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. scillagrace says:

    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 Scilla,
      That’s a wonderful way to look at it! Thank you so much, as always, for a fresh perspective.

  2. Awwwwwwwwwwwwww. Too precious. Another chick leaves the nest but she will grow and return. Love your pictorial tours. You do a bang-up travel log.

    What are switchbacks?

    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.

  3. gkm2011 says:

    Beautiful – I am sure she will fly far, but never forget the way home.

    1. Thank you so much for those comforting words–I know they are true, and I tell myself that, but it helps to hear them.

  4. Jamie Dedes says:

    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!

  5. Arlene says:

    Absolutely beautiful!!

    1. Dear Arlene,
      Thank you so much for your visit, and your generous response.

  6. elisaruland says:

    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,

  7. Carol says:

    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.

  8. 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!

  9. Wonderful recap of time spent with your departing daughter as she heads south to Stanford. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Howdy Cuz!
      Thanks for stopping by, and for your kind comment.

  10. meg says:

    What a lovely day together – out in the welcoming, wide world. Great photos. Always a tear slips out. M

    1. Dear Meg,
      Thank you so much for your visit, and for sharing your very sweet thoughts.

  11. pattisj says:

    What a lovely place to spend the day. You really do have the best of both, mountains and sea.

    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.

  12. niasunset says:

    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!

  13. Beautiful post, Naomi and your pictures were outstanding. Especially the one of father and daughter saying goodbye. It brought a tear of recognition to my eye..

    1. Dear Maggie,
      Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your kind words, and I know that, as a mom, you been there and done that.
      Best wishes,

  14. bulldog says:

    What a wonderful way to spend the last days at home… fly little birdie, but don’t take too long before returning to home…

    1. Your comment says it all, and it really made me smile. Thanks so much for the visit.

  15. footsy2 says:

    Along with the ‘like’ option there should be a ‘LOVE’ option. I love this.

    1. Dear Footsy,
      You are so kind! Thank you for your very dear response!

  16. Beautiful pictures Naomi and what a lovely way to say “Bon Voyage”

    1. Thanks, Dallas. It was a precious day to us all.

  17. J.D. Gallagher says:

    Great pictures. Looks like a wonderful place to visit.

    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.

  18. 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.

  19. Amy says:

    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 Amy,
      I appreciate your stopping by, and taking the time to share your thoughts about the post. Thanks so much!

  20. nutsfortreasure says:

    Wonderful story now to keep yourself very busy and SKYPE 🙂

    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.

      1. nutsfortreasure says:

        I am so happy she is loving college life. You hang in there.

      2. Thank you, dear Eunice!

      3. nutsfortreasure says:

        You are welcome.

  21. Roy McCarthy says:

    Ah, great story and a lovely daughter. Peregos Lake is uncannily similar to Chesil Beach on the Dorset coast, a naturally-formed seawater lake.

    1. Thank you, Roy, for the visit, and your sweet comment. I have never been to Chesil Beach, but I love the Dorset coast, and hope to get back there one day.

  22. Madhu says:

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

    1. Thank you, Madhu. You are really so kind!

  23. adinparadise says:

    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.

  24. Mary Brugh says:

    Beautiful, Naomi!

    1. Thank you, Mary. I hope you are well. We still miss you here in Seattle!

  25. Ruth Shelby says:

    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?

  26. The islands in Puget Sound are amazing places to walk and even more amazing jewels to share with those you love, and it is so true for every departure there is someone returning.

    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.

  27. ShimonZ says:

    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.

  28. restlessjo says:

    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?

      1. restlessjo says:

        Yes, very much so 🙂 Have a lovely day, Naomi.

  29. The perfect choice to spend time together. Beautiful post. Wishing your lovely little bird the best, Naomi. ♥ Paula

    1. Thank you, Paula–I’ll pass that on to her. I hear she is having a blast and learning a lot.

      1. She is a doll……just like her Mama ♥

  30. 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 so much. I wish the same for your little guy–he is growing up so fast!

  31. Marianne says:

    What a wonderful (and precious) time you had together before your daughter returned to Stanford.

    I love your photos, Naomi – very precious indeed 🙂

    1. Thank you, Marianne! I appreciate your visit, and your good wishes. I treasured every minute with her. She is settling in now, and doing well.

  32. A lovely post, all the best to your daughter as she starts this new semester.

    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!

      1. I’m glad to hear she is off to a good start 🙂

  33. frizztext says:

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

    1. Dear Frizz,
      Thanks so much. I appreciate your visit, and always love to hear from you!

  34. Beautifully told in words and images.

  35. Beautiful — not only the photos but the stories and dreams.

    1. Thank you so much for your visit, and your very generous response.

  36. TBM says:

    What a beautiful area to hike in. Nice photos. I wish her luck this year!

    1. Thanks so much. We are lucky to have such country so close. And Bea is having a great year so far. I appreciate your good wishes.

  37. Millie Ho says:

    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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