Sunday, September 12, 2021—Southwest Coast of Washington

Situated just outside the town of Ilwaco where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean, Cape Disappointment State Park offers a variety of recreational activities, breathtaking scenery, and year-round camping facilities. The beach offered up a few dragonflies, a number of gulls, lots of Jelly Fish, and an intact sand dollar.

Of key interest to us at this location were the North Head Lighthouse and keepers’ dwellings houses. The lighthouse consists of brick masonry built atop a sandstone foundation and finished with a cement plaster overlay. Sixty-nine steps lead to the lantern room, which is sixty-five feet from the ground and 194 feet above sea level. North Head is the most intact light station in the Pacific Northwest. All of its original buildings remain standing, including the tower, two oil houses, two residences, barn, chicken coop, and garages. North Head is one of the windiest places in the United States, with wind velocities in excess of 100 mph frequently measured.

From southwest Washington, we crossed the Columbia River, entering Oregon. Our first stop was atop Coxcomb Hill at the Astoria Column. Located in Astoria, Oregon, the 125-foot-tall Astoria Column serves as a monument to the history Pacific Northwest. The Column is decorated with a sgraffito-style painted histogram recounting the region’s history spanning from the discovery of the Columbia River to the arrival of the railroad. Construction began in March of 1926, and the Astoria Column was officially dedicated on July 22, 1926.

We overnighted at Seaside, Oregon.

Saturday, September 11, 2021—Olympic National Park (cont’d)

The Hoh Rain Forest is one of four rain forests on the Olympic Peninsula. However, it is the only one that has been awarded the distinction of being a World Heritage Site and a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. Its unique ecosystem has remained unchanged for thousands of years and it is now the most carefully preserved rain forest in the northern hemisphere. With about 14 feet of rainfall annually, it is the largest temperate rain forest in the US. We walked the Hall of Mosses trail, and it was like walking through a living, green cathedral.

Following a great walk/hike in the Hoh Rain Forest, the day’s itinerary took us to Leadbetter Point State Park. The state park is a 1,732-acre natural area open only for day use. It features beach frontage on the Pacific Ocean and Willapa Bay, and is adjacent to Willapa National Wildlife Refuge. Though it is a birding mecca, the birds, including the endangered Snowy Plover, were not to be today.

A rogue wave came in very fast, and it was impossible to outrun it. Both Kay and Ralph got wet feet! Shorebirds we’re abundant in the freshly wetted shoreline.

From Leadbetter Point, Ralph drove us to Ocean Shores, Washington, where we we were mesmerized by the large waves rolling in, unimpeded, from the Pacific Ocean. As the waves crashed into the big rocks comprising the jetty, spraying water flew high into the air. It was like watching a line of erupting geysers.

We overnighted at Ralph and Debra’s.

Friday, September 10, 2021—Olympic National Park

Hurricane Ridge is a mountainous area in Olympic NP, about 18 miles south of Port Angeles, Washington. Hurricane Ridge is named for its intense gales and winds. The weather in this part of the Olympic Mountains is unpredictable, with the possibility of snow at any time of year. The area receives 400 inches of snowfall annually.

Noting a group of people against the upper of the meadows, and hiked the Big Meadows Loop to see what was happening. A number of ptarmigans were resting on the ground near an area of shrubs.

Further along the trail, a number of deer were casually browsing as the walked along the trail, too friendly for their own good.

Even a butterfly got into the action.

The drive from Hurricane Ridge westward took us past three sparkling glacial lakes: Sutherland, Crescent, and Pleasant. LakesSutherland and Crescent were at one time a single large like, however a massive landslide some 7,000 years ago isolated Lake Crescent from Lake Sutherland. Lake Crescent, the largest of the three, lies entirely within Olympia NP. It is over 600 feet deep, and provides significant recreational opportunities for people visiting the national park.

We arrived at our overnight accommodations in Forks, Washington, and were surprised to see a crowd lined up on one of the roadside sidewalks.. Forks, Washington, is where the movie Twilight was filmed; we apparently arrived on the weekend in which the “Forever Twilight in Forks” Festival is celebrated. (For many years, the city’s economy was fueled by the local timber industry. More recently it has drawn tourism related to the novel series of Twilight and films of the same name, set in Forks.)

After dinner we visited Rialto Beach, known for its rocky beaches, giant drift logs, pounding waves, and views of offshore islands known as “sea stacks”.

We overnighted in the two story, expensive, but average, Airbnb

Thursday, September 9, 2021—Travel Day

Arriving at the airport in Little Rock about three hours early, we were off on our next adventure. One of our longtime “life” last items was to tour the Pacific Northwest. We are fortunate that our friends Ralph and Debra offered to host us for a week and provide a local tour of the area. The flight to Dallas, and then to SeaTac between Seattle and Tacoma, was uneventful, and on time.

Ralph and Debra picked us up near the baggage claim area and we went to dinner at a great restaurant overlooking the sound. We arrived at their house after dinner, and Kay and I crashed!

Saturday through Wednesday, September 4-8—Unexpected Quiet Time and Another Great Butterfly Day

We had expected Karyn, Matt, Ridge, and Aker for the Labor Day weekend (Saturday, Sunday, and Monday), but Ridge came home from school on Friday with a bit of a cold. Not knowing whether how contagious it was, Karyn opted not to visit to prevent our possible exposure. Fortunately, it was only a cold, but as a result we had a very quiet weekend. Those are the times in which we live.

Kay had a very busy day scheduled for Tuesday with committee meetings and self-care appointments. Beautified by a cut and color, manicure, and pedicure, she was essentially ready to travel. PEO (Philanthropic Educational Organization) and Lady Duffers committee meetings completed her busy day.

Lucky for me, Dan called and extended an invitation to travel to Mount Magazine in hopes of repeating Thursday’s success photographing butterflies. After the two hour drive, we parked in the same spot as last week and hiked the same trail. There were fewer butterflies, but still more than we had seen elsewhere. It was a good day.

To make it even better, a few dragonflies were posing.

And how about this bug.

As a procrastinator, I waited until the last minute to pack for our upcoming 18-day trip. Consequently, Wednesday was used for washing and drying clothes, folding them for packing, and stuffing them into a suitcase. Kay packs a lot of clothes when we travel, and always looks great. I, on the other hand, pack fewer clothes, but more than make up for it with “toys” such as cameras, lenses, accessories, and computer, iPad, and iPhone and various cables, chargers, and memory drives and cards. In addition we both have to pack meds, and I carry a CPAP.  While the clothes can be packed, and “checked,” many of the other items are too necessary and/or valuable and must be “carried on.” Consequently, it takes me forever to organize my “stuff.” We both finished packing, except for last minute items, and sat down to chill. And then we remembered that boarding passes were needed and luggage checked. Of course, the printer was offline, etc. Finally, all pre-trip preparations had been done. We ate leftovers for dinner and watched British television to wrap up the evening.

Friday, September 3, 2021—Found the Butterflies

It’s still hot and humid, but that didn’t stop Kay from joining her Friday girls group at Cortez Golf Course. Considering she hasn’t played much in the last few weeks, she did pretty well—a lady’s score is like her age, not revealed.

Dan Olson and I traveled to Mount Magazine State Park in search of the elusive butterflies this season. Most places in the area have had a significant decrease in both species and numbers. We saws a few flittering along the road approaching the state park. As we pulled into the parking place at the  Brown Springs picnic area, a Giant Swallowtail could be seen nectaring on a nearby bloom. We set up our cameras, checked the settings, and eased over to make photographs. The Giant Swallowtail was very patient, and posed for a number of shots by each of us. We continued to see various species as we walked the cliff side trail. It had been the best four hours of butterfly photography that either of us had had this year. 

Even a few dragonflies made themselves available for photographs.

Several wild flowers also presented themselves for portraits.

We drove from Mount Magazine State Park to Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge, where we stopped at one of our favorite butterfly areas. There, we found good numbers of several species.

From there it was off to home and extensive post processing of photos.

Thursday, September 2, 2021—The Hummingbirds Have Arrived

Hummingbirds apparently arrived in hoards yesterday about midday, as they were madly crowding the two feeders on the deck. The number of these birds far exceeds that of any other time since living in Hot Springs Village. I had been wanting to capture them “in flight” and spent a couple of hours experimenting with camera settings, etc. Here are the results.

Twenty-one years ago today, Kay and I said “I do”, and it’s been an amazing time together. We’ve experienced children divorcing, marrying, grandkids born, and parents dying. A few family challenges have arisen and for the most part, conquered. Four churches have called us members, and we sang together in three of these. We have traveled extensively, both within the US and internationally. And, Kay has been there as I survived several major medical issues. We celebrated by eating at Texas Roadhouse inn Benton, Arkansas; they have the coldest Michelob Ultra on tap, and great food. We’ve been blessed, and are hoping for another twenty-one years!

Wednesday, September 1, 2021—Celebrating

Our younger granddaughter and youngest grandchild, Sutton, celebrated her first birthday on Wednesday. We haven’t seen her in a while because of COVID, colds, naps, etc. But, based on FaceTime conversations, she is growing and learning to speak! Happy birthday, sweetheart.

A few butterflies were nectaring on the Lantana, and kept still enough for a few photographs.

Also, the two or three hummingbirds that have been feeding on the sugar water are still present. This one posed.

Immature male Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Wednesday evening we joined Jackie, Jim, Pam, and Don for dinner at the Bella Luna restaurant in Hot Springs, to celebrate all of our birthdays in the surrounding days and months. The food and service were both outstanding.