Fog accents fall colors of Emerald City and Washington state

Posted By Mike Padgett

Nov. 1, 2008

One morning last week in Seattle, fog drifted over this Emerald City like a blanket and obscured any view beyond a block or two. We were enjoying breakfast on the 32nd floor of the Sheraton Seattle Hotel. The fog would soon vanish, and downtown Seattle and its mix of historic and contemporary architecture again would dominate Puget Sound.

At breakfast yesterday, from the same table, we had a clear view across the Sound and beyond to the distant mountains. It was clear and sunny. Across Seattle, between the evergreen sentinels, the trees were brilliant reds and yellows. A tugboat towing a loaded barge crept across the calm water. A ferry loaded with commuters from across the Sound was approaching the landing in downtown Seattle.

 Yesterday, after breakfast, we drove from Seattle south on Interstate 5 through Tacoma. At Olympia, we turned west and drove through Aberdeen to the coastal community of Westport. The day was sunny, a rarity this time of year between Olympia and the coast.

 We saw Mother Nature in some of her colorful fall wardrobe. The evergreen forest was accented by the deciduous trees and bushes that were vibrant torches of red, yellow and orange. We passed several small communities. We took a quick detour through one and saw modest homes with neat yards and picket fences lining the streets.

We arrived in Westport before noon. Traffic was light. The parking lot at the elementary school was full, unlike the parking lots of most of the community’s small motels that cater to fishermen and other visitors. Deer and bear sightings in the surrounding woods are common. Cats and small dogs sometimes vanish, and residents often blame coyotes.

Obscured by vegetation in the woods nearby is the site where a large military cannon was installed during World War II. The evidence is a rusting circular metal track, like a gear from a giant engine, on which the gun rotated.

A few days before our journey to Westport, we visited central Washington’s Yakima Valley. For lunch one day, we drove from Yakima up the Naches River to Whistlin’ Jack Lodge. The business was started in 1931. In 2007, the Williams family celebrated its 50th anniversary as owners. The works of local painters and metal artists decorate one wall of the restaurant. We enjoyed lunches of smoked salmon fettucine and fish and chips.

The dining room at Whistlin’ Jack overlooks the river and forest scene that artist Norman Rockwell would have appreciated. The only sounds were a soft breeze whispering through the trees and the sounds of the cold, clear river splashing over boulders. Two solitary fishermen were enjoying the afternoon. A branch drifting downriver snagged the line of one fisherman.

After lunch, we continued our drive up the two-lane state highway snaking through the Wenatchee National Forest to Chinook Pass. There was very little traffic. At the summit, the sign says the elevation is 5,430 feet, just a little over a mile above sea level. The temperature is about 40 because water was running slowly from the occasional piles of snow created along the road by snowplows.

We turned around and headed down the mountain. We stopped at Whistlin’ Jack again and saw that the parking lot was busier than when we left it a couple hours earlier. It was late afternoon on a Friday. Fall is accelerating, so outdoors enthusiasts could be taking advantage of the region’s unusually warm weather for this time of year. Two men stepped from their pickup. One carried a rifle scabbard. Elk season was starting the next morning in eastern Washington.

Nov 1st, 2008

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