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.
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 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!
We bought our cute little cottage-like house in Port Orchard, Washington last October. Her insides were perfect and needed no updating, but the outside was in desperate need of some love. Seven months later, the work is 95% complete and I am so happy with the outcome. I’m more in love with my cute little quarter-acre of solitude than ever. So – some before and afters shots below!
As Jack Dawson described Rose DeWitt-Bukater, I, too, am an “indoor girl.” Historically, if I had to choose an outdoor activity versus an indoor one, especially in the heat of summer, I would always choose the activity that let me sit in the air conditioning and avoid mosquito bites.
I vividly remember our brief, brief foray into camping a few years ago. We were living in our little rental house in Acton, Indiana and we suddenly (and inexplicably, now that I think about it) decided that we were “camping people,” so we went out and bought all the stuff, and I mean all the stuff. Tent. Sleeping bags. Lanterns. Matches. Bug zappers. Bug spray. Bug netting. Collapsible camp table. Everything we could possibly need for a night of tent sleeping in our own backyard.
I have about twenty different blog entries in my head and very little time to actually get them down, but I wanted to post these pictures for what I’m dubbing Mountain View Monday. I bought my first DSLR camera – a Canon EOS Rebel T5. It came with two telephoto lenses, and I’m finally getting to take pictures that capture the beauty of this region. Still trying to figure all the settings out, but check out these views! (For reference, these mountains are about 15- 20 miles away from where the pictures were shot.) More to come!