Monthly Archives: August 2013

The Underwater Park – Edmonds, WA

Brackett Sign

Just blocks from historic downtown Edmonds, Washington, and next to the Edmonds/Kingston ferry lies a simple little park. Brackett’s Landing was created in 1963 and named after the founder of Edmonds, George Brackett. The park is beautiful at low tide, with a rainbow of starfish clinging to the rocks and pier. A jetty was built in 1989 and it’s easy to take the short walk out onto it. A small sandy beach is perfect for the little ones. Informational signs and educational tiles are creatively incorporated into the landscape. You can learn about maritime history, why Puget Sound waters are so welcoming for marine life (the temperatures stays a fairly consistent 55-59 degrees) and discover interesting facts about the crabs, clams, kelp, anemone, and jelly fish. Maybe you’ll see sea lions or seals, just be sure you don’t bother the seal pups. A big sign is posted to remind you of this!

underwater park

The Underwater Park

But the most unique part of the park isn’t on land – it’s in the water. In 1970 the Edmonds Underwater Park, which is one of the first underwater parks on the west coast, was created as a preserve and a sanctuary. However, it is also a 27-acre undersea playground for divers. The first structure that was sunk there was a dry dock in 1935 and was not to help marine life but to stop sand from encroaching into the ferry area. But the sea creatures loved it and over the years more vessels have been sunk. The marine life eats up the sunken vessels, so new ones such as a tugboat or crates are placed there every few years.

divers2

Diver’s Getting Ready

Divers

It’s Fun to Watch the Divers

A map is posted outside the restroom wall and you can see how it is gridded off with different points of interest in different areas. A rope system runs through the underwater park to help divers orient themselves. There are also showers outside the restrooms for divers to wash off. Over 25,000 divers now explore the park every year. Non-divers can enjoy watching the divers getting ready and in and out of the water – they’re usually very friendly and willing to answer questions.

Ferry

Edmonds/Kingston Ferry

Watching the ferry come and go, especially at sunset, is another simple pleasure you can experience while at the park.

An important thing to remember is – this is a preserve and sanctuary. You can’t take anything from it. This means you can’t fish, crab, take star fish or even remove pretty rocks. The only thing acceptable to remove from the area is sea glass (broken shards of glass that are worn smooth by the action of the sea.)

But for such a little park, there is so much to see and enjoy, whether you are a diver or not. Head on down to Brackett’s Landing and check it out!

Directions (courtesy of edmondswa.gov website): I-5 north or I-5 south: Exit 177 for WA-104 W toward Edmonds.  Follow signs for Washington 104 W and merge onto WA-104 W/NE 205th St.  Slight right onto Edmonds Way/State 104 W.  Follow signs for Kingston Ferry.  Turn left onto W Dayton St.  Turn right onto Railroad Ave.  Park straight ahead.

Categories: Keatons Out and About, Outdoors, Parks, Washington | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Open to the Unexpected: Adventures in Paragliding

IMG_0934

Ready to go! Josh and Doug, the instructor

“Oh, my goddddd!” Josh yelled as he was suddenly lifted into the air and was high in the sky in a matter of seconds. David and I both started laughing. We knew there would be screaming involved in this little adventure.

Pulling into our camping spot at Entiat City Park, in Entiat, Washington, a beautiful small park right on the lake, we were surprised to see right in front of us on the lawn, a man hooked by a whole lot of strings to a long, narrow parachute-type of thing. Suddenly, he was running and then yanked into the air. We realized he was attached to a boat that had just taken off. It was amazing! After he had been in the air awhile, he detached from the boat and was flying way up high all by himself. We could have just watched, as many campers were doing, but decided we needed to go talk to someone about this! We approached a young woman, her name was Kari and she was visiting from Australia. I asked if this was parasailing and she explained it is paragliding. Normally they jump off of perfectly good mountains, and a bunch of them had just participated in a tournament at Lake Chelan, but they were here at Lake Entiat to take lessons on what to do when something goes wrong in the air.

We talked for a few minutes and Josh was intensely interested, then Kari asked him, “Do you want to do a tandem ride? Doug is an instructor and he might do a ride with you.” Josh was incredulous. “Really?!” he asked, and she said, “Sure, let’s go ask.” So she took us over and introduced us to Doug Shoop, owner of Aerial Paragliding in Cashmere, Washington, and he said he could take Josh up and told us the cost. Josh looked at me with pleading eyes, “Please, Mom, can I?” We went to the bank to get the money while Josh waited and talked to the other fliers, trying to learn what he could.

When the time came, Doug had us sign all the usual disclosures, then proceeded to get Josh’s gear on him and explain what they would be doing. Josh started taking deep breaths and getting very serious and we realized he was getting nervous.

The two of them went out onto the grass where they would be taking off and got ready to go. Then when the boat driver came into the take-off area, he told them to hold it, they needed to fix a small problem. Turns out the rope had gotten a loop in it and they needed to fix it, and it would take awhile. So Josh had to take off all his gear, and we spent about the next hour waiting, and I could tell Josh was getting more and more nervous. But when it came time to try again, he still did it. I got the camera ready and we watched him take off. Just as he went up into to air, we heard him exclaim, “Oh, my goddddd!” and David and I both started laughing.

We watched him go very high up and after about 10 minutes they came back to land. Josh immediately sat down on the ground, his legs were so wobbly he couldn’t even run to land properly. I asked him if he liked it and he looked almost sick as he said, “I didn’t really like it.” Again, we laughed.

We did tell him how proud we were of him for doing it even, though he was afraid, and as the days went by and he had time to think about and process it, he was able to recall the parts he did like. He could see for miles and saw the many orchards in the area, a sandbar where the river enters the lake, and the old roads from the now-flooded town running under the lake.

We also got to meet a lot of nice people who were more than happy to share their love of the sport – all because Josh wasn’t too shy to walk up to strangers and find out what was going on. So when you are on vacation always be open to whatever comes along and take opportunities to try spontaneous new things – then your vacations will turn into new adventures, too!

 

 

Categories: Keatons Out and About, Outdoors, Parks, People, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

History, Beauty and Fun! – Fort Worden State Park, Washington

1-DSCI0180

Admiralty Inlet

IMG_1540Sitting high on a bluff overlooking the deep blue intersection of the Straits of Juan De Fuca and Admiralty Inlet sits beautiful historic Fort Worden. Built in 1897, the fort became a part of the Washington State park system in 1955 and now encompasses 434-acres. Located in the town of Port Townsend, the park has about two miles of shoreline, historic buildings replicating life in the early 1900’s, as well as local schools and businesses. Centrum is a program located on the grounds that offers ongoing classes for writers, musicians, artists and dancers. The Port Townsend School of Woodworking is also located there along with a branch of Peninsula College. Conferences and retreats are held in the conference center. With dormitories and former officer’s homes available for rent, there is plenty of room for everyone. There are actually a total of 456 bedrooms available for use!

1-DSCI0190

One of the Many Batteries

Two campgrounds are also available, one up high on the bluff and one down near the beach and lighthouse.

We have stayed in the lower campground twice and loved it. There is a small berm to block the wind blowing in from the water, but a short walk, literally just a few feet, over it and you are on the beach. The camping spots are large with a lot of room between them. Of course there are restroom and shower facilities available as well. One of Josh’s favorite parts is the fact that there is a remnant of concrete military bunkers known as “batteries” right next to the campground and he always spend hours running around in it with a flashlight, meeting other kids and scaring each other.

Down by the lower campground is also where the Marine Science Center is located. It hosts exciting wildlife cruises as well as amazing hands-on activities for kids, such as day or overnight camps and classes.

IMG_1007

Coast Artillery Museum

A visit to the Coast Artillery Museum will help you learn about the history of the site.  Fort Worden was established as one of three harbor defense posts for Puget Sound. The other two are Fort Flagler and Fort Casey. You can see models of the batteries so when you actually get out on the grounds and find them, you’ll understand better what you are looking at.

IMG_1449

Fireplace in Commanding Officer’s House

One of my favorite buildings is the Commanding Officer’s Quarters which was built in 1904. It has been painstakingly restored and furnished in the grand style of the 1890s-1910s. The interpretive guide looked quite handsome in his period clothing and had a wealth of knowledge about the house and its history. I don’t think there was one question that I had that he couldn’t answer.

There are so many activities available in the park – boating, fishing, crabbing, hiking, biking, swimming and of course, running around the batteries. If you don’t have your own boat or bike you can rent bikes and kayaks. There is usually some sort of event, show, class, or performance going on somewhere on the grounds. In the evenings we always saw deer out grazing in the big parade grounds. Just sitting and watching the huge ships going through the straits is amazing.

IMG_1496

Dress Displayed in Commanding Officer’s House.

IMG_1183

Replica Barracks Room

Both times we have been there I couldn’t help but think about the families, particularly the women, who lived there a hundred years ago. Did they think it was just as beautiful as I do or was it nothing special to them? With all the batteries, beautiful buildings and facilities which seem like they would have met their every need, did they feel safe or did they feel isolated? Was it a choice assignment or just a stepping stone to something they thought was more desirable?

IMG_1539

Officer’s Row Houses for Rent

There is so much to see and do, so much to wonder about at Fort Worden State Park, that it is well worth your time to take the family and discover all that the park’s 434 acres has to offer. Learn the history, explore the batteries. Maybe stay in one of the old houses and see if you can experience life as those families did 100 years ago!

For reservations and more information, http://www.parks.wa.gov/fortworden/default.aspx

 

Getting there: (from the Fort Worden website) –

From Seattle-Bainbridge Ferry to Fort Worden State Park

Depart from the ferry terminal, and drive straight (NE) on State Route (SR) 305 for approximately 13 miles. Drive through Poulsbo, and take a right onto the ramp for SR 3 to the Hood Canal Bridge – approximately 7 miles. At the lighted intersection for SR 104, take a left and remain on SR 104 for about 6 ½ miles. At the intersection of SR 19, turn right. Stay on SR 19 for 14 miles; it will merge with SR 20. Continue straight (north) on SR 20 into Port Townsend, take a left on Kearney Street, right on Blaine Street, left on Cherry Street, and follow signs into the park.

From Canada/Northwest Washington to Fort Worden State Park

Travel south on Interstate 5 to Highway 20 (Burlington exit). Follow Highway 20 west through Oak Harbor and Coupeville to Keystone Ferry, approximately 42 miles. Take the Keystone Ferry to Port Townsend. Depart from the ferry terminal and turn left onto Water Street. At the first stop light, turn right onto Kearney Street. At the first stop sign take a right on Blaine Street. At the next stop sign, take a left on Cherry Street, and follow signs into the park.

From Edmonds-Kingston Ferry to Fort Worden State Park

Depart from the ferry terminal and drive straight on State Route (SR) 104. Follow signs to stay on SR 104 through Port Gamble to the Hood Canal Bridge, approximately nine miles. At the lighted intersection for SR 104, turn right and remain on SR 104 for about 6.5 miles. At the intersection of SR 19, turn right. Stay on SR 19 for 14 miles; it will merge with SR 20. Continue straight (north) on SR 20 into Port Townsend. Turn left onto Kearney Street, and at the first stop sign turn right on Blaine Street. At the next stop sign, turn left on Cherry Street, and follow signs into the park.

From Tacoma to Fort Worden State Park

Follow Highway 16 across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, and follow the signs to Bremerton, approximately 27 miles, where the highway changes names to SR 3. Follow SR 3 about 25 miles to the Hood Canal Bridge. At the lighted intersection for SR 104, turn left and remain on SR 104 for about 6.5 miles. At the intersection of SR 19, turn right. Stay on SR 19 for 14 miles; it will merge with SR 20. Continue straight (north) on SR 20 into Port Townsend. Turn left onto Kearney Street, and at the first stop sign turn right on Blaine Street. At the next stop sign, turn left on Cherry Street, and follow signs into the park.

From Olympia to Fort Worden State Park

Take US 101 northbound towards Quilcene. About 12 miles past Quilcene, bear right onto SR 20. Follow SR 20 approximately eight miles then turn left at the lighted intersection, which keeps you on SR 20. Continue straight (north) on SR 20 into Port Townsend. Turn left onto Kearney Street, and at the first stop sign turn right on Blaine Street. At the next stop sign, turn on Cherry Street, and follow signs into the park.

Categories: Historical, Keatons Out and About, Outdoors, Parks, RV/Camping, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Festival of Blueberries – Mossyrock, WA

IMG_2684

Antioxidant-rich Blueberries

They’re small, round, blue, sweet, and full of antioxidants. What are they? Blueberries. And where there is food, there is tribute and celebration. Hence, the Mossyrock Blueberry Festival in Mossyrock, Washington, held each year on the second weekend in August. This year the fair ran August 2-4.

The town of Mossyrock is located about 20 miles east of I-5 on Hwy. 12 and boasts just over 750 residents. The land around Mossyrock is extremely fertile. Thousands of years of flooding from the local rivers replenished the land with nutrients Multiple explosions from Mt. St. Helens also provided essential minerals to aid in the growth of plants. Blueberries grow very well in the area and provide agricultural jobs for local residents so they are worthy of celebration.

The Mossyrock Blueberry Festival starts on Friday at noon with vendors and continues into the evening with entertainment, along with a “Taco and Talent Night.”

IMG_2659

Blueberry Pancake Breakfast

We attended on Saturday, which began with a hearty and delicious Blueberry Pancake Breakfast provided by the youth group from the Assembly of God Church. The cost was simply a donation and every penny was worth it. The kids who served the breakfast were very nice and friendly, they even came through the line (yes, there was quite a line) and offered drinks while we were waiting. The breakfast also included sausage, coffee and orange juice.

It was also a lot of fun to sit at the large round tables with strangers and start talking to them and finding out why they were there. One couple was from the Seattle area and was camping a few miles away and heard about the breakfast. A couple of older gentlemen had a car entered in the car show and are very involved in their local grange so we talked quite awhile about that topic.

IMG_2667Then we headed off to the car show. It was quite small in comparison to some, but we still saw many styles and colors that we “ooohed” and “ahhed” over. One gentleman had actually come all the way up from Arizona to show his beautiful old pickup truck and custom made tear-drop trailer. I tried telling David we should just sell our RV and get that whole setup but he didn’t really go for it.

IMG_2679

Josh is hoping to find gold!

Dragging Josh away from the cars was painful but we managed to head over to the vendor booth area. There they had flea-market type of booths, commercial booths, farmer’s booths, and informational booths. One of our favorites was the booth where you could learn to pan for gold and Josh had to try it out.

IMG_2709

Sophia and Josh are going for the candy!

We finished looking at everything there just before noon, in time to head out to the street for the parade. So there we are, about 45 minutes from home, in a little bitty town, and we see four people that we knew! We stood by a friend, Penny, and her daughter, Sophia, and Josh convinced Sophia to get out by the road and get her share of the candy that was being tossed.

IMG_2749

Kids LOVED the cat walking the dog.

Little parades seem to be the most generous when it comes to giving out candy. It was a great little parade that lasted about ½ hour. I don’t think there is anything more fun than a small-town parade where so many people know each other and the parade participants are shouting out recognition to the spectators and they’re shouting back.

The day continued with a Blueberry Pie Eating contest, treasure hunts with metal detectors, and a dog show and races. The evening concluded with more entertainment.

Sunday events included another pancake breakfast, this time provided by the Mossyrock Fire District. There was more entertainment and the vendor booths, and then everything wrapped up at noon.

IMG_2750

Blueberry separating machine.

So, since the whole point of this festival was blueberries – did we buy some? You bet! They were available at some of the booths but we decided to hit a local farm to buy. We were glad we did because we bought them right in their barn and while there we were able to watch their little separator in action. It was not big or fancy or high tech, but I just get a kick out of watching machinery like that in action.

We immediately put those little oxidant-containing nuggets to use and included them in a fruit salad for dinner, had them on vanilla ice cream for dessert, then had blueberry pancakes for breakfast. I’d say we did a pretty good job of doing our part in celebrating nature’s bounty!

So next year, put it on your calendar for August 1-3, 2014 and enjoy this simple small-town celebration – and blueberries!

Categories: Festivals, Food, Wine, Cider, Outdoors, People, Washington | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: