La Push, Hurricane Ridge and a Goodbye to the PNW- Seattle, Washington

What do you do when it’s your last vacation day and you realize there is still just so much too see? Do you rationalize and prioritize and make plans for when you can come back? If you’re a more logical person than I, then yes, that would be exactly what you would do. If you’re me and/or you’re traveling with me (and you love me too much to explain why this would be a bad idea) you try and fit in everything you want to see in one day and get in the car and go.

Such was the case on our last day in the Seattle area. We had seen a fair amount already and the plans had been to spend our last day exploring the city, maybe hitting up a couple of bookstores and just relaxing. But after visiting Vancouver, I hadn’t been too enamored with Seattle in comparison (no offense to Seattle of course, we all have our favorite cities) and felt my heart calling out to go back to the mountains and for one last view of the ocean before we headed back Texas. So the morning of our last day we packed up the rental car and headed off to the first stop of the day, navigating to the Hurricane Ridge visitor center inside of Olympic National Park.

A leisurely 3 hour drive from downtown Seattle made all the better by the beautiful landscape and perfect weather. We didn’t intend to do any hiking or really much of anything that wasn’t just looking around in awe at the view once we got up there. Beautiful green mountains spread out in front of us and I honestly think the only comparable view i’ve had in a national park was when we visited Rocky Mountain Natl. Park, and even then there were no gorgeous bay views. We couldn’t stay too long as we had another 2 hour or so drive to make it to our next destination but on the way down back towards Port Angeles we still stopped at almost every lookout to take it all in, get just one last taste of this park we knew we’d have to come back to explore further one day soon.

La Push was the last destination of the day and the most exciting for me as I had looked up photos of the area the night before and kept showing them to the bf like, “Look! Isn’t this just amazing! We gotta go!”  till he said yes yes it was very nice  and agreed we would go even if the drive back from there to Seattle would be slightly painful. We arrived just a little before 5pm, later than we’d wanted but still excited to find our way to the beach. Parking by the trail for Second Beach we made our way into the forest for the short hike to the beach, less than a mile and pretty easy in most parts. We mostly only encountered people coming back so we hoped we had managed to avoid the more crowded part of the day and by the time we got close enough to hear the sound of the ocean and smell that familiar salty air there was more than a slight giddiness to our step.

Just beautiful, I honestly could have stayed there all day, walking along the sand with my feet getting splashed by the cold water and my jeans rolled up to my knees but we knew the sooner we started the 4 hour drive back the less we would hate ourselves the next morning. And so, with just one last look we clambered over the driftwood and headed back to the car and, after brushing ourselves off as best we could, we put on some music and started the long drive back.

We decided to take the south US 101 route back rather than head back up to Port Angeles again and just enjoy the views of the coastline. Passing through all the sleepy coastal towns (Humptulips!) and various signs for public beaches, thinking back on the past few days and all we’d seen and done, I knew that we had to come back for a much longer stay if not just somehow make a permanent move.

It wasn’t until almost midnight when we made it back to the hotel and as we walked from the parking garage over to the entrance, we passed by the Space Needle, all lit up against the dark night sky and we stopped there for a minute to look up. Tired and sweaty, the bottom of our jeans covered in sand and our shoes muddy as hell, we looked up at this landmark of the Pacific Northwest and felt just overwhelmingly content with the way this trip had gone. Maybe not perfectly planned, but more than perfectly adventurous for us.

~m

Wet Feet, No Ponchos and A Forest of Burls- Olympic National Park, Washington

We decided to head up to the Pacific Northwest region of the US on almost a whim. By the beginning of June the stress from spending almost all my free time studying to pass the Salesforce Administrator Certification exam had reached an all time high and like I told the bf, “If we don’t book some kind of getaway for next month I think I’m gonna end up running away to become a hermit in the wilds of Alaska.” Needless to say he was supportive of helping plan something and after some consideration we decided to head up to Seattle and possibly make a day trip to Vancouver as well since we’d never been to that part of the US before and I was very enthusiastic about the idea of heading to cooler climes.

By the time the trip rolled around I had thankfully successfully passed the exam (hooray) and we headed out on 5 days of adventure with enthusiasm and only haphazard plans of what we were going to do- which is pretty standard for us, because who needs plans?

The first day there, out flight touched down around 10am and after grabbing our rental car, we headed east towards the coast on HWY 101. Living in North Texas really makes a person eager to see the ocean, breathe in fresh salty air and hear the crashing of waves so off we went, no actual destination in mind apart from just the vague idea of driving until we couldn’t go further.


A leisurely winding 2 hour drive from SeaTac later found us gassing up at Queets and entering the outer reaches of Olympic National park, and we started seeing signs for trails with beach access. We planned to grab some snacks (and coffee!) at Kalaloch Lodge and then park and walk down to the easy access beach there but, I was curious about those other trails and convinced the bf to have us go back and take a look at where they might take us.

The trail for Beach 2 proved much too muddy and slippery for us, as unprepared as we were to do any kind of hiking, but the trail at Beach 1, the Spruce Burl Nature Trail, while having no cars parked at the trailhead looked level and relatively straight forward and and so, we started on our way.

We had no umbrellas, ponchos or hiking books and there was a steady misting rain coming down on us but we had the trail that leads through the woods, across a wooden footbridge and onto the beach all to ourselves, not another person in sight as far as you could see, just the sound of waves and the water rushing up the sand. It was perfect and though we were pretty soaked through by the time we headed back to the car, I don’t think I’ve been as carefree and happy as that in a long time.

(Fun fact- Neither me nor the bf had ever seen burls as big as these on trees before and there was both wonder and slight fright at the number of burls on these Sitka spruce trees in these woods.)

Instead of heading back the way we came to make it to our hotel in Silverdale, we decided to head north because per the GPS it would end up being the same length of time and we figured, why not see some more of this Olympic peninsula area? Funny enough we had completely forgotten that the town of Forks (used as the main setting in the Twilight books) was situated here and we pass right through and then doubled back to take a photo of the town sign because it was too fantastic an opportunity to pass up.

With that photo souvenir taken, we settled in for the rest of the drive back to our hotel, rain still lightly coming down and the almost everything around us surrounded by lush greenness.

~m

A Dream of Canyonlands- Finished (Finally, dear gods)

Truth be told, i’ve had this finished for almost a month now…i’ve been just been procrastinating on actually posting about it. Why? That lovely thing that is artistic conceit that gets you thinking that if you just keep tweaking at it and adding just-one-more-thing, it’ll be perfect.

Thankfully work, life in general and planning for my upcoming trip to Europe (more on that soon) has kept me from turning the finished piece into a messy jumble trying to achieve unknowable perfection. I’m actually…pleased, with the way this turned out. When I first started it, i’d never done a landscape drawing that wasn’t just mountains, mountains and more mountains but I was so enamored by the landscape of Canyonlands NP that I knew I just had to try my hand at it.  It started with the rough sketch of graphite, then entered the inking stage I love so much and thats where I paused because I didn’t know if I dared to dip into color, and if I did dare, what route should I take? Bold reds and oranges, what you would expect of this Utah landscape? Muted browns and greens for a more traditional feel? Those all sounded like good ideas but they weren’t me, and after I had done color sketch after color sketch, I finally found myself at the completely other end of the spectrum I had started on, holding purples, blues and pinks in additional to the predictable browns.

I’ve already started sketching out some ideas for the next project, either an Arches NP one or a Joshua Tree one (i‘ll post those a little later) but for now, i’m happy with the way this one turned out and I like that every time I look over at it i’m reminded of the way I felt when I first saw this park- like I was on another planet, a whole otherworldly experience of pure wonder.

~m

A Dream of Canyonlands- WIP

There’s a fair number of National Parks i’ve visited at this point now and even more that I plan to visit soon.. but I think Canyonlands NP in Utah will forever remain in my top 3 favorites. I visited last October and there are still days where i’ll be at work or getting ready for bed and some memory of it will flash across my mind and i’ll want to drop everything to go visit again now, soon. This is where the inspiration for this piece came from, the memory of my visit and the photos I took there.

I want to say I started this in…mmm….middle of March?And it was meant to be a weekend project but then that didn’t quite happen and now it’s July and i’m still not done with it. Which i’d love to say isn’t what usually happens but that would be a terrible lie. To be fair to myself though, I generally only get to work on any art projects of mine every other weekend or so and by “weekend” I mean about 4 hours on either Saturday or Sunday after I chugged my iced coffee and am feeling productive.

Materials:
Faber-Castel PITT artist pens
Prismacolor colored pencils (currently debating on splurging for some Faber-Castel colored pencils but haven’t decided if i’m feeling that artistic just yet)

I’d very much like to finish this one up soon so I can start on another that i’ve in mind- this time from a photograph that I took in Arches, but we’ll see how that actually goes. For now i’m just hoping the weather keeps giving me sun filled weekends and the bf keeps making me excellent iced coffees.

~m

p.s Don’t mind the fantastically low quality of this iPhone photo, I just didn’t feel this work in progress was worth hauling out the actual camera for, not yet.

Love, Trilobites and Postcards- Snailmail Wednesday

What do Norway, Germany, England and France all have in common? Well obviously plenty of things but if you guessed their respective mail services having to deal with deciphering my atrocious handwriting, then well….you’d be correct and you would also have to be a mind reader I think.

I took the last month off from posting anything on here to devote effort to other things and also to just give myself a little time off- it might not look it but a good bit of time and effort goes into these, mainly cause I firmly believe if you’re gonna do something, do it well (or are well as you can). Part of the “other things” I was doing was catching up with friends and my snail mail, making sure I was still set on heading to Europe for two weeks at the end of September and surviving the onset of the devils season in Texas (aka Summer).

Snailmailing is something that has been a love of mine since I was 17 and actually the biggest reason I got into traveling and being more curious about the world around me. Only a few of the people I met during that first foray into penpalling are still around and while i’ve learned how easy and subsequently painful it can be to lose touch with people you’ve grown close to through letters, it’s still a thing I enjoy greatly. If anything, snailmailing and having penpals I can send postcards to and exchange travel stories with still remains a big motivator for those days when I’m so tired from work and trying to plan an epic trip and all I can think of is “gods, I wish I could just take two weeks off to be a couch potato“. These days especially with how stressful work can be, knowing I have a friend in Germany who will recommend me some amazing places to visit or another in Paris who’ll help me feel like less of a tourist in one of the most visited cities on earth, it helps to keep the wanderlust alive.

And if sometimes I end up sending people a weird art piece, a pizza pin or a t-shirt with a Texas state outline on it in addition to something I picked up for them on my travels? Well, i’ve gotten no complaints so far.

not drowning in my coffee cups yet,
~m