Flying South

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.

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Travel Theme: distance.

Click here for more interpretations of the Weekly Travel Theme: Sea.


  1. What a beautiful place for a last look at home country! May your daughter be reminded of the connection when she looks at the ocean from further south…we ebb away and flow back home so often, like a toddler steps away and back to Momma’s skirt. It’s nice to know how to follow that rhythm. 🙂

    1. Dear Tess,
      Thank you–I always love to hear from you. We will get Bea back for a week over Thanksgiving, and I am already looking forward to it.

      Switchbacks are trails that switch direction back and forth, usually where very steep hillsides make it impossible to walk straight up or down. The switchbacks help keep the trail or a road from ascending or descending too sharply.

  2. What a beautiful place and a beautiful day to spend the last day before school. Hope she enjoyed the cool. It’s 90 degrees here right now … 🙂

    It’s so poignant when they go off.

    1. Dear Jamie,

      Yesterday we had thunderstorms all day long–a rarity for Western Washington and an exhilarating treat for this native Michigander. Thunderstorms and the truly brilliant fall colors are what I miss most about Michigan. It brought a turn in the weather, and I must say I enjoyed the high of 68 degrees! Stay cool, dear friend!

  3. So Pretty, Naomi. We each have a west coast scholar, although my mine puts more emphasis on the athlete part of the equation! She’s attending USC this year and playing lacrosse…..Pac 12 means a test against Stanford this spring! I miss her, as I know you miss Bea.

    Take care,

    1. Dear Elisa,
      Playing lacrosse! That’s interesting–a game with a very old history. I will think of her whenever I hear about Stanford vs. USC. Since I’m not much of a sports fan (I made an exception for the Detroit Tigers in 1968), I always just root for nobody getting killed.
      Thank you for sharing your daughter’s story, Elisa. The winter holidays will mean all that much more to me for seeing our kids then.
      Warm wishes to you and your daughter,

  4. What a wonderful location and wonderful way to spend the last day before she spreads her wings a little further and starts this new part of her life. Chin up, mom!

    1. Dear Carol,
      Thanks for the visit, and the encouragement. I heard from Bea today–text messages from her Marine Biology field trip, and she’s having a great time. When our kids spread their wings and fly, it’s because we have done our job helping them learn to do so.
      Thinking of you, and hoping you are okay.

  5. Entertainment is all about emotion, and you have mastered the art of capturing universal “yes!” sets in so many ways … your tag list says it well. My arms are around you as there are no words to adequately describe and share these moments in your lives. Photo’s tell it better. Hugs.

    1. Dear Marion,
      Thank you so much for your very kind response–you can always tell a writer when you hear one! My little birdie is doing well, and I am looking forward to seeing her over the holidays. Thanks for the hug!

    1. Hi Patti,
      I am so so so fortunate to live here. I knew from my first trip out from Michigan at the age of twelve that I would be coming back as soon as I was grown up.
      Thanks so much for the visit, and for your kind comment.

  6. Congratulations to Bea, and Good Luck. I loved your photographs and the way to spend a day together between mountains and sea… We will be missing our children always 🙂 my son, he is abroad too. Wonderful post I read and watched, Thank you dear Naomi, have a nice weekend, love, nia

    1. Dear Nia,

      Thank you. I know you must miss your son very much too. I appreciate your sharing your thoughtful comments. Best wishes to you and your family. I hope you have a great weekend too!

    1. Thanks, J.D. It was a very beautiful place. Ebey’s ghost is said to haunt the place, but I was feeling the presence of the Native Americans who farmed that fertile prairie for centuries before Ebey filed his claim to it.

  7. So poignant! I’m sure she’ll have a great year. I know how you feel! Saying goodbye to the kids is so hard. At least she’s still on the West Coast! Gorgeous photos- you live in one of the prettiest parts of the country.

    1. HI Lisa,
      You’re right. Saying goodbye is hard, but it makes a huge difference having her on the same coast. It used to take Eli two days to get home from Maine, if the winter weather cooperated. We could get to SF and back in a day if we planned it right, and snow isn’t likely to keep her grounded on either end of her trip.
      Thank you for the kind words.

  8. every bird flying south there will be another trip north– beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing the story of Ebey and gorgeous views of the coast.

    1. Dear Eunice,
      Isn’t Skype an amazing invention? I had some very happy txt messages from Bea, and I know she is doing well, learning lots, and having fun.
      Thanks so much for the visit and for your kind response.

  9. The tender emotions so expertly captured by your lens and words tugged at my heartstrings Naomi, Beautiful post and clever interpretation of two challenges 🙂

  10. Lovely, tender post, Naomi. Thanks for the story. I would also have spared a thought for Isaac’s family as I passed by the old homestead. Family times are so precious aren’t they? The memories we make when we’re together, do manage see us through until the next time we meet. All the best to Bea. 🙂

    1. Dear Sylvia,
      Thank you for your kind response. I know you have a tender heart, which is just one reason why your family ties are so strong. I am really looking forward to seeing Bea over Thanksgiving, but very happy to know she is all settled back into school and having a great time. Thanks so much for your good wishes.

  11. I loved this sweet tale and the photos were beautiful. It must be bittersweet letting your two wonderful children fly off from home. But they are so well-equipped to thrive.

    1. Dear Ruth,
      You are so right. I know they are doing what they are supposed to do, and having great adventures. It’s always lovely when they come back to light a spell.
      Thanks so much for stopping in, and taking the time to comment. It is always good to hear from you.
      Best wishes to you and Rodger. Have you picked out your next adventure?

    1. Hi Charlie,
      We are fortunate to have so many choices when it comes to island hopping and lovely hikes here in the Northwest! Do you have a favorite? Thank you so much for your visit, and for sharing your thoughts. It is always good to hear from you.

  12. This is such a beautiful post, and a splendid way to celebrate your daughter’s stay away from home for the purpose of study. Happy for all of the family, that your time together is spent so beautifully. An inspiration.

    1. Dear Shimon,
      Thank you for your thoughtful response. Bea has always loved hiking and being outside. (She used to climb up into our cherry tree with a notebook to write poetry.) It seemed a very appropriate way to spend her last day at home for a while.
      Thinking of you, and hoping you are well.

  13. She’s a beautiful girl, Naomi. I have a lump in my throat thinking of mine and the troubles she has endured. I know you’ll have much joy in her, along with the heartache.

    1. Dear Jo,
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts–you are always so kind. I still remember the photos and stories you have shared of your darling girl. I forget who said that having a child is like having your heart run around outside your body, but it’s true, isn’t it?

  14. That is a perfect , magical place to spend a last family adventure before school starts. Beautiful pics especially the ocean. Most moving part is the picture where your daughter lovingly hugging her father. That is a heart breaking scene to any parent but then we slowly have to let our kids spread their own wings, soar and fly to highest peak that they can reach. Their dreams are now our dreams.wishing your kids all the success in life.

    1. Thank you for stopping by and sharing, as always, kind and thoughtful comments. I am happy to say that Bea is settling in and doing well. Can’t wait to see her for Thanksgiving!

  15. you made me smile with:
    “…blockhouse built for protection
    from Native American uprisings.
    (You can’t blame the indigenous
    people–they were there first.)”

  16. Beautiful! I have a great start to my morning after reading your post, Naomi. Incidentally, behavioural economist Dan Ariely cited “moving closer to work” as one of the things that can drastically improve your quality of life (lower stress levels, spend more time with family, exercise by walking or biking to work). Unfortunately people don’t do this enough. 🙂

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