Tag Archives: Darrington

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: A PHOTO JOURNEY

When the road serenaded me with its song, I followed the music into #Canada. We hopped the ferry out of Anacortes headed for Sydney, Vancouver Island. Once there, we kicked our bikes into gear and zipped over to the motel to rest up for the coming day and a trip to #Butchart Gardens.

IMG_2658  Loved it! As do about a million visitors a year. We even ran into a family of bears among the trees.

IMG_2661 Fortunately, they were of the vegetative kind.

Not far down the road, we whipped into the Butterfly Garden.

This beauty is actually a moth! IMG_2908

Several birds flitted about the gardens. IMG_2971 This one decided to land on my wife’s shoulder and tell her a secret. I didn’t ask Deva to reveal the bird’s secret.

After seven plus hours on my feet, I was ready to just cruise the roads of Vancouver Island the next day. The day after that, we caught the ferry to Tsawwassen on the mainland of Canada. From there we rode on into Harrison Hot Springs. The internet teems with articles about the Hot Springs, so I will simply say that the town of Harrison, in addition to the hot springs, can boast that their little chocolate store has lip-smackin’ good English Toffee.

The following day found us scrambling up the mountain side to stand at the base of Bridal Veil Falls. In spite of it being mid-summer (an off season to view the Falls) and the area being in a four-month drought, it was worth the sore muscles to stand there, gazing up toward the source. IMG_3078

The days blended into one another and our next notable stop was the small town of Hope, British Columbia–not far from Harrison Hot Springs. Hope is a bit of what I would call a ‘sleeper’ town–it will absolutely surprise and charm you. This small town of 5,969 people not only hosts an art gallery well worth the time to check out, but carvings done by internationally reknown carvers scatter throughout the town.

I was especially pleased to meet Harry of Harry and the Hendersons. IMG_3126

The next town that hosted us required a ride over the hill. IMG_3141

Princeton sits in the middle of, well, nowhere. After dinner at a local restaurant, we decided to call it a day and veg out. Not given to listening to the news and being out of touch with all media, we finally turned on the television as we flopped out on the bed. The next day’s ride would be on the Crow’snest Highway, or BC-3, into Osoyoos  then drop into the United States by way of Oroville and onto Omak on US-97.

As the news flashed to the scene of a blazing inferno, I gaped at the reader line across the bottom of the television screen: #Omak, #Washington. Needless to say, we turned around and headed back to the United States via Chilliwack, British Columbia, to Sumas in the States.

Unfortunately, our shock wasn’t to end with leaving Canada. We arrived in Darrington to a beautiful sunset and the smell of smoke. IMG_2552

Approximately a year and a half ago the town of Darrington wrestled with the devastation of the Highway 530 Mudslide that destroyed homes and took lives. Last night we once again gathered at the Community Center to face fire this time. Though our small fire only encompasses approximately eighty acres on the side of Jumbo Mountain that towers above the town, concern lay heavy on the room. Avalanche chutes and winds could easily spread the burning debris.

Only thirty-three miles away–less if you draw a straight line between the towns–the Skagit Complex fires–eight of them–rage around the small towns of Newhalem and Diablo. Only a small percentage of those fire perimeters are contained, meaning that a line has been built that will stop the progress of the fire.

Just over the mountains, fire devastates communities. Three firefighters lost their lives. Homes and farms and dreams go up in columns of black smoke.

All over the states of Washington, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Northern California fire claims lives and homes; businesses and farms.

Less talked about are the countless thousands of animals and birds–both wild and domestic–that have lost their lives to the greedy flames. The decimation of their homes and food supply will have tragic, long lasting consequences. Some of the species may not fully recover for years, if ever.

So while I urge you to continue to send prayers, and relief aid, to the victims of those most devastating fires, such as the Okanogan Complex Fires, I would like to ask that you send a prayer, a thought out to the Universe for the wildlife, wild birds and domestic animals that are suffering.

Meanwhile, here in Darrington, we watch our small fire on Jumbo Mountain as we send relief efforts and prayers to those who face raging infernos.

mountain with smoke above restaurant

To view more photos from Biker Granny, go to http://www.pinterest.com/ayawalksfar

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LESSONS LEARNED

DSC09967 White Horse Mountain, Cascade Mountains, Darrington, Washington

Lessons Learned (The Observations of a Wildlife Habitat Manager)

Other than #author, I have several hats that I wear. Among them is the Wildlife Habitat Manager Hat. Habitat is NOT a sanctuary. It is a place where wildlife and wild birds can arrive and depart as they please. Habitat offers the wild ones food (in the form of plants, trees and the resultant insects), water (sometimes in the form of water dishes if the natural water source dries up), and shelter/nesting areas (in the form of bushes, trees, tall grass areas, undergrowth and deliberately maintained ‘slash piles’ of natural plants including tree limbs), and, hopefully, a measure of safety from domestic predators such as cats and dogs.

In 1996, my wife and I bought twelve acres of abused farmland. When I label the land abused what I mean is that the fields had been overgrazed, invasive weeds such as non-native blackberry bushes and morning glories had taken over approximately eleven acres of the land, garbage had been dumped on the creek banks and piled in a variety of other places (all of which we discovered as we took down the invasive blackberry brambles); old cars, farm equipment, freezers–complete with the rotted carcasses and hides of deer, bear and other wildlife– and other appliances also hid beneath the blackberry brambles; and, sadly, we also uncovered the skeletons and other remains of animals and birds killed for the sake of killing and left to rot where they lay.

When we first moved here, no birds flew over the property. It reminded me of the silent spring that Rachel Carson evoked with the title of her important book. Not until our medicine man came and blessed the land did the birds return. The first bird in was the tiny Rufous Hummingbird.

Since that time, we have cataloged sixty-eight different species of birds who visit our land, usually staying to shelter and/or nest. We have had a variety of wildlife, including a family of deer who frequently have their fawns in our back field and coyotes who sing their mournful songs to the dark of night.

But, the journey has not been without it setbacks and detours. So here are a few of the lessons learned by this wildlife habitat manager:

—When calculating the amount of time a rehab project might take, add in one-half again of what you think (ie: 40 hours would become 60 hours). This will allow for delays, surprises and just days when you want to play instead of work.

—Be aggressive with invasive plants! Whether the plants are Euro-Asian blackberries, morning glories, scotch broom or English daisies, begin a program of spray-mow-spray immediately. For the sake of the wild ones, try to use eco-friendly herbicides such as Round-Up. It you really need more toxic herbicides, such as some of the caustics, try to spot spray and limit the amount of the chemical used as well as the amount of land it is applied to.

—Not everything the experts tell you to try will work. For several winters, I fought a losing battle with snow tearing the gutters off of the barn. We tried a number of different remedies, including snowjacks that are in use in places like Alaska. The problem with our snow is that it accumulates, partially melts, refreezes and accumulates some more making most types of snowjacks not very efficient and often the victim of the snow pack along with the gutters. The way we resolved our issue was with four foot deep trenches around our barn under the roofline. We filled the trenches with two different sizes of rock/gravel and with French drain then created a ditch that leads to a depression where the water can slowly dissipate. It works, for us. Don’t be afraid to try out your own ideas.

—Try different plants in different areas! You may be surprised that what will grow in one place, won’t flourish in another place that appears to be the exact same type of ground, sunlight and moisture.

—When visiting nurseries, ignore most of the statements like “Oh, no, this is not invasive”; “no, you won’t have any problem with this spreading where you don’t want it” and similar statements. Many of the current invasives that we battle daily were brought here deliberately by other people, including the scourges of farmland and wildlife habitat–English daisies and scotch broom! No one thought these “pretty flowers” would become noxious weeds. We can eradicate invasive plants. Be consistent and persistent!

Try to use plants that are native/indigenous to your area. (Our neighbor planted a black walnut tree and now we have bunches of baby black walnut trees sprouting up everywhere). Think twice about eradicating what your neighbors may term ‘weeds’ if that plant is indigenous, such as salmonberry bushes and Indian plum bushes. Many times the wildlife/wild birds that are native to your area really need these plants (sometimes, the very ones your neighbors labor weeds)! Both salmonberry and Indian plum are early spring flowering plants that provide much needed nectar for the hummingbirds who arrive before other trees and bushes set their blossoms.

DSC01752 Patch of Thimbleberry bushes (Pacific Northwest native plant; edible by humans, birds and wildlife. A tasty red berry on a thornless bramble.)

Salmonberry bushes are much more sensitive (especially to herbicides) than many people believe and can be controlled (kept to one area) by mowing the young starts that sprout through rhizome propagation. As well as providing nectar, these delicate blossoms are a lovely relief from the barrenness of winter. According to my adoptive mother, Vi taqseblu Hilbert, who was an Upper Skagit elder, new shoots were once eaten by #NativeAmericans much like asparagus. The berries are red or gold colored and delicious for people, birds or other wildlife. salmonberry bloom Salmonberry blossom (Pacific Northwest native plant)

—Be gentle with yourself! This was a very important lesson for me. I tend to demand not only perfection of myself, but perfection as of yesterday! No matter how dedicated and hardworking you are, take time to stop and just walk the land, enjoy all that you have accomplished. Be sure to take ‘before’ photos you can refer to because many times we don’t see the progress we are making. Sort of like being in a dense forest–rather difficult to see the whole tree.

—Remember, even though one person can’t save the entire planet; we can’t even save the entire species–whatever the species–we can make a difference one person at a time; one small piece of land at a time. So, whether you have a small backyard or a hundred acres, what you do matters. When you provide food, water and shelter for two birds that gives that bird species one more place to rest, to eat and grow strong, and to bring young into this world to bless all of us. And, each time one of us provides habitat for the wild ones, we demonstrate to our neighbors and friends that it can be done without sacrificing the use and enjoyment of our property. We can make a difference; and, we can make this world a tiny bit better for us having been here.

We are saving, preserving and increasing beauty each day.

JUNE 2015 144 Oregon Grape (Pacific Northwest native plant; berries are edible by humans, birds and wildlife)

 

To see photos of the author’s land, go to Pinterest (http://www.pinterest.com/ayawalksfar) and view Jaz Wheeler’s farm. My character in Run or Die has much the same kind of place as we do. Funny how that works!

 

 

 

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#3/22/14: When the Mountain Fell

light in darkness

On March 22, 2014, at 10:37 a.m., the side of the hill above the #Stillaguamish River gave way suddenly. It crashed into the river, scooped up the river’s water and became a mud tidal wave that crashed against the far shore and swept away the lives of 43 people and numerous wildlife and domestic animals.  The wide spot that had once held the town of Hazel, Washington and more recently had been known as the Steelhead Community had vanished under tons of earth within minutes. Friends and family had been lost. The community of #Darrington devastated.

To make matters worse, the major artery between Darrington, Washington and “down below”–all points to the west of Darrington–had been severed. It would be weeks before traffic could resume use of Highway 530.

For all intents and purposes, the small town of Darrington was isolated. Yet, in this small town everyone from Cub Scouts to one hundred school-age young people to Senior citizens rallied to create the infrastructure necessary to field, outfit and feed multiple volunteer teams of local people dispatched to the mudslide. (Local volunteers arrived minutes after the slide hit and though most of them had no prior rescue experience, they were the leading edge of the rescue efforts.) A road was punched through to reach the far edges of the slide. Chainsaws growled, heavy equipment grumbled, people called to each other. As the days piled one on top of the other, young people stocked food banks, elders cooked, some people took care of the home bound, others took care of those affected physically and emotionally, cots were set up, information streams established, and still others made sure that supplies kept coming in for the teams and for the town.

The byword was ‘hope”. Every where you looked yellow ribbons spelled out that brave word: #hope. candle in dark We each became a candle that glowed in that great darkness. Together, we lit the way for each other, and for our town.

During those days and weeks, I learned what made Darrington such a special place. I saw people drag in to check out from their volunteer positions after nine at night and saw those same people back in front of me to check in for work at six the next morning–day after weary, heartbreaking day. People stopped in the middle of the store, in the middle of the street, and gave support and encouragement to each other; hugged each other. We had each others’ backs.

Darrington still epitomizes the word “hope” to me.  We still have hope. I think this town lives and breathes hope. Now, it is the hope that we continue our healing as the first anniversary of the day when the mountain fell approaches.

Be kind to one another. Hope lives in each of us. We can heal each other, and ourselves. I send a hug to each and every one of you.

imagequote sunsets prepare for new day

Candle photo courtesy of geralt, all-free-downloads.com Other photos courtesy Deva Walksfar.

 

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4 Ways Journaling Heals

light in darkness

With the first anniversary of the Highway 530 Mudslide looming ever closer, emotions are intense.

Words are powerful and can help us deal with emotions. This is why keeping a journal can be a healing process. By writing down the feelings we are experiencing, we can begin to deal with them rather than allowing them to eat away at us on the inside.

This can be especially true of grief. In your journal:

  1. Write a story about the person you lost
  2. Describe a happy memory with that person
  3. Write a conversation you wish you could have with that person. Try to include what you think they would tell you
  4. Describe your feelings
  5. List two ways you can honor the memory of your loved one

No matter how dark

Another way journaling can help us heal is to reduce negative self-talk, increase positive self-talk and help us recognize achievements.

  1. Write down the negative self-talk. (ie: I’m not pretty enough, I’m not smart enough, and so on)
  2. Now write down five positive things about yourself ( ie: I’m a good person, I help others, I do my job well, Yesterday I phoned my parents because they like hearing from me, I like my hair (or whatever physical attribute you think is positive) and so on.
  3. Write down two ways you will use to improve yourself. Make these very specific and have a deadline for implementing or achieving. Do not use such things as I will lose ten pounds this month. Instead list it like this: I will make three healthy dinners this week. I will not eat bread for five days. I will read one book every month.
  4. On a clean page, at the end of the deadline, write down what you achieved, why you didn’t achieve the entire goal and how you intend to approach it now. BE SURE to INCLUDE ANY progress toward your goal, such as: I fixed two healthy dinners this week. I failed to schedule in enough time to fix the third dinner. This week I will write up my menu for three healthy dinners, go shopping for the ingredients at least the day before the dinner, and I will put the dinners on my daily schedule.

Memories capture moments in our hearts. By briefly recalling a memory, we can help heal ourselves.  When you journal, you can capture your impression of the moment. The way your heart lifted when you watched the sunset; the way the brownie your sister made melted on your tongue; the sweet chocolate taste that flooded your mouth; or the warmth you felt when your spouse embraced you. Life can be rough at times and being able to return to a journal, leaf through it and recall these moments in poignant detail has the ability to pull our souls up from the darkest times, if only for a moment. Just remember:

imagequote sunsets prepare for new day

Journaling helps in the healing process.

  1. We can capture a moment in time; how we saw and felt at that moment
  2. We can release negative emotions in a healthy manner and brainstorm better ways to handle situations
  3. We can increase positive emotions on a daily basis or whenever we need to
  4. We can accept our grief, validate our feeling of grief, and begin the process of healing.

One last word: I am NOT a psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, medical doctor or other professional helper. This article is NOT medical advice or even professional advice. I am an author and have found ways to use writing to deal with emotion.

If you are feeling angry, depressed, unable to motivate, suicidal, or any strong negative emotion that lingers, PLEASE contact a professional. Depression is a common illness. It appears in many disguises such as a shortness of temper, a feeling of not wanting to get out of bed, a feeling that life isn’t worth it, not having an appetite, wanting to sleep a lot. It comes to all of us, just like the flu, at various times in our lives. It is a normal feeling, just like when a cold attacks you. However if it won’t go away, just like if that cold or flu lingers, you need professional help to rid yourself of the illness. DO NOT hesitate.

One of my favorite actors was Robyn Williams. But, Robyn Williams was unable to seek help to get through a particularly rough spot in his life, and a bright light left our world with his suicide. Do not remove your bright light. Believe me, you DESERVE help, even if you don’t think so right now.

Are you depressed?

If you identify with several of the following signs and symptoms, and they just won’t go away, you may be suffering from clinical depression.

  • you can’t sleep or you sleep too much
  • you can’t concentrate or find that previously easy tasks are now difficult
  • you feel hopeless and helpless
  • you can’t control your negative thoughts, no matter how much you try
  • you have lost your appetite or you can’t stop eating
  • you are much more irritable, short-tempered, or aggressive than usual
  • you’re consuming more alcohol than normal or engaging in other reckless behavior
  • you have thoughts that life is not worth living (seek help immediately if this is the case)

To read more about depression:  http://www.theguardian.com/science/brain-flapping/2014/aug/12/robin-williams-suicide-and-depression-are-not-selfish

 

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4 IMPORTANT LESSONS

Three days ago, last Saturday, I participated in Cross Creek Alpaca Rescue’s Holiday Bazaar. I planned to dash off a quick blog post about the experience as soon as I could access my computer at home. After some thought, I decided I wanted to take time to think about the bazaar and to write something real about the experience. Today I sat down at my computer and wrote.

As a local author, I had rented vendor space and a table from Cross Creek Alpaca Rescue for their Holiday Bazaar on Saturday, October 25th. Since my wife, Deva, and I didn’t want to make the long trip from Darrington, Washington to Tenino, Washington on the day of the bazaar, we stayed overnight at the Motel 6 in Tumwater that allowed pets. Nothing fancy, but the young lady at the front desk was friendly and the room clean.

Our older German Shepherd dog, Katrina, has been afflicted with Sundowner’s–a symptom of dementia–for some months now which is why she couldn’t be boarded like our other three GSDs. The change in routine and being so near the freeway, kept her awake and anxious most of the night; Deva graciously took care of the dog while I slept. Pixie and Mindy slept well, except when Katrina’s panting woke them.

Saturday dawned with scattered clouds. After feeding the dogs, Deva and I loaded Mindy, Pixie and Katrina into the backseat of the truck and headed to Tenino for the CCR Holiday Bazaar. On the way, we looked for a restaurant for breakfast. Nothing turned up until we hit Tenino and found Scotty’s ‘50’s style diner. Holiday bazaar 007 The coffee was hot and plentiful, the water glasses stayed full and the food tasted great. Replete we made the last couple of miles to Cross Creek.

Weeks earlier, we had been involved in an alpaca rescue operation initiated by my 76-year-old sister, Lois. loisDeva had found CCR and Shari Bond and Jackie Glover had trailered to the rescue of 48 alpacas whose 84-year-old owner had died. Now, as we drove in we spied one of the alpacas, Leonardo, in the front paddock. The older male had been so starved down and loaded with parasites by the time Lois became involved in their care, that there had been talk of having to put him down. Shari and Jackie had worked a miracle. The poor old guy was walking without stiffness or pain; had put on a few pounds and seemed quite content. The four elderly female alpacas, Lady Jane among them, had settled into their forever home with CCR. They looked so content standing in the field with the other “girls”.

We parked and unloaded books and flyers. I set up my table–situated between Detricks’ Farm and Chicken Coop display of delicious and unique jams, jellies and pickles, Holiday bazaar 012and a table of beautiful handmade jewelry–while Deva made sure our dogs were comfortable.

A little later on, four spinners arrived, set up and began a spinning demonstration turning alpaca fiber into yarn. Holiday bazaar 015The wonderful smell of citrus and apples and cinnamon drifted through the building from the cider set to warming on the back table.

Throughout the day, people wandered in and meandered from table to table. I met and chatted with many readers. We talked about different authors, the different styles of writing and books we loved.

Dorothy Royce, a 90-year-old from California, visited with me for quite a while. What an interesting woman! When I learned she’d had a recent birthday, I autographed and gave her a copy of Sketch of a Murder, Book 1, of my Special Crimes Team series. Since she’d never had a Kindle, I fired mine up and showed her how to make the text bigger and some of the other features. The device was so lightweight that she had no problem holding it–she sometimes had trouble holding larger books while she read–and the built-in stand of my Kindle cover delighted her.

All day long, folks came by and talked for a while, tossed their name and addresses in the Giveaway jar for a chance to win my latest mystery, Run or Die, and purchased books.     Holiday bazaar 023  (Tracy Redmon and Aya)

Holiday bazaar 009  (Christine Rose and Aya)

About halfway through the day, Deva brought out our Papillons, Mindy and Pixie, who immediately became people-magnets, charming everyone who glanced their way.

It was nearly closing time for the bazaar when Diane Vasarkovy stopped to chat. We talked murder mysteries for a while then we segued into talking about her own writing project: the story of Wolf Haven International. Here is part of the introduction to the work-in-progress:  “We think it’s important to show how ordinary people, with a passion, even without knowledge or resources, can make a tremendous difference in the world.  Magic can happen to people who follow their inner knowing…..Canis Lupus (the wolf) and other wild canines are in crisis in North American wild lands. In competition for habitat with human encroachment, they are unfortunately still seen as vermin by resource hungry people who can’t see the larger picture of our total eco-system. We now have proof that wolves change eco-systems for the better….”

Diane left with the first two books of the Special Crimes Team series, and I was left with a deep respect for her project.

At the end of the day, we packed up the remaining books and flyers and put the dogs back in the truck. A light rain fell as we left CCR. For the next few days, I thought about what I had learned during the bazaar.

  1. I learned that readers are delighted to share ideas about the books they read and love; and it gave me new perspectives on books that I’d read.

  2. I learned that connecting with readers recharged my “creative batteries” and renewed my determination to write the very best books possible; to honor the unwritten contract between reader and author: to write an entertaining story.

  3. I learned how very interesting these readers are; how many are involved in important projects such as alpaca rescue and writing the history of Wolf Haven, International.

  4. I learned, once again, how honored I am that readers invite me into their homes, into their lives. When readers open my novels and enter the fictional worlds that I create, they give me the most precious thing they have: their time.

I have designated November as my Attitude of Gratitude Month to My Readers. Sketch of a Murder, Book 1, Special Crimes Team, EBOOK is FREE on AMAZON from NOVEMBER 1 through NOVEMBER 5.

Grab your free ebook copy of Sketch of a Murder. Go to: http://www.amazon.com/Sketch-Murder-Special-Crimes-Team-ebook/dp/B00KU6AIPQ

Or use the Short link: amzn.to/1tBgqhx

Sketch of a Murderebook 7 30 2014

For my listeners, the first ten fans who agree to write reviews on Amazon and Audible will receive a FREE download of the audiobook Sketch of a Murder DURING the month of NOVEMBER. Get your coupon code now! Email Aya at ayawalksfar@gmail.com In the subject line write “Will review audiobook for free download”

ALL of my books are available as print books. http://www.amazon.com/author/ayawalksfar

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Don’t miss the latest posts. CLICK and FOLLOW Aya’s blog. http://ayawalksfar.com

 

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5 GREAT THINGS HAPPENING!

imagequote deer celebrate

Each day I try to find things to celebrate in my life. On some days that is easier to do than on other days. Recently, I have been blessed with  a serendipitous turn of events.  5 GREAT things are happening in my life. I wanted to share them with you.

  1. August 27, 6-7:30 P.M., at Tony’s Books and Coffee in Darrington, Washington, I am the featured author for this month for Darrington Library’s Summer of Authors. I am very honored to be part of this wonderful program to showcase local authors. A drawing will be held at the end of the evening for a signed print copy of Run or Die, my newest mystery. Participants will also receive a print copy of an original short story as a thank-you for coming.  http://www.amazon.com/Run-Die-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B00KV8BK5A

  2. Sketch of a Murder, Book 1, Special Crimes Team,  is available as an audiobook! It can be purchased on Audible or Amazon. I was fortunate to have a wonderful narrator, Kathi Miles, for the production of this murder mystery. Watch this blog for a chance to win a FREE copy of the audiobook Sketch of a Murder. More information on that in an upcoming blog! http://www.amazon.com/Sketch-Murder-Special-Crimes-Team-ebook/dp/B00KU6AIPQ

  3. Street Harvest, Book 2, Special Crimes Team, is going into audiobook production! Will keep you up-to-date via this blog! Meanwhile, the ebook is available on Amazon.  http://www.amazon.com/Street-Harvest-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B00KVREDIC

  4. Old Woman Gone, Book 3, Special Crimes Team, is due out this Fall!

  5. Met with Beth Jusino, Marketing Consultant. This knowledgeable woman set up a feasible marketing strategy for me. It is always a pleasure to work with Beth. She recently published The Author’s Guide to Marketing. GREAT book! Check out Beth’s blog: http://bethjusino.com

What wonderful things are happening in your life? Would love to hear!

Don’t miss future posts! CLICK and FOLLOW!

Visit Aya at http://www.facebook.com/ayawalksfar

 

 

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THE RETURN

THE RETURN

Time moves on, sometimes far too quickly. I left Hidden Springs Campground and meandered north on Highway 101. trees

I swung off my course long enough to visit Ferndale once again, enjoy the old buildings DSC01432and hit the Ferndale Pie Company. They advertised “Great homemade pies topped with Humboldt Creamery Ice Cream”. The mixed berry pie and vanilla ice cream lived up to the hype and I grabbed one of their “small brownies”–read large enough to feed half of Darrington!–and hit the road.

That evening I camped in a small campground a couple of miles south of Orick, California. When I rode in, it looked like the proverbial cheap sites place, probably with limited hot water that ran red from old pipes. Couldn’t have been more wrong about the showers, or the place. Within yards of my campsite, a Roosevelt Elk calf lay in the grass while mom grazed in the field. DSC01583 DSC01588

The next day dawned with clear skies and I hopped my bike, anxious to ride. Somewhere breakfast called my name. Just inside the southern boundaries of Orick an old motel and restaurant squatted beside Highway 101. Since the town was so small, choices were limited so I parked and walked into what appeared to be a run-of-the-mill greasy spoon–emphasis on greasy spoon.

I headed for the far corner and sank into the chair. The Palm Cafe served eggs done to perfection, the waffle browned and sporting luscious red strawberries, the bacon crisp, the sausage gravy and biscuit to die for. I washed it all down with coffee black, hot, and wonderful.1226 photos from new camera 706

The 88 year-old woman who owned the restaurant came in every morning to bake fresh pies from scratch. Being told that, I had to try a piece though I wondered how I’d move, much less get up on a horse! The strawberry cream pie melted in my mouth and made me forget all about how many calories it had.

I sucked down some more coffee then headed off for my horseback ride. The brochure of The Redwood Creek Buckarettes hooked me with the siren call of “ride among ancient redwoods”. As soon as I saw the big beasts, I recalled that a horsewoman I was not and  wandered if maybe I should’ve plugged my ears. 1226 photos from new camera 708

The woman guide grinned at me and pride wouldn’t let me walk away. She walked a red quarter horse over to the mounting block.  I dragged myself onto the saddle. Jade was so broad I felt like I was doing the splits. 1226 photos from new camera 736I’d never been that athletic!

Still, once we got moving–just me and the guide–the rocking motion of Jade put my mind at ease and let my eyes wander. The path ran straight beside a small river then began a gentle climb up the hill. Within minutes the climb steepened and the trees closed off the modern world.1226 photos from new camera 733

The trail meandered into the National Redwood Forest through a stand of old growth redwoods that had escaped mankind’s rapacious greed. Silence broken only by an occasional bird call wrapped around my soul. Two hours later, we emerged at the base of the hill and on back to the rodeo grounds from where we’d left.

I slid off Jade and walked bowlegged over to my bike.

That night as I listened to the lapping of the waves against the shore, I swallowed down Ibuprophen, yet couldn’t stop smiling at the memories of the horse’s rocking motion, the quiet, and the ancient trees. That night I dreamed of redwoods and horses.

I awoke to the chill of a Crescent City morning with harbor seals barking on a rock just offshore. 1226 photos from new camera 785I listened until the fog rolled the rest of the way off the water and the seals barking had died away. The Apple Peddler Restaurant lay a few miles south of my position, the opposite direction of my travel, but I remembered their mouthwatering food and strong hot coffee. What’s a few miles? After breakfast, I followed Highway 101 along the Pacific Ocean and on up to Oregon.1226 photos from new camera 808

 

That afternoon, I rode into Battle Rock, Oregon. The Battle Rock Wayside and City park on the left caught my eye. I drove in and shut down the bike. 1226 photos from new camera 856

The Redfish Restaurant , a small square building with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the beach and situated on the edge of the park looked like the kind of place to be pricey with tiny portions and mediocre food, but I was hungry and too impatient to check out the other offerings in town. Besides, all the tables were tables had a view. 1226 photos from new camera 840I figured that was worth something.

The butternut squash soup was creamy and flavorful, nearly as good as the soup Falomi made at Mother Earth’s Bounty. The pulled pork sandwich was done right–tender, juicy, smoked pork without the smothering bottled sauces too often used. The salad was a nice mix of crisp, fresh spring greens.

It seemed like every time I had made a snap judgment based on appearances, I’d been proven wrong. My friend, Jaimie Wolfwalker, would’ve said Creator was trying to teach me to withhold judgment based on appearances and to learn to evaluate life on substance. Of course, Jaimie walked closer to the spiritual side of life than I ever had. Guess that went with being psychic and part Native American.

Late that afternoon, I crossed the highest bridge I’d ever ridden Coos Bay Bridge then the sand dunes in Oregon snuck up on me and I nearly ran off the road gawking. 1226 photos from new camera 877The sign for Spinreel Dune Buggy called to me, though I was by no means sure I should heed the call. I turned off and headed that way, just to check things out. Size wise, the rental place wasn’t that big. I wandered in, checked out the buggys and nearly left.

I’d walked to my bike, started it up and began backing out of the parking area when a vision that had never happened flashed across my mind: Alicia laughing as she raced a buggy down the face of a sand dune. I shut down the bike, took a deep breath and shook my head at myself. Alicia had been far more adventurous than I, and it appeared that her ghost had taken up challenging me to act beyond my doubts.

Being a conservative driver, I only raced down one cliff face of sand, holding my breath the entire distance. 1226 photos from new camera 870Of course, I wouldn’t have gone down it, but I’d already topped the dune and didn’t know how to go anywhere except straight down!

If you like roller coasters and the way they teeter at the pinnacle of drops, you’d love riding dune buggys. I hated roller coasters. Alicia had loved them. At the Puyallup Fair, she’d teased me into taking her on one–five times! Each time I got off, I swore I’d never do that again, yet I climbed back on because I loved hearing Alicia laugh.

More than anything else during my trip, the Spinreel Sand Dunes momentarily brought Alicia back to me. I left them feeling as if I had gained some great gift; and, I had.

Idling into Florence, Oregon, long after most people were home and vegging in front of television sets, I found BJ’s Ice Cream right on the main road, a dessert junkies dream. Ice cream made from scratch nestled among the baklava, cheesecake, tiramisu, tarts and cream horns.

Nick and Ron, the two young men behind the counter, gave me a brief rundown on BJ’s. Cole Brother’s Creamery started in 1917 in Slatter, Idaho, beginning a four-generation family tradition of making old-fashioned, batch ice cream. A three scoop ice cream sundae later, I groaned out the door carting a bag with a selection of tarts and cream horns.

That night I tossed my sleeping bag on the ground close enough to hear the coastal sunsetocean whisper and shush.   I awoke to sand and the chill of a coastal morning.DSC01517

Saturday afternoon found me drifting through DePoe Bay, Oregon. A sign bragged that it was the “World’s Smallest Harbor.”

Fifty miles north of the Oregon border, I rode through the small city of Raymond, Washington. Large steel sculptures popped up all over the town. Wildlife, people, pets, even an ox pulling logs through what was once a lumber town.

Once through Raymond, I stopped a few times during the rest of my ride home, but I was tired and eager to get home. I pushed hard. Around Aberdeen, Washington, I picked up Highway 12 East and caught Interstate 5 a few miles north of Olympia. A few minutes after midnight, I rode into my driveway.

I was home.

Some of the places Jaz talked about: (not in any particular order)

www.northwestplaces.com/trips002/Raymond001 (Raymond, Washington–a town of steel sculptures)

www.redwoodcreekbuckarettes.com (horseback tour among the ancient redwoods)

www.ridetheoregondunes.com (Spinreel Dune Buggy and ATV Rentals)

BJ’s Ice Cream, 2930 Hwy 101, Florence, Oregon

www.savetheredwoods.org/   (Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park: the most old growth redwoods in California)

http://www.redwoodhikes.com/Humboldt/Founders (Coast redwoods once grew naturally in many places across the Northern Hemisphere. Due to manmade and climatic changes, Coast Redwoods now only grow naturally in a narrow 40 mile wide and 450 mile long coastal strip from southern Oregon to southern Monterey county in California. The Dyerville Giant which stood for approximately 1600 years fell on March 24, 1991.)

humboldtredwoods.org/hidden_springs (Hidden Springs Campground, California)

AvenueOfTheGiants.net   (Avenue of the Giants, California)

www.california-native-wood.com (Orick, Ca. very nice natural wood gifts and keepsakes)

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Palm-Cafe-Motel/166106546757081 (Palm Motel and Café Orick, California)

To read more about Jaz Wheeler: http://www.amazon.com/Run-Die-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B00KV8BK5A

 

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