It’s cooling now. The grass is soft underfoot and the evening’s breeze is from the north off Commencement Bay, smelling of salt and the Cascade Mountains beyond it.
There is a new fence, which was the summer outdoor project this year.
There was a trip to the Olympic peninsula. We drove to the mouth of the Elwha to see the mountain of sand deposited on a new huge delta since the dams were taken out five years ago. Birds and surfers are happy there with the returning salmon, and there was an eagle.
We drove to Cape Disappointment along highway 101 after seeing the Elwha delta. The road south was good and everything looked alive, full of water and happy in the sun. Cape Disappointment is on the north bank of the Columbia River at its mouth. On the top of the bluff, an eagle perched on a Douglas fir branch hundreds of feet above the river, watching cormorants far below on the rocks. After twenty minutes with our cameras at the ready, the raptor’s sole action was preening with its back to us. We gave up and hiked up the hill to the lighthouse.
On the hike we saw what looked like grape vines growing on our fence at home. The leaves were the same size and color though the shape wasn’t quite right. What really threw us off were the clinging tendrils sent out by the vine that were exactly like our grape’s tendrils. We eventually found a vine with a small fruit covered in spines, like a horse chestnut, and about the size of a purple plum. We since learned it is called “Marah oregana” or “coastal manroot,” a native to the northwest.
Below the lighthouse is Waikiki Beach, a large sandy beach under mountainous piles of aged drift wood. The vast mouth of the Columbia dominated the distant view, and the crowd was quiet, no boomboxes, lawnmowers, blowers, or bells. They made driftwood shanties and hung their towels from posts. Very few people were actually inside these small shelters. They looked precarious, like a breath of wind would push them over.
We drove back along highway 4, which passes through Grays River, a very small riverside hamlet, and home to Duffys Irish Pub. We stopped for Irish Stew and beer. The dining room was everyone’s basement, packed with books, nick-nacks, guns, native art, what have you. Duffy is 83, and cooks everything. The stew was good but it took some time for it to show up. We were the only people in the place except for the bartender from Arkansas. He served us the meal as well as stood behind the large bar.
That night we stayed at a small farmhouse in Skamokawa along the Middle Valley Road called The Inn At Crippen Creek Farm. The house is actually on pasture land next to the left fork of Skamakowa Creek. Don Speranza, the landlord, is a cook and a former policeman from Portland. Kitty, his wife, hooks rugs at a master level. The house is new and comfortable and filled with light, with an enormous common room that contains a large open kitchen, islands of seating in comfortable chairs, and a large, quite beautiful, dining table. The stay there was lovely; they are lovely.
This week Robert Frank died. He is in that group of photographers from last century which has taught us how to see. It is august and includes the likes of Paul Strand, Gene Smith, Arbus, and Bresson, Walker Evans, Winogrand, to name a few off the top of my head. He saw so clearly, so simply, so sadly.
“The kind of photography I did is gone. It’s old,” Frank told the Guardian in 2004. “There are too many pictures now. It’s overwhelming.”
Loose Dog, Cape Disappointment August 2019, Today's Coolphoto 09/12/2019
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