Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park

Long ago,
I used to hear about driving along the Pacific coast
in the northwest
and I thought one day I’d like to do that.
That was years ago
and I had forgotten that possibility
when recently a friend invited me to join her
on a visit to her brother in Seattle,
it sounded like a good trip
at a time when I’d hoped to take a vacation.
Last week,
I found myself driving
along the Pacific coast
in the state of Washington.
We spent a couple of days in Seattle
and then headed north,
took the ferry to Whidby Island
and then another ferry to the Olympic peninsula
and Olympic National Park.
On Whidby,
we visited the Whidby Institute
where they have been giving retreats and workshops
on spirituality and sustainability
for the last 15 years.

In the Olympic National Park
we drove to Hurricane Ridge
and hiked to a point
where we could see both the mountains and the sea.
Deer came within 10 feet of us
munching grass and forbs
as we stood, entranced by their nearness.
At Sol Duc
we hiked into a rain forest
where ancient trees
drip with mosses,
hundreds of kinds of lichens grow on dampened tree trunks
and water pours powerfully
over black, smoothed rocks.
It is a fairyland.

Sol Duc Rain Forest

Sol Duc Falls

At Rialto Beach
and then Ruby Beach
we climbed over giant tree trunks
carried down the rivers from the rain forests
into the sea
then tossed back on shore.
I joined beachcombers
compelled to touch and hold
the smooth stones of many colors
that the sea brought ashore,
that tumbled more as the waves
went out again.
I saw kelp in the wild
for the first time.
And there in the mist,
were the beautiful “Sea Stacks,”
small, shoreline islands
yet to be worn away by the ocean waves,
which boomed as the tide came in.
I watched the sun shimmer on the sea
as the ocean rose to meet it
and then fog roll in and wrap
the shoreline
in a mantle of comfort.
At Kalaloch,
I found mussels and sand dollars on the beach,
watched gulls and cormorants
and let the sound of the waves
touch me in some inexplicable, primal way.
Kalaloch Beach

Ruby Beach

Mountains,
forests,
the sea.
Mountains,
forests,
the sea.
Mountains,
forests,
the sea.
The beauty went right to my core
and would not stop.
We drove and drove
and there was always
more
beauty.
I’ve often used these words
to describe our home:
“This beautiful planet.”
I had no idea
really.