Over 3000 miles travelled in 7 weeks and I am in the Seattle area for an extended visit with family. It is nice to be in a familiar place where I know some of the roads, where things are, and have people to visit. I love all the new things I see in between my big stops and it is nice to reach a familiar destination.
The Pacific Northwest is a beautiful place. I doubt there is are many people out there that would disagree. But does it speak to you with a siren song of longing and love? Do the trees that rise so high beckon you to come and explore their deep forest floor? Are the rain and clouds a blanket for the mountains that gives way to blue sky and sun like a child waking from a nap? That’s how I experience this place. Time stops here. The mountains and forests have stood the test of time, despite the loggers, the suburban builders, the tourists, the aerospace industry, the coffee moguls, and the internet industry. The landscape just sits here changing imperceptibly and holding space.
My primary hangout is in Snoqualmie. A logging town turned small town, turned bedroom community, with a small town history and an upscale extension. You may know it from the David Lynch tv show, Twin Peaks. The tv show centered on a saw mill and waterfall. Those actually are the Salish Lodge and Snoqualmie Falls. No hiking is required to get there. It’s a drive up/walk up/bike up place with great views. You (not me) can hike to the bottom and there are plenty of wildlife that hang out down there. This is the summer falls. In the spring as the mountain snow melts or with winter rains, the falls roar and are several times the size of this.
I stayed the previous week in a forested campground on the other side of the Snoqualmie Pass, only because every campground in Seattle was booked! And it was a lucky break for me. I crossed the pass back and forth for several days (leaving the Airstream parked) and got to take in the beauty of the Wenatchee, Baker, and Snoqualmie National Forests. The campground gives you some sense of the area. It’s hard, nigh impossible, to stop on the interstate and snap some photos. And if there are other roads to take through the pass, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to take them (see my Yellowstone experiences for reference on my resistance to heights). These glimpses will have to suffice for now.
The smoke and haze from California and Canadian wildfires blew in and lasted most of the week, significantly impairing picture quality. But I figure a blog is about what’s in the moment, so you get what you get.
Finally, in my quest to see large wildlife, I got to see them. Snoqualmie has a famous (well, to the locals) herd of elk that graze in a meadow, wander down to the river and head for the hills during hunting season. In the many years I’ve been coming here, I’ve never seen them. Seeing wildlife is a matter of timing. This week I saw them twice in one day. There were about 20 of them lazing about and grazing. I hope to see them again before I leave.
I’m feeling at home in my Airstream silver bullet. It has not been an easy transition since I jumped into it in 3 days and hit the road on July 3. I thought, hoped, and meant to be prepared. Of course I was not fully prepared and why would I be? I have never done this before. I couldn’t know what I didn’t know. That lack of readiness and certainty has made me uncomfortable, anxious, scared, and actually, if not by necessity – bold. Even though this lifestyle is new and daunting, it also is exciting and challenging. And that makes it invigorating every day! I’m starting to get a feel for what works, what doesn’t, and what I still want. And part of what I want is to remain open to all that I don’t know that I don’t know. That is a scary place to be and an exhilarating space. Every day I get to feel alive, seeing new things, having new experiences. And it is not just the “newness” of it all, though that is certainly part of it. Even here, in a very familiar town that I have visited a dozen times or more, I see it newly. Proust said,
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
I’m committed to new eyes, even if it is in new landscapes. My home is where I am and I’m seeing it newly every day.