The Knitting Nurse

Rambles and Travels

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Plymouth: The steps that led the Pilgrims to the Mayflower in 1620.

Peter and I left London drizzle and rain Wed. AM. I took my first long-ish train ride (aside from one Amtrack run form Sacramento, CA to Santa Clara, CA) through beautiful, bucolic countryside to Plymouth.  His dad Paul and wife Judith kindly picked us up at the Plymouth train station. Down to the waterfront we went to explore.


From this spot, in 1620, 102 passengers and a crew estimated to have been about 30 left for the Americas. Wikipedia tells me the ship was a simple trading ship on her last legs, so to speak.

A plaque reminds us these are the steps that carried the English Separatists to the ship.

Exposure to history, in physical form, on this trip is something I’ll go on and on about in the posts to come.  I’ve never left the U.S.  Historical relics there are young unlike here in England and I am buzzing from it.


A pretty harbor shelters sailing and working boats.


Some are particularly crusty – which interests me.


We threaded around narrow streets and I gawked up at old buildings.  I read up a bit on Wikipedia, that source for instant summarized information. The oldest surviving house still standing in Plymouth is dated 1498. However, artifacts from the Bronze age have been found here.


After a bit we headed up to the Hoh, a public park on the cliffs above the town.  Here we stretched our legs, let the dog run free and admired the panoramic views over the Plymouth Sound harbor and along the coast. My panorama pics did not make it but you get a peep of the view past a lighthouse from the 1800’s which used to lie off the coast and was moved to this position piece by piece.

There’s an apocryphal story that Sir Francis Drake played his famous game of bowls here in 1588 while waiting for the tide to change before sailing out with the English fleet to engage with the Spanish Armada.

A star shaped stone fortress sits up here. It’s called the Royal Citadel. It’s narrow slits of windows actually face into town, not the sea, pointing to the need  to intimidate the townsfolk who had leaned towards Parliament during the Civil War.  It is occupied by the military today. We watched a royal ship maneuvering into port.

Here’s a new concept to me. This is a Lido, a stone pool constructed in the 1930’s as a way to employ folks during the depression.  It is unheated and open through September. The Cornish Coast stretches from the left of this pic.

Another novelty I just have to share, SIGNS-wonderful notice signs-polite signs-I’ve seen several marked Polite Notice.  They don’t make signs like this in America.

Next up…quaint and picturesque seaside towns. Hold onto your socks. They may be blown off by the charm.

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Fort Flagler – Beach Sights – A Hike Finished with a Sunset

I’ve let life’s busywork get between me and my hiking boots far too much this winter.

There’s nothing like a long, quiet walk to clear out the clutter.

Fort Flagler, on Marrowstone Island, is often empty mid-week, the case this day.

I started down by the light house which now houses a Fish and Wildlife Office. This watery passage shuttles large and small ships from Seattle and south out to the ocean.


The tide was low. I skirted around Marrowstone point and followed the beach. The dark landform to the left is the tip of the Quimper Peninsula, home of Port Townsend, specifically Fort Worden and Point Wilson.  The sandy bluffs to the right are part of Whidby Island.


Here’s a close view of the Fort and Point Wilson. The pics I snapped of town just didn’t turn out.


It was a grey day, a “soft” day as I’ve heard such called.  This flat light made bright objects glow.

Madrona, its wood bright orange.


A crab shell, purple and orange.




Green kelp.


Manmade objects, some trash, some are relics of the military occupation of this point. Some trash I marvel at, such as this old engine.


Not sure what this was but see the well defined rings? They are bright, shiny metal. Copper?


I marvel at the color of PNW rocks, wet rocks, green, pink, red.




At the end of the beach there’s a view of the Olympic Mountains. Today they were buried in clouds.  Up the road a short distance led me into the woods.  Deep into the trees I went.


Tiny water beads on this plant intrigued me.


An unusually warm winter we’re having. Things are blooming, including this little guy.


And the icing on the cake, above my starting point, sunset painted the clouds and water  pink and yellow.


A marshy area abuts the lighthouse and research station below. I hoped to see birds. None showed.


The evening sky was just stunning. Here’s the old lighthouse point my hike started at.


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Pacific Northwest Part Two of ? – Westport, WA

Next stop up the Olympic Peninsula was Westport, WA.  The Lonely Planet guide promised a maritime museum and harbor to poke about.  A sucker I am for such.

The town of Westport occupies a peninsula on the south side of the entrance to Grays Harbor from the Pacific Ocean.   The public marina, called the largest on the outside NW coast, houses a large commercial fleet and many charter fishing boats.   The US Coast Guard has a station there.

The City of Westport’s website reports, “a population of 2345 still relies on fishing, shellfish harvesting, seafood processing and tourism for much of its livelihood. More recently, boat building has also become an important part of Westport’s economic base.”

Stop one was the Maritime Museum.  Arriving 15 minutes before closing, a  kindly couple kept the doors open a bit later for me.  They travel about in their RV all year working at such places. Not a bad gig!

Colors look so pure and saturated against a gray sky, something the PNW does well.

The museum’s in an old Coast Guard building:

Inside, rooms are set up holding bits and pieces of a sailor’s life, loads of photos, boat parts, endless layers of sift-able stuff.  More time I needed.

Outside, a full whale skeleton stretches under a cover:

A separate building houses a decommissioned  first-order Fresnel lens.  Removed from Destruction Island 40 miles to the north, an automated system took its place in 1995.  The husband flipped a switch and a glorious, rotating, glittering, mother of all disco balls spun in place.  I’m pretty sure my jaw hung slack.

A map of the Destruction Island’s location:

A photo of Destruction Island and its lighthouse:

Stomach rumbling, halibut and chips I procured and took a walk along the marina.  One end displayed numerous tourist-oriented shops (salt water taffy, anyone?), a few restaurants,  trinket shops, and charter fishing boat offices.  But as you walk east, they are replaced by  commercial boats and processing buildings, the working end of the marina.

That’s the part I like.

Legs stretched, fed, driving-brain aired out I pushed on with the Hoh Rain forest on the mind.  That’s the next post.

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Pacific Northwest – “Ocian in view! O! The joy!” – Part One of ? –

Back in September I took a Pacific Northwest trip.  Two weeks I had to play. What a luxury! The route went something like this:

Drove north through CA and OR.   Followed the north bank of the Columbia River west to Cape Disappointment State Park, which complements  Lewis and Clark National Historic Park, across the river,  in Astoria, OR.  After this I contoured the Olympic Peninsula coast, dallied in the Hoh Rainforest, met up with a friend in Port Townsend, then ferried over to Vancouver Island.  There I stayed in Victoria a spell, veered to the west coast, looped through the Cowichan Valley and returned home.

A long haul it was but SO worth it.

This was the road trip that convinced me to sell my gas-guzzling truck and buy a Prius.


Today’s blog focuses on Cape Disappointment.



This segment looked a little something like this on the map:

After 4,000 miles of arduous travel across the US, Lewis and Clark first spotted the Pacific Ocean standing above the Columbia River’s estuary.  The group searched this park’s side of the River for a favorable winter encampment.  Finding none, they crossed the Columbia and built a camp two miles up what is now called the Lewis and Clark River.  We know this camp as Fort Clatsop.

Next visit to this part of the world I’ll visit the Oregon side.

Cape Disappointment has 27 miles of ocean beach, miles of hiking, remnants of a Civil War era fort, and one of the oldest functioning lighthouses on the West coast.

The visitor center impressed me.  I get all nerdy over interpretive displays, movies and such.  Maps, paintings, and artifacts from the Corps of Discovery’s expedition fill several levels.  A healthy slew of maritime goodies (a lifeboat and its contents, for example) provided much entertainment.


This is the North Head Lighthouse.  Arriving at dusk, a rosy glow (not sufficiently photographed) washed over all.


The coast looks different up here compared to where I live.

A short walk I took to a promontory thought to be the initial Pacific Ocean viewpoint for the party. On November 18, 1805 Clark noted, “Towards evening we arived at the Cape disappointment on the Sea Shore.  went over a bald hill where we had a handsom view of the seashore.”  Clark described the headland as a “bald hill, covered with long corse grass.”

This map shows that headland as “You Are Here” on the lower portion of the map.

Looking south a jetty stretches off the mouth of the Columbia River.

A wide beach below formed (mostly) after the jetty’s installation (if memory serves).  The view’s changed since the Corps of Discovery stood atop.

Next day I made for that jetty and walked its length.  Cool fog coated all.  Folks were fishing from the jetty.  Made a fine spot to sit a spell and watch the pelicans fishing.

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse:

A pretty little park, OR and WA are a chock-full of parkland I’ve noted.  This was my first stop along the Olympic Peninsula.

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Point Bonita Part Deux – Now Reachable!

My last trip to the Point Bonita lighthouse stopped me in my tracks. Literally.  The access bridge, in desperate need of repairs, was closed.  Now, it’s open.  The tunnel that reaches the bridge has limited open hours:  Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.  Should you visit, the NPS has a brochure full of interesting facts and a map.


Remember her from a past post?  Such a pretty place.


The museum contained a knowledgeable docent, many old photos, artifacts and (I found fascinating) exhibits on the geology of the bay floor.  After plunking a donation into the collection box (there is no entry fee collected at this park but hey…our parks need help) I toured the  exhibits.


Here’s a map noting a few famous shipwrecks off the coast. There were many:



A drawing of the lamp. I find it striking.



A view north along the Marin Headlands Coast:




Peeking around the point (as far as the guard rail allows) at the Golden Gate.  Imagine navigating ships through this dangerous, rocky spot, full of wild currents, before modern navigational tools?  Point Bonita was the third lighthouse on the CA coast.  Such an important job!


Such a lucky gal I am to have backyard  access to such a beautiful place of historical significance.

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Point Bonita – Isn’t She Lovely?

Imagine looking across the SF Bay mouth with no iconic red bridge spanning the shores.  Hard to imagine, eh?

Sleuthing on Google images, this photo, post 1906 SF earthquake, shows the city in a state of rebuild.  Note Alcatraz island in the lower right corner with no bridge to Marin in the left.

This post was born of curiosity from a jaunt down to Point Bonita Lighthouse.  A docent, standing at lighthouse bridge, shared much info and history.  Curious for more tidbits, at the Marin Headlands Visitor Center I viewed some old photos (photographing some for this post) and picked the brains of some park employees for more info.

A little online sleuthing furthered my edu-macation.


Point Bonita greets one on the left as you enter the bay.  See highlighted point below:

How did it come to be?

Hollers of “Gold!” filled the CA air in 1848.  In 1849 San Francisco, being the main port for gold seekers entering CA, boomed from 900 to 20,000 occupants.  All that boat traffic = numerous shipwrecks off the treacherous coast guarding the bay.

Point Bonita was the 3rd lighthouse built on the west coast.  Originally 300′ above the water, they found the fog too thick for the lighthouse’s beam of light to be effective.  It was located at its current, lower elevation quite close to the water.

A lovely drawing of the original lighthouse. Note, no GGB:

It amazes me to think of families growing up in these lighthouses.  I enjoy touring lighthouses.  Stepping into the keeper’s quarters reveals layers of lives.  Imagine, this was the backyard for some children:

Bonita Cove had a full on rescue operations set up.  Boat houses on the hillsides emptied their contents to the shore via long ramps. Many lives were risked by the sailors in those rescue boats.

Today, standing on the point, the GGB exists.  Marin Headlands/Golden Gate Nat’l Park protects the surrounding land offering up miles of trails, beaches, a hostel, the Marine Mammal Center, an Arts center and a great little visitor center.

And the lighthouse?  She is absolutely beautiful.

A suspension bridge links her sliver of rock foundation to the access tunnel.

Being long overdue for repairs, it is slated for complete replacement and closed to the public.  Quite a feat this will be as the bridge is anchored via a large spiral cable embedded in the bedrock.  The docent mentioned barges and helicopters as part of the process.

Another view into Point Bonita Cove, there are leftovers from the rescue stations.  Seals haul out onto the starfish crusted rocks below. It’s a great place to just stand and observe.

I love spending time here.  Now for that GGB – I’ve got some ideas for future posts on that iconic landmark.