It has been a HOT summer! The days have all quickly warmed up to high 90′s and even 100 degrees! One morning I was scrolling through my Facebook and saw a post from Green Bluff, my favorite place to go, especially in the fall. They do harvests all year round, though, for things like cherries, apples, and even lavender. Their post mentioned a fun place called Fleur de Provence Lavender Farm (check out their website as they have great tips for growing lavender as well as recipes!), where you can cut your own handfuls and even buckets full of lavender! It sounded like an amazing way to spend the morning, even in the hot hot hot weather.
So we got out of the car and were quickly greeted by a lady who, from the look of her dark tanned skin, ran the business and did all of the care-taking of the lavender. She told us about the different kinds of lavender growing in her field, taught us the best way to test the smells (running your hands up a bundle of their stems), and showed us how to cut the lavender. Because lavender attracts bees which swarm around the plants, you use your foot to shake the plant a bit until the bees fly away. Then you grab a handful of stems, and cut them near the base by the leaves. We were able to mix and match the different kinds, although we had no idea what we were using them for, so we just picked whatever we liked or smelled good! It didn’t take long before we had an entire bucket full.
It was so peaceful out on the lavender farm. Because the weather was literally melting people, there weren’t many others braving the heat, so we had the farm basically to ourselves. When we stopped talking, all you could hear was the humming of thousands and thousands of bees. Although I am quite terrified of bees (they like to sting me for literally no reason), it was actually a soothing sound to hear all of them buzzing away doing their natural work. But you couldn’t quite frolic through the fields like I always imagined doing, without getting stung hundreds of times. And the smells…it was by far the best. To breathe in the air and get a sweet lavender scent filling your nose was very calming. It filled the air, but I was happy to take home even just a bag!
Take your chance to harvest some lavender yourself, unlike me, the lavender loves the summer heat!
Posted by Shaleesa Mize on 07/23/2014
I was super excited when one of my best friends asked me if I wanted to go on a hike and have a picnic at the Bowl and Pitcher, a popular spot along the Spokane river for camping and trails for walking and biking. It is a place I have visited many times before, but never really explored the paths to realize how large it is. We started wandering just around lunchtime, and after choosing some random paths, we were on our way. There were large rock mountains everywhere, and we got curious about how high they went and what was up before. So, we started climbing. At the top, we ran across an open space and a road that we saw a couple bikers riding along.
We figured we should follow them and see what they were heading toward. But, it turned out that the road they were traveling was a bit long and we had no idea where we were. We kept walking at this point because there were no signs or trails to navigate. After walking further up hill for a few more miles, we came across a scenic viewpoint, looking over the river, the forests, and the city in the distance.
Here, at the viewpoint, was a map. It appeared that we had walked several miles already, and the next closest thing was an equestrian center, a mile away. I remember my mother-in-law telling me about the paths of the Bowl and Pitcher — the one on the right (which we took) went into the woods, and the one on the left took you to the equestrian center. I figured, then, we must be close. So we continued down the road to the equestrian center, catching up on life and talking about future events. It felt like we were walking forever, but we saw a lot of pretty areas along the way.
When we finally reached the equestrian center, we were starving, but we found another map. We thought we had to be getting close back to the wooden bridge that would get us across the river and to the parking lot (where our food was waiting for us in the car). But after viewing the map, we had totally overshot the bridge and had a long hike back to the park. We memorized the trail we would need to take — two intersections where we would turn left on both — and headed off back into the woods. The trails seemed hardly used, and it turns out, there was more than just the two intersections the map had shown. We kept taking lefts anyway, and we got lucky enough to end back up on the right path, following the curves of the river. By the time we got back to the wood bridge, we had probably walked a total of at least 6 miles (which was more than either of us had anticipated), but it was a fun adventure nevertheless. We had built up an appetite and enjoyed the rest of our afternoon dipping our feet in the river and munching on picnic-y snacks.
How I love taking adventures and chatting with good friends! And how I love being back within nature’s reach!
Posted by Shaleesa Mize on 07/16/2014
One of my favorite parts of our weekend spent at Priest Lake was our hike across the river from our cabin. There is an enormous expanse of trees, and for the longest time, I have wondered what is over there. I asked my dad, and he told me about a bridge that used to cross the river to the other side and led you to trails and bridges through the forest. We decided it would be a lot of fun to take the kayaks across the river, tie them up at the old dock, and take a little adventure through the unknown. Seeing nature in an area rarely touched was very beautiful.
Posted by Shaleesa Mize on 07/11/2014
The 4th of July weekend was the first time I got to go to our family’s lake place in Priest Lake not only since we have been back in town, but probably for 1-1/2 years. I was soo needing some lake time, some nature time. Connor was really happy to be at the lake to swim, too, but the water was freezing, so there wasn’t too much swimming happening. We spent our time on top of the water, in the boat or kayaks, or next to the water, lounging on the dock and hiking. After arriving, the smells were the first things I recognized and they immediately brought back memories, especially those of my childhood there.
The smell of warm leather seats of the boat, the smell of worn canvas of the inner-tubes, the smell of dusty life jackets that haven’t been worn in years, the smell of sunblock, and the smell of rubber booeys that have been baking in the sun.
The smell of dewey grasses, leaves, and branches in the morning, the musty dirt, and all of those fresh-yet-old smells of the forest.
It’s so curious how smells can take us back in time so quickly. I react most to smells, but also sounds. The sounds at the lake are numerous: the rushing water through the dam, the chirping birds, the muffled laughter of neighboring children, and the gurgling motors of the boats passing by. So many sounds, yet still the lake is peaceful and quiet.
I hope you all had a safe, happy, and patriotic 4th of July!
Posted by Shaleesa Mize on 07/09/2014
(Panoramic View of similar rock formations – Garden of the Gods)
We have been doing lots of small adventures since being back in Washington, like hiking and walking the dogs, playing outside and visiting family. I have taken a lot of pictures I will eventually share, but while going through my camera, I found some awesome pictures from our last weekend in Colorado. We were driving near Littleton and the Chatfield Reservoir, and we realized how close we were to the mountains, but during our time in Colorado, we never actually went to the mountains! So, we started driving and we ended up in Deer Creek Canyon Park at the base of the mountains. It was so beautiful!
We got out and hiked and saw red rock formations that were very similar to Garden of the Gods. We drove around a lot, too, enjoying all of the pine trees; something we hadn’t seen in nearly a year. As we were exiting the park, Connor spotted a black bear standing against a fence on the side of the road, scouting out some bicyclists that had just passed. We slammed on our brakes to get a better look, but the bear quickly ran off. Connor had never seen a black bear outside of a zoo, so he was pretty excited. I was, too, because I was only expecting to see maybe a few deer. But a black bear, so close to the city and people, was pretty surprising.
Taking this last adventure to the mountains was the only thing left on my list to do in Colorado. I think if I hadn’t gotten just a little taste of the mountains before we left, I would have felt left out or like I was missing a big part of what Colorado has to offer. By no means was it the full experience, but, it was something, and it was enough for us before saying goodbye.
Posted by Shaleesa Mize on 07/02/2014