As “real” summer arrived bringing with it the excitement of “real” hiking potential, I was still dealing with a posterior problem, the family sustained a grievous wound, and TBG joined the Covid Class of ’22. I don’t generally like to bracket time with negative labels, but July was, to borrow one of my Brotherman’s words, pretty much a shitfest.
I have written, rewritten, and re-rewritten all sorts of philosophical explanations of this time, most of them coming out like some sort of supercilious chastisement of what I believe about grief and why you’re doing it all wrong or why you think I am. If I’ve learned anything from my almost-fifty-seven years on this rock, it’s that if you keep sticking your fingers in a wound, you infect it, and too many fingers create a bigger wound, not a smaller one. You don’t jump into the pit of grief with someone, you throw down a ladder and maybe a sandwich and let them climb their way up. Believing that they can is the kindest, most gracious thing you can do for them. Thank you all, we’re climbing our ladders, and I’ll take a Walla Walla Sweet Onion Sandwich if you have a minute, please.
So, as I was saying…
A few weeks ago, baby birds were fledging everywhere, little Violet-green Swallows in a nest box here in the RV park, and a grumpy-looking Orange-crowned Warbler at Robin Hill Park. I think baby bird faces are equally adorable and hilarious.
Something else that was fledging around the globe again was BA.5. The evening of the day we were out painting fascia at the house, I heard a rustling in the bedroom. Upon investigation, I found TBG getting out a C19 test saying his throat ‘felt a little funny.’ When I yelled out for the results about 15 minutes later, I thought he was kidding when he said “Positive!” Windows were thrown open, surfaces were disinfected, medical supplies were gathered, and both pocket doors were closed, isolating TBGerm in the bedroom where he would spend the better part of 10 days.
I also took a test, which was negative, and though I felt perfectly fine, I was certain I wouldn’t be negative and/or asymptomatic for long. I mean, we’d shared a water bottle, kissed, slept side by side — at one point the night before, he’d been uncharacteristically snoring a bit, then suddenly stopped, and I’d held my hand over his face to see if he was apneic. So you just know I had a bunch of that Covid crap all over my hand, too.
We weren’t really worried. TBG was never very sick at all, exhaustion and congestion being his primary symptoms early on — no fever, sore throat, or cough. The way I describe it is, “If we’d never heard of Covid, we’d have thought he had a cold.” The isolation/quarantine was, by far, the worst part of it, especially in 38′ of RV. By about day three, he was feeling well enough to start taking short walks around the RV park, and by day five, he started working on the bikes, which were in dire need of a good sprucing. As for me, I mysteriously remained virus-free, took solo walks at the Refuge, handled all the cooking and sick-room food delivery, and on day seven with my fingernails about ready to peel off from all the extra washing, I drove through a local burger joint, Tootsie’s, for a delicious treat for us.
Speaking of those solo walks, what became of that monkey-fist muscle knot in my heinie? Thanks for asking! You’ll recall (because you have great memories and hang on my every word) that the day before TBG tested positive, I was prescribed a short course of Prednisone. What you want to do when a virus comes to call is start taking an immune-suppressing drug, right? Oh, sure! Because it was a very short course and not likely to suppress anything except, hopefully, the pain, I took those pills, and limped around the Refuge as much as I could.
With the bikes and TBG in better shape, we got in the saddle again at long last. Though my posterior wasn’t healed yet, cycling didn’t aggravate it further, much to my relief. Not being able to be as active as I like combined with the advent of true summer was starting to be soul-crushing. We are fortunate to have the Olympic Discovery Trail almost literally in our backyard, and we’ve been enjoying various sections of it.
I’m sure I mentioned before that Sequim is known as the Lavender Capital of North America, and the third weekend of July is dedicated to the annual Lavender Festival. Being locals now, we knew that the cooler-than-normal Spring had set the peak season back by a few weeks, and we weren’t really interested in crowded festivities anyhow. We were just happy that we didn’t have to move the rig for those three days as we’d originally been slated to do. The weather for festival weekend wasn’t the best, but people came anyhow, and we headed the opposite direction on the cool, overcast Saturday to explore Ediz Hook.
There were, as you can see, lots of birds and a few ever-curious harbor seals. The standouts were a pair of Black Oystercatchers, their traffic-cone orange bills glowing in the overcast conditions.
The following day, we headed out for another bike ride.
There were some loose goats performing volunteer trail maintenance, and we were delighted to see that a path had been mowed through the trailside bushes to create access to one of the lavender farms. I shouted out to TBG that we were going in on the way back.
All of the lavender farms here welcome visitors, and whether or not you’re purchasing anything, they encourage you to simply enjoy their fields, providing all manner of pretty seating areas. We enjoyed a stroll around Martha Lane, and we did make a small purchase. I wish it had been a bit warmer that day because enjoying a lavender ice cream on one of those chairs would’ve been pretty nice. I also wish the bike trail connected to more lavender farms because that would be the perfect way to enjoy them all. I further wish that rolling my bike through the recently-cut brambles hadn’t resulted in another stinkin’ flat tire. TBG was able to re-inflate it with his handy CO2 puffer-upper, and I made it back to the car unscathed. Since then, all new fancy tires have been installed on my bike.
Sometime during the third week of July, my backside just stopped hurting completely, apropos of nothing. As suddenly as it seemed to have appeared, the pain was gone. I’m not one to question such things, and we planned our first hike in weeks to check out Marymere Falls near Lake Crescent.
Lake Crescent is an extremely popular place within Olympic N.P. (OLYM,) and we almost got skunked out of a parking spot even though it was a Tuesday (PNW summer, doncha know?) Once we did find a place, the next thing we did was make a beeline through the woods to the lake’s edge, where we found a small, secluded spot for our picnic lunch. Afterwards, we stowed our items back in the car and set off on our short but sweet hike.
The trail was mostly wide and flat until the final loop that was a climb up lots of erosion and stone steps to the viewing platform, which was packed with people when we arrived.
We hung back for a few photos, then scooted around them and found another viewing spot that wasn’t crowded.
It was very pretty on such a nice day and an easy distance/elevation for two recovering hikers, but not a trail or destination we’re eager to repeat during peak season.
My appetite whetted for the local lavender farms, I made a plan for us to eventually take in all of them. The second and third visits were two that featured some sort of critters.
Fleurish Lavender of Lost Mountain, besides having the best name of them all, also has three cute alpacas, bee hives, and they make almost all of their own products on site. During the Lavender Festival, most of the farms have added events and charge a fee to visit, but as I mentioned earlier, during the rest of the season, you are welcome to come treat their yard as if it’s your own. It reminded me of all the private-property bird sanctuaries in southern Arizona that encouraged birders to enjoy their facilities free of charge. It’s almost heartbreaking in its loveliness.
The third farm we visited was Nelson’s Duck Pond & Lavender Farm.
A bit smaller than the others, it had a couple varieties we’d not seen before, and, of course, ducks! We’ve not visited any more of the farms yet, but I’m confident that you simply can’t go wrong no matter which you choose.
Though we were still a bit trepidatious about the hit our physical fitness had taken during the down time from illness and injury, we couldn’t bear to let the seasonal hiking window shrink any further. It was up to Hurricane Ridge in OLYM for us! Almost the whole drive up was in a dense fog, but nearing the top, we emerged above the cloud layer into flawless conditions.
Once up the initial climb to the ridge line, the trail was mostly level for a long way. Early on, we espied the adorable endemic Olympic Marmot. Though they are relatives of and don’t look too much different than all the other marmots we’ve seen over the years, this species is found only here on the Olympic Peninsula and mostly only in OLYM.
The other star of the show was the crazy-pretty wildflower bloom.
We saw a new-to-us butterfly, the Anise Swallowtail, and plenty of deer were about, a young buck scooting out from under the ski patrol cabin to assume his observation duties while getting some sun.
Although no summertime hiking in a northern national park is going to be uncrowded regardless of the day of the week, we felt like we had some nice, quiet trail time to take in the big, stunning views.
Citizen Science, Weeks 5-7
If I’d been tapped to observe river otters, Peregrine Falcons, or, on one surprising morning, a Wild Turkey, I’d have lots of data to submit. PIGUs? Not so much. For weeks five and six, I had double duty at both my site and my substitute location.
The sub site still yielded over 100 PIGUs on the water, but zero that were interested in the bluff. My primary site has become a weekly otter show (next post expect even more cuteness!)
It’s been generally sunny at the sub site, overcast to downright socked in at the primary. All of those conditions make for their own enjoyability.
We have a couple more weeks to go (or do we?) so stay tuned!
On the House
Plumbing, electric, HVAC! Drywall! Siding is going up this week, mudding will happen soon. In the left photo, you can see some horizontal metal pieces in the wall. Those are RC channels for sound-dampening. We had them installed in three walls where we thought it might be handy — living room/master bedroom, garage/guest room, and laundry room/guest room.
After we’d both recovered from what ailed us, we finished the fascia painting so the gutters can go on when ready. We had been planning to do all the painting except for the interior doors and trim ourselves, but we had no luck in finding the type of rentable lift we’d need. It is a package deal with painting — don’t ask — and having it done professionally means both out and in. I am quite anxious about relinquishing control of the interior because a) I’m a very good painter, and b) we’ll be out a big chunk of money if we don’t end up liking the color we choose. Our builder understands that perfectly and knows that as soon as we can, we’ll be running out there with sample stickers and little quarts to do some test areas. I’m actually happy that since it’s being done professionally, it will be done quickly and all at once, and we won’t have to buy painting stuff or deal with the clean-up.
We spent some time on a sunny weekend day removing baby trees from the septic drain field and tagging others that we want to be sure to preserve. We are flush with mostly Doug firs, plenty of cedars, and a hemlock or two.
Peace out, Faithful Readers, see you again soon.