Fun with Dick and Jane

Thursday, November 15, 2012 Road Junkies 0 Comments

Ellensburg, WA to Seattle, WA
Before leaving Ellensburg (pop. 18,468) this morning, we were lured to an unusual local attraction in search of a letterbox located there.  Known as Dick and Jane's Spot (pictured above), this private home has become a folk art masterpiece.  After artists Dick and Jane bought and renovated the dilapidated house in 1978, they began to enhance the exterior with their creations.  Dick particularly enjoyed working with bicycle reflectors and incorporated thousands of them into his designs.
Other favorite materials include bottle caps, nails, telephone poles, electrical insulators, and metal ductwork.  Whatever comes their way has been transformed into folk art.  Works by 40 other artists are also included in their "yard art" collection.  Though their exhibit was originally opposed by locals, the community has come to embrace Dick and Jane's Spot as an Ellensburg attraction and even promotes the art space on the city's web site.  It is certainly among the best executed—not to mention most colorful—roadside art we've encountered on this trip.

Buoyed by the cheerful whimsy of what the owners call "art for the heart, from the heart, in the heart of Washington," we left Ellensburg for our journey through the Cascade Mountains, optimistic about what we might see on this scenic byway that would take us to Seattle.  Alas, fog lay in wait for us for the first half of the trip, lurking over the top of mountains and blocking our views of these majestic peaks.
Montes Obscurata

Finally around noon, the fog burned off and we were treated briefly to some patches of blue sky and sunshine.  Little did either matter, however, for we were driving under a canopy toward the end of a five-mile forest service road near North Bend.  What spurred this detour was a fascinating sight we spotted from the interstate—a helicopter dangling a tree and moving it from one location to another.
No doubt we wouldn't have been allowed anywhere near this operation, but that didn't stop us from trying.  We did not stumble across the location where the loggers were at work, but we did learn subsequently that helicopters have been introduced into the timber industry to reduce the harmful environmental impact that traditional logging methods can cause.  Helicopters enable the harvesting of older growth trees that have been damaged by storms or other natural disasters.
Talapus Lake Trail

What we did find at the end of that road was a deeply shaded hemlock and spruce forest lushly adorned with vibrant green mosses.  A trail led into the forest, and it seemed to be inviting us to leave a little treasure behind.  Hidden beneath a large mossy rock, our Washington letterbox now awaits visitors.

Back on the freeway, my consultations with the Clue Tracker app to identify letterboxes for us to search for was producing a flood of results.   Only four states host more letterboxes than Washington, so the challenge here is selecting which treasures to seek.  We finally settled on the town of Sammamish (suh-MAM-ish), an eastern suburb of Seattle.  Even after narrowing the choices down to this town of 45,780 and, for time's sake, eliminating all the boxes that involved hikes of more than one mile, we still had a bucketful of clues to sort through.
Pine Lake Park trail
Since the sun would be dropping below the horizon by 5 p.m. and we wanted to reach the hotel at a decent hour, we ran out of time long before we ran out of letterboxes.  In our too brief time in Sammamish, we visited two stunningly beautiful city parks—Pine Lake Park and Beaver Lake Park.  Both parks, which were immaculately maintained, had generous shares of lofty old growth pines and other evergreens.  Trails through the forests were lined with an abundance of large ferns whose sizes were commensurate with the towering trees.  Big-leaf maples blended right in as well, most of their chest-size leaves already carpeting the ground. 

After checking in at our hotel, we reheated our leftovers from last night's meal at the Ellensburg Pasta Company while weighing options for tomorrow.  That's when we came across the National Weather Service's unpleasant surprise for our stay in Seattle:  "A major change in the weather is coming this weekend," their announcement stated.  "A series of strong weather systems will arrive in western Washington beginning Saturday. Each system will bring rain, heavy at times, and windy conditions..."

According to their predictions, Saturday's storm system will be followed by another on Sunday and a third on Monday:  "Weather models have difficulty with timing and other details when the pattern is as progressive as this appears to be with an impressive series of storms headed our way." 

Not enough to leave us sleepless in Seattle, but this news certainly has us planning a bit more carefully, looking into museums and other indoor activities for the weekend ahead.

  • Miles driven:  156
  • Letterboxes:  F 7, P 1
  • Weather:  34° to 48°, foggy to partly cloudy
  • States:  1 (WA)
  • Snowmobile speed limit signs:  15
  • Brake lights in Seattle rush hour:  117,268
Dick and Jane keeping the bicycle reflector manufacturers in business
Reflecting their own style
Cute Post Office of the Day:  Easton, Washington
Towering Giants
You don't see too many signs like this in Georgia.