I was recently visiting a dear friend in Seattle, and since she (unlike most of the people I keep in touch with from law school) is still a lawyer, and had a hearing in Olympia, I decided to take the chance to hang out with her on the ride there and back and busy myself about town while she was in the hearing. We got really lucky and the weather held, which is a crapshoot most of the year at this parallel. She suggested a walk at the Nisqually Refuge and Wildlife Center on the way home.
We paid the entrance fee, in a little blue envelope slipped into a lockbox, which would make my Chilean friends laugh, because (they’d insist) that no one would pay if it were in Chile. But we were in Washington State, and pay we (she) did, $3 for the car, and then started out on a walk along a wooded path, hoping to see the occasional birdie or maybe a bug. Instead, we saw many, many tufts of the seed of the cottonwood tree, which gave us both pause, since we’re both highly allergic to it. But then we came to a bend and noticed some people far, far away, and decided to see where they were and what they were doing.
There are many, many gorgeous landscapes in Chile. I will spare you the recap and the link self-love (or will I), but we have mountains, glaciers, rivers, deserts and many, many things in between. But one thing we don’t have much of is flat, tidewater flats, deltas where the brackish water washes in and nesting seabirds call it home (or if we do, I don’t know where to find them).
And saw this guy, and cursed the absence of the megacam, despite the fact that I do generally like the new minicam. He’s a heron, if you were wondering, and we later saw him stalk and fish a fish, which wriggled and wiggled and tried to get free, but did not.
And we kept on walking, and eventually the little shelter at the end came into view, and later we came upon it.
And then we were in the hut, and over to the right, we saw a bald eagle coasting on an invisible thermal, and later another eagle-looking bird which we couldn’t identify, but another birdwatcher came along and told us that the juvenile birds don’t have the distinctive white head. He also showed us where the dike had been taken out, and where the old path used to go, and my lawyer friend and the birdwatching guy talked about where you can put in kayaks, and what it’s like when you get stuck in the mudflats at low tide. Because this is Washington State, and this is what we talk about, when we’re not putting money in little envelopes because it’s the right thing to do.
I could have watched the tide come in all afternoon, but the flats were filling up slowly, and as you can see, a heavy rain was on its way. I wish I could have bottled the fresh, salty smell, which somehow smells nothing like the ocean, and could have sat on the boardwalk thinking about how the mix of water and land is never the same, even as I’d spent too much time comparing Vancouver to the south of Chile just the week before.
Because nothing really ever looks like anything, not even mature bald eagles and their young.
Travel Info: Exit 114 off I-5, 8 miles from Olympia (psst, this is the same I-5 that runs through my neighborhood in Santiago, Chile.)
Maybe Laguna Torca could be a reference in Chile of something similar?…although I believe its fresh water. But you have all the birds and a boardwalk and reeds, etc. Lago Budi is a salt water lake with marshes on the border..right next to the sea. Washington state is great though…I rode across it back in 2004. Great landscape.
ooh, super. I’ve got to check out those places you mentioned. I don’t know any of them. I lived in Oregon for three years so I know a little bit about this part of the country, but clearly, not nearly enough. And as for Chile, there’s always more to learn, it seems!
That ride sounds mythic. West to east or east to west? Got some pics we could see?
I-5 is Ruta 5? Crazy. And cool.
These pictures remind me of a place I went when I was little near Cape Cod.
Yep, Abby! Remind me to lend you Tim Cahill’s Road Fever about his bid to beat the land speed record from Barrow, Alaska to Lapatia Bay (south of Ushuaia). It’s an actual paper book, and they’re on the “Panamericana” pretty much the whole time! And yes, East Coast gorgeousness, much missed at times.