It was our last day before our daughter Bea returned to Stanford, so we let her decide how to spend it. Hiking was her first choice. In Washington one must often decide—mountains or ocean?
But the trail at Ebey’s Landing on Whidbey Island gave us a little of both, plus some Washington State history.
The trail takes you past the historic house of Jacob and Sarah Ebey, built in the early 1850s, and the blockhouse built for protection from Native American uprisings. (You can’t blame the indigenous people–they were there first.)
Isaac Ebey found his paradise on Whidbey. The government was granting 640 acres to each homesteader. Isaac convinced not only his parents, Jacob and Sarah Ebey, to come homestead on Whidbey Island, but several siblings and cousins as well.
From Jacob and Sarah’s house, you can see Isaac Ebey’s homestead, pictured below. He was one of the first white settlers on Whidbey Island, was the island’s prosecuting attorney, a representative of the Oregon State Legislature when Washington was still part of Oregon Territory, and he helped persuade the legislature to separate Washington from Oregon Territory. Ebey was also a tax collector, a customs agent, and captain of the local volunteer militia.
But there was trouble in paradise. In 1857 Native Americans–probably Haida–came to avenge the death of their chief at the hands of white men in Port Gamble. The man they meant to kill wasn’t home, but they knew Ebey was an important man, and they knew where he lived. They knocked on his door; when he opened it, they killed and beheaded him, taking his head as a trophy.
As we walked past Isaac’s house, I thought of his parents, wife, and children, left to grieve in paradise.
The view was heavenly. From the bluff, we looked west to the Olympic Peninsula and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, to the south was Mt. Rainier, and the Cascade Mountains were visible to the east.
We took in the smell of salt, the sparkle of sunlight on the water, the feel of the earth beneath our boots.
The trail took us to the water, and then along some of Washington’s highest coastal bluffs.
Below was the beach…
…and Peregos Lake, formed by a narrow spit covered with giant weathered drift logs.
Via switchbacks we descended the steep golden hillside to the beach….
…where we found all kinds of treasures…
…including several dead Lion’s Mane jellyfish, which we examined in detail.
Each moment has become a precious memory which I will bring out and savor as needed, like a box of fine chocolates.
Looping back toward the trailhead…
…I thought about our little chick.
Soon she would be navigating a different coastline.
For her I wished for calm waters…
…and guiding light.
I had to remind myself how lucky we are. When the pioneers struck out on their own and bid their parents farewell, it was almost always forever.
But for every bird flying south there will be another trip north. And for every plane flying out of Seattle, there’s another one coming home.
All words and images copyright 2013 Naomi Baltuck.
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