change too much any time soon.

Olympic Peninsula Roadtrip – Part 4

Monday, the last day of this all too short trip! After a quick breakfast I was on the road by 10 heading to SeaTac to catch a flight back home.

The drive was short – probably only 2.5 hours – but beautiful – of course. There’s a reason Washington is the Evergreen state and even with the little water they’re received this past summer the trees and ground are still beautifully green. I did see a few golden or “burnt” lawns on the trip and I know that state is doing a lot to conserve water but compared to the Sonoran Desert I was heading back to it was beautiful.

Back in SeaTac and I got my last fish-n-chips of the trip at Ivars in the airport. It’s become a bit of a custom to always stop in and get some Ivars Fish and Chips at least once on any trip to the state.

All around this was quite a good trip and came at a perfect time in my life where the stars all seemed to align for me to take off. There were some minor issues (rain, poor route planning on my part) but it was a needed trip!
Trip

Olympic Peninsula Roadtrip – Part 3

Sunday was another sunny and warm-ish day! I was still in desperate need of a sweater but I attribute that to thin blood from living in an area that regularly has triple digit days 4 months out of the year.

A short walk along the beach was the perfect thing to do before leaving Pacific Beach. The ocean was COLD but with the long beach there was plenty of space to wander and walk without having to freeze in the water.

Back in the car and off to Ocean Shores… which is only 40 minutes from Pacific Beach – something I had overlooked when planning this trip. With hindsight being what it is, I think it would have been a lot more fun to make it out to Cape Flannery or Neah Bay and stay there on day 2 instead of Pacific Beach. Maybe next trip?

Regardless, being near the ocean was nice and as the day warmed up so did the sand (I wish the water did as well but it remain way too cold for me to jump in). While the ocean and beach is fun, I’ve realized that I get bored of beach life way too quickly and would prefer to explore the town or take a hike – unfortunately, none were to be found in Ocean Shores and I ended up being a little bored. Not the end of the world, and a little bit of boredom is good for me.

With that, Sunday came to a close.

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Olympic Peninsula Roadtrip – Part 2

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Saturday morning was still overcast but not pouring rain and I could even see the sun start to peak out from behind the clouds… slowly. Needing some food and a strong cup of coffee I ventured out to a place I saw the previous day in the uptown part of Port Townsend, Sweet Laurette Café.

A very well made Americano and a tasty (and still warm!) scone later and I was a much happier camper. The café has western facing windows that open up on one of the main streets so I got to watch the vendors for the Farmer’s Market set up shop as the town slowly woke up and the sun came out as the clouds cleared away.

The PT Saturday Farmers Market was a lot of fun and I managed to get some good treats for the road. I always love wandering around markets and looking at the colorful and fresh produce on sale from local farms and a big highlight for me was seeing all the flowers!

Back on the road and heading off to Lake Crescent for a short hike to Marymere Falls. Lake Crescent was glacially carved and is reported to be among the deepest lakes in the Pacific Northwest. Surrounded on all sides by steep mountains the road balances between steep mountain faces on one side and deep blue waters on the other. 20150815_144941

Marymere Falls itself is a short, maybe 2 mile round trip, hike from the shores of the pristine lake up the mountain a little to a waterfall. The waterfall was beautiful and a nice place to stop, get out to the car, go for a walk, and eat some of the pastries from the market earlier.

Before getting too far out of the park we hit a backup since a tree had fallen across the road which set the trip back by half an hour for the Park Rangers to clear it and get traffic moving.

The drive through thick, green forests was broken up by the occasional reminders of the logging industry. There isn’t many cases of clear-cutting land but logging is evident along the drive and a reminder of how important it is for the local economies of the peninsula. Many of the towns – Port Angeles, Forks, and Aberdeen – sprung up around logging. With the decrease is logging in the area many of these cities and towns are suffering economically for it.

Several hours later, after driving past reservations, small towns, national parks, and national forests Pacific Beach was finally reached and the day came of a close looking out over the water at the sun setting.

Olympic Peninsula Roadtrip – Part 1

Even though it’s been years since I lived in Washington, in many ways I consider it home and try to visit once a year. Some years that doesn’t happen and some years – like this one – I’m able to get up to a little corner of the Pacific Northwest and explore!

Because of a hectic work schedule I was only in the state for 4 days, flying in late on Thursday and leaving the Evergreen state on Monday morning. Each trip is a little different and this year I went on a road trip around the Olympic Peninsula and experience some of the areas I haven’t explored quite as thoroughly.

I landed Thursday night in SeaTac and spent the night in Tacoma.

After a late start Friday morning, I was on the road driving past the Narrows Bridge on my way out of town. The first day on the road was fairly short and ended in Port Townsend – a small city with beautiful Victorian houses built in the late 19th century. There’s so many little shops, museums, galleries, cafes, and Fort Warden to explore it can be a full day of wandering around downtown and uptown.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to explore much because of a heavy downpour and had to focus on indoor activities: museums, the fort, and restaurants.

Needing something warm a quick stop in at Hudson Point Café was needed. The chowder was good but I half-wish I’d gotten their wilted salad – beets, curried walnuts, and roasted red potatoes with basic spring green. Warm, like I needed on a hot day, and all the right combinations of flavors and textures. Stomach full, it was off to the fort.

If you’re ever able to visit Port Townsend I highly recommend visiting Fort Warden! Active in the first half of the 1900s and built in concert with two other forts across the water to protect the trade and navy industry in the Puget Sound. Now it serves as a state park and a conference centers with museums, hiking trails, and beautiful views.

As much as the rain altered my travel plans I can’t complain too much; Washington really needed the rain and has been having an unusually hot summer. After dinner that pretty much ended the first full day on the road!

You can see the basic road trip map here to get a visual idea of these places!