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Samish Bay

Summer is here and it is time to go and explore more new places. I have been working my way to the west coast since April. Yesterday I finally got to touch the Pacific Ocean at Samish Bay, Washington. I felt like I was being welcomed home.

Where have I been? I have been to some really interesting and fun places since I began the drive west, including two weeks in Alaska (without Elsie or the Roadtrek). Cruising the Inside Passage on a small ship cruise was really cool.

I have stopped in many places and all of them have been interesting. Since you have last heard of the places I have been, here is the list. I know some may be a repeat, please be patient.

  • Glacier National Park-one week on the east side and one week in the Kalispell area on the west side. Flowers and wild animals were certainly a highlight.
  • Western Montana for the 4th of July, camping on a beautiful lake with friends.
  • I revisited Idaho and had my first Boondockers Welcome experience. Boondockers is an organization RV,er’s can join. People sign up to be hosts and you can stay in their yards or driveways for 2-3 nights. I stayed with a lovely couple near Farragut State Park on Lake Pend Orielle. I camped in their tree covered yard, visited with the neighbors, visited with my hosts and rode my bike into a beautiful state park. I visited the town of Bayview and saw the floating houses. There are always so many cool things where ever I go.
  • I bicycled the Hiawatha Trail on the Montana-Idaho border. It was very good day.
  • I finally made my way out of Idaho into Washington state. I started in the middle-Cascades, visiting a good friend, Lori, who I have not see in years. It was a really good visit.

Hiking Cascade Pass

  • I arrived in the Northern Cascades and Northern Cascade National Park to spend five days exploring. Wow-that is all I can say. I hiked and walked and took photos. What an amazing place. I chose not to stop in the small towns as there were too many people and events were happening. I camped in a National Forest Campground and loved every minute of it. I hope to go back, maybe when it is not so crazy busy. You should have seen the parade of cars, RV’s, jeeps and trucks driving east along route 20 on Friday afternoon. Everyone from the greater Seattle area was leaving town, or so it seemed.

The last three days I have been in Burlington, WA. I am catching up on chores and fixing EmmyLou the rig so she is ready for tomorrow. Tires?-check. Slow leak in one tire?-check. (it was a screw) After a crazy incident all parts fixed on my rig?-check. Headlight replaced?-check. (one went out when I got here. I even changed it myself) Laundry done?-check. Pedicure done?-check (I have sparklie green toenails) Chiropractor appointment?-check. Billing done?-check. All records ready for entry into Canada tomorrow?-check, I  hope.

I did take time to drive to the coast yesterday afternoon. I visited the small town of Samish. What a pretty little town. I was able to drive to a point in Samish Bay and finally greet the ocean and Jim. (he is buried out there) The flowers are beautiful in people’s yards. It reminded me of my mom and dad, especially when I saw the giant dahlias. My parents loved to garden. It was good to return to the ocean after almost four months away.

Tomorrow I head out on a new adventure. Elsie and I are going to be taking the morning ferry from Anacortes, WA to Vancouver Island, Canada. I first visited this island as a tour director. I remember taking my group to Boutchart Gardens, worth a visit.

Two years ago Cat, my friend who bicycled the Pacific Coast, and I took the ferry from Vancouver to the Island and started south. I knew then that I would return. It is a beautiful Island and I wanted to see more. Tomorrow I get that opportunity. I plan to be there for at least a month and discover interesting and magical places and meet new people. I plan to cover the island, driving biking and walking. If it takes longer, I will stay. I am ready to go into the unknown.

So stay tuned. Come along on the adventure. El and I are getting ready to roll.

 

 

Art as a Way of Healing

What makes travel interesting is the people I meet along the way, the locals who bring to life the area I am traveling through.

Friday I finally got on my bike and went for a ride

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On the Trail to Westport

. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon. Camp had been set up. I decided to ride to the small fishing town of Westport, check it out and return to the camp later in the day. The best part of this ride was finding the path that followed the Pacific coast into town.

After settling over a cup of tea and reading I started the return ride. It is always nice to have the wind at my back on the way home.

On my way into town I noticed an interesting vehicle, so to speak, on the right side of the road. I promised myself, when I returned I would stop there and take a few photos. On the return trip I did just that, stopped to take a photo or two.

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Christopher & his Traveling Studio

Just as I pulled off the road, a man came out to say hello. Meet Christopher Bollen. He is an artist. He has been practicing art since he was young. He started as a pen and ink artist and then progressed his way to watercolors. I could stop here and you would know him as an artist, yet there was much more to this man.

When he first came out and spoke with me, he recited a poem.

He has been an artist most of his life. After returning from Vietnam, art helped him conquer PTSD. When he decided to attempt to become a working artist, he chose a neighborhood Seattle and knocked on doors offering to depict homes in framed drawings for $100 each. He had seven commissions the first week.

Christopher told me he took an art class at a community college. He went to one class and never went back and still passed the course.

His traveling art studio was designed and built by him. His home was simple and plain but inviting and well laid out. He raised two children as a single parent. His son now runs his own business on the same property, Barrett’s Gym. He is a personal trainer. He and his father built the gym. It is private and not open to the public.

At one point in his prolific career he owned nine galleries. He was well known in the Seattle area for his pen and ink drawings of local scenes. He opened up his traveling art studio and would travel and paint. Everyone was welcome into his studio.

 

Now he paints for himself, focusing on miniature watercolors. None are for sale. His goal is to paint a thousand paintings for his children’s legacy. He knows what his paintings are worth. What a creative idea.

When I finally made it into his studio I was taken. His art is beautiful and varied. He worked exclusively for eight years in pen and ink before branching out into watercolor art.

 

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When I told him I was a watercolor artist who has not painted since Jim died, he told me this is the time I need to paint, not for others but for myself. Painting is lonely and grief is a great time to start. He asked me if I felt guilty for Jim’s death. When I said emphatically, no, his response was “good”. He told me to pick up a brush and start. Record my history.

He decided that Cat and I are on a pilgrimage, each one different yet one with a common goal. It is not always an easy one, yet at the end of the day we need to lay down our differences and recognized we are in this together.

I stopped by this morning to thank him for his time and to give him one of my cards.  I left with two watercolor prints.

A most amazing man, indeed. I am glad I stopped. I am glad I stayed. I am glad to have met him and maybe not today but soon, I will pick up a brush and begin.