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Showing posts with label Festivals and Events. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Festivals and Events. Show all posts

Positive Impact Of Outdoor Adventures On Returning War Veterans.

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I don't think there is any other holiday that makes us feel more patriotic than 4th of July. No matter how trite it might sound, but it's when the fireworks start going off, you feel extremely proud to be an American, and at the same time ,it makes you think at what price it all came to us. You realize that those who serve our country deserve our profound appreciation. It is because of our war veterans that we remain strong as a nation, and we enjoy many of the freedoms we all-too-often take for granted.It makes you think what you can do to express your gratitude for their service.

In this post I want to write about two outdoor adventure projects in our state, that offer mental and physical healing for veterans, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, with post-traumatic stress disorder or injuries.

Ski to Sea 2009

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In my last post I wrote about almost all major events that would take place in our state over the Memorial Day weekend. All, but two. The two biggest, most famous, (for some people) most important events of the year- Ski to Sea relay and Sasquatch.
What can I say about Sasquatch- three days of camping, music ,comedy,and a lot of drinking.That's pretty much the whole event.Despite of the fact, that it has very little to do with the outdoors ( I guess you can call beer drinking an activity, as long as it's outdoors ), the event was mentioned in the latest issue of the Outside magazine, as one of the biggest music festivals in US.

Ski to Sea ? Not a word. Well, Outside, I guess I would have to cover that event myself.

One of the most popular team multi sport events in the nation ( sometimes called Bellingham's Olympics ), for recreational to elite athletes, Ski to Sea is a relay from the slopes of Mt Baker to the shores of Bellingham Bay. The race has seven legs: cross country, downhill skiing, running, road biking, canoeing, mountain biking and kayaking. Each leg represents a recreational segment of Whatcom County.

Ski to Sea relay is not just another sporting event. It's a celebration.The celebration of life in the Northwest. The celebration kicked off on Saturday 23th, with the traditional Ski to Sea Grand Parade that traces its heritage to the first Tulip time Festival Parade in 1920.
Traditional marching bands,community floats, firefighters and veterans were all part of the fun of the Parade.

But the actual fun begins on Sunday morning, after a blast sets a mass of up to 500 cross country skiers in motion from the Ski Shop around various points of the ski area. After XC skiers ski their leg, they pass the timing chip to the downhill skiers/snowboarders.

This leg is not so much about skiing as it about the climb up the mountain. The 1,000-foot climb is the most challenging aspect of the leg.Then the chip is passed to the runner.

2200 drop in elevation and 8 miles down the Mount Baker Highway is a lot of pounding on competitors' feet, ankles, shins, knees and hips.This is the most painful leg of the race. Blisters,cramps,shin splints and a lot of sweat await athletes during this leg.

Next is the longest leg of the race- 38.5 miles of back roads of Whatcom County. Besides being the longest leg, road biking is the most dangerous one, as at this time the highway will be open to traffic. In Everson Park the bikers pass the chip to the canoeists.

The Nooksack River is considered class 1 (on a 1 to 6 scale ), but there are plenty of deceptive hazards due to logjams, undercut trees and other obstructions. That's where team effort plays a very important role. Otherwise, a chill swim down the river is inevitable.

The mountain biking leg, this year, was slightly changed. The new course is five miles longer and has something to challenge just about everyone. About 65 percent of the course is off roads with lots of traditional obstacles,barricades to climb over and bridges to cross.

Finally, kayaking across the Bellingham Bay and ringing the bell rounds up the Ski to Sea relay.

Now it's time to celebrate.It all ends in historic district of Fairhaven. That's where an athletic competition turns into a block party with fun for all ages and tastes, featuring live music, arts and craft vendors, ethnic food and of course a beer garden.

But you will not entirely get the spirit of this event until you actually get to be a part of it. And it is not about the race, time, records or awards ( though for some people it is ). Its about having fun, challenging yourself, team work and being part of the great historic race.

I want to thank my teammates for their support and the chance to be a part of the greatest team. Sorry for not being able to share that joyful moment at the finish line, but I hope it won't be our last race together.

Civil War in Steilacoom

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We all agree that our state is a great place to live and play. Every day something interesting, unexpected, exiting is happening here. There is no shortage of events that take place in our state, county or even our own neighborhood. There is always something for everybody. How do you spend your week ends ?

One of the great resources is http://www.wfea.org/ , where you can find festivals and events for all types- outdoorsmen, artisans, social butterflies, history buffs, gourmets.

This week end Fort Steilacoom celebrated it's 160th anniversary with annual encampments re-enacting the 18th and 19th centuries, Civil War skirmishes, historical tours and more.

According to Shelly Butterfield, event coordinator for the Historic Fort Steilacoom Association, the event was expected to attract 4,000 to 5,000 spectators .On Sunday morning there were hardy 50 or so people. The crowd was so small ( mostly dog owners walking out their pets nearby ) , that for a moment I thought the event was cancelled.The admission charge was $ 5 per person. A few vendors offered a very limited choice of food - Nothern/Southern style hot dogs, hamburgers and cattlecorn. Greater depth of realism was added by the participation of members of The American Civil War Historical Re-enactment Society, who came clad in authentic 18/19th century clothes bearing authentic recreations of Civil War era. And the workshops offered insight into the music, fashion and way of life of that period. The flash of muskets firing and the sight of smoke twisting in the air in a mock battle was startling in its realism.

The fort’s anniversary celebration provides the spectators a very vivid, informative, and entertaining picture of a key period in North American history.The city holds many other annual events including the Salmon Bake, Apple Squeeze and Concerts in the Park.

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival (sightseeing )

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The flower that gave name to the festival
24th Annual Tulip Festival Street Fair

Kite Event

Daffodil Field

Skagit River

Tulip Field
Tulip Town

The Beautiful Flowers

The Beautiful Mural by local artist Jennifer Bowman

Mt Baker in the background

Deception Pass Bridge

Walk on the beach

The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is one of those events that you absolutely have to attend, whether you live in this state or visiting it for the first time. I am ashamed to say , that after 10 years I've lived in this state, this is the first time I made it there.This is the kind of beauty that makes our state worth living in.

This is what I call "front country " adventure, when you don't have to travel too far to experience something extraordinary.The trip from Federal Way took me about 1 hour and 20 min, really easy to find it ( just take ex 226 e Kincaid st in Mt Vernon). Turn left and on your right is the visitor' information center where you can pick up maps and get information on events and directions.

I was really disappointed to find out that tulips just started blooming ( I mean that is the tulip festival, right ?). But there was more to see and to do then just the tulips.Our first stop was the Mount Vernon Street Fair. Can't say much about it.Your regular street fair with live music, food, artisans and children's activities.

Then you take HWY 536 to cross the bridge over the Skagit river and just a couple miles away is your first daffodil field.Don't spend too much time here, this is just a preview. Going further on hwy 536 there are more, bigger fields. Roozengaarde is a three acre display garden, surrounded by hundreds of acres of tulip, daffodil and iris.

My next stop was Tulip Town ( turn left on Bradshaw rd ),the only indoor flower and garden show.Here you can pick up official Tulip Festival souvenirs,enjoy the murals by Jennifer Bowman, have breakfast, lunch or dinner at Tulip Cafe or take a trolley ride through the fields.

As for outdoor activities ( if you don't consider kiting an activity), Tulip Country Bike Tours offers guided bike tours with stops at prime viewing gardens and events. Bike,helmet,lunch and garden tour admission included.

Though the main reason was the festival, I didn't stop there. I am one of those travelers who wants to see as much as possible. I went further on HWY 20 to Anacortes. Deception State Park is considered to be the most visited park, featuring the iconic Deception Pass Bridge, a National Historic Landmark. Deception Pass Tours gives visitors a chance to discover the Bridge as they have never seen it ...by water. Park's trails lead to old-growth forest hikes, spectacular San Juan Islands' views, overnight camping and kayaking.

In conclusion, I regret that I had only one day. The Skagit County requires special time to really enjoy it. So, slow down ,take your time and have a great adventure exploring that beautiful area.