I never knew what beauty I would find, and how it might shatter my heart into a million dazzling sparkles. This trip was born in part out of desperation and in part out of a innate desire to explore and immerse myself in the world’s beautiful places. I haven’t even scraped the surface. And yet I feel close to full with everything that we have seen. I don’t know what I expected, and I don’t know what to write now. I want to reflect on the immensity of the experiences we’ve lived. But with time passing so quickly, I don’t know where to start or how to put it all down. Where do you start?
There is the switchback trail. That is most recent and alive in my memory. So do I start there? But there is all of Cordova, how special it felt for me and what wild majesty we encountered, somewhat unintentionally. Do I start there because it feels so special? And then there’s Shelter Island, a quiet peaceful place for contemplating myself and the world and the many learnings one can gain from time spent with strangers turned close friends and working at persistent manual labour. Do I start there before it fades in my memory? There is Two Bears Gardens, the excitement of beautiful fresh picked produce, grown with immense amounts of love and without pesticides, herbicides, sprays of any sort except the odd hose down with water. Do I start there because it’s so important to me that people know this place? I had thought it would all be obvious and it would all come pouring out of me, but I find myself struggling to keep my mind straight even though all the feelings are there. And here we are now, in Neah Bay, somewhere I’m very excited to wake up to and explore. Do I start here? Driving through the dark, glimpses of the ocean shining through the trees off the road. Little sparkling lights in the darkness in what must be a field roadside, I suspect lighting graves with love. Inching along the beachfront looking for the little cabin we had booked, rolling past homes, the espresso stand, the museum, boats with twinkling lights, turning back to the start and arriving finally at exactly the little home we needed tonight. It’s a strange world, and yet comfortingly familiar too, here in the pacific northwest corner of the lower 48. I want to start here, but we haven’t started here yet.
Last night we slept in our tent in the rain near Sol Duc falls. It rained all night. It rained consistently and persistently. Lichen and cones and all sorts of organic matter fell onto the tent and the ground around us, waking us up at times. Gusts of winds shook the tree tops above and at some point a large branch came crashing down somewhere not too distant. We saw it in the empty campsite directly across from us the next day. The trees hung with green and they sparkled when the light filtered through the drizzly cloud during the day. Rays shot through the mist and quickly disappeared again, ethereal and fleeting. The path was mud and the deer left prints all along it. It’s a magical soft world in the old growth forests of Olympic National Park.
Yesterday we left Two Bears Gardens for the final time. Tammy packed us with veggies and chocolate zucchini bread. AJ with memories from providing us with (the best) recommendations for where to go hiking nearby. We had spent the previous two nights in Olympic National Park on and near Klahhane Ridge. Before we left AJ had said to us “so you’re going up the switchback trail tomorrow.. I don’t know if you know this but it is mandatory to carry chocolate and cheese out there” and he presented us with two bars of special chocolate and a block of Vermont cheddar. We have absolutely nothing but extremely fond memories of Tammy and AJ and Two Bears Gardens. The forecast before we headed into the park said chances of snowfall high up. We were warned that a mountain goat had killed a hiker on our exact trail five years previously, and were told to throw rocks and be aggressive. We were required to carry a bear canister and we stocked up on extra thermals for the hike. Three days, roughly 2500 ft of elevation a day, miles of ‘one foot in front of the other’ with packs on our backs, wondering why I’d never bought tramping poles. There is much to share of that spectacular mountain terrain, and I can’t wait to share it.
The week before at Two Bears Gardens was one of understanding the intent and heart that goes into growing organic produce. It is a special and magical journey to seed and raise nutrition for your body, watch it grow, help it grow, harvest it and present it. There is something so inherently right about the care that Tammy gives the soil composition, the pest removal on her produce, turning over tomatoes each day the shop is open to make sure each individual one is still perfect for sale. Everyone should go out of their way to buy produce here.
And before the farm, there was cousin time in Bellingham, playing with dolls, chatting about life as a mother running a home business, understanding the constant tug and play of life and responsibility, reminiscing some about life as children, and Cordova.
Cordova. That word has held such intrigue and magnetism for me for so many years. As a child I played in the Cordova snow, watched moose, splashed in the polliwog pond, and as an adult, I have always dreamed of returning, retracing those steps of my childhood and standing again in the land I took my first steps in. I thought this would be special, but I had no idea just how special Cordova was, is. On Prince William Sound with no roads out, Cordova is settled into one of the most stunningly beautiful and enchantingly isolated locations in the world. I could write for hours of the limited sites we saw, and dream for decades of how much more I could see, or at least dream until I return…
We flew to Cordova from Juneau on the milk run. That alone deserves a post. But before this flight we lived three weeks on an island, helping prepare a home for the coming winter and taking in life as it is lived in southeast Alaska in the spruce forest staring out across the ocean passage. I could write a hundred posts.
And yet I don’t get the posts written, because each new day brings another new experience and I try to be fully present to absorb it all. And yet I have to write, because each new day brings new exhaustions and my mind is tired with trying to absorb it all. Writing is my way of understanding, of separating and storing, of teasing out the subtle lessons that life nudges at me, and holding them true in my heart so that I might be able to live them.
You can be sure, there is much writing to come.