When we made the decision to spend the summer in the Pacific Northwest, our travels revolved around attending the Sequim Lavender Weekend. I imagined standing among rolling hills of lavender gently swaying in the breeze, breathing deeply the intoxicating scent, listening to the humming of busy little bees.
Sequim (pronounced skwim) is known for its commercial cultivation of lavender and has grown so much over the years that it has now claimed the title of “Lavender Capital of North America”, rivaled only by France. The drier climate, unlike much of the Olympic Peninsula, seems to favor this beautiful, aromatic herb known for its relaxation quality.
This bustling little town falls within what is known as the Olympic Rain Shadow. While the town of Forks, just 60 miles away, receives about 120 inches of rain per year, Sequim is practically a desert, registering only 16 inches annually. The Olympic Mountains act like a wall to protect the northeastern Olympic Peninsula from the bulk of the rain that moves across the Pacific Northwest, wringing much of the moisture out of the air before it falls to the ground.
Fog and cool breezes that come off the Strait of Juan de Fuca make Sequim more humid that your average desert, so everything around is lush and green. Fruits and vegetables are abundant here, as we soon learned when the “welcome wagon” arrived at our lovely little campsite at Dungeness Spit Recreation Area.
Friends Ardythe and Celene (mother and daughter) from our former Yellowstone National Park days, now living in Sequim, came bearing gifts of cherries from their tree, a huge bag of fresh produce and herbs from their garden, and fresh eggs from their chickens. We were so touched by their generosity.
And that was just the beginning. Celene made a scrumptious dinner with friend Ben a couple of nights later, where I was able to spend some time with the girls and Chris, Ardythe’s husband and my former colleague, catching up on life since Yellowstone.
Our visit to Sequim would not have been complete without a visit to the New Dungeness Lighthouse, which requires an 11-mile out-and-back walk on the longest sand spit in the U.S., a hike best done at low tide. This stretch of sand continues to grow at a rate of 13 feet per year…pretty amazing! At the tip is the beautifully restored New Dungeness Lighthouse and a small museum. We enjoyed lunch outside on the lawn while visiting with a couple who had signed up to act as lighthouse keepers for the week, an intriguing program.
We knew the lavender festival would be well-attended so we decided to visit a couple of farms for photo ops before the crowds descended. Our choices were Jardin du Soleil…
and Graysmarsh Lavender & Berry Farm, a you-pick farm with rolling hills of lavender and many types of berries. We loved the berries so much we went back a second time before leaving Sequim.
Fellow Jojobians Roger, Shary, Art, and Cj were in the area for the weekend festivities and joined us at the Washington Lavender Farm. With the backdrop of the George Washington Inn, a B&B that replicates the Mount Vernon estate in Virginia, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the grounds were lovely. The staff was dressed in period costume and Revolutionary War battles were being re-enacted on the lawn. With good food, music, and friends by our side, it was a delightful day.
A girls’ outing with Ardythe and Celene rounded out our stay in Sequim. They gave me a flavor of the area with a trip to Glass Beach in Port Townsend in search of sea glass, visits to Port Gamble and Bandy’s Troll Haven, and stops along country roads for photos of old barns. The time we shared together is something I will always remember and I look forward to seeing them again somewhere down the road.
Next Up: Going back in time to Neah Bay