“Our national parks are blood.  They are more than scenery, they are portals and thresholds of wonder. . . Whenever I go to a national park, I meet the miraculous.”
— Terry Tempest Williams, The Hour of Land

We ascended the road to Hurricane Ridge in a cloud.

We ascended the road to Hurricane Ridge in a cloud.

“What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and wildness?  Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.”
— G. M. Hopkins, from “Inversnaid”

Sign at the Hurricane Ridge Visitors' Center

Sign at the Hurricane Ridge Visitors’ Center

We began our tour of the national parks with a 3-day loop drive around Olympic National Park in Washington State.  This is a most amazing park because of the diversity of its landscapes — from snow-capped mountains to temperate rain forests to Pacific ocean beaches.

Our first destination was Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic Mountains.  Clouds had settled at the higher elevations.  There was little opportunity for sightseeing, as we looked out on nothing but white!

Our view of the Olympic peaks was a bust!

Our view of the Olympic peaks was a bust!

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This wet and gloomy weather is one of the hallmarks of our Pacific Northwest.  When you vacation here, you have to surrender to the elements.  We soldiered on to our next destination, the Hoh Rain Forest, thinking that rain in a rain forest might make a more authentic experience.  But, of course, it was not raining when we got there!

Still, the effects of rain were evident everywhere — moss-drapped trees, green green streams, nurse logs nourishing new growth, filtered light.  We walked the Hall of Mosses Trail and the Spruce Loop Trail.  The tall trees were awesome.

Driving into the Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park

Driving into the Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park

Tall, tall trees

Tall, tall trees

Along the Hall of Mosses Trail

Along the Hall of Mosses Trail

Nurse log, a fallen tree that nourishes new, young trees

Nurse log, a fallen tree that nourishes new, young trees

Green stream bed

Green stream bed

Spruce Loop Trail

Spruce Loop Trail

Leaves and Blossoms Along the Way
by Mary Oliver, from Felicity

If you’re John Muir you want trees to
live among.  If you’re Emily, a garden
will do.
Try to find the right place for yourself.
If you can’t find it, at least dream of it.

When one is alone and lonely, the body
gladly lingers in the wind or the rain,
or splashes into the cold river, or
pushes through the ice-crusted snow.

Anything that touches.

God, or the gods, are invisible, quite
understandable.  But holiness is visible,
entirely.

Some words will never leave God’s mouth,
no matter how hard you listen.

In all the works of Beethoven, you will
not find a single lie.

All important ideas must include the trees,
the mountains, and the rivers.

To understand many things you must reach out
of your own condition.

For how many years did I wander slowly
through the forest.  What wonder and
glory I would have missed had I ever been
in a hurry!

Beauty can both shout and whisper, and still
it explains nothing.

The point is, you’re you, and that’s for keeps.

 

 

 

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Prairie Sunrise

September 3, 2016

“The prairie landscape embraces the whole of the sky.”
— Paul Gruchow, Journal of a Prairie Year

Sunrise over corn field

Sunrise over corn field

“The sun rose.  It popped up abruptly as it always does along distant horizons on the prairie or at sea.”
— Paul Gruchow, The Necessity of Empty Places

Here are some photos of a Minnesota summer sunrise at the old family farm:

Dawning day

Dawning day

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Sunrise over corn field

Sunrise over corn field

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Split Rock Lighthouse State Park along Lake Superior

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park along Lake Superior

One of my favorite places along the North Shore is Split Rock Lighthouse State Park.  This place is often featured on Minnesota calendars.  Our visit was enhanced by the amazingly dramatic clouds over Lake Superior.  Rain showers threatened, but held off while we walked the trails in this park.

As you view these pictures, I think you will agree with the sentiment in this quote by Minnesota author Paul Gruchow:  “All the prairie world is in summer but a screen to show off the glorious sky.”

Quintessential North Shore scenery

Quintessential North Shore scenery

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Clouds over Lake Superior

Clouds over Lake Superior

 

From the shore at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

From the shore at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

Craggy, rocky shoreline

Craggy, rocky shoreline

Split Rock Lighthouse

Split Rock Lighthouse

Lighthouse keepers' quarters

Lighthouse keepers’ quarters

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The skies grew darker

The skies grew darker

Sheets of rain falling in the distance

Sheets of rain falling in the distance

Split Rock Lighthouse

Split Rock Lighthouse

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And here are two more pages from my Minnesota travel journal:

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“With every dawn, every place on earth is a new place.”
— Paul Gruchow, Journey of a Prairie Year

View of the dawning day from the dock on Big Turtle Lake

View of the dawning day from the dock on Big Turtle Lake

“Red and pink light began to stream from a place below the horizon in the east like the notes of a silent fanfare.  For a long time the sun lingered just below the horizon, like a performer behind a curtain. . . . Suddenly the sun burst into view and the whole world was radiant. . . It began to climb, taking command of the day.”
— Paul Gruchow, The Necessity of Empty Places

On this trip to Minnesota, more than ever before, I was constantly amazed by the drama in the skies.  The clouds were ever-changing and in perceptible motion across the spacious skies.  Look how this sunrise unfolds:

Boat dock on Big Turtle Lake in northern Minnesota

Boat dock on Big Turtle Lake in northern Minnesota

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Looking west at sunrise

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Looking east

Looking east at dawn

Same view, later in the day

Same view, later in the day

Same view, nearing sunset

Same view, nearing sunset

 

 

 

Westport, Washington

Westport, Washington

What is summer without at least a few days at a beach?  My husband and I took a day trip from Seattle to Westport, Washington.  The Pacific Coast is about a 3-hour drive from our home in the city.  Hours at the beach and nothing to do but watch the waves and clouds, settle down with a good book, enjoy the parade of families and dogs and surfers frolicking in the water, listen to the rhythmic pounding of the breakers and waves lapping at the shore — quintessential summer.  My husband brought back enough fish for supper.  I brought back a few patches of sunburn (yes, I burn even under cloudy skies) and a few good photos.

I do love our ocean beaches.

A patch of blue

A patch of blue

Bluff overlooking the beach at Westport

Bluff overlooking the beach at Westport

Dune path

Dune path

Seagull

Seagull

You never know what you’ll find washed up on the beach.

Sand dollar

Sand dollar

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Some views from the jetty:

Surfers, Westport, WA

Surfers, Westport, WA

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Little Daily Miracles

November 11, 2014

“What is the meaning of life? . . . a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years.  The great revelation had never come.  The great revelation perhaps never did come.  Instead there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark.”  —  Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

Clouds are always a miracle.

Clouds are always a miracle.

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