A Trip to the Olympic Peninsula: Snow and Fire
My wife and I were recently blessed by a visit from our daughter. Our son-in-law is currently on base for training with the National Guard, so she decided to join us. We rented a house in Port Angeles, Washington. It's on the Olympic Peninsula and close to a lot of outdoor spots to visit. It's a very beautiful town that backs up to the Salish Sea with views of Canada to the North and nestles against the Olympic Mountains to the South.
We had a few activities planned, including a challenge I've wanted to take on for some time. First, a quick update...
⭐ As of today I'm excited to share that my Team Fox Fundraiser is over the halfway mark with $8,100 out of $15,000 raised. I am deeply grateful to everyone who helped contribute to this milestone and am very committed to raising the remaining $7,000. Giving is a deeply personal decision. If you are interested in contributing or know someone who may be able to help, please visit my Parkinson's Disease fundraising page!
The Paqui "One Chip Challenge" ☠🌶
One symptom of Parkinson's is the potential loss or alteration of your sense of smell. Fortunately for me, this hasn't manifested yet. Smell is connected to taste and I imagine things start to taste dramatically different when you lose your smell sense. For me, smell and taste connect to provide an experience I enjoy: the heat of spice. I like spice. I mean I really like spice. I own and regularly consume hot sauces that range from a few thousands to millions on the Scoville scale.
A favorite splurge of mine on the weekends is Paqui Ghost Pepper chips. To me they have some good heat with an amazing flavor. Paqui has a special chip (yes, that's right, it's a bag with literally one chip in it) made from the Carolina Reaper pepper. It is considered one of the hottest chili peppers in the world! They have a challenge that involves you eating the chip and filming your reaction (the official challenge is over, but I wanted to do it anyway).
My daughter has her own vlog (Wandering the Gap) and does a lot of filming and editing, so I decided to wait until she visited. I tackled the challenge the first day of the trip because I had no idea what to expect or how I would respond to it. The result was hilarious! I survived, and my daughter did an amazing job of capturing the moment on video.
I enjoyed the challenge and learned something new. I read that stress can trigger Parkinson's Disease symptoms, but for the most part my life is very stress-free. Even with current events, like the COVID-19 pandemic, I seldom experience much anxiety or stress. I know that worry doesn't do anything for me, so I take steps to minimize it by not dwelling on negativity and putting my faith and trust in Jesus. It was amazing to see how the heat from the chip triggered my tremor. It was completely out of control and probably the most exaggerated movement I've experienced! Fortunately, it only lasted a few seconds.
A Bit of Snow ❄
The home we rented is close to a famous spot called Hurricane Ridge. It's an area you can go from "ski level to sea level" in minutes. Unfortunately, weather conditions mandated chains to drive to the top and we don't have chains. Fortunately, we were able to drive the section that wasn't restricted and in just a few minutes went from our sunny little house with a water view to a winter wonderland.
We spent the rest of the day playing cards 🃏♥♦♠♣ and board games 🎲 and enjoyed dinner at a delicious Thai restaurant (yes, I ordered maximum spice level).
The Journey to Cape ❌Flattery ✅Disappointment
Our Sunday plan was to take it easy in the morning, then drive about 60 miles (95 kilometers) to Cape Flattery. Located in northwestern Washington on the Olympic Peninsula, Cape Flattery boasts a short but incredibly scenic hike to the farthest point on land to the northwest in the contiguous United States.
The drive up was beautiful. The road runs parallel to the Strait of Juan de Fuca most of the way. This body of water is split by the border between the United States and Canada and is home to several species of whales. This was not whale season, but we were treated to views like this one:
The hike crosses lands that belong to the Makah tribe. We stopped by a local grocery store to purchase our tribal permit that would allow us to park and hike. We were informed the lands would be closed to all non-tribe members starting the next day due to COVID-19. We were thankful we made it in time and drove the remaining 15 minutes to the trailhead. There, we were greeted by a big "closed" sign and a tribal police officer. He informed us the tribe held a council meeting literally minutes before we passed through and made the decision not to wait. The news? Closed immediately. Must vacate the lands.
The officer was extremely polite and apologetic and we completely understood and respected their decision. It was just a little disappointing after several hours to be so close yet not be able to cross the finish line. We did pull off the side of the road on the way back and I was able to snap this shot looking west.
The permit is good for a year so our plan is to return once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, hopefully by summer. That will be during whale season so we can make a weekend of it, watch some whales and finally hit that flattering cape we came so close to.
Overall, it was a wonderful weekend away!