Recharging on Life

There are times when every traveler needs to recharge the batteries of enthusiasm and interest. During our country tour through the South last winter, recharging became a major priority.

Visiting with family can help with this process in subtle or spectacular ways. We were fortunate enough to experience both.

We arrived in Harrodsburg, Kentucky in early February, a cold and dreary month. Vibrant colors don’t exist at that time. Somber hues dominate the landscape, turning the clock back to near black and white photographic days.

Life, however, thrives during this month in Kentucky and we were there to share in new beginnings. At a thoroughbred farm outside Harrodsburg, we witnessed a miracle of nature. It’s not often that the average person gets to see a new race horse come into the world. We were privileged to be allowed in the birthing box for the event.

From delivery to standing on four hooves, the newly arrived filly proceeded to jerk, wobble, and fall down in deep straw bedding. Mama was there to help it up and watch it take its first hesitant steps. The foaling crew stood to one side, watching for problems in case they needed to intervene quickly.

Murmured conversation of observations rumbled while shifting straw left behind shushing sounds. A tiny bleat of trepidation from the new foal punctuated the other sounds within the stall. For the human team expectation gave way to encouragement as pride took over from concern. Suckling would soon take precedence.

Down the aisle of the mares’ barn was a two-day old colt with its mama. Still a bit wobbly on its long legs, it surveyed its new world and stayed close to its food source.

Along both sides of the broad concrete aisle, boxes contained mares that waited for their turn at delivery. Some came forward to peek out, perhaps trying to see what all the hubbub was about. One stood and swayed to some internal rhythm of her own. We were told that she always did that during confinement. Still others ignored the world outside their stalls.

Surrounding all of the activity was a feeling of immensity and importance. The impact of impending activity bears down on a person when nearly a ton of horseflesh worth half a million dollars stands ready to deliver a baby. Put twenty of those potential new mamas in one building and it gets intense.

Our recharging had begun. Enthusiasm for life had been replenished. The final stroke of enthusiasm came a couple of days later when visiting more family. This time the babies were new calves. Between the calves, the laughter and the fellowship of a large family, we found ourselves again.

Of course, excellent home cooking of food that makes a person drool, along with renowned Southern hospitality, also helped effect a cure for travel fatigue.

 

 

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Smelling the Flowers

Whenever we travel, we particularly enjoy the varied wildflowers that dot the landscape. It might be daisies waving their little white heads at us from the roadside, or it might be an unknown astilbe-like white blossom that adds a brilliant spot deep in the forest greenery.

Every area has its wildflowers; some large, some small, ones common and others not in the books. Many are simply for show. Medicines have come from wildflowers everywhere.

Regardless of their background, wildflowers can be scene stealers wherever we go. In Montana we’ve found many. Here are but a few.

Daisies warm the heart throughout the mid to late summer. They grow on roadsides and meadows, waiting for little girls to take them home as crowns and jewelry.

Blue native clematis winds its way along the forest floor and up convenient trees, always bringing a bit of sky color to the shade below. Golden Rod adds its own sunshine to green corners in July and August with its bright yellow conical heads.

The common Cow Parsnip takes on new dimension when seen in deep shadow, set alight by a beam of sunlight, creating lime green fans of its broad leaves. The umbrella shaped white floral crown takes its supreme position and waits to be touched. This humble plant has fed animals and humans alike for countless centuries and still stands above men’s heads to see the world and its wonders.

And if we’re lucky, on rare occasions, we get to see a jewel that we’ve not as yet found in any of the references. This tiny ruby example of the world’s wonders sat next to a rushing stream in the gravel. A bare inch or two, it reached upward to touch its sky. Its strawflower-like blossoms had not yet opened, but promised to delight a viewer in a day or so.

Such gems and an appreciation of them can keep any traveler occupied during the long drives or hikes around any average destination. Like many examples of wildlife, wildflowers are diverse survivors who flaunt their uniqueness and beauty for all to see.

Take advantage of your opportunities. Snap some photos. Start a continuing list of those wildflowers you’ve found. Discover their secrets. There are many references available in print and on-line. You might find yourself with a new hobby that will give you pleasure wherever you go. Don’t forget, one man’s weeds are another’s wildflowers.

For additional infomration on Montana wildflowers, go to: http://montana.plant-life.org/

A B & C Stopover

When you drive Hwy. 101 along the West Coast, be prepared to stop and rest, take a looksee, and recharge your personal batteries. At Brookings and Cape Blanco you can do both very nicely.

The seaside village of Brookings may have begun its life as a fishing village, but today the modern town has surrounded itself with a surprising number of amenities to lure more than fishermen. A Brookings stopover may last only a few hours as you take in the sights from the highway or from Harris Beach State Park at the edge of town.

If you have the time to explore the Azalea Park or the Botanical Gardens, please do so. With the balmy year-round climate of Brookings, they are enjoyable. If you only have a couple of hours to spend there, pick up picnic fixings at the local grocery and park yourself in the sunshine in Harris Beach State Park.

The views are spectacular  and include long stretches of beach, wild flowers, Bird (aka Goat) Island offshore and other fabulous excuses for lingering. If you carry binoculars or a long lens, you can watch Bird Island which is an official wildlife sanctuary and the largest of the offshore islands in Oregon.

Assuming you need to move north from this marvelous area, you won’t have any difficulty finding additional lures along the way. If you’re into camping, though, consider Cape Blanco State Park for a stopover.

Cape Blanco has some fantastic scenery as well opportunities to veg out. The campgrounds afford the camper, whether RV or tent, sites that are well-maintained, convenient to shower and restroom facilities and steps away from trails that wind along the cliff sides for those private meditation moments with the Pacific in the foreground and personal cares on the back burner.

There is also a drivable lane that can take you down to the beach. There is one caution to this attempt at sandcastle territory. The lane is extraordinarily steep and walking down to the beach from the small parking area at mid-point is your best bet.

The short drive to the point and the Historic Cape Blanco Lighthouse is a chance to see what many pioneers did during the 19th Century. One large historic farm still occupies part of that area. The lighthouse looks good any time of day, but it’s amazing at sunset.

This is a place for taking your time and connecting with the land and yourself. Enjoy the scotch broom if it’s in bloom when you’re there. So many areas abound with it. Find the small beauties all around. After that you can breathe deep and sigh. You just found bliss.

Brookings, OR Info link:

http://www.brookingsor.com/visitor_information.cfm\

http://www.oregonstateparks.org/park_79.php

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Tourism-g51780-Brookings_Oregon-Vacations.html

Cape Blanco info links:

http://www.oregonstateparks.org/park_62.php

http://www.portorfordoregon.com/blanco.html

http://www.reserveamerica.com/campgroundDetails.do?subTabIndex=0&contractCode=or&parkCode=blan

 

 

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/

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/