Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
True. Only we need to extend the lyrics of that popular 1958 song. For us it has been smoke gets in your eyes, nose, and lungs. While the smell of smoke lingers in your clothes, fills your RV and blurs everything you see in a smoky haze. This is the way it has been since we first arrived in late July. We are now headed into mid-September and the smoke has been inescapable. There have been times where the smoke has been so dense we could barely discern the skyline of Seattle, see the peaks of mountain tops, or even more than a 20-30 feet across Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park! It has definitely been a challenge!
This, of course has been due to all the wildfires burning in the West. Washington has had numerous wildfires including one we observed first hand on the other side of a ridge while driving up Washington Pass to the North Cascades. In addition, Washington has been inundated with smoke from fires in Oregon, California and British Columbia. The smoke from British Columbia, where more than 312 wildfires are still burning, engulfed Seattle and parts of Olympic NP. One of the first questions locals have been asking us is, “How do you like all the smoke?” Then they proceed to be very apologetic to us, “Coming all this way just to have smoke ruin the views.” Well it’s not their fault. Things happen. All we can say is bless all those firefighters out there giving their all to fight these fires on so many fronts.
And a Cast of Thousands…
Well maybe not thousands but definitely hundreds. Have no fear that our national parks are languishing in obscurity. Barely visited. No, the masses are here. In force. The parking lots are overflowing with cars that often extend down both sides of road. The trails are teeming with foot traffic. So much foot traffic that many times you may find yourself turning sideways to pass one another or coming to a complete stop while the congestion clears out. How many languages can you say “Excuse me,” in?
Our routine for national parks is: Arrive at a destination and setup the RV. The next day go to the visitor center when it first opens (read: less congested) to pick-up maps, brochures, and if appropriate, inquire about dog friendly hiking trails. Then we view any exhibits, displays and films about the area. To avoid the masses, we return for visits to most parks by rising at zero-dark thirty to arrive at sunrise, early morning, or late evening after the visitor centers have closed. The bad part of this is it limits the amount of time we have to wander and explore. However, this will change as we are now in the part of the year when summer travels are over, the kids are back in school and parents are happily grinding away at their jobs…meaning fewer folks at the parks during the weekdays. Oh yeah…
Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge
Dungeness is northeast of Olympic National Park and just west of the cute little town of Sequim, Washington. It is one of the longest natural sand spits in the world and home to abundant shorebirds and marine life. The spit is approximately five and a half miles long and forms a protected, shallow bay and harbor. It was designated a wildlife refuge in 1915 by President Woodrow Wilson. Large tracts of the bay, bluffs, and surrounding forest areas are off-limits to humans and human activity. However, during low tide you can hike the spit out to the point where the Dungeness Light Station National Historic Site is located.
We wanted to photograph, view the area, and hike the spit. However, during our stay near Sequim, the smoke totally obscured the area. Our sight line was no more than a few hundred feet of the spit and shoreline. We could hear birds but not see any. In fact, a man we spoke to was telling us about a ship in the channel but when we looked we could barely discern the outline of the vessel! Oh well, we will have to wait for another time to visit this natural wonder and take it all in. Then we can write a proper review.
The Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial or Minidoka, Part II
In an earlier blog (A Dark Part In Our History ) we wrote about the Japanese Internment Camp known as Minidoka located near Jerome, Idaho. We wrote how the Japanese Americans arrived at Minidoka after being evicted from their homes on the west coast during World War II. Little did we know we would be visiting the place where 227 men, women and children originated. The place was Bainbridge Island, where at the Eagledale Ferry Dock, many began that long journey to Minidoka. The internees received notice on March 24, 1942, and with only six days notice, were removed on March 30, 1942, by the U.S. Army and sent to the Manzanar Internment Camp in California before being sent on to Minidoka.
The Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial is a National Historic Site constructed as a serpentine 276-foot-long contemplative Memorial Wall to commemorate/honor those who were exiled. The wall, according to its creators, “…illustrate this American story of perseverance, patriotism and courage,” during a troubling time in American history.
Below are photographs we took of the wall. We’ll let them speak for themselves.