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This might be my favorite misleading sign.

And you can find it at Sunrise in Mount Rainier National Park. It’s where the kids and I were. We’d headed to the Mount Freemont Lookout.

The sign says that the Mt. Freemont Tr. is 1.3 miles away.

Which is correct. The trail to the lookout begins from this point in 1.3 miles. Which also means, Ya ain’t at the lookout in 1.3 miles. Ya gotta pick up your feet some more.

Which these two can handle. They just like their momma to be exact when they ask how much further until we’re there.

These are my hiking buddies today.

They sleep walked to the van at 6:30 this morning thinking they’d rather be anywhere than headed to a hike two hours away.

They may not realize it even on this trip, but things like the massive mountain in front of them and the wildflowers on the sides of the trail and the fat chipmunks on the rocks all seem more breathtaking without the back drop of hundreds of people bumping up the trail at the same time.

This is Frozen Lake. Hanging on to the last of its snow melt.

And just past the lake is the trail to the lookout.

Ah.  1.3 miles to go.

The trail starts with a squished view of Mount Rainier.

But then it climbs.

At which time our lungs point out that the mountain looks a bit more majestic from this vantage point.

Best to pause to take it all in.

And then it’s up again. And mostly through these rocky ridges where the rock is loose and clunky and sounds sometimes like broken glass.

Hardly any elevation gain to the lookout now, which isn’t quite a half mile away.

But the views behind us are ridiculous.

Here’s Mount Rainier with a little cloud hat.

A few more turns past these rocks…

And we’re at the stairs of the lookout.

Kinda pretty no matter which way you’re looking.

And if you can see ’em, those are goats.

It’s windy at the lookout. Gusts keep coming from the Rainier-side of the rock pile we’re sitting on.

But the view.

Makes you wonder if you couldn’t stay here all day.

At least until your stomach spoke up again.

The lookout is completely hidden behind and below the rock pile we were just on.

I can only imagine how many thousands of people have scrambled up here to eat their lunches.

Day made right here. The fact that he got to poke around in the snow and sneak some to sample on the way down the trail.

We get to pick our way back through the rock with an occasional glance from our feet to God’s incredible canvas.

Frozen Lake again.

From here we take the path less traveled back to Sunrise.

Almost there.

Made it.

Raven in her happy place.

And Silas in his.

Right here. In these rocks.

With all this water.

Might be mine, too.


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Hair Like a Campfire

My boy who doesn’t want a haircut. Who’s said so all summer. Who doesn’t even want our fingers to pull his hair to its full height and then sweep it out of his eyes like he’s a school boy. From 1950. Who combs his locks with his fingernails back into place each time. Quickly, like his arms are exercising. And yet who yesterday, by his own hand, snipped the rooster tail flapping on top of his head. Cut it right off before we headed to church. Him. He’s gone to camp. Dropped off this morning. Gone to grow older in a week. Gone to create memories he’ll chatter about for the rest of the year. Gone to be unrecognizable on Saturday at pick up time except for that orange hair, likely only washed in the lake.


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It’s the outdoors. I need them.

Which is why I’ve camped multiple times with the kids these last several summers even when Troy couldn’t come. I’ve lasted a night on a leaky air mattress with Silas and noted with crushed hips that only one of us was still off the ground by morning. I’ve packed coolers, calculated food, crammed in camping chairs and gone the extra mile for firewood. I’ve hovered over kids lighting fires, rolled sleeping bags, found lost flashlights without a flashlight and wrestled the swollen tent back in the bag.


Because getting outside doesn’t just happen.

And it didn’t just happen on this trip either. But sharing the responsibility of kids and fires and coolers with Troy made camping less of something I barely survived, and more of something we’re all still talking about.

We’re in the Olympic National Park at Heart ‘o the Hills campground–a place, having lived in Washington for decades, that we should have visited by now.

But it’s a ways from home. Just under 3 hours in early Saturday morning traffic. And maybe too far to drive without a camping reservation. On Memorial Day weekend.

But as the camp sites in the national park are filled in order of first come, first served, we left home hopeful.

We weren’t first, but we were so thankful to be served.

A half mile from our camp ground is the Lake Angeles Trail.

What didn’t get thought through as well as it should have was how warm it was, how salty the chips were we just ate and how far we had to go with the amount of water we brought.

Might as well soak our heads.

At least we won’t feel as thirsty.

For the next ten feet.

Green. That’s what this place is.

And every moment we take to look up from our feet, the view is trees.

Trees and sunlight and rocks.

And the trail is steep. No scooting along picking daisies.

It feels like we ought to be finished by now.

In fact, some of us feel finished.

But the trail keeps climbing into the snow line.

Which, if you’re low on water and you’ve left your Life Straw behind, is about the best news you can find.

Made it.

Lake Angeles.

Still thawing.

It’s sunny, but the temperature of the lake is like ice cubes.

Which means nothing to some.

The trail’s a whole lot easier going back.

Even smiling is easier.

And since our legs aren’t having to lift themselves anymore, even a patch of shaded trees is worth pausing to notice.

And a burned out tree.

And the last of the sunlight coming through the trees.

Hotdogs. That’s all anyone’s thinking of about now.

Hey. A tree we never noticed on the way up.

And a stream.

We can smell the trailhead.

And here we are.

Our favorite part of this sign is where somebody inked in “more like 5” after the 3.7 mi.

We’re all for accuracy.


Speaking his language.

With a little help.

Tent to himself.

Good night.

Good morning.

And good bye.

What the van smelled like.

What he smelled like.

For days.

Last stop: Hurricane Ridge.

What a place. What a view.



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The Hana Highway

There’s a price to seeing some of the greenest green in the state of Hawaii. It’s called 620 curves and 59 single-lane bridges on Maui’s highway 360 heading to Hana.

It’s a road full of squiggles and cars reaching speeds of 10 mph.

But driving it is worth it–even for the feint of stomach.

Because nothing could be more outrageously green.

Or blue.

Or blue and green.

It’s like driving through someone else’s photographs.

Except those are our kids.

Every view is a back drop for a post card.

Layer upon layer of greens. Shade upon shade.

How to even take it all in.

And waterfalls.

Some visible from the road.

Some tucked away.

Each a little reward from heaven.

Here’s part of the coastline glinting in the sunshine.

And through these trees is Waianapanapa Black Sand Beach.

We’re in Hana at this point. Anticlimactic. No restaurant. No historical marker. No medal for making it this far.

But from the highway we’ve turned down the Honokalani Road, which leads to the Black Sand Beach.

This is amazing. Hundreds of people must come and go from this beach each day.

But no one seems to stay real long.

It’s as if everyone is in a hurry to get somewhere else.

They do like we do…

Snap a few pictures with this parent…

And then with that one…

Before hobbling off the rocks in their bare feet and back to the car.

Only we do stay longer.

We crawl through the surf.

And watch the glass-like socks that form at our ankles as the waves rush back to the rest of the ocean.

Hours. I wonder if we couldn’t do this for hours…

Build forts in the surf while Husband figures out how to take his own picture…

Without snarling at the same time.


But…there we are!

Missin’ a kid, though.

Ah. Got it.

A little further past Hana, we brake at a coconut sign.

Silas says it is worth his five bucks.

But this. This is Hamoa Beach–a little south of Hana.  A gem on Maui.

And what makes it so great is that the waves here break further from the shore and make it one of the best places to boogie board.

I suppose you can boogie board on any beach. But it’s different here.

You can simply ride wave after wave from 100 feet out all the way to shore.

And it doesn’t get old.

Like. Not at all.

And it’s probably where we should have spent the afternoon, but I hurried us along thinking we ought to see the Haleakala National Park where the Seven Sacred Pools are.

I think someone will hit me over the head next time.

The little dotted circle at the bottom of the map is the route that takes you to the pools. The closed Seven Sacred Pools. Which means we can pay to look, but not touch.

The other dotted line is the Pipiwai Trail which leads to a couple of waterfalls.

We took the trail…

Which has its own lush green on every side of us…

And some major views.

That light green fluffiness is the tops to a bunch of bamboo.

Here’s an old banyan tree in the middle of the trail…

With branches so low it makes sense to sit on them.

This is the bamboo up close.

Which doesn’t let a lot of light down to the ground. Rather, the hollow trunks thunk and whistle and rub against each together like a low-note wind chime.

They even dip and sway like they might just lay down for good.

Here’s the trail’s destination. A waterfall with a long name.

The sign we’re leaning against says to not go beyond it.

Which seems to inspire folks to go beyond.

Lots of leafy things to notice on the way back.

And unleafy things.

And that familiar banyan tree…

Which lets us know we’re almost back.

One last bit of foliage we won’t find on Mount Rainier.

Then. Since we’ve made it this far, we walk the loop to The Seven Sacred Pools.

Of which there aren’t seven. Nor is sacred the right adjective.

The pools are foamy and full and wind-whipped. Which is why, like everybody else, we’re just looking over the edge today.

It’s a long, slow-going ride back to Kahana from here. No matter which way we go.

We could turn around and wind back the way we came.

But we don’t.

We continue around the island creeping over narrow, patchwork pieces of highway that take our very breath away.

There’s nothing halfway about driving to Hana.

And there’s nothing…nothing quite as beautiful.


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Braving the Piano Recital

This moment–eight minutes before the start of their piano recital–is the most serious I have seen Silas.

Also the stillest.

And maybe that’s because his stomach is all trembly about plunking those piano keys up there alone for all those folks in the pews.

But he rises. And he sits.

And he plays his In My Red Convertible like his fingers might catch on fire.

In mere moments we applaud with proud hands the boy who wasn’t sure he could. But did.

Raven is from a different planet. I think.

She seats herself at the keys with confidence. And plays.

Unafraid. Unabashed. Beautiful notes. Beginning to end.

When it’s over… it’s over!

And it’s not just a relief for every kid, but for this lady, the one who pours herself into my children two hours a month. Laughing. Inspiring. Understanding.

She gets my boy.

And I’ve wondered, “how could I ever ask someone to love my kids like I do?”

Only. I didn’t even have to ask.


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Maui in the Rain

Since October, we’ve wondered if the sun might ever shine again in western Washington.

Or the rain have mercy.

And it’s happened. Just twice.

Which means we’ve borne witness to the wettest winter on record. And the palest skin on anybody. Yay.

So. It’d seem we’re checking out of this state ’cause we’re near to losing our minds without the sun. But really we’re on our way to Maui because we’d planned this trip a year ago. Even a sunburn in 86 degree weather sounds like a good time.

Here’s our teensy Nissan Versa, which almost holds all of us, our bags and the food we bought at Costco.

And this is our fifth floor view and what’s left of Friday night’s sunshine.

This is what I smiled at a moment before the football in husband’s hands got launched, fell short of our railing and nailed the window of the fourth floor unit. Ack.

Bananas. Just hangin’ there.

Produce. With more numbers after the dollar sign than we’re used to.

Last week I bought these same yellow onions for $.29/lb. My aunt Nancy who lived in Walla Walla in the thick of the onion fields would still be shaking her head.

These are west Maui’s Saturday clouds.

Which confusingly could be Seattle’s clouds, as they’re heavy and wet. And have plans to dump for the next 48 hours.

Which doesn’t mean that we can’t stand here with our bare feet in the sand and still appreciate that we’re in Hawaii.

But we might be the only ones out here…

Waiting for the waves…

To soak every last bit of our clothes.

At this point, these guys aren’t gettin’ any wetter.

And they couldn’t be happier with all this sand to themselves.

Found a Saturday’s farmer’s market outside of Lahaina a ways. Just a few folks selling their homemade and homegrown goodies. Money well-spent.

But. It rained even more in Lahaina. At which time we saw our first person wearing a heavy coat zipped up to his chin.


The banyan tree of banyan trees in downtown Lahaina.

Dodging puddles en route to our parking spot.

Saturday night, it was resolved that we had come to Hawaii to play on the beach in any weather.

At least two of us had.

And so while every other person on Maui was anywhere but at the beach…


Troy and I pulled the brims of our hats down further and wrapped every towel we brought with us, around us…

While the wind blew the rain sideways, the sun stayed away, and these guys dug in the sand.

Sigh. Welcome to Sunday.

This is what Seattle might look like with palm trees.

Still raining in the evening, but running in the rain on the beach beats sitting in a chair with your swim trunks on watching it rain.


Signs of life.

Ah…and look at that. A little hope.


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Almost Tulips

We hadn’t intentionally driven an hour to Mossyrock to buy another cactus to put in the kitchen window sill.

Until we had.

In fact, one of us happily parted with even more of his lawn mowing cash when he found succulents and lilies and things with pretty leaves that he couldn’t live without.

The rest of us came for the tulips.

The rows of reds and pinks…

Which ended up being the only rows of color in full bloom.

Because a record amount of rain will do that. Delay even the tulips.

Even so, it’s hard to be unhappy when the sun is shining.

Hard to walk the length of the rows…

And not feel like you could be here forever.

Because there’s a certain freedom in the flower fields.

A refreshing of the soul.

A depth of gratitude for this day. This moment.

These three.

And maybe that’s why we come. To experience more than flowers.

And cramped knees.

We come to hit the reset button on family.

And to breathe in a glimpse of all God painted behind us.

Not every photo should be shared.

Or every song.

But hope.




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Little Mashel Falls Trail

If you can make it to Pack Forest in Eatonville, WA, then you’re almost there. In fact, your GPS will say you are there. It’ll even say you’re at the trailhead. Which is where you want to be. Only you’ll look north, south, east, west and even under your car and realize that there is no trailhead sign.

Just a sign like this that can’t seem to make up its mind either.

But it’s here that the trail begins. On the 1000 Rd. heading north.

And it’s a road all right. A road we’ll follow for 1.8 miles before we tip toe through the mud on the actual trail.

A road that looks like this at the beginning…

And then after a while, still looks like this.

It’s green on both sides of us. And with the sun…wow.

This is the triangular intersection where we’ll veer left down the 1070 Road while the 1000 Road continues to the right.

Then from the 1070 we’re looking for this rock–the one spray painted “Falls.”

It’s obvious with the new gravel in places that the trail crews have hauled rock in to reinforce the trail. But where they haven’t, the mud nearly eats our shoes alive.

Not far past the muddiest spots, the trail heads down. Down, as in, when we turn around, we’ll be panting UP.

This is the first glimpse of the Lower Falls through the trees.

Probably the place where thousands of cameras have clicked.

But it definitely gets better.

Posted every 100 yards or more are signs on trees reminding hikers of the two fatalities in 2016.

Which doesn’t mean that this is a dangerous hike. But it can be. In fact, the warnings are enough for me to have the kids crouch down a moment while I see what’s up ahead.

Up ahead is this. Stairs leading down to the Lower Falls. Something we wouldn’t hesitate to take in the summer.

But we don’t test them out. The view is enough from where we are.

And I can imagine it only gets more stunning through the summer months.

Back up the trail a little ways is a spot where left-over wood pieces are piled.

One of us makes himself a chair.

And together we have lunch…

With a bit of a view.

By trail comparison, this isn’t a hard hike, but it is steep in the places where it heads directly down to the falls.

We could continue to the Middle and Upper Falls, but we don’t. We hike back in the direction we came until we reach the stream we crossed on our way down.

And it always begins like this. With him knelt down to make a dam. And her watching.

Until a minute lapses, and she’s knelt down, too.

And then it’s the two of them. And it’s not just his dam; it’s their dam.

She hunts down the next rock.

And he arranges.

Until the thing is done.

Or rather, it’s time to be movin’.

Which is what we do…

We put our feet back in motion.

And head South on the 1000 Rd.


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Sequalitchew Creek Trail

You might need a pronunciation guide for this trail–Se-qual-it-chew.

That, and a map to find DuPont.

Then, too, if you can catch the rarest thing in western Washington these days–a sunny, 45 degree morning–like we did, this is the place you want to be.

Because all that rain has to amount to something. Somewhere.

And here it is. Eighteen shades of green.

In every direction.

The creek running beside us is a symphony.

We can almost forget our car is parked a mile away on concrete surrounded by buildings.

It’s truly a leisurely, barely-slanted walk. I’m sure our driveway is steeper.

That hole there at the end…

Is a tunnel.

On the right side,though, is an old, unused set of tracks that leads directly to the wharf.

Might as well try to walk on them.

Ten feet from the tunnel is this view. The DuPont wharf.

The whole thing is measured in feet. 36 feet wide by 300 feet long.

And those rocks…yeah…forget about sneaking up on anyone. Crunch. Crunch.  Our shoes left craters at each step.

But golly, it’s pretty.

And it’s windy.

Which is why we’re already headed back through the tunnel again…

To watch our third train go by.

And to count its cars.

Then it’s a mosey back the way way we came.

Until 3.1 miles from start to finish, the trickle of the creek is just a memory, and we’re closing our car door again.


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At First Sight

I crossed the contact lens threshold when I was ten. I hadn’t worn glasses previously. I hadn’t known my vision was leaking out of one eye faster than the other. I just knew that the volunteer eye chart ladies at our elementary school had made notes by my name when I messed up on which direction the E’s were facing. And that before fifth grade had finished, I was wearing one contact lens in my right eye. Just one.

I loved my parents for this. Loved that they reasoned through the practicality of glasses and shook their heads, knowing how quickly a pair of frames would be broken with a brother like mine.

By seventh grade, I had contacts in both eyes. And by the time I was thirty, I’d been wearing lenses for 20 years.

It’s glasses that are new to me.

And yet, glasses are all my daughter has ever known. The first, brown tiny frames from Costco when she was eight. The second, slightly bigger pair that tied her over for two more years. And this last pair, ordered online with an old prescription–frames that hide 2/3 of her face and slip completely off when she does a cartwheel in the living room.

It’s contacts that are new to her. And everything about contacts.

Which is why she’s here in Dr. Toepfer’s office, trying to get her finger even close enough to touch her eyeball.

And why just when she thinks she’s got it…

She’s got to start all over.

I wonder if she’ll miss her bumbly frames. Or if, perhaps, she’ll treasure them more like a favorite blanket too old, too familiar, to throw away.

For now, though, I watch as she unconsciously pushes them up on her nose–glasses she’s not even wearing.

Welcome to contacts, Love!


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