Finding spirit wherever you go

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Above: Patterns of Spirit, Yachats, Oregon

Besides our spiritual connections at home or wherever we are, we frequently travel in search of additional spiritual cleansing. We flush the toilet of constant chaos and refill the bowl with clean water.

Inevitably, the center of our search is a much kinder form of chaos: the sea.

Once there, we immerse ourselves (not literally!) in the power SeaLegsand the energy and the total awe of the ocean. The sea engulfs us spiritually, with its neighboring forests, towering cliffs, fog and windy sands to help mesmerize and fascinate. Releasing ourselves to it, we realize just how fully we are one with it.

Whether rolling gently in with the tide to a quiet sandy beach, or smashing themselves against rocks wearing away from the force of it, the waves have much to say.

Sometimes, it’s what the waves leave behind that tells about the life within. The patterns of their presence flow in sand as well as water, mystifying the eye and mind. The ocean cleanses and refreshes, and leaves behind its potent evidence for all.

Left: “Left Behind

Without the refreshment and renewal a coastal experience provides, life can sometimes overwhelm, like rip tides that deposit small creatures and little Dungeness crabs on the shore, leaving them to scramble away and dig themselves in before the gulls arrive. More often than not, they don’t make it. The beaches are strewn with their pecked-clean shells.

For those of us fortunate enough to not be crabs, exhilaration and a boosted sense of well-being permeates at the sea. We will always find our way back.

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Above: Mussel Beach

Below: Crashing surf

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Biggest trip in years

Our insatiable need for the coast and its atmospheres expands to our grandest trip of all this year: fall in New England, with a stop on the coast of Maine.

We’re making up for a very late start in our travels this year due to health concerns that sidelined me throughout spring and early summer.

Beginning late September, we’ll be traveling east to visit family in Ohio and attend a wedding in Pennsylvania. We’ll spend a couple of days getting glimpses of Manhattan, then off to begin our fall foliage odyssey in New Hampshire, exploring the White Mountains and the Kancamagus wilderness. From there, we’ll follow Lake Winnipesaukee along its western shores en route to Ogunquit, Maine, where the coast awaits our arrival.

We swing south to see family in northeastern Massachusetts before heading west along Route 2 to Williamstown, MA, following one of the most foliage-scenic byways in the northeast through the Berkshires.

From there, who knows…? Stay tuned.

 

 

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Fine photos make great last-minute gifts, and feed the hungry as well

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Yachats Sunset, 30×20 framed, on exhibit and for sale at Blue Sky Bagels, Fairview, Meridian

By Ken Levy

There’s still time to get free delivery of my ready-to-hang framed images, which make perfect gifts for home or office walls.

I continue my tradition of donating 20% of the purchase of any of my images to the Idaho
Foodbank. Thanks to your generous purchases, the food bank got additional funds in time for the Christmas celebrations.

I like to keep this going year-round. Here’s how it works:

You get stunning photography for your home, office or as thoughtful gifts; each beautiful photo you buy also helps feed hungry people. I give 20% of each sale to the Idaho Foodbank.

I will deliver framed art free within a 50-mile radius of Boise, until Dec. 20.  Email me for details at ken@kenlevymedia.com

Visit any of my exhibits (below), and my web site, to make the perfect holiday purchase that gives twice:

FoggyTreesYachats1966At left: Coastal Inspiration, Yachats, Ore. 20×30 Framed, on exhibit and for sale at Blue Sky Bagels, Fairview, Meridian

  About my photos

These professional-quality images will add beauty and interest to every wall, including those of your friends, family and colleagues. You can find a huge variety of original art on my web site.

Keep an eye on my New Works page for updates to my photography, and stop by my Collector’s Editions  page to view some of my clients’ favorite works.

Email me for details at ken@kenlevymedia.com or visit my web site at http://kenlevymedia.com.

Consider making my images part of your holiday gift giving this year. Because no one should have to go hungry, and beauty makes a great gift for everyone.

 

Below: “Water and Ice.” Tiny stalactites dip their icy toes in the roiling water of Teton Creek. Framed 20×16 on display and for sale at Blue Sky Bagels, Chinden Ave., Boise.

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Photography road trip: Five autumn days in the heart of Oregon’s best

Here are some highlight photos from a quick trip across Oregon in early October. These images are truly spectacular when viewed hi-res.

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Paradise in Oregon lives up to its name any time of year, but especially in the fall, when the fog rolls in off the McKenzie River with a backdrop of golden leaves.

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I really appreciated the egret (near center of photo above) hanging around for this image of the Siuslaw River flowing through Mapleton, Oregon in early October.

 

I promised myself I’d egretfly5490get some egret photographs on this trip. This one was coming in for a landing on the far shore of Fern Ridge Reservoir at Perkins Peninsula Park outside Eugene, Ore.

 

 

 

 

 

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A gloomy morning barely allows a glimpse of idyllic, old town Florence, Oregon on the banks of the Siuslaw River before fog rolls in to obscure the scene. There is some incredible detail in this image, from the dock to the flag on the boat, the gazebo and the architecture.

 

 

 

Mo's Reflection, Siuslaw River, Florence, Oregon 5520

You’d have to agree the night entices us with her mysteries along the Siuslaw River in Florence, Oregon. Mo’s Restaurant is brilliantly lit from within, even as it is reflected from without, but what movement, what people, what secrets does this place keep, both inside and along its docks? One wants to peek in the windows like a peeping Tom… as the river flows rippling in the reflected light, shadows hide much more: the banks and the docks, and the river’s inevitable, invisible destiny.

Important news: My new exhibit is up at Blue Sky Bagel‘s newest location at 126 E. Idaho, Meridian, Idaho. (208) 887-5726. I’m now exhibiting at all four Blue Sky Bagel restaurants in Boise and Meridian, as well as the Center for Spiritual Living at 10464 Garverdale Ct, Boise, ID. Phone: (208) 375-0751. Visit my New Works: Photography page for new and extensive postings of fine imagery.

Contact me at ken@kenlevymedia.com.

Base in Sequim for north Olympic Peninsula explorations

On the trail: Olympic Peninsula, part IV

Below: Moonrise over the John Wayne Marina, Sequim, WashingtonMoonriseJohnWayneMarina1434

You’ll pronounce Sequim wrong. The name, pronounced “skwim,” is derived from the native S’Klallam tribes, and means “a good place to hunt.”

Although that refers to the abundant wildlife in the area, it’s also a great place to base yourself for northern Olympic Peninsula adventures.

Here, you’ll find the Dungeness National Wildlife Area just north of town, with access to the Dungeness Spit, the longest — at 5.5 miles — natural sand spit in the nation, leading to the New Dungeness Lighthouse in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It’s a fascinating hike out to the lighthouse, but do it at low tide.

A segment of the Olympic Discovery Trail runs through town, over the historic Dungeness River wooden bridge listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The trail runs from Port Townsend to La Push, and is a great way to explore the north peninsula on foot or bike, if you have the time.

And, if you love quiet coves for your sailing craft, you’ll want to dock in the beautiful and upscale John Wayne Marina. The land was gifted by the late actor, and it’s a full-featured marina with docking, fuel, restaurant and public access beach.

While there, make reservations at the tiny but exquisite Dockside Grill. We shared a beautiful appetizer of crab in a very tasty sauce with Parmesan toast points that was so generous that Lana got at least one more meal from it.

For the main course, Lana opted for a perfectly prepared cedar-planked rib-eye steak, rubbed with coffee and spices and served with jalapeno garlic butter, with potato and veggies, a huge tender cut that got her two more meals as well.

I had cedar-planked salmon topped with a generous portion of Dungeness crab, cooked to absolute perfection with triple-citrus Riesling butter. Both meals were prepared using the very finest ingredients, the highest quality you can get, and the tastes were magnificent, tender and delightful. A fantastic meal, the best one we had on the coast, in fact on the entire trip, and the price was exorbitant to say the least: with tip, this feast topped $160.

More about Sequim and the northern Olympic Peninsula in my next post.

Stinky, Stinky: Lilliwaup, and the freshest oysters anywhere

On the trail: Olympic Peninsula, part II

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Oysters served up steaming fresh at Hama Hama Seafood Co., a private oyster and clam farm in Lilliwaup, Washington on the Olympic Peninsula.

 

If you’re a true oyster aficionado, make plans to visit the Hama Hama Seafood Company in Lilliwaup, WA on the tide flats of Hood Canal just south of the Hamma Hamma River and Bridge on Hwy 101.

Yes, they’re spelled differently on purpose, according to an HH staff member. The river and bridge names allegedly mean “stinky, stinky,” supposedly derived from the language of the Twana tribes, referring to the smell of salmon that run the river to spawn and die.

There’s no such smell at Hama Hama. It’s a fifth-generation family-run oyster and clam farm that grows the crustaceans in the tide flats of the river. They raise beach-grown Hama Hama and tumble-grown Blue Pool oysters, and take care of the watershed by stewarding a forest upstream and using natural shellfish-growing methods without any artificial anything.

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At the HH Oyster Saloon, which looks out over the tide flats, I ordered the grilled dozen-oyster sampler. The fresh little boogers are served in three different butter sauce combinations (I eschewed the spicy one). Lana can’t stand looking at the snot-like seafood, but I love ‘em. They’re also offered on the half shell raw, or you can get steamed clams in white wine, crab cakes and smoked salmon chowder. For those who don’t like seafood (blasphemy!) you can settle for a grilled cheese sammy.

Next time: Beaches and tide pools on the Olympic Peninsula.

At right, barnacles glom onto rocks jutting out into the ocean at low tide. Beach 4, in the Kalaloch area, is said to have one of the best tide pool viewing areas in the world.

Refreshment comes in many forms: Hood Canal, Washington

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En route: Barn swallows fuss incessantly for their breakfast at Champoeg State Heritage Area, Oregon. We started — and ended — our camping excursion here, before and after making the great Olympic Peninsula loop. More about Champoeg in another blog.

On the Trail:
With all the intense heat and smoke assailing southwest Idaho this summer, finding relief meant relocating to cooler, softer climates. Our 25-day Olympic Peninsula jaunt couldn’t have come soon enough.

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The odyssey began with a journey to the Hood Canal area, on the southeastern corner of the peninsula. Filled with lush forests, cool waterfalls and wide waterways, the region is relatively sparse with people, and a quiet vacationer’s dream.

We based ourselves near Hoodsport, at Skokomish Park Lake Cushman. This is  a nicely-treed full-service camping area with hiking trails in deep woods right on the lake. There are several other campgrounds nearby.

Temperatures rarely climbed above 75 degrees in mid-July, with gentle breezes and many overcast days to keep things mellow. The deep, earthy smell of forest and river welcome you on the multitude of lightly-used trails. You can swim, launch your motor- or sailboat, and rent tubes and kayaks. Away from the campground, you’ll find numerous coves and secret segments of the 8.5-mile wooded lake in which to immerse yourself.

LanaStaircaseRapidsTree3103Staircase Rapids, just nine miles north, offer dramatic vistas of the North Fork Skokomish River as it swiftly tumbles through huge rock formations. Inside Olympic National Park, the river’s dramatic vistas and huge western red cedar, hemlock and Douglas fir trees along it can be seen on the loop trail that bears its name, along with many more hiking opportunities.

The Hood Canal region is home to the Skokomish (“People of the river”) tribe, which was originally comprised of Twana Indians who were devastated by smallpox after the arrival of Europeans in 1792. The largest of the nine Twana communities was known as the Skokomish, or big river people.

Explorations

With Hoodsport as our base to explore the southern canal area, we visited the nearby communities of Shelton, Union, Belfair, Lilliwaup and more. We started with a short drive to the Little Creek Casino Resort in Shelton (little-creek.com). You can stuff your face with crab and Dalby Creek Waterwheel Union Wa 759oysters in their Creekside Buffet or dine fine in the Island Grille or Squaxin Island Seafood Bar. At Creekside, I gulped down beautiful oysters Florentine and cracked crab til my fingers got numb.

In Lilliwaup, north of Hoodsport following Highway 101, you’ll come across the stinkiest place on the canal, and you’ll be glad you did.

More in my next blog.

Family perfect: Water’s Edge Resort

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With four generations of family joining us, we hosted our Second Annual Family Campout at Water’s Edge RV Resort in beautiful Cascade, Idaho.

Situated along the banks of the Payette River, it’s the perfect little haven for family camping, fun and relaxation.

Yet it’s still quiet enough even for more seasoned RVers.

Along with our RV site, we took the tent camping site next door for the families with little kids. And those little kids had some laughing good times, with plastic canoes and play boats available to float the serene flatwater of the Payette River. They carved new landscapes in sand along the beach and gawked in awe as a pair of osprey dove into the river for fresh fish.

eFamilyCamp9224Fishing opportunities for humans abound, too, with anglers plying the waters from the Cascade bridge and from shore for native trout and other species. And you’ll find over 90 lakes and more than 165 streams within 50 miles.

Bird watchers and photographers are rewarded with great sightings of pelicans, osprey, Canada goose, ducks and other winged critters. We saw deer and fox both nights we were there.

Our hosts were gracious and anxious to please. We inquired in person about a month before the camp, and made reservations for both sites without a deposit required. Friendly staff came by offering firewood, and tickets to the resort’s specialty: a sumptuous Sunday breakfast served al fresco.

“Wake up on Sunday mornings to a delightful mountain eFamilyCampTim9140breakfast grilled outside just for you and our other guests,” their web site chimes. “The aroma of grilled ham, sausage patties, grilled potatoes and onions, French toast, pancakes and scrambled eggs will guide you…”

Those who come for the weekend but like to sleep in on Sundays won’t be left out: You get a free, fresh-baked cinnamon roll Saturday mornings at riverside.

Dinner time at our camp sites featured family favorites, with burgers and Beddar Cheddars with all the fixings, right down to the S’mores with fire-roasted marshmallows for dessert.

But the day didn’t end with dinner. A couple of us found a night sky stuffed with stars, following a foot path away from the campground. Beautiful night skies can be seen from a bend in the river just downstream from camp.

You can bend an arm making long passes during impromptu games of football, or just relax, watching the kids play by the water in this quiet, dream-come-true family campground. There’s badminton, volleyball and horseshoe pits ready for you to  play.

And lounge chairs by the water,  ready for you to chill.

Visit http://watersedgervpark.com/index.asp for more details.

If you go:

Water’s Edge RV Resort is about 80 miles north of Boise on Highway 55
Address:
P.O. Box 1018
620 North Main St.
Cascade, ID 83611
1 (800) 574-2038
info@watersedgervpark.com

 

Follow us: Summer travel routes set

Follow our adventures on the road this summer, when we’ll be traveling the better part of 10,000 miles (or more) across the continental United States and back, dragging our little 15-foot trailer the Winchester State Parkwhole way.

Our journeys take us through Hood Canal and the Olympic Peninsula in Washington for most of July, followed by a cross-country trek to see family in Massachusetts. We’ll visit Cape Cod, New Hampshire and Maine before heading to Liberty Harbor, in sight of the Statue. Ferries and other public transportation will shuttle us to, through and around Manhattan.

More family in Ohio and Pennsylvania, friends in Delaware, and thence…who knows?

We’ll visit with folks from roughly 25 states and tell their stories..ALJOCampChevy.and those of the land and traditions that make these places home for them.

Look for photos and stories from these travels on this blog, whenever time and connections allow us to update.

Got some suggestions for what to see? We’d love to hear your ideas for don’t-miss, out-of-the-way places that offer intimate glimpses of true American life. email me at ken@kenlevymedia.com.

Summer travel schedule takes shape

Travel will be a full-time job this year, as I’ll be writing and photographing fascinating features for publication from my adventures through Idaho, Washington and Oregon as well as treks across the United States. Look for regular trip reports from every possible stop.

Here’s the schedule as it now stands. Family will be staying in, and caring for, our home and garden while we’re gone.

June 23-26: Family caRaft105Portfoliomping on the Payette River in Cascade, Idaho. Hoping much of the gang can come for this lovely and scenic spot for fun and games.

July 7-30: Olympic Peninsula loop, from east to west, starting with the Hood Canal communities and including most attractions all along the peninsula, including Port Townsend, Sequim, Port Angeles, Lake Crescent, Neah Bay and Kalaloch. We’ll wander into the Staircase, Dosewallips, Hurricane Ridge and Sol Duc areas, with the Hoh and Quinault rain forests major stops. From there, we’ll head south into the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway and explore the Tillamook Coast before heading home via Portland and the Columbia River Gorge.

Aug. 7-Sept. 9: Still tons of planning to do for this cross-country driving trip from Boise, Idaho to rural Boxford, Massachusetts for a family visit. Once there, we’ll be going into New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest and into Ogunquit, Maine for a taste of the beautiful east coast. So far, after Boxford, we’ll be camping on Cape Cod and at Newark’s Liberty Harbor, in sight of the Statue of Liberty. We’re looking at  harbor cruises and visits to Manhattan by public transportation. From there…who knows? We’ll meander back to Boise as fast — or as slow — as we can.

Full slate of travels booked for 2016

From dragging my travel trailer all around the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State to a cross-country car camping excursion lasting five weeks beginning in August, the Summer of ’16 will be packed with fascinating new adventures and stories spanning America’s favorite — and lesser-known — highways and byways.

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The travel season began early with a week-long trip to Walla Walla in mid-May, where I attended the Northwest Travel Writers Conference: Travels and Words at the historic and lavish Marcus Whitman hotel. Two solid days hearing from experienced and well-published writers and editors, shaking hands with representatives from convention and travel bureaus and destination management organizations filled my writing palette with a host of new inspiration and opportunities to engage readers with fascinating material.

Following the first day of the conference, we were treated to a lavish reception by Walla Walla’s finest at the Gesa Powerhouse Theater. Exquisite hors d’oeuvres, prime beef, great local wines, whiskey and beer and much more awaited us. Horse-drawn carriages and 1930s-era limousines provided the transportation, and we exchanged handshakes and business cards by the dozens.

eRedWingBlackbird093From there, I took a quick side trip into the Palouse area of north Idaho and southern Washington for a fast photo or two. And it had to be fast, because I was dogged by heavy rain for most of the journey.

So, unfortunately, was a group of vintage travel-trailer enthusiasts, who had come from all over the west for a rally at the campground I was staying in when the first rains hit. Hosted by the Walla Walla Tin Cans, who had invited members from the Rollin’ Oldies Vintage Trailers club to the campout, VintageTravelTrailerCoke008the rally featured about 30 ancient travel trailers ranging from tiny units little more than traveling beds to vintage Coca-Cola themed trailers, mostly ranging from 9-15 feet.

Look for a full-length feature story on the tin can folks in a future blog. Next time, I’ll be posting my itinerary of travels for the 2016 travel season, and hope you’ll follow along as I share my reports from the road.