Advent Three – Tuesday

Isaiah 11:1-9

This summer, Sarah Wiles, the pastor at Bethany Presbyterian Church, preached a sermon on this text. She told a story that is very familiar to those of us who live in sight of Mt. Rainier.

When she and her husband were interviewing for the position at Bethany, they came to visit in early March, in the time of grey days and cloudy, weeping skies. Everyone they talked to said “Just wait until you see Mt. Rainier. It’s so beautiful.” Sarah and her husband nodded, and looked East whenever they were outside, but they didn’t see anything except grey skies.

They returned to visit and look for a house in May, and the skies greeted them with clouds and rain. Everyone again reiterated how beautiful the mountain was on clear days. They were beginning to doubt whether there was any mountain out there, or, if there was, they doubted it was as spectacular as everyone was telling them.

They found a house, returned to their previous post, packed up their things, and moved to Tacoma in early June. After settling in, she started working at Bethany, and then, one day, she was driving home and came around the corner – and THERE WAS THE MOUNTAIN! She almost drove off the road looking at it.

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Now, she knows that the mountain is there all the time, whether she can see it or not.

The mountain is like God’s love. Sometimes we can’t see it because it is hidden by events or the weather or some for some other reason, but it is ALWAYS there – beautiful, solid, lasting. And once you’ve seen it, you’ll never doubt that it is there just waiting for the clouds to clear.

They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.


The Olympic Loop, Day 2

It was cloudy, windy, and cool (cold to this Southern gal) on Wednesday, but we were warm and snug in the car as we drove north along the shore road onto the Quinault Indian reservation. They have closed their beaches, but we were able to ride along the coast road and into their little village where we saw a brackish harbor at low tide, with thousands of seagulls. in the fresher water.

There was a fellow in a boat fishing about half-way across the little river (you can just see him through the guard rail).

There were lots more gulls fishing and pottering around in the shallows farther inland.

After leaving the village, we stopped on the side of the road and looked at this little stream of fresh water coming down to meet the ocean. It was just full of seagulls.

Apparently even the gulls think the salt water is sticky and itchy, because they were venturing farther and farther up the stream to find fresh water to splash and bathe in.

They weren’t feeding or fishing, they were just splashing and playing in the water. They reminded me of my sparrows and finches in the bird bath outside my window.

We turned and looked back at the inlet by the village, and saw the headland and surf in the mist.

We drove farther south and found a little road that led down to the beach. You were forbidden to drive on the beach between April 1 and Labor Day, but we congratulated ourselves on taking this trip in September, and drove right down on the beach to watch the surf, listen to the waves, and become friends with the seagulls, who were very tame.

They didn’t seem at all frightened of us, just nonchalantly strolling out of our way as we approached.

We even got out of the car and walked a little way.

Yep, I got out of the nice warm car, too, for a little while.

Big Al was entranced with the wind and water erosion of the cliffs.

As bad as I am with pictures of lakes and rivers, Big Al wants pictures of structural geology formations.

You can see by the remains of the campfire that the water doesn’t come too far inland very often, but in stormy weather it can reach the bluffs. The wind also has taken care of some of the erosion.

And all the time we could hear the beat of the surf and the cries of the gulls.

Even on the road leaving the beach, Big Al spotted signs of the elemental sculpturing of the land.

And the trees guard the gullies, and the blackberry bushes keep the soil from disappearing.

After a day spent in the open air with the sun, and wind, and mist and all the wonders of the shore with surf, and birds, and erosion, we were ready to go back to our room, have an early dinner, and sleep the sleep of the thankful.

The next day we drove father south to Ocean Shores, and looked around the area, but it is obviously very touristy and overcrowded in the summer. We were thankful we were able to go in the off-season so we could enjoy the beach without falling over so many other folks.

The road home was good highway without too much traffic, and we arrived in mid-afternoon, much refreshed from our little vacation.

Point Defiance

I’ve probably mentioned that we live on the hill above Point Defiance Park.

The road in front of our apartment is the south border of the park between Pearl and Vessault. We took a drive around the park on the 5-mile drive last Sunday. Here are the pictures.

As you enter the park there is a large lawn and lake.

The visitor’s center

Some of the area is formal gardens, and some is wild. This is the rose garden.

They’re working on a Japanese pagoda and Zen garden.

There are lots of picnic tables and picnic areas, as well as trails all through the park.

This is the rustic picnic area.

There’s a sandy beach where folks can swim in the sound (this day it was overcast and 62 deg. and even the Tacomans didn’t want to swim.)

5-mile drive winds through old-growth forest.

There are plenty of lay-bys and viewpoints to see the Sound and the other shore. This is Vashon Island.

We can see across the narrows to Gig Harbor on the Olympic Peninsula.

Little boats on the Sound in the Narrows.

Interesting trees at the Tacoma Narrows Viewpoint

The Bridges that replaced Galloping Gertie across the Narrows.

There’s lots of wildlife in the park, including this fellow who posed for his portrait. There’s also a Zoo and an Aquarium.

There’s a living history museum, Ft Nisqually.

There are docents in historical garb in most of the buildings.

Very interesting.

The Tacoma Garden Club has an area devoted to native plants. Our fence is just behind this stand of trees.

And we’re back at the big lawn at the entrance/exit of the park.

Mt. Rainier

I know it’s been FOREVER since I put up a new post, and I know you’re DYING to see how we’ve managed to fit everything in to the one-bedroom apartment, but that’s going to have to wait for another day, because I want to show you the pictures from our trip to Mt. Rainier, yesterday.

Franke Tobey Jones has a  great little 21-passenger bus, and Gary, the driver, picked us up right outside our building at 9 o’clock sharp for the ride up the mountain. We had no idea what the weather would be like up there, so we dressed in layers, and took sun hats, and off we went.

We rode for about an hour and a half – first through cities and towns and on interstate – then through villages – and finally through towering forests with lovely wildflowers growing at the base of the trees.

Eventually we came to the entrance to the National Park. Of the 17 people on board, including the driver, we had 6 Golden Eagle/Golden Access passes, so we all got in free (each pass allows the owner and three other people to accompany them).

There are several park “villages” or inns on the mountain, and we passed one large one on our way to Paradise – which is as high as the bus could go.

Many little mountain streams were carrying snowmelt down the mountain through stands of old-growth forest.

This is the beginning of the Nisqually River that flows through Tacoma and empties into Puget Sound.

(Sorry for the blur on some of these pictures, but I was taking them through the bus window and I sometimes got a reflection.)

At one point the road crossed the river on a bridge that was high enough above the riverbed that Big Al declined to look out the window.

They’ve had a very late spring, so the real rushing torrent of snowmelt is only a trickle, still, in the middle of July.

The clouds were still hanging low in the trees and we began to despair of getting a good view of the top of the mountain.

There was still snow on the ground in patches and under the trees as we climbed higher and higher, even down below the treeline.

And then, just as we reached Paradise, the sun broke out! That will definitely preach!

We walked through the parking lot to the lodge where we had lunch with a wonderful view.

Sorry, I just couldn’t stop taking pictures of the beautiful blue sky, the alpine meadows, and the great snow-covered mountain.

This is the view back across the valley where the clouds were still hanging.

You can see there’s still an awful lot of snow on the ground, although we got downright hot in the sun, and were glad to have our hats.

The fields of lupine with paint brush reminded me of nothing so much as blue bonnets and paint brush in Texas in March.

About 2 o’clock we reboarded the bus for the ride down the mountain.

The ride down the mountain was like a movie running in reverse.

Back across the bridge, but this time looking up the mountain the way we had come.

I was intranced with the ferns growing in that alpine forest. I think of ferns in damp, southern marshlands.

I was able to snap a picture of one of the many waterfalls rushing down the cliffs at the edge of the road.

There was a little more sun as we went down, than when we were going up.

The rest of the ride was uneventful and we arrived back at Franke Tobey Jones close to 5 p.m.  A really great day!