This is a very special blog because even though it was written by me, Jennifer, James artfully edited and beautifully expanded it with some of his own thoughts and words…thank you, my wonderfully creative husband and writer! I think I will hire him to be my Editor! We hope you enjoy it!
There are moments on this journey when the profound beauty of a place elicits a deep silence of the soul. These are times when beauty steals not only your words but also your breath. Poet William Wordsworth alludes to such moments when he says, “the meanest flower that blows can give thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.”
However, since silent blogs are as useless as a soliloquy for stringless guitar, I have the impossible task of painting a word picture of unspeakable beauty - because we just have to share.
“Organoleptic” is a term I, Jennifer, use to describe the northwest portion of Washington, while James uses “Thin Boundaries.”
Merriam-Webster defines Organoleptic as: "being, affecting, or relating to qualities (as taste, color, odor, and feel) of a substance (as a food or drug) that stimulate the sense organs". I will replace "food or drug" with PLACE, specifically NW Washington.
With its extreme topography and diverse ecosystems, NW Washington commands respect and must be experienced, full-bodied. You must engage all five senses to even begin to appreciate all that it has to offer. Therefore, and sadly, my photos fall far short of capturing the essence of NW Washington, WITH the exception of the sunset photos taken by James...those are truly spectacular. You can't truly “see” this part of the country through the confines of a viewfinder on a camera. You must turn on your own axis, 360 degrees, look all the way up, all the way down, and peer with your eyes as far as you can - only then do you begin to “see.” And, it’s not just the vastness of the place; you must focus on the little things, too. The tiniest of wildflowers or smallest of creatures running through the bush are no less unique and breath-taking.
You have to hear the wild ocean’s waves crashing against sea-stacks, tumbling onto pebble strewn shores, jostling the giant driftwood logs as they bask on the beach and then retreat again back to their turbulent home. As you walk along the rocky shore you can taste the salt of the misting-sea on your lips.
The deep and intense aroma of pine is unique to this part of the country, accurately known as the Evergreen State. There are more pine trees and varieties of pine trees in this state than I have ever seen or dreamed possible. The intensity of their fragrance, mingled with the distant scent of campfire, is intoxicating, maybe even alluring, as any romantic scene one could conjure.
The tactile sensations of NW Washington can leave you with the feeling of being somewhere altogether different – otherworldly. The cool, sharp, crisp air tickles your skin, while the sun, at the same time, gently wraps you in an invisible blanket of warmth. All five senses are completely and constantly engaged here, paradoxically yet complimentarily...and that is the way it must be.
After going back and reviewing my pictures and Blog entries over the past two months, I do remember loving and appreciating each of the places we have visited. Some of them, Yosemite in particular, still invigorate my heart with memories of awe and wonder. However, I can honestly say without hesitation, this is our favorite part of the journey so far. Washington is so...so...WILD! It seems like the rest of the country is tame, well groomed and safe in comparison. Washington, with renegade spirit, bucked against the rule of the land and retreated to the upper most NW corner of the country where it could be wild and reckless and free.
Olympic National Park is unique in that it offers Rain Forest (yes, Rain Forest), Coastal beaches and snow capped mountains. Talk about variety! Our first experience in the Park was the Rain Forest. There are plants and animals here that do not exist anywhere else in the country. We took a stroll through the "Hall of Mosses" to get a feel for the different species of moss, trees, ferns and plants that thrive here. The subtle beauty and mind-numbing diversity caused my brain to swim! It was actually warm in the Rain Forest and we found that to be a very welcomed surprise! Did I mention it is COLD up here?
Our next stop was Cape Flattery, the most northwest point of the continental United States, as our photo of the phone GPS will attest. "Thin boundaries," whispered James as we gazed out at the secluded scene of exquisite beauty. I repeated the words in the form of a question back to him. He explained, "The Medieval Celtic Church use the term 'Thin Boundaries' to describe areas of God’s creation in which the 'boundary' between sacred and secular, created and Creator, is so thin, that the very presence of God seems as close as the air around you. It is a place of extreme beauty, a moment of joy that is felt in the blood. It is a time when words, if they can be spoken at all, are only whispered. There is glory in it." This is Cape Flattery...a Thin Boundary.
Wild and dangerous are another two adjectives I would use to describe this area. This place looks as though God used his finger to clear a path of earth and fill it with raging sea to separate Washington from Canada. The shoreline is extreme, jagged, lined with cliffs lofting high above the sea below. The Evergreens push the boundaries, dare the cliff's edge and almost defy gravity, thus the reason for the thousands upon thousands of gargantuan driftwood logs that line the shores of this place.
We both longed deeply to stay, but night would soon be upon us and time simply would not permit. Since leaving there, I have felt a quiet peace in my heart imparted by the spiritual experience of the moment at Cape Flattery. I hope we will visit this special place again. Until then, I will hold this peace closely.
Yesterday we headed, with Peanut in tow, to Hurricane Ridge, where one can see Mount Olympia. I had seen glimpses of it while driving around the park...wonderful clips of snow capped mountains almost beckoning me to see it in full glory. I couldn't wait. The drive up to Hurricane Ridge is about 17 miles and consists of twists and turns, offering little views of the mountains. I kept saying to James, "On the way down, I want to stop here and there to take pictures," because I thought that was as good as it got. Well, was I ever in for the surprise. The Architects and Engineers who designed this park were truly genius. Upon rounding the last curve to our destination, we were met with the most spectacular view of Mount Olympia. Instantaneously, tears filled my eyes and ran down my cheeks. I literally gasped, it so caught me off guard. This is one of the places where my photos don't even come close to the majesty of the mountains...Olympia will not relinquish her full beauty to a camera. She insists on being visited personally.
We walked around a bit and were reminded that Peanut is not too fond of heights. James held him so I could take photos. I think Peanuts’ being with daddy helped alleviate some of the shivering and shock he seemed to experience the entire time. Silly dog. Unfortunately, because of Peanut, we couldn't walk the trails. The signs posted said, "Pets not allowed as they may frighten the wild life." I cracked up! Peanut frightening anything would be a hoot!
The day was clear and sunny and our drive around the park proved to be a continuation of awe-inspiring vistas. Crescent Lake leaps out at you as if in some 3D movie! James remembered this lake from his previous trip to Washington and told me of it, but no words can be used to portray its beauty. We walked a bit and then decided to head back to the coast with hopes of catching another spectacular sunset.
However, the weather had a surprise for us. As if driving through some invisible wall, we were one moment in bright, sunny, clear skies and the next, under thick, dark and foreboding clouds that created an almost eerie feel in the air. It was perfect! We visited two beaches we hadn’t seen the previous day, and, though I’m sure they are beautiful in the sun, they presented an all-together different experience shrouded in the thick fog. There is an island right off shore called James Island, which is just below Cape Johnson…I think that means we should move there! The island is awesome…you will see from some photos. It was a perfect way to end a perfect day.
Praying everyone has a safe and happy Holiday Weekend! We love you!