Sharing some weekend wanderings off the bike – Billy Frank Jr Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. A peaceful place to be during these tumultuous times.

Jumping in the car with a close friend you head to Nisqually nature preserve near Olympia, but first a customary stop for coffee. Greeted by the vibrant and welcoming barista she creates your perfect cup of nectar. You sip the sweet, smooth caramel macchiato and know it will keep your hands warm on this winter hike. Yum!

Dropping down into the Nisqually estuary the morning mist permeates every open crevice of your clothing. Time to zip up your rain gear and head out to wander the boardwalk knowing the experience will be worth each step during this 5-mile journey. Pausing for a moment you breath deeply and allow the morning chorus of finch, crows, jays, and sparrows serenade you. There is such peace and calm.

Moisture laden lichen hangs from the bare trees as the boardwalk meanders through marshland and standing groves of cotton wood trees. The heavy fog muffles the sounds and filters the light as if you are in a world isolated from the outside. And in this fog the distant rumble of the freeway reminds you of the relaxing sound of the ocean surf. Fat finches hop from branch to branch and wood ducks glide on the surface of the water.

Sharing this moment with your friend you both stand in silence drawing in the beauty of this moment. New ideas filter to your conversations, old stories and shared moments add to the richness of the journey. Friendly bird-watchers with long lensed cameras share their knowledge of a solitary Grey Herron standing in the water, much like a bird dog holding point. Evidently, it is also waterfowl hunting season, so maybe he is just waiting it out.

Rounding the corner, massive weather worn twin barns harken back to an earlier era. Windows boarded up, white paint pealing from the trim, and a grand meadow reaches out toward the tree lined edge. You can imagine the activity, animals and people that must have worked this land you now have the privilege to enjoy.

As you head back to the car, engaging in conversation while enjoying the sights, sounds, and calming mist of the estuary fills you with gratitude for friends and shared experiences. This is a beautiful place and one that you would like to revisit, next time by kayak.

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