Sunday, June 27, 2010

No Oil Here

I have written before about Treasure Island, FL, which is on the Gulf Coast about halfway down Florida's peninsula. Having just returned from our annual Beach Weekend there, I feel compelled to mention that it has not been touched by the BP oil spill and there is a good chance it never will be. This picture of me and Sarah shows how clean the water is:

And this one shows how beautiful Treasure Island is when the sun starts to go down:

I understand why tourists have been hesitant to make reservations for the Florida beaches, and since no one can promise they will still be clean months from now, I will not try to talk anyone into spending their money on plans to come here far in advance. But as of today, you would have to drive 420 miles from here to reach the nearest place that has seen even a tar ball from the spill. A trip to these parts is a very safe bet for the foreseeable near term, so if you are planning to take a vacation in the next few weeks and haven't decided where to go, head on down.

One benefit of the spill is that you may be able to get a good deal, because fewer people are making reservations this year. And maybe while you're in the water, you will have the good fortune to see a manatee swim right by, like happened to us on Saturday. Hopefully you will enjoy your trip as much as we enjoyed ours.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer Solstice

In my post at the beginning of winter, I suggested that those who curse the cold should learn to appreciate everything that is beautiful about winter.

Now it’s my turn. Because I do not like hot weather, summer is my least favorite season. But there are still things I enjoy about it, and surprisingly, some of them are specific to this sweat-soaked state in which I live. So here are some thoughts on summer’s first day:

I love opening the season with our annual Beach Weekend.

I love Independence Day.

I love that there is one time of year when I am able to prefer chilled white wine over room temperature red wine.

I love when evening breezes carry the sweet scent of orange blossoms across Florida.

I love watching swallow-tailed kites, one of my favorite birds of prey, as they soar in the air and seem to stay up there forever without flapping their wings.

I love watching fireflies illuminate the woods at dusk.

I love the dramatic pulse of Florida’s afternoon storms, when black clouds darken the sky and spew lighting and thunder and unleash torrents of blinding rain – only to blow away and be replaced by sunny skies in less than an hour.

And finally, though this would be true any time of year, I love San Diego.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Washington Wrap-up

To cap off my last two posts about Washington state's Olympic Peninsula, here are some pictures from the peninsula that we took in spots other than Port Angeles and the Hoh Rain Forest.

First off, here we are on Hurricane Ridge:

The next picture is of Lake Crescent Lodge, and below that is one of Lake Crescent itself. They are located next to each other in Olympic National Park, and the lodge is sure to satisfy you if you would rather stay in the woods than in town.

In my April 27th post I mentioned that we hiked along the Sol Duc River. The next picture is of that hike's ultimate destination, Sol Duc Falls. You can see how the river makes a 90-degree turn at the bottom.

Downstream from the falls, the Sol Duc gets wider, fuller, and faster. The next picture is of a part of the river known as Salmon Cascades. Because the Sol Duc flows behind the Cullen house in those uber-popular Twilight novels, I figured there might be some readers who would appreciate seeing this.

Outside the town of Sequim is this zoo that allows you to drive your car through fields of animals. I would be lying if I said it is one of the country's best zoos, but it is definitely unique. When a zebra blocked our path and his cohorts approached our windows to beg for food, I found myself wondering: Where else in America could this happen? And as a lifelong bear enthusiast, I loved being this close to a grizzly:

Now, I guess I have to admit that I was wrong when I said these pictures would not include any from the Hoh Rain Forest. The next two are of an enormous Sitka spruce that grows there, plus an informational sign about the tree. Because the tree is alongside the road to the visitor center, you can see it without venturing onto a trail.

Finally, if you read my last two posts you may have wondered how the Hoh can receive so much more rainfall than Port Angeles when they are so close to one another. It is because Port Angeles sits just inside the Olympic Rain Shadow, and for an explanation of that phenomenon, go here. The Olympic Peninsula is a lovely and fascinating place, and I hope you are inspired to visit it.