Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Little Changes and Elbow Bumps

Covid has hit everyone. It is a unique characteristic about this pandemic. We have all learned to adapt and made little changes to continue living and connecting.

Today I met a beautiful couple on their honeymoon. They are “National Park” people as they put it and I immediately felt comfortable. I understand those people because I am one of them.

We talked about trivial things. It is always a delight to hear about adventurers journeys. When I handed them their grilled cheese to go, I got an elbow bump. The safest, most surprising way to make contact and offer appreciation.

It was a small moment, but one that stuck with me throughout the day. It’s those little moments of connection that make all the difference. Even when the world is in a pandemic, we can find ways to share our thanks.

To those National Park Honeymooners, I wish you all the best. To all of us, I say, let’s connect and share joy everyday.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Our Own Piece of the Woods


Future Driveway Location at "The Property"

We are property owners! *Happy Dance*

We have been looking for land all year, but hadn’t found the right spot - until now.

When we lived in Seattle, our first apartment overlooked the Puget sound with a clear view of the Olympic Mountains. We would watch the mist rise up from the water to cover them and the sun set behind them. We fell in love the those mountains those first couple of years.

As we began to camp, the Olympic Mountains were our first destination. Port Angles was an amazing town, especially the spit. We got pumpkins from a farm that year, which sat on the patio and rotted because they were too perfect to carve.

The next year, we did a whirlwind trip around the entire peninsula. We stayed at a small campground by La Push, the only place we could find since there was unknowingly a festival going on. We walked by the river, visited the ocean and was mesmerized by the reflection of the lake.

The year after that marked our first year at the Hoh. We came with friends and found magic in the woods. We sat by the river and iced our beers in the glacial waters. We taught our children how to build fires. We sat around in the fresh air and played games for a week.

Our hearts are in the Olympic Mountains. We confirmed this summer with our extended stay on the mountain. 

When we first saw this property in Clallam Bay online, we had a good feeling. We looked at several other parcels in the area, but none of them were quite right. Finally, we made the trip up to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It was an easier journey than expected.

The moment we saw the wooded, not quite five acres, we knew we wanted it. We were in touch with the real estate agent before we got home.

It took some time, as these things do, but now we own it. We are elated!

Clallam Bay, like much of the peninsula, is pure magic.

We found a small cafe across from a marina overlooking the Strait. The mist was covering the water when we began our meal. As we sat outside enjoying our food, we watched the mist clear out leaving a breathtaking view behind. The rainbow over the water sealed the deal.

"The Property," as we affectionately call it, is covered with aspens and blackberry bushes. The sellers logged it about 30 years ago and haven’t touched it since. It’s at the end of a dead end street where an old, washed out road is blocked off.

There are neighbors a few neighbors down the street. The abandoned road covers most of the southeasterly border and it backs up to DNR land. It is a secluded piece of paradise.

We are trying to clear out enough space for our RV and get utilities hooked up. It seems this is going to be a long process. Partly because of it’s remote location and partly because Covid-19 has already-busy contractors backed up for months.

We have visions of small cabins and gardens to fill the land. Though we will keep it mostly wooded, we’ll create a driveway or large path to get around. 

Our desire is to create a getaway spot. Our own little haven in the woods. 

***Look for updates about "The Property" as we begin to clear the land and film time lapses!

Monday, October 5, 2020

All Good Things Must Come To An End

Hoh Campground
Olympic National Park
Autumn 2020

My time in the Hoh rainforest came to an end. This is a bittersweet moment for me. It has been an amazing summer fun of adventure, nature and self-discovery.

We first arrived in the Hoh with wide eyes. I couldn’t believe we were going to be able to spend an entire summer here. It has been a dream of ours. One that subtly spurred the idea to get an RV in the first place.

We’ve been camping at the Hoh campground for years now, but seeing it through an entire season was a different perspective entirely.

It was already July when we set up our camp. We were supposed to be here in May, but the parks delayed in opening for two months due to COVID-19. We began to wonder if we would be able to come at all. I am so glad we did.

This year has been a roller coaster without safety gear. The summer in the rainforest was shelter from that reality in a lot of ways, but it still came through.

 Covid-19 brought a lot of people to the woods. People were desperate to get away from the city and their houses to explore somewhere new.

We saw many people who were on a long road. Many people were here who had never camped before. As campground host, I was responsible for helping campers get registered and answer questions.

Most of our directions were: “the self-registration board is right in front of the bathroom,” “the trails start at the visitor center, which is down that path, just there,” “yes, the water is potable,” and "the firewood can be found in the shed, just there.”

There were a few cases of disputed campsites. Only one did I have to get a ranger involved when one guy threatened the other. I had a fear that this particular situation may escalate. I wasn’t about to get in between two male egos. They are worse than a charging bull elk. Thankfully, the ranger was able to deescalate the situation and it all worked out in the end.

Otherwise, the summer was mostly talking to people and exploring nature’s beauty.

My one regret for the summer was not writing more of it down. I hope to spend some time recollecting the memories while they are still fresh in my mind. 

I spent the summer in awe of my surroundings, on duty at the campground and in a whirl of self-realization. Being able to disconnect helped me connect with myself. I gained immense amounts of confidence in the woods and a vision for my writing.

This summer in the woods has also sparked a desire to become a park ranger. Working with the rangers has been a pleasure. I would love the opportunity to experience such a career, especially as an interpretation ranger at a visitor center. My next moves involve gaining experience to get hired on by the National Park Service.

In November, I am heading down to New Mexico to volunteer at the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument as an interpreter. I am exciting for this opportunity to see a part of the world I’ve never witnessed and to gain experience in a field I believe I want to enter into. 

Over the course of the next month, I will be preparing for that departure, reflecting over my summer in the rainforest and building some foundations on our property in Clallam Bay.

Peace and Love,

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

A Day of Rest and Rain


Monday, September 14
Hoh Campground
Olympic National Park
Forks, WA

Today brought much needed rain to the Pacific Northwest.

We decided to stay inside to rest, recharge and play while the rains cleansed the area. The rains have not had much impact, but they are a sign of hope. The very unhealthy air quality alert will continue until at least Thursday when thunderstorms are expected to roll through the region

The fam has finished a video game called "Dragon Quest." It was an epic story with in depth characters and plots. We all settled onto the couch to watch the thrilling conclusion of the game just as we would a movie. It was exciting and a satisfying end to a thoroughly enjoyed journey. The best part about games such as these is the story keeps going! There's an epilogue where the travelers go back to the world they saved.

This kind of journey reminds me of our own in the life. Our decision to travel around has made a huge difference this year that continues to keep us on our toes. I am thankful for the ability to choose where we go, help how we can and continue to be outside among Nature's beauty. 

This week, we are keeping our activity to a minimum and staying indoors as much as possible. As we continue to monitor wildfires in the West, I think of all the people being evacuated and personally affected.  I send you love and support through The American Cross, which has a fund to help people affected by Washington and Oregon Wildfires

To all at home and traveling, stay safe during these tumultuous times.

Peace and Love,

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Sun Shinning Through Smoke


We can see the shadows of the mountains today. This is a big relief. 

The smoke is still thick, especially in Forks. We went into town to run errands and catch a little of a football game, but the smoke was heavy and got worse the longer we were there. 

It is amazing how much the trees in the National Forest absorb the carbon dioxide from the smoke. I am thankful to be nestled among the trees during this blazing crisis.

I did roves of the campground and some yoga outside, and even among the protection of Mother Nature's branches, my throat was sore. The only thing worse than this smoke were the mosquito.

Not much has changed otherwise. The fires still blaze in Eastern Washington, Oregon and California. We are still under a fire ban. We're also still praying for rain. 

Be safe dear travelers!

Peace and Love,

Hoh Campground
Olympic National Forest
Forks, WA

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Fire Ban: Day 2

I woke up this morning wondering if this was the set of an apocalyptic movie. Then I thought that was a scary question to ask right now.

The campground seems somber this morning with the talk being of air quality. We are in hazardous conditions now. We could see the smoke yesterday, but it has settled into the valley overnight.

I walked out to the river and could not even see the mountain. Unlike the mists from the sea, this smoke is thick and brings an orangey haze to the air like using a yellow filter. The picture above does not allow you to experience the same eerie silence and chill that I feel standing among the trees.

As bad as it feels here, Forks is worse and Portland even more so.

This year continues to keep us on our toes.

There were rumors that Portland may have to be evacuated. I don’t know where people would go. There are fires spreading all over the North west including Northern California and Wyoming.

It is cold today. With a fire ban, there is no way to get the chill out of the air.

I am thankful for our RV and even more so that we have power and heat. I think about the campers out in tents and hope they are well.

Many have gone home earlier than anticipated. Probably trying to get away from the smoke and the cold. Several more have come in, mostly in RVs.

As I talked with one camper, it’s just a matter of where you want to ride out the havoc. Many have no place to go back to with cities covered in smoke and still closed down by Covid.

A few are heading further north, though there is not far to go unless you seek the San Juan Islands. I heard some campers say Montana is clear if you can get across the mountains. The wildfires are closing us in.

I am thankful to be among the old growth forest where there is some natural resistance to the smoke and fire. It is amazing how well the trees absorb some of the carbon dioxide.

Dear Campers, please be careful out there and stay safe.

Hoh Campground
Olympic National Forest
Forks, WA

Friday, September 11, 2020

Hazy Mountain Days


The mountains are hazy today as wildfires blaze through the surrounding regions. 

I figured the campground would begin to calm down after Labor Day passed, but I was mistaken. If anything, the traffic has increased.

I have two theories. 

One, that people are thinking, it’s after Labor Day so no one will be out. The problem with this is the same as with coming to the parks to get away from the cities during the pandemic...everyone has the same idea.

Two, that people are running away from the smoke in California, Oregon and Eastern Washington. 

The smoke is following them. The air quality is bad and the mosquitoes are worse. 

What we need is rain. 

The forecast currently Monday will be the day when we can get some relief. I hope the prediction comes true. 

For now, it is what it is. And we do what we can. 

I prepare for a hot, dry weekend full of campers trying to enjoy the last taste of summer away from the smoke. 

Have a great weekend travelers, stay safe.

Little Changes and Elbow Bumps

Covid has hit everyone. It is a unique characteristic about this pandemic. We have all learned to adapt and made little changes to continue ...