Tuesday, September 30

roaming freedom

Though I moved to Washington State at the beginning of this year, I haven't had much of a chance to explore the wild places here. And since my appreciation of a location partially depends on getting out, exploring the mountains, forests, and lakes, I was ecstatic to have the month of September to do just that. Although, I did manage to make it to Montana and Indiana, as well.

To keep it short and sweet, here is a rundown of my month of freedom:

  • 3800 miles on airplane
  • 850 miles in car
  • 700 miles on a greyhound bus
  • 90 miles on foot (backpacking)
Animal Sightings:
  • 3000 dairy cows (Fair Oaks Dairy)
  • 40 elk
  • 13 black bear
  • 7 marmots
  • 1 banana slug
  • 9 times a bridesmaid
  • 8 pieces of cake
  • 3 parties in 1 weekend (wedding, 60th anniversary, 20th birthday)
  • 2 rock climbing routes
  • 1 glacier
  • 1 sister married and off to Costa Rica

Blue Glacier on Mt Olympus - the highest peak in Olympic National Park

Ross Lake in the Northern Cascades, Washington

Lana and Aunt Connie (who traveled from Fort Meyers, Florida to attend her wedding)

comical exchange

It was a few weeks ago that I traveled from Everett, WA to Bozeman, MT via Greyhound bus. Though I have had opportunity to travel extensively around the country in the past 8 years or so, this would be my first time entrusting a bus driver with my safety for over 700 miles of travel.

I walked into the bus station in Everett without really knowing what to expect. What I discovered was a hodge-podge group of people with few things in common besides the urge to smoke a cigarette every time the bus slowed to a stop in the random Washington and Montana towns along the route. Old people, young people, people excited about life on the outside (having just been released from prison), people with tattoos, people with children, hikers, hippies, business men, college kids...it was all very interesting.

My route was scheduled to take over 15 hours to complete, so on the morning of my departure I chose a seat next to a sweet looking older lady with silky white hair reading "My Utmost for His Highest". We exchanged a few pleasantries and then I hunkered down for the duration of my ride with a book and my ipod. A few hours into the trip and the lady next to me was nudging me. I pulled off my earphones in time to hear her ask, "Would you like some steroids?"

I wasn't sure how to react to the shocking question, so I quickly replied, "Excuse me?" Immediately all these scary images of "bus people" came to mind. And here is an old lady offering me steroids in the middle of Eastern Washington. What had I gotten myself into?

Clarification of her offer came in her outstretched hand. There in the palm of her hand lay a tin box of Altoids. "Oh, thank you. Yes, I'll have a mint."

I couldn't help but laugh quietly to myself as I let the mint dissolve in my mouth.

Monday, September 1

I made it...

...to the end of August!

Months ago I requested a large chunk of time off from my job at the Lavender Farm. Sarah willingly agreed to give me four weeks of time off so that I could get into these mountains that I spend day after day looking at and longing to lace up my boots and walk those rocky paths. So, with anticipation I've been watching the days slowly pass from one to another silently waiting for the first of September to approach. And here it is! Finally.
My month is chock full of fun. Starting tomorrow I'm headed into the North Cascade Mountain Range with Amber and Bailey. We are backpacking for six days/five nights along Devils Ridge, Devils Creek, Devils Dome - the aptly named trail "Devils Loop". I'm not sure what is so devilish about all of it, but I'm headed there to find out, I guess.
I will return to Whidbey for a night, before catching a bus to Bozeman, MT to reconnect with some MCC friends and the Gallatin Valley as a whole. Hopefully I can do a three or four night backpacking trip in the Beartooth or Gallatin Mountains while I'm visiting. I've missed Bozeman, the town itself, the group of friends that live, work, and recreate there, the three mountain chains that surround the valley. I'll be glad to get back, even if it only for a week.

On the 16th, my friend Heidi and I will be driving to Seattle to pick up a friend of hers from the airport and then head into the wild Olympic Peninsula. I've just recently reserved four nights of backcountry campsites in Olympic National Park. One of which is right up next to Blue Glacier, which stretches from the heights of Mt. Olympus (the highest peak in the park). It is going to be outstanding!
And just to pack it all in nice and neat, I'll have a day between my return from Olympic and my flight out to Indianapolis, back to my roots, to celebrate Lana's wedding with the rest of my family. Another trip I am anticipating and have been since June when Lana called to tell me she was engaged.
Should be a whirlwind month, but this time the whirlwind has nothing to do with growing vegies, weeding, harvesting lavender, doing yard work on the side, cutting blackberry canes, or watering plants. I'm extremely grateful for the break from work, for the natural beauty of this state and the Big Sky state, and for family and friends. So, hooray for September, I've been waiting for you!!