The Blue Hole

Before I left on my journey, I asked people where they would live if they could live anywhere. Of all the answers I got, and some were intriguing, one place came up more than anyplace else, Sequim, Washington. Someone said that pilots flying in and out of Seattle refer to it as “the blue hole” because even on cloudy days, it’s clear over Sequim. It met some important wants and needs for a new place to live: far from the maddening crowd, yet near a city for cultural activities, access to an airport for travel, decent weather, and on the west coast. After several months in the southwest heat, I was ready for cooler temperatures and ocean breezes. I decided to check it out.

I cross the Tacoma Narrows Bridge to the Olympic Peninsula. The road narrows to a two lane highway through a deep pine forest. The traffic is as dense as the woods. I drive north until it opens to a rural valley, the Olympic National Forest rising in tiers behind it, and turn west to Sequim.

After I check into the motel, I drive around town to get a sense of it. It’s a long road with clusters of shopping centers. I stop at one and roam around the stores. In a consignment shop I find a beautiful velvet jacket. When I pay for it, I ask the cashier how she likes living in Sequim. She says she loves it. “There’s too much rain in Port Angeles, Port Townsend it too arty-farty, but Sequim is perfect.” I think I may have found my spot, but it isn’t Sequim.

The next morning, I drive to Port Angeles. I walk along the waterfront and see cargo ships being unloaded. I like the architecture of the downtown area, but the town doesn’t resonate with me.

I drive Old Olympic Highway back to Sequim to view the lavender farms. I stop at B&B Family Lavender Farm. Bonnie, one of the owners, gives a tour. She is warm and friendly. Her son-in-law, Zion takes us to the shed where he shows how lavender flowers are distilled to extract the oil.

Lavender plants hang along the wall to dry. The distiller is a large copper pot filled with boiling water. As the plants steam, precious oil drips out. An acre of lavender yields from three hundred to eighteen hundred pounds of dried flowers to produce twelve to fifteen pounds of essential oil, about two gallons. Now I understand why essential oils are so expensive.

In the morning I go to Port Townsend. The weather is magnificent: sunny, warm, blue skies. It’s charming, with late Victorian architecture. Many boats are moored along the waterfront. There’s an active creative community of artists and writers.

Could I live here? It’s beautiful and has the sort of environment I thrive on, but it’s expensive, and even though it’s near Seattle, it isn’t easy to get there.

As I drive back to the motel, I realize that what I’ve been looking for is Santa Barbara, as it was when I arrived there all those years ago: culturally rich, beautiful terrain and architecture, perfect weather, quiet, and unspoiled.

I drive down Hwy 101 to Olympia to visit my son, Luke, and daughter in law, Eva. Trucks filled with timber pull onto the road in front of me. I think of the scarred mountains that have been clear cut. I wonder why the forests aren’t replenished after they’ve been clear cut, and why we aren’t farming hemp and bamboo for more sustainable sources of things we cut down trees for: paper products, flooring, furniture…?

I enjoy spending time with Luke and Eva. While they are at work, I go hiking at Priest Point Park and Trailhead, and Tumwater Falls. Eva found a rental for me in Tumwater. I explore the area and happened upon Isabella Bush Park, a twenty acre park with several wetlands and a regional storm water infiltration pond.

A farm is on the grounds, and as I’m admiring it, a gentleman comes to talk to me. Charlie Schneider is a City Council member and volunteers with FRESH (Farm Rooted Education for Sustainability & Health,) a youth farming program through the Tumwater School District. The students receive class credits, and one thousand dollars to work the farm in the summer. The food that is grown goes to the school cafeterias, students and families in need, food banks and senior centers. I think it’s wonderful.

The rental in Tumwater falls out. Luke and Eva help me find another rental in downtown Olympia. That, too, falls out. I think maybe I’m not supposed to be here, and go back to Oregon, where my journey began in June.

3 thoughts on “The Blue Hole

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