Photo of the Day

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Lost at Sea

Very poignant reading the tombstones of sailors who lost their lives at sea. This ship was among the most beautiful monuments in any of the cemeteries I stopped at while we were in Maine.

Wouldn't a rubbing of this look lovely on a wall? One of these trips I need to get myself together and bring supplies for that.

Photos of the Day

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Stalking Stephen

Bangor, Maine. One of Stephen King's homes, which he may or may not inhabit at the moment. There was a Mercedes in the driveway, though. As I recall, the same one we saw last time we infringed on the poor man's privacy. But then again, he lives on a normal street, in a normal town. And we weren't the only paparazzi.

I'm trying to justify this, obviously.

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Photo of the Day

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Octopus Tree

I guess I'm a tree person. Some people love mountains, others waterfalls, and many fall into the category of wildlife lovers. Like frat boys, for instance.

But I love trees. Especially those of the redwood variety, but also gnarled oaks, aspens and whatever you'd term this tree – above.

It's located at Cape Meares Lighthouse & Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, just a short walk off the parking lot. I had the family trek to see it on a whim, having no idea what an octopus tree actually was. Was it half tree/half octopus? Was it like the Whomping Willow in Harry Potter? It was a mystery, soon enough solved by a short walk.

I had to know.

And now I do. So do you, and you're very welcome. Follow the link to Cape Meares and you'll learn even more. At no additional charge!

Photos of the Day: No Pain, No Gain

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Barnacles!

Ever walked on a barnacle-encrusted rock? Ever experienced having your feet sliced open? It's possible to traverse a rock like this one without leaving a toe behind, but it's still a little on the painful side.

While we were out in the Pacific Northwest, sometimes we had to walk across similar rocks to reach different sections of a beach. Once it came down to walking across barnacles or stepping into an area between two rocks, one I couldn't tell the depth of. So, I chose the barnacles as the lesser of two evils.

Did I mention I can't swim? Between pain and drowning, I chose pain. I recommend it.

This path lead to the beach Paul had found previously on his own explorations, one covered in sand dollar pieces. My kids – the boys especially – had been on the hunt for sand dollars as soon as we reached the coast. They're all but impossible to find whole (sand dollars, not my kids), considering their fragility (sometimes applies to both). But this beach was loaded with partial pieces, some nearly whole.

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And I was rewarded by views like this.

Now that's a win-win, worth a few cuts and scrapes.

Photos of the Day: An Octopus’s Garden

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Some seaweed can be surprisingly beautiful. It's not the first thing you associate with it. Slimy and smelly, yes. But beautiful?

Look at this one. You'd think it had come out of a garden instead of washing ashore from its home under the ocean. And the composition is perfect, all by chance. The contrasts in color and texture couldn't have been arranged better. Mother Nature knows her stuff.

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But it's a good thing for you my blog doesn't have smell-o-vision. When you first arrive at one of these Pacific coast beaches – well, either coast for that matter – the blast of various fishy smells could knock you down, it's so strong. Then there are the pieces of former sea creatures, plus the flies and other insect-y things, snacking away on all the spare parts.

Makes you hungry for seafood, eh?

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Finally, this stray. The poor, lonely thing washed ashore all by itself. Maybe it'll go back out with the high tide. And be eaten by a fish.

Such is the circle of life. You live, you hang out on the shore a while, then you go back from whence you sprang.

And hopefully you don't reek like fish in between.

 

Photos of the Day: To the Lighthouse

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Vertigo. That, and an extreme fear of heights have always kept me from climbing spiral staircases. Especially those you can see through. And these, you can.

My hands were clammy, that's true. And in between little, squeaky noises of fear I shakily exclaimed, "We are going to die…"

But I went, anyway.

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Though claustrophobia's another of my several anxieties (we'll get through the full list before it's all said and done), I've climbed solid spiral staircases, like those back stairways you find in old homes, castles, things like that. But I detest being able to see through stairs all… the… way… down…

Partial credit belongs to my anti-anxiety meds. God love chemistry! However, because cognitive psychological therapy demands it, kudos to me for having the bravery to do something that scared the hell out of me – ascending a perfectly safe, though see-through, staircase.

Perfectly safe. My mantra all the way up and down.

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Reaching the top platform, the guides allowed us up the last few stairs (not see-through, for the record), one person at a time, to get a view of the light itself. That's as far as we were allowed, out of concern for what is a very expensive system of bulbs and custom-made glass.

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After coming all that way I was a little disappointed we couldn't see the view, walking along the outside of the lighthouse on a platform to see the rocky coast below. Hopefully not a see-through platform. I have to maintain some phobias.

A little surprising I felt disappointment, though. That's not normal for me, either. Another pat on my back.

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Instead, the best views were of the lighthouse itself, along the rugged coastline of Oregon. And romantic views they were.

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A glance back up at the tower reminded me how far up I actually went. Not far by many people's standards, but it may as well have been a mountain to me. I could have given Paul the camera and let him make the climb that scared me, having him take the photos, but instead I did it myself.

Another fear that, if not totally conquered, was at least a little diminished by the reminder I made it up and down without dying a horrific and bloody death. I won't guarantee I'll face all my fears with such courage, but this is one for the success column.

Vacation 2009 – 2nd Leg: Part 2: California Redwoods

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More photos from Redwood National Park, and probably the last I'll be posting before I move on to the coast of Oregon. I may occasionally post more as "Photos of the Day," though, so you're not necessarily done with them yet.

Something that surprised me about the trees is they aren't red. The wood inside is, but the bark looks like any other fir tree, though many of them have twisted bark. Woodpeckers have made homes in many of them, but the reason they've survived so long is they are bug-resistant. Too bad for the woodpeckers.

FYI: the bottom photo is a "banana slug," a species native to the West coast. My husband was fascinated by them – judging by the sheer number of pictures he took – and this is probably one of his, but the only one not by me in this post. Just wanted to assure you of that. Keeping behind the camera is my way of assuring I'm not photographed myself. I learned that several vacations ago. I just have to dodge the video recorder, which is a lot of work.

As I said in yesterday's post, the majesty of these trees is indescribable. You have to see them, and I highly recommend you make this one of the places you see before you die.

If you come after my demise, make sure to stop by my tree and say hello. I'll have the family try to mark it somehow. Maybe some spray painted arrows would be effective. Or, that may be overkill. Well, that can be their challenge, after I've gone through all the work of dying. I wouldn't want to make things too easy for them.

Vacation 2009 – 2nd Leg – Pt. 1: California Redwoods

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Finding a way to show perspective is difficult when it comes to the redwoods. That's why I photographed a stranger, in the third photo down (left side) amongst some of what turned out to be the less impressive of these massive trees. Others are several times the circumference of these, but this gives you an idea of their height.

Redwoods can live thousands of years. Take a minute to imagine that. Think of the history they've lived through. Some of them are pre-Christ. I can't get my brain around that fact. Each of our lives is barely a blip in theirs.

You can't imagine how majestic these trees truly are if you haven't seen them. If you're alone on the paths, which I often was (not realizing bears inhabit these woods!!), it feels like stepping into a prehistoric forest. And essentially, that's exactly what it is. The quiet is absolute. It feels like a tropical rainforest, only without the oppressive humidity. There are ferns everywhere, but hardly any other plants. Not enough sun filters through to nourish anything else. The paths themselves are bouncy from thousands of years of decayed trees and fir needles dropping, making for a pleasant, peppy walk. 

It's one of the most mind-blowing places I've ever been in my life.

I've decided when I die I want to have my ashes used to fertilize a redwood tree. You can buy tiny redwoods in all the gift shops, so I've let my family know when I die they're to have me cremated, travel to California and buy one of the little trees, then plant it in the forest, mixing me in with the rich soil. It may be technically illegal, but it could be done with minimal effort. The soil's so rich and loose. Even without official permission that's what they're instructed to do with me.

I'd be content knowing my mortal remains became part of a towering redwood tree. My family could mark it somehow, and come back to visit one day. Or not. They'd know I was a part of that tree either way, and that for potentially thousands of years I'd live as a part of it. When it falls, whatever is left of "me" will become the fertile soil for another tree. And so on, and so on.

I can't think of a more comforting thought than giving what is left of me to help something else grow. It sure beats hanging out in an urn on someone's fireplace mantle.

I took an unbelievable number of photos of the redwoods. I'll post a Part 2 to show you some more, but the shots I took looking up the trees are pretty similar, so I'll try and vary those. Hope you'll enjoy them.