Seconds

Good things come in…twos? Hopefully, they come in much greater numbers than that, but the No. 2 — or seconds — featured prominently over the past few weeks for us.

TBG planned what could’ve and should’ve been a good bike ride on a section of the ODT called the Adventure Route. As the name suggests, it is a long stretch of the trail that is unpaved and ostensibly more fun for mountain biking.

It’s not so much that I don’t care for single-track and/or more technical biking much these days, and it really wasn’t beyond my abilities, but I had a knee that was being a jerk, and uphill pushing with it was not creating a Super Happy Fun Time. I scrubbed the mission before very much riding had happened.

In a masterful pivot that not only assuaged my grumpy defeated feeling but salvaged our day, TBG found a second access point for us. It started at a very cool underpass area that spanned the Elwha River. We rode to the base of Ediz Hook, taking a break on a bench at Crown Park, a sweet little roadside city park with a beautiful view of the strait, the McKinley Paper Mill, and The Lagoon, where earlier this year a young transient orca got “stuck” overnight. (fear not, he found his way back out without any trouble.) What a bonus sight that would’ve been, huh?!

Though TBG claims he’s not interested in getting all the Milky Way shots, he was very excited to plan an outing to the coastal area around the town of La Push (Chinook Jargon from the French la bouche meaning the mouth) and two of its iconic attractions, Rialto Beach and Second Beach. Getting there requires a ~2-hour drive, and because we wanted to be there well past sunset, we didn’t need to rush out early. During the drive, I puzzled over logging trucks passing each other going opposite directions, which seemed counter-productive to me.

Our arrival at the parking area for Rialto Beach found us amid a throng of people and cars, and it seemed at first that we’d have trouble finding a space. We didn’t, fortunately. I’m still laughing about what happened next, though TBG wasn’t trying to be funny. What it looked like from my vantage point was that he walked as fast as he could up and over the beach access trail and straight into the surf, where his feet got immediately soaked, making him quite annoyed. I hung back on the rockier portion of the beach, watching in great confusion as that unfolded. What I didn’t know was that he was trying to get to an easier place to walk than all rocks in order to go see Hole-in-the-Wall, but what he didn’t know was that such a place wouldn’t exist until the tide went out. We walked for a short way in the opposite direction, but found that to be rather uninspiring. Another pivot was needed.

Olympic National Park encompasses a long section of the coastline both north and south of La Push, as well as some inland areas, neither of which are geographically connected to the main body of the park. So, we backed up, as it were, and decided to wait out the tide by exploring a few short non-beachy trails. They weren’t terribly interesting, which explains why no one else was on them, but they were trails with no one else on them. They allowed us to properly stretch our legs and pass the necessary amount of time.

Now for Rialto Beach to Hole-in-the-Wall, done properly.

The above are the twin sea stacks from several different angles, the last being TBG’s from having climbed the cliffside staircase at the end of the beach. I thought they were the hole in the wall, and never even noticed the actual hole in the wall until looking at pictures.

the actual Hole-in-the-Wall

At very low tide, it is possible to walk up to and through the arch, obviously not an option for us this day, especially since I didn’t even know it was there. No matter, our bigger plans were still to be realized. After a stop at the Lonesome Creek Outpost to supplement our food supply, we headed down to Second Beach. The trail begins at the roadside, then travels down a winding series of woodland steps to the beach. The tide was nice and low by this time, making our walk easy and pleasant.

The tide was still on its way out, and once we reached the end where we would settle in to wait for sunset and the Milky Way, my eyes were immediately drawn to something floating nearby.

Unbearable cuteness!

This sleepy critter napped in the tide pool area until just before the last of the sun fell below the horizon. If I had seen nothing else but this, I would’ve been happy. But so much more was yet to come, such as all the healthy-looking beautiful sea stars and anemones.

And watching the setting sun perform all its best tricks, while dipping my toes in the surf.

the otter enjoyed this view, too, do you see it?

Before all the light was gone, TBG chose his photography spot, and I chose my waiting spot on an enormous driftwood log along the bottom of the bluff. Aside from a couple other photographers, and a few tent campers with their bonfires to the south, the beach was empty. Only a light breeze remained, and it was warmer than we’d dared hope. While we waited for the Milky Way to show, I used my backpack as a pillow and stretched out on the log to watch the sky fill with stars and the occasional bat flitter overhead. As trite as it sounds, words are inadequate to describe the serene splendor of the experience.

Once TBG was satisfied with his photo shoot, we donned our headlamps and made our way back to the trail stairs. We didn’t need to turn on our lights until reaching the steps, with the stars providing plenty of illumination. There’s something exhilarating about hiking-by-headlamp, and it was a fun trek back up to the car. Though the return drive was long and, obviously, in the dark, traffic at that time was next to nil. TBG made song requests, and I sang us home.

The morning of the second, as soon as he heard me stirring, TBG was up. Holding his finger over his lips in a “shush” motion, he quickly dressed and…left! I resisted calling up location sharing while I made our coffee and tea. He returned with a huge, gorgeous bouquet from the local roadside stand to celebrate my birthday. I had fun opening a few gifties from both the Moms, and that evening we went out to eat for only the second time since arriving in Sequim. After some excellent food on Alder Wood Bistro‘s pretty patio area, we enjoyed a leisurely stroll all around downtown, where there was lots of street music going on in various locations. It was a very nice birthday from sunrise to sunset.

For our second big hike during the past two weeks, we chose Tubal Cain. Weird name, right? It’ comes from the name of a biblical metalsmith. If you click on that link, you’ll not only see that the WTA’s cover photo for the hike looks amazingly like one of ours (and everyone else’s) but you’ll also read in the trip reports what TBG kept exclaiming over and over as we hiked. And that was what good shape the trail was in and how well it had been planned to make the steady uphill barely noticeable.

Once we squeezed into an end site, the lot was full, but we encountered zero other hikers on the way out and few on the way back. In about 3 miles, the big mine shaft hole is visible in the rocks, and the trail splits into the Tull Canyon trail which leads to the wreckage of a B-17 that went down in 1952. We did not go that way, but it would make a decent hike in the future.

Breaking out into the sun, we began what felt like the longest traverse in our history of hiking. It wasn’t hard or treacherous at all, the views were the best of the day, and the temps were pleasant. It was just so long, which naturally prompted a trail discussion of where we could remember other super-long trail benches.

When we got to the pretty shaded section where the trail split and lead down to Buckhorn Lake, we decided that’s where the long bench ended for us (though it continues for three more miles before it connects to other trails) and we took our lunch break. A Red-breasted Nuthatch identified itself as the ubiquitous bird sound during every hike, and TBG was relieved to finally have put a face on that sound.

Wildflower season has mostly finished up, but there was plenty of color still.

Because of the smooth, slight decline all the way back, we had a speedy return. Even though this trail lacks a major Wow! factor or an exciting destination, we thought it was a winner.

Citizen Science, Weeks 13 & 14

The project coordinators have joked that I am “taking the last stand in Clallam County” for this year’s PIGU observation. All colonies were late, all have been less active than other years, and “my” pair are no exception, but they are still rearing at least one chick. My duties will be complete after two weeks of no burrow deliveries. On my 13th extremely high-tide morning, there was a delivery literally in the very last minute of my hour’s time. “Two more weeks!” I said to TBG, who accompanies me now regularly. He takes cute pictures like this:

Whereas the 13th week saw the highest tide I’d encountered, the 14th was possibly the lowest, and I could hear the nestling as soon as we got to the top of the stairs. I saw no PIGUs on the water at all, and the baby cried and cried. It was hard to tell if the sound was coming from the burrow crevice or, I fretted, had the chick fledged and gotten tangled in the vegetation? I paced beneath the crevice, trying to see up on the biggest sand shelf below the burrow, but I knew that even if that little one was hung up, I couldn’t get to it. Interfering, even to help, isn’t our place as observers, as distressing as that can be. In the last five minutes of my hour, an adult PIGU was suddenly on the water in front of the burrow, and it had a fish! I hadn’t seen it flying — and they’re easy to see flying — so it had to have swum in, bringing the food. It didn’t make the delivery within my time, but I was so relieved to know that it was going to, and that the chick hadn’t been abandoned. Next week could be my last — should be my last, how big IS that baby by now anyhow?! — but nature makes the rules, so we’ll see. Meanwhile, TBG was treated to a baby otter show down the beach.

On the House

Is it too yellow? It might be too yellow. If it is, my fault, but hang in there, I think I got it right.

16 thoughts on “Seconds

  1. Fantastic Milky Way photos! Hats off , Mark! I need to practice doing these shots, ( i know kept saying that 😦
    Yellow? of course not, our dining room wall is Yellow…
    Belated Happy Birthday, your guy is so sweet, he is keeper for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Now that you’re back home, you can take the time to try some night photography! Yellow looks great in your house, and it will look great in ours, too (though not as bright for the NW as the SW.) You’ll have to come see it in person to really decide 😉

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  2. The photos of the light coming through the rocks are absolutely spectacular! Wow!! Such a cool natural feature and such fabulous captures of it!

    I don’t think the walls seem particularly yellow at all. I think it looks good. But, like you said, if you hate it, you can just change it. Its better than making a bad decision on flooring or bathroom tiles or something. But, my guess is, it won’t be an issue at all. It’s all gonna be great.

    Finally, I’m glad you had such a nice birthday! Hope this year is a good one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That sunset light through the rocks was a delightful surprise since we didn’t know that hole was even there and just happened to get treated to it.

      The walls are definitely more yellow in person and in different light and even on different walls, but I do think it will all come together. There may be accent walls in the future! Speaking of bathroom tile, that’s all purchased and just waiting for install, and we’re really happy with those colors.

      Thank you for the birthday wishes, and I, too, am looking forward to BIG GOOD this next year!

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  3. Yes, the otters would make the day perfect for me. You captured such cute photos. I LOVED our week in Forks and exploring all the various beaches and tide pools. We loved Second Beach. As luck would have it, we had extremely low tides mid day during our time there. Perfect! I’d never done tide pooling like that. I was in heaven. We will be back! I didn’t realize the Milky Way appeared so close to sunset this time of year. Absolutely amazing photos, Mark!! The photo with the otter and light coming through the hole is my favorite. So glad you shared these beauties. Happy Belated Birthday!! Love how Mark made a quick get away to get flowers. Love when second options workout so well! I don’t think the paint color is too yellow. The furnishings you place will dictate the final shade. Things are moving along!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was hard not to risk my limbs trying to get into the water with that otter cutie 😀

      You’re right, the tide-pooling is just phenomenal on the coasts here. All the little critters are waiting for your return! Now if we can get the puffins to cooperate during your next visit, we’ll all be overjoyed.

      Thank you for the birthday wishes! TBG did good with my flowers — every time we’ve gone by that flower stand, I wish aloud that our RV wasn’t so crowded, and I could have flowers all the time. At least one fresh bouquet was something I always had in our old house. Once we’re in the new place, that tradition will continue and will, after some time, be our own home-grown beauties again.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Knowing when to change direction / pivot / cut bait is an under-appreciated skill. Of course, having a back-up plan always helps. I’m very glad to see that you’re finding time to take advantage of late summer good weather — that trip to the beach sounds delightful, and of course the Milky Way photos are fabulous, and I might even be persuaded to try that well-designed trail despite the amount of elevation gain involved. You’ll have all winter to mess around with house stuff but this is the time to be outdoors, watching the PIGUs, etc. Speaking of the house, I love the interior color but the only thing that matters is whether you like it, and I hope you do. Happy belated birthday!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’d think after all these years, we’d have perfected the pivot, but, alas, we are still learning. You’d love that nicely-done trail — I swear it really did not feel like we were trudging uphill at all. We agree, house-schmouse, we gotta be outside!

      We do love the interior color more each time we see it, so fingers crossed it works with all the other “hard” colors that are being installed in the next week+. Geez, relinquishing any sort of creative control is NOT my forte! 😀

      Thank you for the birthday wishes!

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  5. So glad you had a special birthday. TBG is such a sweetie. Those pics of the milky way and stars are awesome.

    I don’t think the yellow looks too yellow from here. Besides, you’ll appreciate the warmth and brightness when it’s dreary outside.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lots of good times in between the stress — I know you know just how that is!

      The sunniness of the color is just what I was going for to mitigate the gray winters here. I want it to be warm and comfortable, always 🙂

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  6. What a sweet birthday celebration! The photos of the light coming through the rock were spectactular, thanks for showing them to those of us who will never see it in person. And the otter shots! Oh my, they’re adorable little (sort of little) guys. I, also, see the color as creamy rather than lemony…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was a nice birthday for sure, and I never did have dessert, so still I have a big slab of cheesecake in my future! Never say never — Beluga knows how to get here, and she would even have a place to rest her tires while we all go out exploring!

      I like to think of our wall color as more whipped butter than lemon curd, but maybe I’m just hungry 😀

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  7. A sea otter!!! And fabulous images of the Milky Way. I sure hope some of TBGs photos will be on the walls of your home, which by the way, look more creamy than yellow to me. We also love those beaches around La Push…I miss seeing the big colorful sea stars and anemones of the West Coast. Although it was a bit different than your ride, we rode the trail out to the end of Ediz Hook from Port Angeles and I remember it being a pretty ride (once we got beyond the paper mill, haha).

    You had spectacular views from the Tubal Cain Trail. I’m all in for any trail that gains elevation without me noticing it. And what a delightful birthday you had, as is evident from the very cute photo of you…may this year bring you many more grand adventures and joyful moments! OX

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wish it hadn’t been such low light for my otter pics. I kept pointing it out to people, as well as the sea stars — I swear, so few pay attention. It truly was a magical evening on the beach.

      Many of our photos will find their way into our new home. We’re exploring all sorts of ways to display such things. My pics of the walls don’t quite show them as yellow as they are in person, but we’re liking the color more and more as we go out there.

      Thank you for the birthday year wishes. Let’s hope they come true for ALL of us! ❤

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