Summer Hiking

Summer Hiking
Mt. Constitution

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Alki Beach and Orcas Island

The Wedding of the Year became a launching point to enjoy greater Seattle and the San Juan Islands. Karen, Dena, and I walked to California Street on Sunday, after visiting relatives at Jeremy and Amanda's lovely home.  We found this treasure in an antique shop.
The store clerk told us it was an original painting and Dena thought it might be perfect for the guest bedroom in their condo.   We encouraged her to purchase the painting because back views of people seem to be her favorite.  Sure enough, by Thursday she'd purchased and framed the painting.  It is perfect for the space.

Don had Monday off so we rented cruiser bicycles and rode on bike trails through Alki Beach and Beach Drive.  This particular monument describes Indian Life in west Seattle.  Beach Drive has spectacular views of the Olympic Mountains and a lot less activity than Alki Beach.  While we stopped to enjoy the views, Don told us that his son-in-law, Brad, had grown up in West Seattle and probably rode his bike in this very spot when he was a kid.  Karen's great eyes spotted familiar names in one of the bricks surrounding the monument.

We ended our little biking adventure with lunch at Marination (fish taco $3.00 and cole slaw $1.50) and some outstanding views of the Seattle skyline.  It was so nice to have Don join us in our adventures for the day.

Don helped us get Karen's kayak in the water and we delighted in our adventure, finding our way around ferry boats and paddle boards.  The perfect day for outdoor adventure.  I think we paddled around for almost two hours while Don waited patiently, snapping pictures, and ensuring he'd be available to help us out of the water.  
We love Seattle!!!!
 We began our trip to Orcas Island early on Tuesday morning, hoping to catch the 10:20 ferry.  We met lots of people waiting for the ferry - people on bikes, hikers, and families headed for the islands.  A retired couple, originally from Tennessee, told us they were biking all around Lopez Island.  They retired to Anacortes and spend a lot of time hiking, biking, and sailing through the islands.  They must be one of many who built houses in new subdivisions close to the ferry entrance.
We found our way to this state park, where we planned to hike.  

 We began a 3 mile hike around Cascade Loop.  Karen could hardly contain her emotions when we noticed a big rope swing.  If this was the end, not the beginning of hike, she may have jumped right into the lake.  It would've been so refreshing!
 I took lots of pictures of moss - the heavily forested trail provides the perfect environment for moss.

Islanders maintain the park and all the trails so guests like us can enjoy.  I appreciate the foresight of Robert Moran, who donated 3,700 acres of land to the State of Washington.  The park opened in 1921 when Moran, a Seattle shipbuilder, gave the State this great gift.  The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) began to build the trails, roads, and bridges in the 1930's.  Eighty years later thousands of people enjoy the outdoors on the Island.  
After our hike, we headed to our B&B, just minutes away.  When we saw this beautiful place, Karen said, "oh my, we are not going to kill ourselves hiking tomorrow, we are going to enjoy this peaceful place."  So we did!  We spent time in the hot tub, visited with other guests, watched the birds, and rested in "the honeymoon suite."  
 Our room had a lovely fireplace, which we turned on to warm our cold bodies up a little.
The pond, filled with lilypads, also attracted hundreds of birds.
 I love staying at B&B's! Carl and Sue treated us royally and told us about the island, their joy living here, and introduced us to guests from Belgium, France, Illinois, Tennessee, and Seattle.  We enjoyed a 5-course healthy breakfast every morning.  I'm going to make their hearty cooked breakfast of flax seeds, quinoa, barley, wheat berries, brown rice, and raisins.  It gave us what we needed to attack Mt. Constitution on our second day on the island.  Sue suggested that we visit Orcas Island Pottery first.

Table after table set up with gorgeous pottery.  Karen bought a bowl and I purchased a tray to decorate my remodeled bathroom, whenever.  From there we drove to West Beach Resort and decided to try a little kayaking.  Wow!  So fabulous to be kayaking where whales live!  I was quite sure the seaweed monster would devour us, so it's good we didn't know about the whales until we got out.  No pictures of the kayaking adventure, just memories of having to pay $5.00 each to use the Resort's dock to put in, take out, and another $7.00 for parking!   So worth it!
 We found a great Food Co-op and shared unique salads to give us the right fuel for the grueling 6.7 mile hike to Mt. Constitution.  On the way, wisdom knocked and we remembered Dale Stubbs' wise words, "Why would anyone hike to a place they could drive to?"  Ok, then, we are driving to the top of this mountain.
 We first noticed this tower, built in the 1930's, which gives visitors a 360 view.
Just one of many breath-taking views!
 We did pose for "we made it" pictures

A sweet couple from the U.K. took this picture of us.
The tower, a mini museum, presents visitors with the history of Moran State Park.  Robert Moran moved to Orcas Island because of poor health and without the stress of his business, he lived for another 40 years.
 From the tower we could barely see the top of Mt. Baker, surrounded by clouds.
We stopped on our way back to our B&B, for a mile hike into Cascade Falls.  
And the Mountain Lake Loop.  We did several miles of easy hiking, saw lovely sights all day long, which refreshed our spirits and prepared us for another evening meal, slow cooked at West Sound Cafe.  
 Thursday morning we made our way to the Rosario Resort - the original Island home of the Moran family.

 People can rent rooms at the Resort, but other guests are welcome to tour the Moran museum.  The wood paneling is gorgeous.
I'm sure the bathrooms were of the best materials available at the time.  
We did miss out on the daily history lecture and pipe organ concert - another reason to come back.  We  had lunch in the park near Orcas Village while waiting for the Ferry.  We drove back to Seattle through the Skagit Valley, home of the Tulip Festival.  We stopped for a walk around break in La Connor, bought some nectarines for Don and made it back to Alki Beach in time for this glorious sunset.  

The intense colors in the sunset reminded me of the intense memories of the past week and the refreshed feeling I had by being outdoors most of the time.  

John Muir once said,
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”   Karen and I did all that and headed home on Friday with a renewed spirit, ready for more outdoor adventures. 
 We took a little tour off I-90 and hiked around Gold Creek Pond.
 The Pond was the gravel pit for I-90 Construction in the 1970's.  When the construction noise finally died away in 1983, the WSDOT reshaped the contours and planted vegetation.  The US Forest Service then transformed the site into a wildlife habitat.

 Nature's peace flowed into us as we hiked around the pond - probably about 30 minutes.  What a nice break from the rat race of Seattle traffic and the freeway noise.  
We drove 8 miles from the highway to get a quick picture and view of Palouse Falls.  Basalt lava formed the Columbia Plateau over 15 million years ago.  Each layer is a separate flow with a total depth of 1,000 feet.  Late summer water flows are typically low and we met an Asian traveller who expressed disbelief that this actually was Palouse Falls.  Karen and I marvel at the beauty all around us.  We realize we don't need to travel to Ireland to see basalt or fantastic views.  The beauty of nature is all around us.  We plan to continue the exploration of our beloved Pacific Northwest.

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