Port Angeles

This week, hubby and I took an impromptu 3-day mini vacation in Port Angeles.


DAY #1

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From the beginning of our journey, taking the ferry.DSCN9192The first place we went after checking into our hotel was Crescent Bay. I had been debating between Crescent Bay and Hollywood Beach, but according to the visit Port Angeles website, you can see “orcas, humpback, gray, and minke whales” from shore at Crescent Bay, so that’s where we went. DSCN9198Spoiler alert: we didn’t see a single whale. But it was still gorgeous. The water was super clear and there really wasn’t a lot of people around.DSCN9212

DSCN9207 DSCN9211We weren’t up for hiking or swimming yet, so after walking the length of the beach, we ended up heading back to Hollywood Beach anyway.DSCN9219As you can see, Hollywood Beach is right on the city pier. We got there just as the Feiro Marine Life Center was closing, and the girl at the counter let us in for free (but strongly recommended we make a donation, which we did). I wish we had had more time there because there were so many beautiful starfish. DSCN9222We went out on the pier before settling down by the sand. It was incredibly windy, and I imagine it is there all the time. We saw a few seagulls get blown off course.


DAY #2

20170830_122444Our next day was completely devoted to seeing what we could see in the Olympic National Park. You would need at least a week to adequately explore the park, so our plan was just to get to the hot springs and see what we would along the way. 20170830_12394720170830_123545Madison Falls – you don’t need to pay to see this part of the park.

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DSCN9292The drive to the end of the road was more exciting than I anticipated. My anxiety was going a little crazy thinking the car was going to go crashing down the hillside.

We didn’t make it to the hot springs. I was banking on the springs being a little over 2 miles away from the parking lot, since that was what was listed on the sign, but after over an hour of walking, we ran into some people and they said we were barely even halfway there. They also said that it was rather disappointing. Jason had fallen and hurt his ankle, I was chafing and hungry, and I was ready for a cold swimming pool rather than hot springs. We ended up going out for Chinese then spending the rest of the night alternating between the hot tub and the pool at the hotel. It wasn’t what I originally had in mind, but still a very relaxing evening with the hubby.


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Our last day was the most laid back as we started the drive home. I also didn’t want to push hubby to do anything too intense since his ankle was in bad shape. We stopped by a lavender farm, B&B Family Farm, and it was so relaxing. It smelled heavenly and Bruce was very kind. He didn’t mind at all taking 20 minutes out of his workday to explain the different types of lavender and how they process them. We learned that French lavender is mostly used for fragrance while English lavender is used in cooking, that lavender buds will stay on the stem for years if undisturbed, and saw how the oil is extracted from the buds. We also found out that lavender can be used as an insect repellent. Lavender FarmUnfortunately for us, we arrived just after they finished their harvest, so there wasn’t a whole lot of purple for us to see. Even so, it was beautiful. DSCN9295

DSCN9296They also have a shop where they sell all kinds of lavender stuff. Lip balm, insect repellent, candles, hand cream, air freshener, lavender oil, cleaning products, soap – you name it, it was there. DSCN9300Our last stop was a bit crazy. We ate at a diner for breakfast and our server highly recommended it. She said it was a place where show animals were taken when they weren’t being used in movies. I was expecting a walking tour, but that was not the case.

DSCN9312Olympic Game Farm was a bit more intense and exciting than I had anticipated. Most of the animals actively came to the car and put their heads inside the vehicle to be fed. I was a bit worried about the safety of my car, especially when going through the high risk area.DSCN9319

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Smiling BearI don’t know how Jason managed to do it, but he got all three kodiak bears to smile for the camera.Smiling Bear #2

Smiling Bear #3 DSCN9356This was the high risk area. The pamphlet specifically said not to stop your vehicle because the animals will swarm your vehicle. To that I say easier said than done. The car in front of us was going too slow and we did end up getting trapped with animals blocking our way. However, we managed to get through without damaging the car or losing any fingers. It was definitely a once in a lifetime event.  I would highly recommend it if you have an older vehicle you’re not worried about getting scratched up.

This was the first real vacation hubby and I have gone on together. It was really nice to have a few days out of the apartment to do fun things and enjoy each other’s company. I just wish he would stop hurting his ankle every time we go somewhere.

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An Evening At The Arboretum – Japanese Week 6

DSC_0531I haven’t made any particularly exciting progress with my studies this week, so I want to talk about something a little bit different.

This evening, hubby and I very much enjoyed our walk through the arboretum. If you put me in nature with a camera, especially when flowers are blooming, I will be more than content… until I get hungry.DSC_0455Hubby particularly enjoyed finding all of the hidden painted rocks in the vicinity. They were, indeed, rather cute.
DSC_0557As we were making our rounds to make sure we had found every last one of the stones, we sat down by the fountain. I had recently learned a little about kintsugi and Japanese art in general. (Kintsugi is a method of mending broken pottery where the pieces are put back together with gold, silver, or platinum lacquer, making the damage part of the object’s history rather than disguising it.)
DSC_0496Looking at the fountain, I thought about what I had learned and ended up wishing that the rest of the arboretum had taken the nod from the Japanese section of the arboretum. The Japanese part looked much more harmonious.
DSC_0514Instead of putting down mulch to suppress the growth of unwanted plants and visually asserting dominance over the natural order, the Japanese design just had the various types of plants grow side by side, fully fulling in the entire area. Thus, the Japanese design looked comparatively organic. Even with the fountain, it was unobtrusive and didn’t look like a testament to the triumph of man. Rather, it showed balance with the natural world.
DSC_0493While I don’t see a problem with finding mulch to be less than pleasing to the eye, I quickly realized that I have become quite cynical and, perhaps, overly critical of American values in general.DSC_0451While studying French in high school, I never got as wrapped up in French culture as I have been with Japanese culture over the past few weeks. Part of it is that Japanese culture feels more foreign than French culture. However, the main reason is that I was more critical of French culture than I have been of Japanese culture.
DSC_0539For instance, my reaction to the French Revolution compared to the head collecting practices of samurai warriors just doesn’t match up.

When you are learning about Japan, it is easy to fall into the trap of skimming the surface of an idea and romanticizing it. Sure, it’s easy to love manga and anime, think the art is beautiful, love the architecture, find the folklore fascinating, etc. But you can’t separate all that from the political history of Japan.

As far as current political issues go in Japan, here’s what I’m aware of:

Yes, I will expose myself as woefully ignorant. (Typical American, eh?) But I have plans to change that and, of course, I will share my discoveries with all of you.

Self-Discipline and Self-Hatred

If you ask my husband, last night I tried to kill him.

I was feeling a little down, and decided it would be better to go out and do something to make myself happy than to try to power through the emotions and force myself to work and slowly feel worse and worse. It was a bit late when we finally got out the door and we ended up going to a beach we had never been to before. (Beach count: 3.)

When we got there, I was racing through the woods, eager to get down to the beach before sunset. The hike was about 1.5 miles, and it was mostly downhill. I didn’t think at all about getting back up. The woods were beautiful and I knew the beach would be absolutely breathtaking.

As we were walking, I felt like I was back in Scotland, making my rounds by the loch. Then, I remembered playing Dinosaur Safari at my grandparents’ when I was little and how much I would love an updated version of that game. I was babbling about it to my husband. You get in a time machine and travel to different dinosaur habitats and wait for them to emerge from the scenery around you so you can photograph them. Then, you come back to the present day and sell your photographs. Some carnivores would also attack your time machine so you had to leave sooner. Obviously, I loved it to pieces. If I could code and had the assets to do so, I would make a game just like that with better graphics. It was both exciting and very relaxing. For some dinosaurs, you had to wait several minutes and you could hear them approaching. It was like being Nigel Thornberry or Steve Irwin, except I was sitting on my grandpa’s lap.

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I felt kind of bad racing through the woods, sometimes letting my hubby get pretty far behind me, but we didn’t get there until about an hour before the park/beach was to close. I would be so disappointed if we didn’t get there in time to actually see the beach or enjoy it once we got there.

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This is how close it was to sunset when we got to the end of the path. To get to the beach, you had to walk under the railroad tracks behind the fence on the left.

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Sure enough, it was stunning.

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Lately, nature has been a drug for me. Going out and seeing how beautiful the world is makes me happy, grateful, excited, and reinvigorates me in a way that nothing else does. Sometimes, it’s a good thing. It is not a sin to take the time to be happy.

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But, at what point do you stop and say to yourself, “yes, this makes you happy and it helps you get back on your feet, but you really need to ‘escape’ from your responsibilities less and put in the hard work required to succeed?” Finding that balance is something I have been struggling with since I quit my last job at the end of March. There have been so many days I have spent in a trance, staring at my phone, unable to muster the energy to get out of bed. Yes, there are days that I feel I need to take care of myself and put my mental health first. Then there are other days when I feel down but more or less okay – that is what I would call my typical day right now.

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As these are my typical days, I feel like I have to push myself really hard to make up for all the bad days. I have to do a lot of editing, clean the entire house, apply for jobs, talk to the friends I have neglected, catch up with my family. If I fail to meet my own standards, which are always set impossibly high, I get down again. The weight of failure makes the next day worse and worse until I crash. It is too easy for my self-discipline to turn into self-hatred.

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Escaping into nature helps me fend off the bad days. Getting that high keeps me from sinking so low. But when I’m having a good day, sometimes it’s hard to remember that it’s okay to celebrate the good days. The reward for having a good day shouldn’t be more work and more pressure to keep having good days. Yet, I do it to myself over and over again. Last night, I felt compelled to do something, anything, that would make me feel less trapped, less hopeless, less incapable. So we went to the beach. I flung myself into my desire to feel better, and it worked. Then we had to start the walk back.

What Light Remains

To say that the walk back was difficult would be the understatement of the century. It took us about 35 minutes to walk down to the beach. We stayed there for maybe 15 minutes. The walk back took a full hour and it was pitch black by the time we got to the car. I felt so guilty. My husband hurt his ankle a while back and this definitely set back his healing. When we got to the car, my trunk was open. (Making this the third time since we moved out here that we have had an incident with someone breaking into one of our vehicles.) Luckily, nothing was damaged and nothing valuable was taken. In addition to all that, the park ranger showed up as we were getting ready to leave and had to give us a talking to about making sure we are back by the time the park closes.

This is partly why I say that nature is like a drug to me. I was feeling bad and I put my needs in front of everything else. My husband was in pain for me, I put us both at risk, and we were lucky we didn’t get a ticket.

In college, it was so much easier to be self-disciplined. If I was feeling bad, I could play Candy Crush Saga until I was out of my five moves, and then I had to do whatever it was I was putting off. Sometimes it got a little out of control and one distraction led to another, but everything then had a hard deadline. Things had to be done. The consequences for not doing what I was supposed to were clear, and classes had a set schedule.

Now, things are much different. The stakes are a lot higher.

I want to end this post with some enlightening sentiment, but I can’t. I don’t have it figured out. But I’m trying to move forward, to hold myself to my ideals without loathing myself if I fall short, to set goals that are reachable.

And, I’m trying to be happier.