Walter and Sara On the road to who knows where
It’s been a challenging week for many of us so I will simply say that I’ve personally spent a lot of time meditating and doing The Work to come to a place of if not a wide open heart at least one that has not been slammed shut and padlocked tight. I remind myself regularly that in this moment I am indeed just fine and that in fact in my 65 years I have lived through any number of great upheavals with only a few bumps and bruises as has our country and its people.

I pledge to continue to open my heart so that I can live in love and peace in these ‘interesting times.’ If you are a Republican, congratulations on the victory of your candidate and your party. For all of our sakes may they be successful in governing our wonderful country. If you are a Democrat, I share you pain, disappointment and dismay (I was in enough shock Tuesday night to not be able to sleep and instead sat up most of the night.) Let us not give in to fear, hate and anger. We are bigger than that. Work instead to assure that all the rights of all our citizens are preserved and the vulnerable protected.

Tuesday it was partly sunny in Olympia so we headed out for a hike at the Mima Mounds State Natural Area just southeast of Olympia.

Mima Mounds WA

That’s a little Visitor’s Center there on the right—meant to blend into the strange landscape here.

Geologists have not come to agreement on what created these mounds. This prairie sat at the southernmost boundary of the glaciers in the last Ice Age. As the glaciers retreated torrents of water deposited sand and gravel in the area creating the well drained soils of this prairie. The mounds are on TOP of this sand and gravel layer created by the melting of the glaciers. Beyond this everything becomes conjecture. The mounds may have been created by glacial ice, or earthquakes, or floods, or erosion—there are theories proposed for each of these and none of have won the general approval of geologist. So take your pick.

We may not know what caused them (they are not burial mounds which earlier explores assumed they were) but we do have a place that looks like a wild untended golf course where the designer got carried away with hummocks.

Mima Mounds WA

There were lots of single little harebells (Campanula rotundifolia) in bloom on the mounds. They are primarily a summer flower so I was surprised to see them.

harebell (Campanula rotundifolia)

And there was tons of Coastal Reindeer Lichen in among the grasses on the mounds. Something left over from the Ice Age since we clearly have no reindeer here except in the form of Christmas decorations (which of course have started to appear in the stores now that it’s after Halloween).

Coastal Reindeer Lichen

Here and there on the north side of the mounds you’d see moss and mushrooms.

Moss and mushrooms

Part of the trail is paved and then gives way to a trail further southward that is a track through the grasses. As we walked southward we heard a very noisy little plane take flight just to the west.

Jump plane Mima Mounds

It slowed and stalled for a moment and a spot appeared below it and fell for about 5 seconds before a parasail opened.

Parasail Mima Mounds

This was repeated about 10 to 15 times while we continued our walk—always just one jumper per plane. It looked like there might have been two planes (a red one and a yellow one) but we couldn’t be sure. In any case, the sky divers certainly added fun to the walk.

We found a bench out on the prairie to watch the sky divers and noticed a Northern Harrier cruising along the contours of the mounds hunting. It took some doing (since he was moving fast) to get a photo of him at work.     

Northern Harrier

On our way back northward I saw what at first seemed to be a single white flower. But on closer examination I realized it was a white mushroom growing out of an old stump.

White flower-like mushroom

As the trail neared the woods again I tried one more time to capture what the mounds actually look like. In the spring they are supposed to be full of flowers including lots of camas. In the fall we had lots kinnikinnick on the sides of the mounds and lots of seed heads covering the tops of the mounds. And in the background you could see the mountains that form a small range to the west.

Mima Mounds WA

In the woods, there was lots of moss on stumps.

Moss covered stump

And on tree trunks. All the glorious moss is one of the wonderful things that comes out of all the wet autumn weather.

Mossy tree trunk

Wednesday, Walter had an appointment to have the truck worked on (our airbag light was on) so he went off and left me to clean house. Having spent the night before examining my own shadow (cleaning internal house as it were), I spent the morning cleaning BEHIND all of our furniture (I know we don’t have much but still). It’s amazing what can accumulate under the cushions on the couch, on the aluminum walls and in that little 6” wide space between the bed and the wall! While I was at it I scrubbed the floor too. It was the perfect thing for me to do—scrub my space in my grief.

Walter got out of the dealership in under 2 hours and for just around $100—both things a miracle. The airbag light was on because a contact in a seatbelt retractor was dirty—don’t you just love it? Given that last time this happened (under warranty) they had to order a new part from California we felt like we had gotten off really easy. In the afternoon we ran errands so it was a remarkably productive day.

Thursday we had yet another day in the 60’s (10 in a row total in November—a record) so we set out to do a bit of shopping (new training shoes for both of us) and then to take a walk around Capitol Lake. It was pleasant enough for us to have our lunch sitting at a table at Marathon Park along the lake. There were huge rafts of ducks on the lake.     

Duck on Marathon Lake Olympia WA

And they weren’t all mud hens either. Some of them were American Wigeons.

American Wigeons

There’s a nice little 1.5 mile walk around the northern portion of the lake and we set out with half the city of Olympia and their dogs—well it sure seemed like it. There were lots of folks out enjoying the wonderful weather while it lasted.

There are viewing platforms and benches along the lake and from one of these I spied Buffleheads. The males are of course fancier than the females. They have the big white patch on their heads while the females just have a smudge of white.

Buffleheads Marathon Lake

I shot a whole series of photos to try to get the male by himself and here he is at last.


You can see the Washington State Capitol Building from along the trail now and then. At the north end of the lake you get the best view however.

Washington State Capitol Building

There’s a dam and spillway on the north end of the lake and there was a Great Blue Heron fishing at the spillway.

Great Blue Heron Marathon Lake WA

He leaned over and grabbed a little fish just after I took this shot.

This was a nice walk though most certainly not one of our stellar ‘out in the middle of nowhere’ walks. About a third of the ‘trail’ is sidewalk along a main drag with buses and trucks and cars galore. But you can certainly understand why the people of Olympia love the place since it is a lovely oasis in the city.

Friday I drove up to Bellevue (1 hour and 10 minutes starting at 9:30 am) to have lunch with my old friend, Lisette. I was early so I managed to do a couple of errands while I was at it. We had a wonderful visit and I was so glad I had made the journey up to see her. The drive home wasn’t horrid (it wasn’t raining at least) but it still took over 2 hours leaving Bellevue at 3:45 pm—even on Veterans Day. There was a Florida-Georgia Line concert at the Tacoma Dome which didn’t help things.

We had rain on Friday night and wind on Saturday morning but the rest of the day was just cloudy. We stayed home and Walter watched football as I went through our store of maps and guidebooks—putting the ones for Idaho, Washington and Oregon in storage to be replaced by the ones for California and Arizona for the winter. And taking inventory of all our maps so I could stop by AAA and replace the ones that have worn out (you know how ventilated they get when you open and close them often) and to get the maps for our planned trip next year across the US and then on up to the Canadian Maritimes. I know that doesn’t sound like a big deal but it does involve some interesting gymnastics since they get stored in a box way back in the back of the pickup truck...

Sunday it rained again (starting in the night) and we stayed home and began to plan our journey south. We may not get to leave until Friday but at least we have a plan for when we leave. We did some errands and then drove north to have dinner with our dear friend, Julie. It was raining and we had back up both ways but it still only took us under 1 1/2 each way. Hooray for Sunday.

Staying in Olympia has had it’s plusses and minuses. It provides an inexpensive place for us to stay that has easy access to shopping and some nice places to get a bit of exercise. But it makes it hard to see folks up Seattle way. I end up regretting that I haven’t managed to see as many folks as I might because frankly spending over 3 hours on the road for a visit is a LOT. So if I didn’t manage to see you this trip, know that I really am sorry but that I’m just a wimp when it comes to spending hours on the freeway.