Two weeks ago tonight, we had zero cell signal, dodgy Wi-Fi, the warmest, most snuggly mattress ever, and absolute serenity. There was nothing to greet us in the dark of night when we took Jaxx out to potty but the sound of the wind high in the evergreens. It was nothing short of magical, and I’ve thought of it frequently since we got back home.
We decided to get away for a couple of days and, instead of going to our travel trailer like usual, we headed to a rental cabin in the shadow of Mt. Rainier. I made the reservation back in July, the same week that Roxie died and that we adopted Jaxx. I knew then that we needed to get away, but we wanted to wait until Fall. We are Fall people. Summer and summer crowds are not for us.
We have now had this beautiful campsite for a year. In that time, we’ve had a crash-course in camping. We’ve learned how to deal with full tanks, refilling of water and propane, and all the other basics of camping.
We also learned that, while we adored camping, our motorhome was the wrong rig for us, so we traded her in for our our current travel trailer.
And as much as we love camping and intend to keep camping here, we’re planning phase two of our camping adventures.
I have a confession: in our two years here in Washington state, I have started to think of Mt. Rainier as mine.
Yes, I know that Mt. Rainier is a national park and, under duress, I will share it with America and the rest of the mountain-loving world. The problem is – or I guess it’s not a problem at all – that most times when we venture into the park, the crowds are light and we can end up on roads and paths and in spaces where we’re the only two people around. Just us and a waterfall rushing toward a creek below.
Add to this the fact that every visit to Mt. Rainier National Park is a religious experience to me. The mountains and valleys and acres of trees inside the park are my synagogue, my chapel, my spot to connect with the divine. There’s no place I’ve been with fresher, cleaner air, which seems to fill my lungs while simultaneously cleansing my spirit.
I love mornings in the Pacific Northwest. There’s something about the chilliness in the air, even in July or August, and the crisp, clean smell of evergreens mixed with salt water that just infuses my soul with thankfulness. After two years here, I still find myself borrowing a few moments just to take it all in, observe the scene before me, and send up a prayer of gratitude.
Each new day here reminds me why I love this place so much. I have to do weird things here, things I never anticipated when I lived back east, like check the tide tables so that I know which foot ferry I want to use. When the tide is out, the ferry dock a quarter mile from my home has such a steep gangplank that is like climbing up and down a ladder to get to the float and on the boat. It’s not fun, especially since I’m in a medical walking boot right now due to tearing the fascia tendon in the bottom of my foot, so I’ll choose to use the ferry 1.5 miles away in town as it’s in a marina and doesn’t require feats of strength to get on the boat.
Who could anticipate a Midwestern woman worrying about tides?
I often say that nature is my holy place. When I’m stressed or sad about something, the easiest place for me to get centered, think, and pray is outside. I love going to the mountains because being surrounded by towering peaks and spiking evergreens is truly a religious experience. Now that I live on the peninsula, it’s a lot easier to make it to the water than it is the mountains. Fresh air tinged with salt and seaweed, loud-mouthed seagulls, and crashing waves are medicine for me. Not the kind I can swallow, but definitely the kind I can feel.
30 miles further up the Kitsap peninsula from my home is the enchanting little historic town of Port Gamble, Washington. This morning was our first trip to this town, but it will not be our last. As we strolled down its main street (which is literally one block long, goes in one direction, and has a 10mph speed limit), I had visions of characters reminiscent of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. It reminded me of the river towns of my youth due to its position of sitting on a small hill overlooking the mouth of Hood Canal, which is part of greater Puget Sound. The little town is preserved and pays homage to its history in the logging industry, and it’s filled with cute little shops, antique stores, and even a museum and cafe. Take a look at this cutie-pie town – there is a reason it’s on the list of US National Historic Landmarks!