And here begins a diary of life in our new town
This section is now complete
2005 is on another page
MONSIEUR GREGORY of SEQUIM
So I’ve left Hollywood behind and left lunches with the girls for
a much quieter life. And we are truly loving it! It is so wonderful not having a
million things on the “to do” list. (Well, at least it will be wonderful as soon
as we get this house built!)
Now that we’re retirees on a “fixed income”, we must watch our pennies.
Toward a more frugal lifestyle, Greg has transformed himself into “Monsieur Gregory of Sequim”. Greg got lessons from his Los Angeles hairstylist Elaine who generously offered to instruct him on the finer points of hair coloring. He is now my official hair colorist - and doing a damn fine job I might add!
Personal care can be expensive. We figure we spent about $1500 a year on hair care (cuts for us and color for me) (Greg has not a vain bone in his body, whereas I on the other hand....).
So, now you’re going to be laughing on the floor here in a second --- We bought one of those Flowbee hair cutting contraptions!! Remember the late night TV device (it was on Johnny Carson) that sucks your hair up in a tube attached to your vacuum cleaner? To see how this works, go to the Robocut website and click on the movie link. Well, gotta tell ya, it’s the best money we’ve spent since we moved. No kidding (and I’m particular - okay, you may not share my taste in haircuts but...)! (Note to my wonderful Nick: you know you're irreplaceable but...you're not here!!!) Greg's cut both our hair plus his brother’s and my friend Judie when she came for her visit; and it all came out foolproof and perfect and took about 3 minutes each. And no more remarks like “you got your ears lowered” ‘cause you can cut it every two weeks or so and never notice any change in the length! (You may contact me for further information!)
Okay, so no more Beverly Hills haircuts and weekly manicures. But there are some great pampering experiences to be had:
Had an incredible pedicure and manicure, the likes of which I’ve never had in L.A. I was at Andrea's in Sequim for three hours! She rubbed crushed walnut shells on my legs and then covered them in a mask ‘'til they were smooth as a baby’s tush. Then she has me lay down on a bed with my feet dangling over the end and proceeds to give me a wonderful foot massage that put me in an alpha state immediately. And then she paints your nails while you’re up there too. Afterward, there’s a great manicure. This woman really cares about the service she gives you (which is the norm here and such a welcome difference to service personnel in Los Angeles).
Also had a luxurious two-hour massage. Heaven! Kelly at the La Bella Day Spa in Port Townsend is an artist. Trust me, I’ve had dozens and dozens of massages and Kelly definitely knows her way around a massage table. The two hours went by in a snap...I’m definitely going back.
A TRIP to the VET
We go to a local vet to pick up the special cat food for our Bud. We pull up to the offices and the hours are posted on the door: Monday through Friday, 9 to 5. ???No weekends!? I ask the receptionist what in the world working people do since they’re not open on Saturdays or Sundays. “Well, almost everyone here is retired! They like to stay home weekends,” says she. A couple of weeks later Bud had his first check up with his new vet, Dr. Staal. The 45 minute visit cost a whopping $33.60. Don't ask me what the 60 cents is for, but this would have cost $75 to $100 in L.A. for sure! (Note to Dr. Bak...but we miss you, especially Bud!)
WILDLIFE & the WILDS
Remember Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs? When I was little,
I was absolutely enchanted by all the animals that came to visit this young girl
who lived in the forest and I spent hours daydreaming of having deer and birds as
my friends too. And you know what? It just dawned on me the other day: I made that
dream come true. And it would never have happened without Greg and his vision for
our future. We keep asking each other, “Can you believe where we’re living?!” On
a drive to the store, we don’t see billboards, we don’t see trash or graffiti, or
traffic at a crawl. We see trees and forests
and farm land. The other day, soaring high
above the car was a large bird. It was a bald eagle! When
we got home about 9:30 p.m., a deer was waiting
for us at our front door. On a walk in the “neighborhood”, we reach what we now call
Bunny Hill. We gave it this nickname because a little cottontail
always seems to be waiting there just off the trail. Sometimes we get a fleeting
glimpse of a red tailed hawk along the way. Looking
down over our deck, a big old raccoon crosses our
path below. Something wild every where you go.
Greg and I were just beginning to get into birding in the last few years. Since we've been here, we’ve been on two Audubon walks so far. The first walk took us out on the meadows and then into the forest off of county fireroads. Our guide, Bob, points out many of the trees, shrubs and berries. Blackberries are everywhere, but the salmonberry was an important part of the Indian diet; they served it alongside salmon at their special feasts, hence the name. The second bird walk started out on a rainy morning at the Audubon Society headquarters along the Dungeness River. If Dungeness sounds familiar, this is where those famous crabs come from. It was a good outing, we saw some twenty species of birds, the bright yellow and orange Western Tanager , Yellow Rumped Warblers, Thrushes, Stellar Jays, Cross Billed Grosbeaks, and the striking yellow and black Goldfinch (Washington's state bird). Along the river, Bob pointed out a Dipper. This little bird hunts along the riverbank and gets his name because he dips his entire body under the water looking for food. As we go over the old wooden bridge that spans the Dungeness, a garter snake sidewinds his way across our path. Without a second thought, I bent down and held this pretty little guy in my hands. Relax, there aren't any poisonous snakes in Washington. Or poison oak or ivy for that matter. But there are Stinging Nettles (more on that later).
Now I can take snakes and lizards (as long as I know they can’t hurt me), but creepy crawlers send me over the edge; especially spiders.
On our first trip up, it was a sunny day which means the bugs were out. Obviously there was a stampede of them while the door was opened when we brought in furniture and boxes. That night, I’m sitting reading one of the first books I’ve read in years (The DaVinci Code - quite entertaining by the way). The weather was chilly and I'm all cozied up with an Afghan on my lap. Ain't this the life...And suddenly I see something black moving out of the corner of my eye. In an instant I was up on my feet jumping and screaming. I nearly had a heart attack! It’s an ant the size of a Buick! Greg came to my rescue but voiced concerns that maybe I'm not cut out for wilderness life. Well, when it comes to that type of encounter, ya got that right! Thankfully, we've gotten the insect population down to a manageable menagerie, thanks in part to an "insect vacuum". Yep, we actually bought a battery-operated device that sucks anything that crawls or flys instantly into the vortex, and I don't have to get closer to 'em than two feet. (Hmmm, it's beginning to seem like we have a leaning toward vacuum devices-shudder to think what could be next!) There are dozens and dozens of Daddy Long leg spiders in the garage and of course a few in the house - the whereabouts of which I don't even want to contemplate. A quick Google tells me they eat other spiders. It takes one to eat one and I guess I’ll let a few of them maintain their residency. Unfortunately, Google didn’t say anything about them eating giant ants or earwigs - another disgusting and omnipresent guest. In L.A. you get silverfish, here you get earwigs. Doesn't matter where they hail from, I want 'em g-o-n-e!
The view outside of our livingroom window is like watching the
National Geographic channel. It's an ever changing tableau of weather and wildlife.
One recent late afternoon the sky grays up for just a few minutes, and out of the mist appears a rainbow.
Or I'm taking a break and standing on the deck. Gazing out at the view, I get such a thrill when I see a deer lazily chewing on the grass in our front ravine.
I can't help myself and not only am I feeding hummingbirds again (the Roufous are a brilliant acid orange), but now we've got very noisy Stellar's Jays looking for a handout too and they make the Scrub Jays from back home seem like Miss Manners.
The environment is a concern everywhere you go and the Olympic Peninsula is no exception and, indeed, has many of the same issues as Los Angeles: loss of natural habitat, water conservation etc. That's just a given. But I want to say a word or two about...low flush toilets! Our rental house has one...and we're stuck with it. I will refrain from graphic descriptions here but let me say this: the conservationists have done us no favor, and, in fact, in our opinion, are squandering more water because of this measure. What normally would take only one flush, takes two or three, thus, negating any benefit. Plus, it makes for some very embarrassing moments! FYI: have a plunger at arms length at all times. Nuf said!
WEEK of JUNE 7, 2004
Greg picks up a forestry map from the forest ranger station and can't wait to go on a little adventure and explore the back roads. This man knows his way around a map while I couldn't use one to save my life (and I do hope it never comes to that). On an errand run he gets his chance and he's having a grand old time meandering along with not another soul in sight. But well over two hours along the trail he's stopped in his tracks by a fallen tree. He doesn't want to have to drive all the way back, so he tries to pull it out of the way; but this thing must weigh a few hundred pounds and it ain't budging. Now what. Then he remembers, he's driving a Jeep! And, lucky for him, he still has the chains to my swing set in the back. In a few minutes, he's on his way again. My ever resourceful mountain man. I'm so proud!
On our way back home from Sequim we take a detour and drive up Palo Alto Road. We didn't know what we'd find but it looked inviting. On the way up I can see our first elk just off the side of the country road right near us. Sequim's mascot is the elk and not only are there elk sculptures at either end of town, but there are flashing elk signs on the road. There's an organization called the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation looking out for elk welfare and they've put radio tags on several members of each herd. When they're near the roadside, the lights flash letting you know to beware. I'm hoping we never have to deal with hitting any kind of wildlife but sometimes it's unavoidable no matter how careful you are - they can just dart out into the road in an instant. But hitting a deer or an elk can be fatal, not only to the animal, but to you! Anyway, there we are on Palo Alto Road looking at an elk and I have Greg pull over asap so we can watch. By the time he can pull over and stop, it looks like he's passed them up. But no, there's an entire herd there - probably thirty or more. A bonanza! And these are big animals. We stopped and watched for about a quarter of an hour. And dang, no, we didn't have our camera.
WEEK of JUNE 14, 2004
Sooo, remember on our first trip with the first truckload we happened to meet up with a real estate agent at the Builders Expo? And remember our plans that we would wait a year to buy? Well...never say never. (Why do I have to continually “rediscover’ that lesson!)
Our agent, Jan knows this area like the back of his hand and he was very patient with these greenhorns from California. When last we left him, we had just seen a development called on the outskirts between Sequim and Port Angeles.
will have a total of 30 homes on two-acre parcels. The CC&Rs protect you from your neighbors installing double-wide trailer homes and insure a greenbelt of forest surrounding the project to protect wildlife and the integrity of the site. Water, electricity and telephone utilities are already brought up to your property which is a very big plus. As far as sewers are concerned, it's a septic system which is commonplace. Streets are in. There are no sidewalks which allows for a rural feel. And it is rural. Once you turn off the main highway, you travel up five miles or so past farmer's fields and tucked away homes.
Now it's possible to find established neighborhoods in towns like Port Townsend with interesting architecture since they date back to the late 1800s or early 1900s. But with our other preferences, the option of remodeling became less appealing, even though that would be a much simpler task than starting from scratch.
As far as location, while our rental house is remote and just what we're looking for at this phase of our lives, when we move we want to think ahead to our “old age”. Yes, we want privacy and space, but we also feel we should be close to assistance if we need it.
Sooo, we've decided to go ahead and purchase that lot with the view of the Olympic Mountains! It's lot number 1 on Windflower Lane. It doesn't even have an address yet. Jan made sure the purchase transaction went smooth as glass and so if we've peaked anyone's interest here about moving or investing, just give Jan a jingle (Jan's website).
So now we're focusing all our energies into designing our new home and visiting the property every chance we get. Our daily walks are spent discussing exactly where the house will sit to take advantage of the best view and allow us to keep as much of the original ground cover and trees as possible.
For more about the property and our plans, go to
Every road you turn down, there's another new world to discover.
Our most recent discovery is Lake Leland, a beautiful area in Quilcene just south
of our rental house. I see this wondrous tree with
a million moss covered branches and I beg Greg to just stop the car. I think I knew
I'd find something special. Then I hear water and follow the sound and soon I spy
a little opening going down a ravine. There's even a handrail covered in moss and
down at the bottom we come upon someone's secret little fishing spot.
The sun filtered down through the trees and dappled light on the ferns at the forest
floor. We're surrounded by a thousand shades of green.
On our way back to the highway we drive past a pasture and make three new friends.
We liked that Lake Leland walk so much we go back to take another
one, and this time we find a nice country road. We can hear what sounds like an entire
"tribe" of crows making one heck of a ruckus as we pass any number of driveways
with posted “private property” and “no trespassing” signs. You see a lot of that
up here. But we don’t see a soul. The woods are beautiful yes, but a little spooky...thoughts
of Deliverance dance in our ears, “you ain’t from around here are ya boy...”
All of a sudden there’s a pack of dogs coming at us. One’s a big black lab. I never used to be afraid of dogs before, but I guess all the gory L.A. news stories have made me kinda paranoid. This big guy starts rushing up to us and I ask Greg how we should protect ourselves from an attack. Thank goodness he proves to be just a big lovable lug. But with him are at least half a dozen other dogs all barking and running out from the woods. One mutt's a tired old woman who’s obviously just had a litter. And then out comes an old gray muzzled mutt who starts barking incessantly. The black lab starts herding him away from us as if to say, “hey, they’re friends!” but the old mutt won’t hear of it. That dog never stopped barking from the moment he saw us until we passed back on our way home. He must’ve barked for a half hour straight. You had to admire his spunk!
There are so many photo ops on these outings. Every image is worthy of hanging on the wall. Even weeds like this horsetail make an interesting tableau. You've heard of Digitalis, the drug used for heart patients. It comes from a plant and the common name is Foxglove. It grows in profusion along the roadside and deep in the woods. It gets it's name because the individual flowers look as if they could fit on a fox's paw.
Greg goes to visit our property and comes home to tell me of his adventure. Just before he turns off Road he sees a mother and baby fawn. And the fawn is nursing. This is a mere baby but as soon as Greg stops his car, the mother runs off and the baby just drops. Another car saw this too and the driver asks Greg if he thinks the little fawn is dead but Greg says he thinks it's just a protective measure. And he was right. I'm happy to say, this time, Greg had his camera.
It seems people take old farm equipment and old boats and make lawn ornaments out of them! All I can say is, it's much better than tires and old cars.
The other day I had my favorite "wishing" sky right outside our door. When I was a little girl in Charleston, my adult friend Mary who lived next door always told me to come over if I saw pink clouds. She'd sit me down at a table in her backyard and told me to make a wish and when I opened my eyes, there would be a big bowl of ice cream.
Since our boy Bud is like the 500 pound gorilla...meaning he gets whatever he wants whenever he wants it, Greg allows him to get him out of bed every morning between 4 and 5 a.m. to fix him his first breakfast of the morning. When I say fix, I mean fix. No "cold just out of the can" meal for our baby. It's served warm from the microwave. Even in the dark you can't help looking out the front window to see what's out there and Greg notices this huge light in the sky. It's not moving so it can't be a plane. And it's not twinkling and that means it's not star. A Google search explains it's Venus "transiting" the sun and this particular phenomenon has been noticed since the 1700s won't recur again until 2012.
We visit the property and go exploring and discover a ravine in
the north west corner. The vegetation is thick and I'm a city girl but I follow Greg
down to the floor. While we're looking around, two deer spot us from the far side
and watch to see what we're up to. As long as we were still, they hung around but
when we started tromping around again, off they went into the dense woods. This ravine
is obviously a wildlife path leading out of the deep woods surrounding the development.
Once we're back in the car I start itching the palm of my hand. By evening, it's good and sore and I can't understand why. This dang thing really hurts and when I start complaining and asking around, I find out one of the prevalent weeds in these here parts is "stinging nettle". When I Google it I find it's supposed to be a pretty amazing plant. Only trouble is, if you even brush against it, these microscopic burrs get into your skin and hurt like the devil. I'm told to make a poltice of baking soda to pull them out. But I never get the chance...it goes away on its own. Once burned, twice shy. Now whenever we're in the woods, I'm on the lookout for this stuff.
Leaving Los Angeles meant leaving irreplaceable friends and family.
A lifetime of relationships and memories. But we've already made a few new friends;
and although we need to spend countless hours designing this house (in order to keep
on schedule, we've got to have plans complete and in for plan check by next March),
we've accepted invitations to several get togethers.
Through my Uncle Grover and Aunt Nancie (who live in San Marcos, CA), we became "email buddies" with Boni & Ted, old California friends of theirs, . They took us under their wings and were an incredible source of everyday information. They are so happy living here that I think it was partly due to their enthusiasm that helped us make the decision to leave California. Boni took us around when we came up to find a place and went with us when we found our rental house.
Boni & Ted take us to Ajax in Port Hadlock for dinner. Port Hadlock is an affluent little marina community south of Port Townsend. Ajax has been there for years and attracts a lively crowd. Long ago the owners hung some funny hats on the walls and in the bathrooms. One day a patron donned one of the hats and wore it through dinner...and a tradition was born. Now the place is lousy with every kind of hat imaginable and people get up two or three times during the meal to change hats. What a hoot!
Our realtor Jan and his wife Patty are a wonderful couple and equally wonderful people and it seems we've been accepted into their group of long-time friends (most of whom have moved here from California!). They invited us to a great Memorial Day party at their friend's house: Jill & Jim also escaped from L.A. Jill & Jim knew they wanted out several years ago and were smart enough to buy land before they actually moved here. They just recently built a beauty of a dream house.
TUESDAY, JUNE 22, 2004
Greg and I go to see the annual air show in Port Angeles - a port town reminiscent of San Pedro just on the other side of Sequim. The big draw was a completely restored B-17 from WWII. It was a fairly awesome thing to see in person. For $400, the restoration organization would take you up on a flight. Greg didn't go but he did interview an 89 year old Army Air Corps vet who had never been up in one when he was serving and vowed to do it this time; so we stayed around to see the take off - pretty impressive.
Since we were only minutes away from the Olympic National Park and hadn't had the chance to go yet, we decided at 5:30 to take a drive up the mountain to the summit at Hurricane Ridge. WOW! We had plenty of time since it gets dark so late and this turned out to be the perfect time of day to do it. It was a clear day and we practically had the park to ourselves all the way up the 17 miles of winding road to the summit. Every single mile had something spectacular to look at. I actually got a whopping neck ache from craning my head from side to side and yelling "Wow!" at every turn. At first it was giant forests of cedar and fir, then beautiful wildflowers and an occasional waterfall. Just off the side of the road, a deer. So we stopped and watched for a while. She could have cared less and barely stopped chewing. Then back on our way until we were almost at the top. What a sight! (to see the entire panorama, use the scroll bar at the bottom of the image). Right there were the Olympic Mountains covered in snow, glaciers visible. We parked the car (the parking lot was virtually empty) and walked over to the rail that looked out on alpine meadows. Playing in my head was...“the hills are alive with the sound of music” and surely Julie Andrews was on her way to greet us. We took a short trek on a hiking trail right up from the parking lot and a pair of deer went right along with us. As we walked we kept passing huge clumps of snow along the trail. We keep pinching ourselves saying, “can you believe this is just 15 minutes from our property!?” When we came back down into Port Angeles we had a hearty Chinese dinner at Tendy's Garden. One moment at the top of the world, the next in a Chinese restaurant. Try doing that in L.A.!
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 23, 2004
On our daily outing, we discover yet another gorgeous setting within minutes of our rental house, just off the road a piece. Today we drove to Anderson Lake on the way to an old lumber town - Chimacum. We begin our expedition through a small meadow where a cottontail rabbit scrambles into the orchard grass and some swallows play games overhead. We get to the edge of the lake and begin what looks like a fairly ordinary path along the shore. But before you know it, we're in an old growth forest of towering cedar and great leaf maple trees which totally enclosed us in a canopy of a million shades of green. All you could hear were the chirping of birds. It took about an hour and a half to make it all the way around the lake. We started around 7:30 in the evening - just before dinner. As we were rounding the loop back to the beginning, we hear some pitiful squawking and look up to find a red tailed hawk flying back and forth between the tree tops. We listened and watched for about 5 minutes wondering what the problem could be and then we had to walk on. Then it finally dawned on us: she was screaming at us, defending her nest in the tree tops.
THURSDAY, JUNE 24, 2004
We drive just down the road to take today's walk before lunch on a gloomy day (just love it!!). It’s a fairly steep grade and it's giving us quite a workout. We soon realize there’s a car behind us. The car comes to a stop and two clean cut young men get out and want to give us the Book of Mormon and a little talk. We’ve got nothing but time but tell them if they want to talk to us, they’ll have to keep up. Here they are in black trousers and white shirts and ties and we’ve got them humping up this steep road. But they're determined. Anyway, they were very sweet and polite and soon were on their way. I find a little frog in the road and, of course, I just have to pick him up. They tell me if you have even a little puddle of water, frogs will soon find it and set up housekeeping, so I'm looking forward to encouraging these little house guests when we move. We continue on when we hear a major thunderstorm in the distance and it begins to rain. We've heard about the danger of lightening strikes, so we stepped up our speed. Again there’s a car behind us. A man pulls up to say hi and says he thinks we’re his new neighbors. But we explain we’re just on a hike and actually live down the road in Discovery Bay. One word leads to another, and it turns out he’s in the home building business and was just about to put in an offer on our lot in Sequim!
Small small world.
SATURDAY, JUNE 26, 2004
Greg's brother Steve and his wife Denise are our first official house guests! It's a short visit; they arrived yesterday and will leave tomorrow.
Greg and Steve have a great relationship. Like Greg, Steve is a master carpenter (they worked together for several years) and very proficient with computers as well and he gave Greg a lesson on a sophisticated architectural program called AutoCad which we're using to design our house.
I'm afraid we dragged them all over the place: Port Townsend, Sequim, our property, and of course on a nature hike. We had such fun the other day discovering Anderson Lake that we decided to share our discovery with them and this lake walk was a great way to spend the morning. Small water lilies dot the surface of the lake. Once we get into the thick of the woods where the sun can't penetrate, the tree branches have lost most of their foliage but moss and ferns prefer deep shade. This forest must have been logged long ago and so the thick canopy has regrown. But every once in a while you come to a giant tree stump and you can see where the logging equipment punched two deep gashes into the base of a tree. In person, this stump had an uncanny resemblance to Darth Vader. Toward the end of our walk we come to a little wooden bridge that spans a still stream that is covered with millions of tiny plants so thick they coat the entire surface. Steve and Denise recently fled California too and are now living in Colorado; but still they marveled at the lushness of Washington.
SUNDAY JUNE 27, 2004
Well, we got a scare today! Steve and Denise are going to Olympia to visit old friends and we're going to follow in our car and spend the day there. So we're caravaning with Steve and Denise leading the way. We're going south on 101 just south of Quilcene when I hear the screech of brakes and look up to see Steve's car swerving, a motorcycle skidding right toward us and the rider's body airborne just before it hits the pavement and bounces like some kind of strange ball. Thanks to quick reactions, both Steve and Denise and Greg and I avoid being part of this drama. Another case of people going too fast, following too closely. The kid was lucky enough to walk away, but it just makes our resolve that much stronger to pay attention to the road at all times and drive defensively.
MONDAY JUNE 28, 2004
We got up to our property to scout out where the house will go and decided to come back next week with a tall ladder to investigate the view. (Note to self: we must get a weedwacker.)
Just at the edge of the cul-de-sac where our property begins is this beautiful flower. I think it's some sort of wild geranium, but when we take Jan and Patty (who's passion is gardening) up to the lot, she tells me it's "mallow" and it's not a weed; someone must have planted it there. Why, I don't know but at least we get to enjoy it.
It was another beautiful evening (aren't they all) so we decided to take our walk around our property. This area was logged out about twenty years ago so it’s gone back to being wild again. We go past where the two-acre parcels for the last phase of are being cleared out to the less traveled fire roads. We're enjoying the pristine surroundings. In fact, I'm gathering wild foxglove to take back to our property in hopes they'll take root there. We don't see any deer but we come upon a spot in the fire road that was deep enough to form a little watering puddle after the last rain. You could see lots of animal prints around it in the mud. Well, at least there were deer tracks...but there was another set of prints...huge, with long nails that dug into the dirt: this was definitely Mountain Lion...and fresh too! You could see with great detail where his long claws made a perfect impression in the mud so we high tailed it outta there.. This is wilderness and we tend to forget that.
Sadly, we heard they had to kill two cougars within a mile or so of our property in just the last few weeks. The story goes, once they get accustomed to hunting near housing, they tend to stay in those areas. It's really a shame. Washington is known as a hunter's paradise; something Greg and I just don't understand. Like politics, you can discuss this issue to death so I won't attempt to go into it here. We’ve now been advised to carry pepper spray and never ever turn your back on a big cat.
MONDAY, JULY 5, 2004
Went to the property today determined to make some decisions about where the house will sit in relation to the view. Go to to get the rest of the story...
MONDAY, JULY 12, 2004
What an adventure! We chartered a flight to take us over the Peninsula.
My friend Judie arrived on the 9th from L.A. She’s giving some serious thought to moving here next year. We’ve been showing her the sights and thought she'd get a kick out of flying over the Peninsula (since the cost of the trip was by time and not by passenger). We took off from the Jefferson airfield over Port Angeles and flew west toward Sequim.
Our first order of business was to view our lot in . The development lies on the outskirts of Sequim and Port Angeles just about five miles up Road from Highway 101. Seeing the property from the sky gave us a great perspective on where this land fits into the surrounding landscape. The red outline is our 2.1 acre parcel at the end of a cul-de-sac. The dense treed area beyond the property line is a greenbelt and wetlands which cannot be disturbed. The yellow line is the approximate site where we'll place the house.
Just south of the property is Olympic National Park. The glaciers atop the Olympic Mountains were phenomenal. At one point when our Pilot, Jeff tipped the wings of our twin engine six-seater Piper to reveal this view, my heart leapt into my throat and brought tears to my eyes - it was that majestic. Jeff pointed down to some tiny specs in the snow right on top of one of the glaciers and he explained they were climbers (too tiny to see in a picture like this one but trust me they were there).
We also buzz by our house in Discovery Bay, just for the heck of it.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 14, 2004
Judie, Greg, and I went on an Audubon Bird Walk this morning. The local Audubon Society has weekly walks on Wednesday mornings and this is the third time we’ve joined in. Each time we see about twenty different species of birds. This area attracts birders from all over the world. This time we saw Brown Creepers (tiny birds that cling to the side of the trees looking for insects), Yellow Rumped Warblers, Rufous Hummingbirds (a brilliant orange color), and a couple of hawks. We saw many of my favorite birds, the incredibly majestic Great Blue Herons flying back and forth over the area high above the treeline. No wonder Herons (and Egrets) are a favored subject with artists, the curve of their neck is so elegant. Greg's favorite so far: Cedar Waxwings and we've been lucky enough to see some at our place. American Robins are very common here in Washington to the point I'm getting jaded. They have so many different songs and calls you'd think you had an entire specimen aviary surrounding you. Two other very common birds are Starlings and Cowbirds. Although the domestic house cat is responsible for absolutely decimating wild bird populations world wide, these two birds are similarly affecting wild birds, especially the Starling which was brought to America in the 1800s. There are documented cases where these birds have nearly wiped out entire species of birds.
Judie had great beginner's luck and spied the “catch of the day”: a majestic Bald Eagle looking out from a tree top over the Dungeness River. Ahh nature!
THURSDAY, JULY 15, 2004
It's off to Port Townsend to window shop and show Judie the neighborhood. This is where I fall off the wagon and find yet another object of desire to collect: tiny fairies. I take Judie to see an artist's co-op on Water Street, the main drag, which has some extraordinary one of a kind items. One artist makes unique wooden lazy susans. The carving is stained in jewel tones and there are little messages going around the edges encouraging you to enjoy food, life, and friends. Window shopping is hard work so we walked over to the pier to watch the ferries come in for a while. We're standing on the dock and below us in the crystal clear water are a treasure trove of huge starfish. One was cobalt blue and another had seven arms. Away from shore on a pylon were several preening cormorants. What a charming little town!
Once we've recovered from strolling the shopping district, we drive up the hill and tour the streets where the locals live. As we round one corner, right there, are a mama deer and her two babies standing in someone's front yard. Deer who live so near to the homes here are much more accustomed to rubberneckers like us. I walk up to this little family gathering and can get fairly close to grab a shot of the two kids.
After dinner, we watched the final ferry of the evening come in across the water to dock. With lights ablaze, it cuts a striking figure against the black water. These ferries are huge...big enough to carry several diesel trucks, plus cars and walk-on traffic. And they are fast!
Back home, we spent some time outside marveling at all the stars in the sky. You forget, living in a big city, the myriad of stars in the heavens that awed the ancients. Out here it’s easy to spot shooting stars and satellites.
Lately I've been seeing things, I think. Out of the corner of my eye it seems there's something whizzing across the deck at night. Judie sees it and figures out what it is: a bat!
So, last night we parked our La-Z-Boys at the picture window and settled in for an evening of “Bat TV”!
Most people shriek at the thought, but I find them fascinating. A couple of years ago Greg and I and our friend Michael Danahy went on an Audubon Bat Walk in Orange County. These little guys are insect-catching machines, and since I am “biting insect meat”, having our own private clean up service is great and thousands of dollars cheaper than one of those new-fangled Mosquito Magnets. Bats fly with the aid of sonar so it's virtually impossible for them to fly into your hair - it's just an old wives tale. We're getting ready to leave for Los Angeles to pick up our last truckload and in it is a bat house I put up in the backyard in hopes of encouraging one to roost. No luck in Westwood, but we're definitely going to put it up here when we return.
Don't remember which day it was but at some point we take Judie on a visit to the property and give her a tour of Sequim while we're at it. On the way to Sequim we pass the John Wayne Marina and stop off there. I know it's getting boring to tell you it's beautiful, but...it is. Besides the marina, there are big expensive homes lining the shore. Of course, wherever there's a body of water anywhere in Washington there's homes along the shore.
Next we come to Diamond Point, yet another community. When we came up with the first truckload and went exploring we "accidentally" found this area and just as accidentally stumbled upon Troll Haven. We got such a kick out of it, we just had to show it to Judie. We're driving through deep woods and come to a small road called Troll Haven. Funny name no? Along the road is fencing but fencing the likes of which you've never seen. The fence posts are about 6 feet tall and each one is a different carving of some unusual fantasy creature. Then we come upon the first of several grand houses - each one in a different style. One is a castle with lots of interesting detail, another a sophisticated Craftsman, another one we can't see but the elaborate gate is visible so I can only imagine what the house looks like. And each home has a gigantic troll statue in the front yard. There are pastures with cows and pastures with bison and there's the structure that protects the hay from the weather and each corner of the roof is held up by a huge troll. What is this? Well, there are lots of rumors surrounding this compound but the best we could put together is it belongs to an obviously wealthy family by the name of Bandy. One of the Bandys invented some Boeing part and made a fortune and I believe one of the grown children decided to create Troll Haven with his share of the spoils. What a hoot!
TUESDAY, JULY 20, 2004
This would never happen in L.A.! Needed to get some info from the DMV today. When I called I got a recording that the person I needed to speak with wasn’t at their desk and requested a callback number. Ha! But I left a message anyway. And they called back!!!! Within half an hour!!!! UNBELIEVABLE.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 21, 2004
Today we went to the Department of Licensing to register our cars in Washington. There was no line, we walked right up to the window. The person was cheerful and helpful. And in five minutes we walked out with our new license plates in our hands! Since we came in together, we got sequential plate numbers. And now we blend right in with the rest of the Washingtonians.
FRIDAY, JULY 23, 2004
Just a typical day. Went marketing at the local Safeway. I swear, it is just me, is it approaching feeble-mindedness, or is everyone getting more forgetful? Anyway, I leave the market, unload the car, and dutifully park the cart in the cart corral. As I'm driving out of the lot, I see a gentleman at the end of my lane looking at me strangely. I figure I must be whizzing around the parking lot too fast (it'll take me a while to shake my Los Angeles habits) and I feel a little guilty. By the time I reach the end of the lane, he's crossing in front of my car as I turn left to exit. That's when I see this guy is carrying a purse...my purse! My jaw drops and I swing the car around and stop beside him. "That's my purse!" "Yes, I was just about to turn it in to the manager...I didn't go through it or anything." I'm blown away. "Oh, I'm sure you didn't, it's just that my appointment book is in there and ...." I thank him profusely and shake his hand and go on my way just amazed at how forgetful I am getting. But can you imagine that happening in L.A.?
WEDNESDAY, JULY 28, 2004
Went on a Puffin Cruise organized by the local Audubon Society this evening. What interesting and beautiful little seabirds are Puffins. Just bouncing along out there on the water trying to catch dinner for their young ones. Off the shores of Port Townsend is a special place known as Protection Island. It's only about half a mile in size but has a wide variety of seabirds. Many thousands of Seagulls nest there. Saw cute little fuzzy young ones with their moms. The Island is a nesting place for two species of Cormorants. We saw some Bald Eagles, both juveniles and adults. Saw one soaring as our boat went by. The juveniles don't get that bald "white" head until they're five years old. There were Pigeon Guillemots and Black Oyster Catchers. Besides seabirds, there were dozens of Seals with their babies. And one lone giant California Sea Lion waving his flipper.
The Island is now a nature preserve, established in 1982, and closed to the public to protect sensitive seabird and marine mammal species. It provides critical nesting habitat for about 70 percent of the breeding seabird population of the Puget Sound. The second largest breeding population of Rhinoceros Auklet (a seabird in the same family as Puffins) in the contiguous states is on this island. We saw a number of them bobbling in the water and diving for their dinners.
When Protection Island became a preserve, any private citizen who owned property there in the past sold to the government, except two individuals who refused to sell and can't be made to. One guy will retire soon from Seattle and is looking forward to living there full time. His house must've had hundreds of Seagulls perched on the roof, and so you can just imagine what the roof looked like!
The most amazing site was deer grazing on the hillside. Why? Because in order to get there, they had to swim three to four miles from the mainland. Amazing. (Note to self: we must go on a whale watch.)
Sad note: some imbecile trespassers got on the island the other day and started a campfire. As a result, hundreds of nesting Guillemots and their young were killed! Can't imagine what drives people to make such thoughtless, selfish decisions.
THURSDAY, JULY 29, 2004
The "retired lifestyle" sure wreaks havoc with your daily schedule.
Lately the routine we've settled into has us up around 7:30 and it's right to the computers while we have breakfast to work on our projects. For Greg, of course, it's the house plans. For me, right now, it's getting this website ready to launch. We've been making lunch around 2 p.m. and by the time we're done for the day, it's around 7, 7:30 p.m.. Since it's been on the warm side during the afternoons (usually in the mid 70s (but there was a day last week when it soared to the high 80s and I was absolutely miserable!), we've been getting our daily exercise in the evenings. Every day it's a different nearby woodland but even if it's one we've been to before, there's always another path just around the bend.
Tonight we didn't get going until about 8:15 p.m. because we ran into our neighbor and chatted for a spell. We went to one of our favorite walks which begins under a canopy of deep woods. (I know this is getting monotonous, but what can I say, we are surrounded by trees, mountains, lakes and lagoons. It's just awful!!!) Once we turn off the main road and wind down the farmlands filled with cows, the movement of our car sends dozens of Swallows sitting on the overhead telephone wires flying in all directions. On the other side of the road is a family of llamas. They are the oddest looking things straight out of Dr. Doolittle. When we park the car along the road, the two mutts from the nearby farm rush down their long driveway and bark up a storm. You'd think they'd know us by now! The trees are old and covered in moss and the ground is covered with blackberry plants and ferns. In the stillness you can hear the sounds of water from the creek. There's one huge old "snag" (a dead tree) which looks like it came right off the set of the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy found the Tin Man. We've taken to calling him "The Old Man" and always yell "Hi" as we pass. When we emerge from the canopy, we turn right just past the farm house and up a winding road that turns into a forestry road. It's fairly steep and it's a good cardio workout.
I have to laugh. When our neighbors here see us exercising, they ask if we're training for some kind of marathon! "No," I say, "Just Californians!"
Anyway, it's up the forestry road we go. Tonight we went all the way to the top, into a large logged-out section. On our way, I find another garter snake at my feet. You have to watch out for these little guys because it's easy to almost step on one in the grass. A few weeks ago we were on the side of the road looking at a view and there was one little fella heading out toward the highway. It must've been a sight watching Greg and I trying to wrangle this snake back into the brush. On the logged-out hill there was water filtering down the hillside and frogs have made a home in the big puddles. Once on top, we look out and have the most amazing panorama of the mountains and Discovery Bay. And hanging in the sky we see a huge red harvest moon looming above us on the horizon. Awesome.
It's getting late now and the evenings are getting shorter; Fall is in the air. We quickly retrace our steps so we can get back to the car before it gets really dark. On the way back down the mountain, we're escorted by bats crisscrossing the path out to get their suppers of flying insects. To the uninitiated, you'd think they were drunken birds with their herky jerky flight patterns. By the time we get back to the dense canopy we came through at the beginning it looks like another world, eerie and the oncoming dark makes the woods appear out-of-focus. By the time we're in the car on the way home it's past 9:30, and by the time I put dinner together and we sit down to eat, it's well after 10 p.m. But who cares? We had a great adventure tonight.
MONDAY, AUGUST 2, 2004
Life is hard. While Greg goes to to meet with the septic tank designers (go to to find out more), I stay home still working to complete this website. But my days is not all drudgery. After lunch I go into Port Townsend for another sybaritic two-hour massage with Kelly. I love this woman! This session even outdid the first. She has a magical intuitive touch and before I know it, I'm transported to another realm. It's a total Zen experience and I'm busy making alpha-waves. I'm a sloppy noodle when it's over. How Kelly does a two-hour session I don't know. But it's Paradise. Heaven. Nirvana.
At night before dinner we take our walk on Casselary Road just down the Highway from home. There's a tree in a large meadow with an interesting shape so we thought we'd get a picture. A nearby farm house is straight out of an Andrew Wyeth painting. It's a steep hike and lately our walks take us all the way to the top of whatever mountain we're hiking on. And we're rewarded with another spectacular 360º view. Overhead we hear a strange bird call that's new to us. We have the binocs and I can get a glimpse but I'm lousy at identifying birds. Our treks now are stretching to almost two hours before we know it. We get back to the car just before there's no light left. And it's another late-night dinner.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 3, 2004
We're both staying home today to work on projects. I'm hoping to launch this website before we leave to go back to Los Angeles next week. And Greg is again (still) working on the floorplan.
While I'm working in the kitchen, a darling little raccoon scampers by right outside our window. I just love it here!
Later in the afternoon I ask Greg to help me proof the website and there's the raccoon again, only this time there's three of them. They are so cute. Greg's able to snap a couple of pix before they scurry off into the underbrush.
Tonight's walk is off the Highway onto Boulton Road. Remember I told you we met a Farmer John. His name is John Boulton and this road is named for him. This is common in rural areas. We've hiked here before but this time we take a fireroad for something different. Most of these fireroads go up to the tops of the mountains and this one's no different. We're surrounded by Douglas fir. Up ahead are a pair of grouse. A few weeks ago while visiting our property, we hear this odd sound in the trees, sort of like someone blowing into a bottle. That's a new one, and at first we thought it was that cougar who's prints we came upon. Or maybe even a bear. We consulted with our Audubon expert and he identifies it as a grouse. They're about the size of a chicken but the sound gives the impression they're much larger and not a bird at all. We also see a couple of quail on the path. They're funny looking characters with that plume that hangs over their face and so sweet and very shy. We decide to push even further upwards. The trees begin to change as we get higher and now there are lots of my favorite, Hemlock (the tree, not the poisonous plant). I especially like the delicate look. We have some on our property and I want to encourage their growth.
You lose all sense of time when you're walking like this. I was so proud of myself that I got us out of the house by 7:30 but again we didn't make it back until nearly 10...and another late night dinner.
When will we learn to always take the camera! We reach the peak and it's "top of the world Ma!" What an amazing landscape. And the fog is rolling in and it has settled into the valleys between the mountains. The mist looked something like this and the way it clings to the bottom of the mountains, it creates a phantom lake. Just magical. And again, we hear that bird we saw last night. We get a much better look at it this time. We can see it has a patch of white under its wing; one lands right ahead of us on the road. This is driving me crazy, I must find out what this bird is. Darkness is closing in and we start heading home and then we hear this horrible cry in the distance. It sounds like it could be a hawk, and I start mimicking the call. Nothing. We start moving again, and again we hear the cry. We follow the sound to an offshoot of the path we're on. Off into the bushes right next to us, we hear a deep grunt. I tell Greg it's gotta be a grouse and walk on ahead. And then we hear the cry again. Greg looks up the trail and points out two men up ahead. Greg starts to turn back but I tell him they're waving and motioning for us to join them. I've been watching too many CSI's and for just an instance I imagine that our bodies are never ever found. They're hunters and they're out for bear. What we heard wasn't a grouse at all. It was a Black Bear not twenty feet from where we were! These hunters weren't what I had expected; they were very friendly and informative. We got to talking and they explained the reason they waved to us. "If we wave, it means we see you, and you're safe." They cautioned us to wear orange vests come October when hunting season is in full swing. There are a lot of novice hunters out there and they get "buck fever". I think by then we will have to switch back to a morning schedule.
Greg and I would rather see people shoot with cameras than with guns but Washington is known as a hunter's paradise and I'm not going to change the world. And I know I'm just as guilty as these hunters because I eat meat and poultry and I prefer telling myself it comes in packages from the market. I guess I can see their point when it comes to thinning out herds which otherwise might succumb to disease and starvation. Wish the world wasn't like that...but it is. I'm just glad they weren't lucky that night.
While I put dinner together, Greg gets out the Audubon book and determines that bird we've been watching is a Common Nighthawk. Actually "hawk" is a misnomer and this bird is related to the Whip-poor-will and hunts insects in the early morning and at dusk. Mystery solved.
What a day!
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 4, 2004
I'm slowly finding new doctors for us and today I had blood drawn in Port Townsend. The cost was probably half of what these same tests would cost in L.A. Plus, we drive right up to the doctor's office, park in front, and I'm outta there in 10 minutes flat.
We decide to treat ourselves and have a big breakfast at Sweet Laurette's: great big omelets (mind was eggbeaters) with lots of veggies. Afterward we drive through the neighborhood looking at different architecture to get some ideas for the house. We're still toying around with the idea of a viewing tower and so we go into two of the oldest churches in town. Then it's back home.
While I'm at the computer, Greg's talking to a friend on the phone while looking out on the deck. Greg gets my attention and points out a tiny little bird at the feeder. It was brown with a light yellow belly but, darn, I can't seem to find it in the bird book. Greg thinks it was some kind of flycatcher. He also gets lucky and sees his favorite, a Cedar Waxwing fly to the top of one of the huge cedar trees off our deck.
Every time we got into Port Townsend we pass by the Kah Tai Nature Preserve. It's right in downtown PT. The lagoon and marshland connected to the ocean once upon a time and early on in the town's history there were bridges spanning the water. A few decades back it became a trash dump but finally with pressure from the citizenry, it was transformed into a breeding and feeding ground for many species of birds. And although it's no longer connected to the ocean, somehow even otters come to frolic.
It seems like such a simple thing to grab the camera for our walks and you'd think we'd've learned our lesson last night. But nooooo, so you'll just have to take my word here. By the time we set out on the trail the sun was low on the horizon and causing rays of light to burst through the thick clouds illuminating the edges with a silvery gold. It's that time of day when birds are getting their last meal of the day and we pass dozens of ducks. Their beaks are clacking as they bite into the water and then every few seconds they totally upend themselves to grab what I'm thinking could be small fishes. It's a comical sight to see a row of ducktails floating on the water.
There were two beautiful photographs we missed. We pass a row of ducks gliding across the water, evenly spaced at an angle, all heads bent and nipping at the water. You couldn't stage something like this...and now it's just a memory. And then a Great Blue Heron sweeps low right in front of us and lands on the shore. I've never been so close to one. They're huge magnificent animals. Toward the end of our outing, we sit on a big rock and watch one standing as still as can be in the water. Then every once in a while he pitches forward just slightly and boom, his long beak breaks the water and he comes up with a fish. With a flick of his head he throws it to the back of his throat and down it goes.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 8, 2004
Our friend Dan has come to visit and of course we give him the cook's tour. We pick him up at the little airport in Port Angeles - he took the puddle jumper from Seatac. He and our baby Bud are old friends and Bud is drooling all over the place.
Tonight we couldn't wait to take Dan on a walk to show him what we're so excited about. So we went to that fireroad off Boulton about ten minutes from the house. That's where we ran into those hunters last week and we told Dan all about our little adventure.
We don't get going until nearly a quarter 'til 8. This is a fairly steep walk, but Dan is in good shape and up we go. This time we have our camera!
Soon after we begin hiking, we hear a loud rumbling and first off, we're sure it must be a bear. We stand still for a few moments and wait, but nothing- so we press on. I guess at least one of us is learning that this ain't no amusement park adventure: Greg is thinking ahead and has taken a walking stick with him, just in case. The next time we hear a distant roar we can tell it's an ATV. The hunter we met before was using one and he told us he comes up here all the time, so we figure that must be him.
We hit an opening on the path that gives us an incredible view of just about everything n the distance: Port Townsend, Seattle, Mt. Baker, and Mt. Rainier.
We're nearly to the top. We're rounding a bend in the road, Greg is up ahead, Dan right behind him, and I'm a distant third. Then I see Greg turn to us; his face lit up with a look of total astonishment. I wonder what's going on. "Cougar! There's a cougar... right here!" The cat walks straight towards him. Dan gets a good look at him just as he turns to cross our path, but by the time I catch up and get my binocs in front of my face, he's lazily walking off into the brush. He couldn't have been more than 100 feet in front of us!
Yes, we had our camera, but these digital things just aren't quick on the draw so we have no trophy picture. Even spotting a Cougar from far away is very rare. On one of our Audubon Walks we met the Chief Naturalist for the Olympic National Forest. He worked there for 25 years before he retired and said he'd seen Cougar tracks, but he'd never gotten the chance to actually see one.
I couldn't believe what just happened, and I don't think Greg or Dan could either. It all just seemed surreal - I didn't even have time to register that we could've been in real danger! This animal was big, had to weight at least 150 lbs. Dan said when he saw him turn, he got a side view of him and his coloring was light. But I only saw him walking ahead of me. I remember registering how big his paws were and between the pads on his huge feet were tufts of chocolate fur. He moved with grace and elegance as he nonchalantly wandered back into the bush. Only after the cat is out of sight do we look at one another and it settles in just what happened, and how it could have turned ugly real fast.
After we gather our wits about us, we continue on - we're almost at the summit now and Greg tells Dan we're almost at the point where we ran into those hunters.
All of a sudden - BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! Greg is the only one of us who's seen combat and yells "Get down!" and in a millisecond we're all flat on our faces! What is it that Alice said? "This is getting curiouser and curiouser!" I'm thinking bullets might come flying out from the brush and I could actually get caught in the crossfire. We figure the hunter must have sighted a bear. Instead of being frozen with fear, I'm feeling absolutely higher than a kite. I just can't believe this is actually happening. Just a couple of hours ago we were in Safeway. And now it's almost like we're in a combat zone. We all look at each other and I guess the shock has just made us laugh, but we all know how serious this really is and what could happen. We get to our feet and Greg says we had better turn back. I want to continue and Dan's game too. Okay, we've convinced Greg. Besides we're almost at the top. But we decide not to go to the spot where we ran into the hunters before, partly because we can hear their ATV up ahead. So we turn off the next little vein of the road. BANG! BANG! BANG! Again we hit the ground.
We stay still for a while but once we hear the ATVs start up again, I start to march on and Greg asks me if I really want to see a dead bear. Of course I don't but I remember thinking that's not going to happen and if it does, I just won't look.
And then again BANG! BANG! BANG! And down we go for the third time.
Okay, now Greg really thinks we should be sane and turn back, and this time Dan agrees. I keep quiet but I still wanted to keep going. I guess I just couldn't accept the fact that something tragic was actually within the realm of possibility.
I ask Greg if we should yell or something to let the hunters know we're here and then I scream out "Hello!" Greg yells out "Hikers here, down range!" And then, we hear the roar of the ATVs coming down the hill and sure enough it's our "old friend". He remembers us from the other night and says we shouldn't have worried - they were just doing a little target practice! And off they go, down the mountain leaving us all alone up there....
Here's a picture of two guys who are
very happy to be alive.
Now that we know the guns are gone and our Cougar doesn't seem to be anywhere in sight, we're feeling a little bold I guess and we decide to hike through the cemetery of fallen trees before we start back down to the car. We're walking at a good clip as the darkness takes over. Greg packed a flashlight this trip and as we descend, he's shining it into the bushes hoping not to see any glowing eyes staring back at us.
The only thing we see on our way down are more Nighthawks and a few dozen bats leading the way.
MONDAY, AUGUST 9, 2004
We take Dan on a drive up Palo Alto Road which you get to just coming out of downtown Sequim on the road back to Discovery Bay. It's one of my favorite panoramas with expansive meadows up against rows of mountains. On the way, we pass a herd of Elk. The leader of the pack keeps a watchful eye on us as we drive past. On the way back we discover a new road (for us at least) that gets us back to 101 via the Olympic National Forest. It takes a while longer but the scenery is worth it.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 2004
It's back to Anderson Lake for a long walk with Dan, just before he returns home tomorrow. It seems they've done some housekeeping on the trails and added some handy markers, so we find a new hike. We decide to explore the Cascades Trail which takes us even deeper into the forest and soon we find ourselves going up a steep path along a mountainside. Mountain goats would find this very comfortable. We must have gone up at least 1000 feet. It was a real good workout. At the top is an immense towering boulder just covered in moss and sprouting sword ferns. It's rained this morning and the last couple of days and along the way we find just dozens of little frogs. Evidently the rain makes all the little creatures very active. We also come upon a salamander. Dan is surprised I even see him because he blends right into the brown earth. I pick him up and his belly is a bright yellow orange. He was very docile and I'm not sure if he was playing possum. I put him out of harm's way and catch up to the boys. We also see about a hundred huge banana slugs. These guys are nothing like what you see in the gardens of L.A. They're the size of stogies and come in yellow, brown, black, and a yellow and black pattern that reminds me of a giraffe. Just before we get to the end of our trek we come to a small meadow that's just crawling with little froggies. We have to watch our feet to make sure they travel on safely. And then a baby garter snake slithers away into the tall grass. He must've been trying to catch a meal of baby frog before we disturbed him. Over two hours have passed by the time we get back to our car. We're good and tired, and hungry too.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2004
Went into Port Townsend to have a nice lunch (more like a dinner) at the newest restaurant we've discovered: the Fountain Cafe. They have good salads and specialty sandwiches plus good Italian dishes. I splurged and had fetuccini with chicken. And then went further off the deep end of our diets and had ice cream at a very well known ice cream parlour - Elevated Ice Cream. I think the "elevated" refers to the superior quality of their product - all hand made fresh daily. It's been there for about twenty years. I got coconut sorbet - yummm.
After running a few errands, we saw this mother and child grabbing a bite to eat. You can tell autumn is in the air - their coats already have that fuzzy look. I think I was getting a little too close here. Although this looks like an adorable pose, mom was frozen with her eyes right on me. If I hadn't backed off right away, I think I was in danger of getting pounced on.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2004
The owners of the house we're renting came into town yesterday to see their house (they now live out of state and haven't been here for a while). The owner built this place himself and so Greg had lots of questions and they ended up talking shop for an hour and a half. During their visit they tell us about some great trails right in our own backyard - we had no idea! So this evening we went exploring and found an entire new world out there. Who knew! This turned out to be one of the best areas we've found yet. We left around 6:30 and didn't get back home until 8:30 - again chasing the darkness. It always seems whenever we go on our walks, we get exploring and "forget" we have to come all the way back. So there were patches of deep darkness under the forest canopy on the return trip. While we're out there, a truck comes along the road, and we meet two men who tell us we're on private property, although it's not a problem. We thought this area was owned by the family who developed our neighborhood (somehow the term neighborhood just doesn't explain this area very well - there are only 14 mailboxes for secluded homes spread out over a very large area). Anyway, these guys they tell us we're on a 3000 acre privately-owned parcel. They also tell us that, of course, there are cougars here. They estimate around 20 of them. There are lots of deer here and a cougar hunts a deer a week. That's 52 a year times 20, so it turns out the cougar hunt far more than human hunters do. But Greg and I still prefer cameras.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2004
Went into the "neighboring forest" again on the 10th and today. What a find to have a forest to hike in right in our backyard. Each time we pick another road to explore and today we found ourselves in a canopy of alders which marked our path. We find we have to make sure when we walk down these paths to look for spiders. They seem to build a web everywhere and before you know it you're walking right into one. There are lots of different kinds of spiders here in Washington, and the ones we keep "running into" on our walks are big and red. I think I must've gotten bitten by one. At first I thought it was a mosquito bite but it ended up swelling my forearm and turned a lovely shade of red.
Seems the cool and wet weather we're now getting has hatched thousands of frogs. We have to be extra careful where we place our feet. It almost looks like the ground is crawling but it's actually tiny little new froggies. They are so cute....really!
When the owners told us about these trails they mentioned an old farm house. It wasn't until our walk this evening that we found it. Actually we kind of stumbled upon it. We were on one of the main forest roads and I caught sight of an offshoot path. It looked like there was an opening in the thick forest and we walked through. In the darkness of the canopy we found lots of different mushrooms and I'm sure some of them must be poisonous. And then we found the huge moss covered trees and behind them, the house. I'm sure if the wolf gave a huff and a puff, the entire thing would collapse. Kind of an eerie sight when you think of the farmer who built this decades ago and now it has gone to ruin. Looks like the perfect place to have a Halloween party.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2004
Greg and I have begun a topographical survey of our property (for more about it, go to ). Of course, now that summer is gone, it's been raining and we've gotten completely drenched. While I was standing in a thicket of trees, I notice something "fall". I wait and, nothing. Then I see something flutter. It's a little bird and he perches on the branch of a Cedar not 10 feet from me. Greg and I are communicating with walkie-talkies while we do the survey and I tell him about this little guy. I don't have my glasses but he looks like a big sparrow but he's acting like a bird of prey and I can see him turning his head. Then he flies to another part of the branch and he's hidden by the foliage. Finally when Greg gets back to where I've been working the with the "transit" (the device that calculates the survey), we're able to get a better look at him. And this time, finally, we have our camera! I get a shot of him and Greg and I decide it's a little owl. And we're right, our guide book tells us he's a Northern Sow-Whet Owl, only about 7" long and he's supposedly a rare sight. I've been hoping to see an owl and finally I hit the jackpot.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2004
We tried to do some more work on the topo survey today but weather was definitely NOT permitting. It's hard to tell what the weather will be like judging from the weather at the rental house. Things were fine here and then when we turned up Road on our way to the property it was a total white out. You couldn't see 10 feet in front of the car. We went to the property anyway to see if we could still get some work done but it was useless. I have to be able to look through a camera/binocular type device and site Greg standing with a measuring rod many feet away from me. So, we head back home and look for a place to have our daily walk on the return trip. We decide to go up Palo Alto Road to the deep woods we discovered off Jimmy Come Lately Road. Don'tja just love the names of streets here. We passed one that read: Goa Way. Get it?! Anyway, there too it was dense fog but that didn't discourage us from our walk. Afterward, Greg drove back to catch a photo of a spider in his web. Because of the fog, his web took on an iridescent quality. He snapped this picture of me waiting at the car. He took this shot of the road enveloped in a bluish mist as we were leaving.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2004
When it rains, it pours. And hails!!! It's been raining on and off all day, we we've stayed home to work on other things. One second it's raining hard, the next...nothing. Then we hear a sharp sound as the rain is coming down and I figure it's gotta be hail. Yep. We peak out the front door to our cars and watch the little white balls of ice bounce off of the hood. Luckily, no damage. I can't wait to see if we get any snow this winter. It's supposed to be a strong one they're saying.
We've been filling up the birdbath with seeds and our most frequent customers are the very very noisy Stellar's Jays. These guys are very aggressive and must have dozens of different calls. But unlike the Scrub Jays in California, these guys are very skittish. They yell at us when they see us through the window if we haven't put the seeds out, but the minute we move the slightest bit, they fly off. Greg and our boy were lazily sitting together on the La-Z-Boy recliners when the jays came back for another snack. You can just see the top of Bud's head in this pic and from the turn of his head, he isn't the least bit interested. In fact, the two of them have been so cozy on their chair, Greg asked me to bring over the camera for a couple of shots of someone who knows how to relax. Our deck has a "fence" of clear plexi so the view isn't obstructed. It takes a few time before the birds "get it" and learn to fly over instead of crashing into it. We're thinking of not feeding them anymore because of this although none of them seems to have been hurt. But a few times one just can't figure it out and flutters and flys into the plexi, practically exhausting himself. This last time a hawk, probably a Red Tailed, was watching and swooped down to get himself a meal. He came so close to our window we got an great closeup of him in flight. Greg walked out on the deck and the hawk flew off into the distance. And the jay finally figured out a clean getaway.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2004
Back in August, the Los Angeles T
One thing they have plenty of here is spiders. Right now we're finding an abundance. On our walks we have to be aware of large intricate webs strung across the path by these speckled red spiders. They must cast their silk into the wind to get it across such large spaces.
While we were out at the property today working on the land survey, we notice this little compact spider darting about on the electrical box where we've set up the tripod. I don't have my glasses on but I can see he's almost looking at us and he's busy moving his legs (or hands) in front of his face. Greg gets the camera out to take a picture and the darn thing jumps right at the camera. But we got these shots of him anyway. Doesn't it look like he's staring right at you?
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2004
Back in August, the Los Angeles Times ran the following article about visiting the Olympic Peninsula. We've reprinted it below:
Silver streams, mossy green forest, beaches and icy peaks
Washington's peninsula is a place of enchanting extremes
By Mary McNamara
Times Staff Writer
August 29, 2004
We were looking for a unicorn, four young friends and I. This did not seem an unreasonable thing to do. We had found the hall where the fairies dance, the throne where the elfin queen sits. We had scurried past an old troll and had walked across a bridge of tree roots that would be the perfect place to raise baby dragons, if you were in the baby-dragon-raising business. Then we stopped in a clearing. Moss covered the trees like the robes of ancient druids, and every inch of space was occupied by something growing - on broken stumps, on the sides of trees, on fallen nurse-logs where seedlings sprouted from fragrant rot like flags in front of a palace. Even the sunlight was filtered green as if through seawater.
For a moment, no one breathed. Then, off in the underbrush, there was the sound of a twig breaking. Under the golden hoof of a unicorn, no doubt. Because we were in the Hoh Rain Forest on Washington's Olympic Peninsula, and if unicorns exist, this is where they live.
The peninsula is a place of many extremes. It includes the only rain forest in North America and mountains so high that snow and ice linger through August. The primeval forest at its heart is cradled by a coastline that dips between sandy beaches littered with enormous tangles of silvering driftwood and cliffs that tower over waves crashing like the wrath of Neptune. Beyond, the cold Pacific waters are full of surfers and starfish and king salmon and an endless, glorious silhouette of tiny islands and rocky outcroppings.
Cellphones don't work here, major newspapers aren't delivered here, and in summer, time moves differently, taking long, slow steps. Morning and afternoon can blur together as the sun burns through the seaside fog and the day stretches far into night, the sun reluctantly setting sometime after 9.
We came to the peninsula in July, our family - my husband, Richard, Danny Mac, 6, and Fiona, 4 - traveling with friends Peter, Ute, 9-year-old Leah and Emma, 4. It was a trip that almost didn't happen. A week before our departure, Peter broke his leg. Fortunately for us, he decided that pain and inconvenience were nothing compared with the prospect of telling his daughters they would not be going on the summer trip we had been planning since winter.
Ferries, fog and an octopus
SO early one morning, the eight of us flew from Burbank to
the Seattle-Tacoma airport, where we rented two cars and drove directly to Seattle.
We boarded a ferry for Bainbridge Island, stopped on the charming main drag to grab
some lunch, then drove through the greenery to Port Townsend. In the late 1800s,
this seaport rivaled San Francisco for a time. Talk was that a rail line would connect
it to Tacoma and make Port Townsend the biggest city on the West Coast. But the railroad
never materialized, leaving the Victorian town small and lovely, geared now toward
We spent the first two nights in Port Angeles, about 30 miles away, because the town is right outside the entrance to Hurricane Ridge, a series of trails in the still-snowcapped Olympic Mountains, and a departure point for ferries to Victoria, in British Columbia.
On the first morning here, we headed up to Hurricane Ridge, but rain threatened, and the guard at the entrance to the park told us that clouds had covered the peaks. Rather than drive 17 miles to see fog, we went back into town.
Port Angeles is a tiny working port, with a brooding waterfront and a remarkably good, though equally tiny, Marine Life Center on the city pier. We spent almost two hours in this museum - which would fit into the ladies' room of the Long Beach Aquarium - where a trio of knowledgeable staff members peeled back the hide of a "mermaid's purse" to show the kids prenatal baby skates and provided rapt commentary when the octopus in residence made a dramatic appearance to engulf and eat the crab that had been sitting in its tank for days.
In nearby Sequim (pronounced "squim"), we took a trail through the tranquil woods of the Dungeness Wildlife Refuge Reserve down to the Dungeness spit, a strip of sand barely 100 yards wide that curves like a tentacle five miles into the Pacific. Here we had our first glimpse of Olympic driftwood. On every beach there is inevitably a forest of entire trees, worn smooth and pale by water and wind, stacked in crazy piles like pick-up sticks abandoned by giants. We played a rousing game of "don't touch the ground" until the children discovered that previous visitors had built forts and shelters among the logs, and then it was pirates and Swiss Family Robinson, while the parents turned their faces into the chilly mist and contemplated the craggy coast to the left and, to the right, eternity.
Poor Peter and his leg were stuck in the car while we cavorted on the spit. So in deference to him, we visited the Olympic Game Farm, which promised car tours revealing lions and buffalo and bears. Imagining a tourist trap with one flea-bitten buffalo and a washed-out zebra, I was surprised by the size of the place and the tremendous number of amazing (and amazingly healthy) animals â•‰ herds of Roosevelt elk, dozens of bears, buffalo that licked our windows and numerous peacocks that fanned their gorgeous tails whenever a peahen came near.
Next stop: Hurricane Ridge
We had planned to go to Victoria the next day. Originally
we were going to leave both cars in Port Angeles, but because of Peter's leg we decided
to take one. Alas, we did not realize how early you had to get a car to a ferry dock
to ensure getting on - 15 minutes before departure was not enough. We were given
prime parking for the next ferry, but this left us with one car and four hours to
Rationalizing that vacation time is more valuable than money, we rented another car and drove up to Hurricane Ridge, where the clouds hung over the snowy peaks like a silken silver canopy. We had plenty of time to walk a couple of miles amid the splendid firs on the easy loops, the kids found a big patch of snow to play in, and we watched deer graze in a meadow across from the visitors' center.
We made it back to the ferry with time to spare, and an hour and half later we were in sunny Victoria, where we spent the evening and most of the next day visiting the famed and fabulous Butchart Gardens and exploring the charming city streets.
The ferry put us back in Port Angeles close to 10 p.m., which made the 70-mile ride to our next destination - Ocean Park Resort in La Push - a dark and anxious one, because we had no idea what the place would be like, having discovered it on the Internet.
At the Quileute Reservation
THE resort is owned and operated by members of the Quileute
tribe; La Push is on the Quileute Indian Reservation. Although the tribe has rented
out ocean-side cabins for many years, it recently decided to try to make the resort
a true source of income, adding a group of lovely new units. At $210 a night for
two bedrooms, these were a bit pricey for us, so we reserved one two-bedroom cabin,
which we figured would be big enough for the entire party to eat and congregate in,
and one studio cabin. The studio cabin, which included a sleeping loft, turned out
to be a mistake. It was not very clean, and to get to the loft, you had to ascend
a ladder built into a wall, which made it too dangerous for the children.
The two-bedroom cabin was immaculate, large and comfortable, and when we woke up in the morning, we discovered that the huge picture window and front porch looked out over a tangle of wildflowers and raspberries to First Beach, which was one of the most beautiful beaches we had ever seen. We traded in the studio cabin for another, very rustic but serviceable.
"Resort" rather overstates the situation. There is a small store for groceries and sundries in the nearby RV park, as well as a rustic motel with en suite units, and new cabins that were quite lovely, but that was it as far as amenities. Not that we cared. There was a small playground down the street, and two long wooden boats being carved, and a small harbor, bristling with masts, where fresh fish was available and a restaurant if we didn't feel like cooking.
First Beach was a destination itself (though if you tired of it, Second and Third were a short drive away and equally glorious) and was close enough that we could keep track of the kids from the porch, which meant there were times when the adults were, gasp, alone.
One day was devoted to the Hoh Rain Forest, which was about half an hour away, and Ruby Beach, which, to the children's disappointment, was not strewn with precious gems. (I was disappointed too, having read that the sand had a pinkish cast. Maybe it would in the sun; on the misty day we visited, it was regular-looking sand, though the beach itself made up for this by being beautifully romantic, even in the company of four kids having wet-sand fights.)
On another day we explored Sol Duc Hot Springs, which is also deep in the rain forest. There is an adjacent "resort" of small cabins, but the hot-springs-fed swimming pools and hot tubs are open to the public. We discovered several masseuses on duty, so after a short trek through a sylvan meadow, the fathers watched the kids play in the water while the mothers went on a hike to the unbelievably picturesque Sol Duc Falls and then got very good massages.
(One caveat on this, and any, natural hot springs - be rigorous about telling children not to swallow the sulfur water. All of ours got a little sick the next day, and we regretted not having been more stern about it.)
In the evenings, we made dinner- one night it was Sammy the One-Eyed Salmon, which we bought for $10 from a local fisherman â•‰ and watched the navy-blue evening settle down over the waves, occasionally illuminated by fireworks shot off by other guests. We roasted marshmallows on the beach and marveled at the number of stars you can see when there are no other lights around.
The only problem with our trip, besides Peter's broken leg, was that it was too short. The consensus of websites and travel guides I consulted while planning the trip was that a week on the Olympic Peninsula was ideal, so this was what we planned. But a week amid such beauty was not nearly enough. When it came time for us to leave, we retraced our path along the northern coast, this time in the daylight, and I regretted the places we had not visited â•‰ Neah Bay and Clallum Bay, Lake Quinault and Lake Crescent. I would have liked to revisit Hurricane Ridge on a sunny day, and we certainly could have spent another day or two wandering around the rain forest.
Because, if we'd had two weeks, we most certainly would have seen at least one unicorn.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2004
It's a rare lazy Saturday. Well almost. Here it is nearly 1 p.m. and we're still at our computers, listening to music, looking out on the dense fog covering the Bay. Despite the fog, the day is a sunny one.
Well, we finished the field work on the topographical survey. It took several days and we figure we put in over 20 hours, but hopefully saved ourselves a couple of thousand dollars. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Taylor & Taylor, Surveyors Extraordinaire. Now Greg will do his magic at the computer and come up with a detailed map. This will help us pinpoint exactly where to put the house. It may even affect the "footprint" of the floorplan in order to save some specimen trees and maximize the view. It will also help figure out where to put the septic. We have some beautiful 30ft, 35ft and 40ft Hemlocks, RedCedars, and Douglas Firs. The back part of the property is what they call a buffer zone. This means the forest is to remain untouched to keep the wildlife habitat intact.
Earlier this week after we finished the survey for the day, we were leaving around sunset and caught this colorful panorama.
This week another one of my Uni Hi classmates and her husband came out to the Peninsula to check out property. We hooked them up with our agent, Jan, and they're seriously considering the move.
Soon we'll leave for a long walk in the "backyard" forest here. Earlier in the week when it rained, a myriad of mushrooms sprang up. Here are a few shots of these rather large specimens (bell-shaped mushroom, dewy mushroom in a tree trunk, top view round mushroom, twin mushrooms, mushroom and moss-covered tree trunk).
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2004
Sunday was our wedding anniversary so we decided to drive to Crescent Lake about half an hour from Port Angeles and about 40 minutes from . Our place just has to have a name, and so, if Scarlett O'Hara could have her Tara, and Rebecca her Manderlay, I don't see why we can't have . So, henceforth, we shall now refer to our property at as !!! Anyway, what can I say...more beautiful forest. It's just everywhere here and I hope we never become so jaded that we just let it become "white noise".
We get to Lake Crescent and it is indeed a crescent and it is HUGE. The area is reminiscent of Lake Arrowhead. The Lake has a lodge, the original was built in the teens of the last century. They also have cabins to rent, and boats. We decided to spend just a little while before returning to Port Angeles for a late dinner. Had we known that the Lodge had a wonderful restaurant...well...we've made plans to return for dinner next week and also decided that this will be our special "anniversary place" because we had such a wonderful afternoon, but also because the lake reminds us of Canada's Lake Louise where we spent our honeymoon.
There are several hiking trails there but since we weren't dressed for a real trek, we took a "lightweight" walk to Marymere Falls which took us to a beautiful water fall hidden in a dense old growth forest that the pioneers' saws missed when the surrounding areas were logged so long ago. This picture of me walking towards Greg will give you a little idea of the scale. We were treated to some massive old Cedars, Hemlocks, and Firs, some of which were 10 feet or more wide at their base. Here's how big these old men are: Greg is sitting in a toppled stump; and I'm standing inside a gutted trunk. There were lush carpeted trails through ferns and leaves. Every corner had a little story to tell. There were scenes worthy of an artist's canvas: a tableau of maples, a study in moss, the creek spilling over toppled trees. And sometimes the eyes played tricks on you. How about this "mask" made of fungus or an old moss covered trunk from some long-ago felled tree that to me looks like St. Francis of Assisi. For some reason I am just fascinated by toadstools, mushrooms, and other fungus. They offer such interesting "surprises" on our walks and come in such a variety of shapes, sizes and colors, they become something else entirely: an forest of mushrooms clinging to a massive moss-covered trunk that upon a closer look becomes an ocean of parasols, there was a waterfall, and even a delicate rose.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 9, 2004
Fall is definitely here. There are gray days, windy nights, and intermittent rain. It can be pouring one minute and just misting the next. We've decided to outfit the cars with safer tires for this kind of terrain and weather.
We continue to walk in the forest beyond our rental house. Now that we're officially referring to our property as , I think I need to come up with a name for the rental house. It's just a base of operations for us, not really cozy since most of our "homey" stuff is packed and there isn't much room anyway, so I hesitate to call it a "home"....sooo since we're between Port Townsend and Sequim on Discovery Bay, how about that. So, as I was saying, we continue to walk in the forest beyond Discovery Bay. We've come upon a few forests of alder which we're told is the "new" wood. These trees were considered "weeds" but now have become valuable timber as old growth forests of Pine and Fir and Cedar have become less plentiful. Actually, old growth is very rare indeed and most lumber today is only 20 or 30 years old which means it's not as dense and not as strong or long lasting.
Every day something changes in a forest...overnight. Here are a few sights we've seen on recent walks: a stand of knobby mushrooms, an old growth stump covered in moss, a felled tree covered in a mosaic of fungus, an orange and black caterpillar curled up for a nap, and one of those ubiquitous red spiders and its amazing web.
Big announcement!!! We have settled on our floorplan for . For more info click on
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2004
Well, it's been...what?...five months since moving to this rental house and I definitely miss our old homestead. Don't get me wrong, I don't miss California (except for friends and family), I just miss the pure luxury of having a convenient household where I can put my fingers on anything I need. This place is just a homebase and I can't wait for the day when we move and I can spread all our "stuff" out.
We've been so busy lately, I haven't had much time for this Journal. We've been cramming to get the floorplans ready to take to a few architect/designers for interviews and that's taken any free time. Plus, we went to the Seattle Home Show last week which was very informative. But inbetween long hours at the computer, we've taken some wonderful hikes.
Last Tuesday we drove to Crescent Lake again to have dinner at their Lodge. On the way, we stopped off at Olympic National Park for a 2 mile hike on Hurricane Ridge. In the time it would usually take to drive from our place in California to Beverly Hills, we can drive from to the soon-to-be-snowcapped Olympic Mountains!
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2004
This entry's going to be a kind of "catch all" to bring you up to date. I remembered I had lots of aerial shots taken on a "puddle jumper" flight from Port Angeles to Seattle back in August. The airport in Port Angeles is small and San Juan Airlines is a small operation. The pilot looked to be in his early 20s but assured us he had been piloting for 11 years and really, he was in his 30s. Never the less, the airline is very professional, but laid back. The plane flew low enough to give a great overview of Port Angeles and Sequim. As we left the airport in Port Angeles we flew over downtown Sequim and approached the Sequim Bay area and then Sequim Bay itself. Past that is Bell Hill, sort of the Beverly Hills of Sequim. And right after that a tiny little berg called Blyn. Still more forest to see before we reach Seattle. And then the city sprawled out before us as we got ready to land at Boeing Field, another airport just about 10 minutes from SeaTac.
Judie and fellow UniGirl Sue Wellins have come to visit for a "recon" trip in preparation for their move up here in the Spring. This is Judie's second trip and Sue's first and Sue likes what she sees. They arrived yesterday afternoon by car (a straight 12 hour drive from Eureka, CA) and got to our place before we did.
We had other plans...Greg and I had gone to Port Townsend to enter Greg's "Famous Thanksgiving" Apple Pie into an apple pie contest given by the Fruit Growers Association. Did you know there are some 2,000 varieties of apples? They even had an apple that's a direct descendent of Johnny Appleseed's apple trees. Here's a close up look at THE PIE all it's royal glory! And yes, that's a man in the moon you see there - we got crazy with food coloring. Greg said I was like a stage mother at the event. I must've been 'cause I took so many pictures: here's Greg posing alongside his creation (there were 19 entries in all). We were told the judging would only take an hour. They lied. These judges took this very very seriously. They looked at the whole pies, they smelled the pies, they looked at the pieces of pie, flaked off the crusts with a fork, smelled the pieces of pie (evidently scent is an important part of the judging), and finally ate the pies. With 19 entrants and Judie and Sue waiting at our place, we decided to leave around 3:15 after they told us the judging would probably take until 6. We found out later that Greg's pie didn't take a prize. (Obviously for all their sniffing around, they were no judge of the expressive art of Greg's entry!) But it was a hoot to do anyway...and there were more pies at home for all of us.
Like I said, we've been busy and I haven't been able to publish pictures from some of our more recent walks in the neighboring woods. So here's a couple of "arty" shots: A mighty old stump, and another of the myriad varieties of moss - this one looks like a stand of coral amidst the orange needles of the nearby Cedar trees. We also had a friendly encounter with a deer. It's hunting season now and we were glad this little one was safe for the moment. He/she was very curious about us and even came forward for a better look see. Greg slowly crept closer and was able to get within 8 feet to take this picture.
And we took yet another scenic drive to Olympic National Park just prior to Judie and Sue's visit. We took an hour's hike on Hurricane Ridge, just beyond the Visitor's Center. What we thought would be a rather easy walk was quite a hike and a real cardio workout. On the way up to the park we passed a dead tree and saw a hawk fly to it and land on the branches. Look close and you'll see him. Ascent or decent, the views are stupendous and the walking path at times is right next to the mountainside with nothing but air between you, the path, and a 1000 plus feet of drop. Without the backdrop of the mist-covered mountains, Greg could be Paul Bunyon standing next to a "gigantic" tree. On the way back down, we noticed this entwined clutch of snags. A small group of hikers passed us on their way up and spoke of some large birds above the trail on the hillside. We thanked them for pointing it out and immediately searched the terrain. It took a while for our eyes to see that the large brown birds were Grouse because they were standing as still as statues and remained so until after we went on our way. As we passed a little meadow of golden grass we found this little chipmunk who didn't seem to be concerned about us at all. When we got back to the car, we started our drive back down and this buck was just by the roadside and couldn't have been less interested in us. And these deer, hardly visible against the mountain backdrop, were getting their last meal of the evening.
Perhaps the best part of this adventure was getting a shot we missed weeks ago because we didn't have our camera. It was the end of the day and fog was rolling in off the ocean and filled the valleys of the Olympic Mountains creating a mystical lake. These shots are some of my favorites: Image1, Image2, Image3.
We also met with the septic system designer at and came across this slithery visitor and, of course, mountain girl that I am, I just had to pick him up. He wouldn't cooperate to show you the lovely red geometric design along his back.
This shot was just too neat to pass up. Not far from Klahhane Ridge (which means "fun outdoors" in the native Indian dialect), is Blue Mountain. Here's at Blue Mountain. It's getting late, so we head down Windflower Lane and catch a beautiful sunset down the road.
If you want to see big birds, check out the tops of the tallest trees. Greg is good at spotting and pointed out this Bald Eagle to "the girls" and I on our sight-seeing tour today. After giving Sue and Judie a good tour of downtown Sequim and Port Angeles, as well as the neighborhoods surrounding the areas, we capped the day with a quick drive up to the top of the Olympics. Good thing we got a year's pass. Even though we had visited just a few days ago, there's always something new to see. Now the mountains were dusted with snow. Here we are on our way up the mountain. Sue and Judie were impressed with the overwhelming vistas. Who wouldn't be with sights like this?
Meanwhile, Bud's been working on his Halloween costume. You like?
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2004
It's been a while. We've been staying close to home working on house plans. All of our walks have concentrated on the forest in the backyard. October was deer hunting month and we're glad that's over. Fortunately, we didn't see any of the slaughter but we did here frequent gun shots in the distance. The deer must know something's up because sightings have been few. But the other day we came upon a gorgeous "four pointer" standing right ahead of us on the fire road and told him to skee-daddle. He listened.
With the time change, it's getting darker much sooner. We have to be back from our walks by no later than 5:30 or else. I understand that by the time we're deep into winter it will get dark by 4:30. What a contrast from long summer days where it was light until 10 p.m. The other day we had a nice bit of sun on our walk so we took a self portrait. Not quite as lush as New England, we still get some Fall color, especially courtesy of the Big Leaf Maple Trees.
The weather is definitely colder now, getting into the 30s at night and low 50s during the day. Lots of foggy mist. In fact, it can get pretty scary on the road when you hit a pocket of this mist because you can't see a thing in front of you. Today's paper had a picture of an elderly couple whose car flipped on the road while trying to avoid an oncoming car. You get so used to negotiating the freeways in Los Angeles you do it by rote, but you can't let your guard down for a minute on Highway 101.
Another big difference from L.A. life is the effect of the weather on wildlife. I was so used to having birds around all year, especially my beloved hummingbirds. But there's no sign of them anywhere and the only birds I see regularly out our living room window are the Stellar's Jays and an occasional Chickadee, a little bird reminiscent of a sparrow, or a Dark Eyed Junko.
As for "daily life", now that I'm doing all the cooking, almost every time we go into town, we make a pass through the grocery store. In Los Angeles, we could eat healthy and still enjoy the food! Now I'd rather eat my own cooking here most of the time. Who'd a thunk it!!! Not only that, Greg and I remark all the time, "If my fans could see me now!" I've turned into nature girl complete with hiking boots and long johns.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2004
We went to today again to work out some more details. We heard some honking in the distance and before long this flock of Canadian Geese was flying right over our heads. What a great sound they make.
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 2004
Today while we were having breakfast a Bald Eagle cruised by our window. What a sight! These are huge birds with a wingspan of at least five feet. And while we were on our way to our forest hike we came across a mama raccoon. To get to the "neighborhood" forest we come down our long steep driveway to the road, Honeymoon Lane, and here we pass in front of our house as it perches on a hill. Way down in front hidden in the tall grasses is a culvert, and standing right in front of it the mama raccoon, watching every move we made. I started to walk toward her, and zoom she ran into the culvert. But as soon as I turned and began to walk away, she popped her head out of the opening. Very cute.
This past Saturday we were invited to a "hill" party. It's the same as a block party but there ain't no blocks around these parts! Almost all of our neighbors came from somewhere else and all were looking for a better life. And from the conversations I had, everyone feels they've found it here.
We're under a time crunch to get these plans to the architect so unfortunately walks have been scarce. And now, Thanksgiving is later this week and our "new" friends have invited these orphans to the festivities.
Most of our time lately has been spent at , plotting out the footprint of the house and working with the excavator and landscaper. Even though it's in the very early stages, having the land cleared at least makes us feel like we're making strides. Our "excavator" Les, is a young guy who's been operating this kind of equipment since he was 7 years of age. This kid is amazing. I could watch him work for hours. He reminded me of Sigourney Weaver in the Aliens movie when she got into that big contraption to fight the alien. This big clunky piece of equipment, looking very much like some kind of dinosaur, was just an extension of his body. Not only could he pick up huge logs and boulders as if they were pick-up sticks, he could finesse the machine to perform precise tasks. Awesome. I had little fun with the equipment, but Greg wouldn't let me sit in the bucket while it lifted me up in the air, so I had to settle for being earthbound. By the end of the day we built a tower of logs and had quite a bonfire going. The heat was intense and the sparks were beautiful against the night sky.
It's definitely getting colder now, but you won't hear me complain. One morning at was a particularly frosty one and the dusting of ice on the ground even made artwork of weeds.
You've heard the saying, "If you don't like the weather, wait 15 minutes." Well that's certainly true at . One minute the view to the mountains is clear as a bell, and the next minute a fog bank has rolled in. Greg caught this view of Blue Mountain which reminded me of Bali Hai from South Pacific. And now I know why they call it Blue Mountain.
We also met with a young man who'll be doing our landscaping and designing the water features for the grounds (if....if.... the budget holds out!). One of the sad choices we had to make was felling a tall Douglas Fir. Even though I'm surrounded by millions and millions of trees, this guy was mine and I couldn't help getting choked up seeing it toppled. But there were lighter moments to the day. I got to climb on top of the excavator to try to peek at the view from the dining room.
For a change of pace, we ventured into Seattle to buy the slabs of onyx I'll use in our bathroom and living room fireplace. Our installer is jockey-sized but drives a huge truck (all the better to lug those thousand-pound sheets of marble). We drove right behind him all the way into Seattle and let me tell ya, it was Mr. Toad's Wild Ride! He barreled down the highway and whipped in and out of lanes...just a little too adventurous for our tastes. But we got there all in one piece and after driving the warehouse guys absolutely crazy, myself too, we settled on two gorgeous specimens mixing shades of green and copper browns.
For more details, go to and check the last entries for November.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2004
November 22 marked six months that we've been living here on the Olympic Peninsula. Time just passes so quickly and I feel so fortunate to have been given this opportunity to make a new life here....thank you Dad & Mom!
I will say one thing...living in this rental house will have its rewards by making both Greg and I grateful for the day when we can move out of it! Can you spell "motivation"? We love the quiet, we love the incredible view, we love the wildlife and the proximity to long forest hikes but day by day we are growing weary of the inconveniences that come along with it.
It is very difficult to go from a full household to a makeshift one. Where once everything had a place and I could put my hands on it at a moment's notice, now I either can't find it, or I can find it but can't get to it! The front porch, if you can call it that, is the size of a postage stamp and so not only is getting inside the door a logistical exercise, but you walk right into the living room and end up tracking dirt all over the place. I know I'm in the minority by choosing to live with wall-to-wall carpeting while the rest of the world swoons over hardwood floors but I just don't get it. Try as I might, it's just impossible to keep the floors clean and huge dust bunnies prevail. Dirt from our shoes is everywhere. And I miss being able to tramp around in my bare feet. Living here is like living in an army barracks.
But I mustn't dwell on this aspect of our move or I'll drive myself crazy. Earlier today I was sitting behind Greg's shoulder while he took me on a virtual tour of and I was once again back in a world where everything made sense, where everything was convenient, where there was room for things that would normally go into closets instead of becoming part of the decor. I don't want to wish our lives away but I am so looking forward to the rewards of our months of work making our new home.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2004
Unbelievable that today is the first day of winter. And here's where I prove everyone wrong. I LOVE the cold weather. Granted, we're not in the thick of things here but poor Greg has been lamenting, "What was I thinking...moving to the Pacific Northwest with a menopausal woman!" I'm even sleeping with the windows open. We've had rain and grey days and even frost on the cars in the morning. And this morning I'm looking out on big fluffy grey clouds backlit with orange and yellow moving briskly over the mountain in the distance.
Christmas is just days away and the little Victorian town of Port Townsend and all the other surrounding communities go all out. There are little Candy Cane Lanes, old fashioned Christmas lights strung across the street, Victorian singers, horse drawn carriages, and everyone seems to be in a great mood.
This past weekend we went with our neighbors up the street to the old tyme movie palace in PT known as The Rose. Built in the twenties, it's rather quaint. There are famous pictures of the likes of Hedy Lamarr, Marlene Dietricht, Buster Keaton, and James Cagney hung on the walls. There was plenty of homemade popcorn, and just a hometown feel about the place. In these here parts, you don't get the wide variety of films you have in L.A., plus everything seems to come a little late. But it really doesn't matter. We've been so busy we haven't gone to the movies except once this past summer to see Spiderman at the "big" cineplex in Sequim. Saturday night we saw Finding Neverland. Before the picture begins, a theater employee comes to the front of the audience, welcomes you, and tells you a little bit about the movie and who's starring. Very sweet.
But most of the time we spend working on the house plans...
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