Aye-Aye, Sir

Visiting the Olympic Peninsula guarantees one thing. Water will surround you for the entire stay. Whether on the Sound or on the Pacific side, water dominates both landscape and lives.

Residents sail, cruise, surf, fish, dig the beaches, etc. Crab traps, oyster barges, and sea birds vie for the bounty of the sea. The visitor cannot and should not miss the opportunity to join in.

Named for the actor, John Wayne Marina is a great way to begin a leisurely stay on Washington’s thumb. This impressive marina played home to The Duke whenever the man wanted sea time. An avid sailor, Wayne moored his boat at this marina for weeks on end. With affection and respect, his name became synonymous with the facility and was later made permanent.

Early summer or late, slips are filled with boats. A Coast Guard cutter waits at anchor for its next patrol. Specialist boat medics stand ready to assist any who have limped into dock with mechanical difficulties. Tasty treats tempt with luscious aromas stealing through the air, luring their own catch to the dinner table in the club house.

For lunch and an afternoon’s relaxation, John Wayne Marina can fill anyone’s need for a glimpse of the sailor’s life.

If you’re hankering for lighthouses, take a run up to Port Townsend to the Point Wilson Station. You’ll find a marvelous working lighthouse, defensive artillery bunkers left over from WWII, and plenty of Coast Guard history for any buff. The grounds give room to stretch, views to take home in the camera, and opportunities to meet fellow visitors from all over the world.

When you travel along Hwy. 101 around through Port Angeles, you’ll see supertankers, ferries to Victoria, BC across the straits, and families who live there. The atmosphere is more hustle and bustle, but Port Angeles is a working port with daily shipping in anchorage. Feel free to explore the downtown shops or sit at water’s edge to watch the ships come in.

Continue down the Pacific of the Peninsula to visit the Ilwaco lighthouse. Along with the Discovery Trail, Cape Disappointment, and Point Columbia State Park, you’ll find one of the other working lighthouses. Get out and stretch your legs. Bring out the camera for those shots that last only seconds. The views here are windswept and delightful. Explore the museum created from the original keeper’s residence. Walk the short trails.

Don’t rush. Leisure is the name of any visit here on the Peninsula. So much is missed when the clock rules the road. Enjoy yourself in the moment.

For more information on any of these sights and sounds, go to:

http://www.olympicpeninsula.org/things-to-do/john-wayne-marina

http://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=108

http://funbeach.com/local-attractions/cape-disappointment-lighthouse/

http://ilwacowashington.com/blog/

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Scent of Romance

If you drive up Hwy. 101 on the east shore of the Olympic Peninsula during late summer, you’ll come to lavender farms along the way. The south of France isn’t the only place claiming capital status on the lavender business. Join the many visitors who experience these luscious smelling farms each year in Western Washington.

The Sunshine Herb and Lavender Farm is one example of the kind of afternoon excursion you can anticipate. The farm borders Hwy. 101 a few miles south of Sequim, WA. The main entrance welcomes the visitor with a profusion of blossoms and lush plantings that whet your appetite for more visual goodies to come. A hundred yards further the drive delivers you to the main building and flower gardens of the farm.

Lavender-scented air greets you as you step from your vehicle. In every direction you’ll see beds of flowers; corral roses cuddle with brighter nasturtiums, purple Echinacea tries to lord it over the simple Euphorbia inches away, scarlet crocosmia startles the viewer as it bursts from the greenery. Bountiful hardy fuchsia puts forth thousands of tiny Chinese lanterns to brighten the leaves holding them captive.

These enticing and whimsical beds of blossoms distract the visitor for only moments before visual focus moves outward onto row after row of lavender in bloom. The rounded purple rows of waving stems of the fragrant herb snare the eye and the mind.

Seen en masse, the herb appears blurred, as if the colored wands were trying to paint everything around them. A sense of peace flows from both visual and olfactory sensations. The desire to touch, fondle the delicately blossomed stalks, near overwhelms one’s discretion.

There need be no fear of indiscretion. Under a canopy sits smaller potted plants for taking home. Other available culinary and fragrant herbs also share space in the shade. Attendants are willing and eager to talk about the farm, the products, and the joy of doing what they do each day.

Inside the main commercial building are many products that use those tiny purple blossoms as ingredients. Soaps, lotions, perfumes, and sachet name only a few of the creative ways this herb can be taken home as a souvenir from the farm where it was grown.

Spending an afternoon down on this farm is an exercise in pure sensory delight. Be sure to take the opportunity to stop in and partake of a walk through tranquility and fragrance in the scented sunshine of an Olympic lavender farm.

 For additional information go to: http://www.sunshinelavender.com/

Beards Hollow: No Disappointment

Any time you drive down the Pacific side of the Olympic Peninsula, take the time to slow down with a visit to Beards Hollow State Park just outside of Long Beach. The Park is for exploration, contemplation, and getting in touch with your natural side. Here’s an example of what you’ll find.

When you enter the Beards Hollow State Park the impression is one of quiet, moist nature walks. There are plenty of those within the bounds of the Park. Still lily ponds entice the visitor to pause and reflect on their lives as well as the sky’s mirror. Delicate yellow blossoms peak up from the foliage to wave at the viewer. Birdsong echoes through moss-covered trees to remind you of the outside world.

Other visitors may whiz by you on their bikes. Don’t be alarmed. Wish them a Bon Voyage as they trek along the Discovery Trail, which winds its way through the Park from Long Beach to Cape Disappointment, and on to Ilwaco and the Coast Guard Station.

Allow yourself to take the slow road for a while as you stand on a wooden bridge to look across the intervening vegetation that occludes the sea. It was less than 150 years ago that the sea came all the way into the position of that bridge. Time and silt, breezes and seeds on the wind have filled in the former inlet.

Take a stroll down the paved path to the beach. Pause to admire the hidden lily ponds. Study the lushness of the hillsides, and know that if that lushness disappeared tomorrow, it would take little time for it to return with the prevailing climate of the rain-forested area.

Pass under nature’s arches. Look at the small offerings along the way. Breathe deep and let your mind wander toward possibilities.

Short cliff sides rise on the right. Native succulents cling to cracks so they can show off their colors. At the dunes driftwood stops you in your tracks. This one can give the visitor a vignette view of the sea simply by looking through its eye.

Fog rolls in, sometimes without warning. Early morning in August often finds misty beaches like Beards Hollow. The day’s temps are warm, but fog can linger to add of subtle chill to the dune side experience.

When you return to your car, think about exploring Cape Disappointment on the next prominence south of the Park. You won’t be disappointed. Between the lighthouse and the views, another chapter in your visitor’s book will be completed.

Try the links below to help decide when you’ll take a walk or ride on the Pacific’s edge.

Discovery Trail from Long Beach, WA, through Beards Hallow State Park, Cape Disappointment, and across to Ilwaco and the U.S. Coast Guard Station. Link: http://blog.oregonlive.com/terryrichard/2011/07/discovery_trail_on_washingtons.html

Beard’s Hollow State Park link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oglQ9mGtVoI

Discovery Trail: a different view. Link: http://funbeach.com/local-attractions/discovery-trail/