Road trips are a lot like camping. They can be the equivalent of the oh-so-popular “glamping” (glamour camping), easy and luxurious with a comfy vehicle, lux accommodations and easy miles. Or they can resemble wilderness backpacking with hard terrain and not a luxury in site. Our trip to Point Defiance was one of the latter.
When Jim floated the idea of turning his trip to Tacoma for truck repairs into a two-day road trip I balked. I’m just as rough and tumble as the next gal and always open to a novel idea, but the thought of cramming the two of us and Regal the 100 lb Wonder Dog into the single cab of a commercial truck was not my idea of a good time. But I have a self-imposed “ready for anything” reputation to uphold (ego is a tough task master), so I agreed.
Take my word for it when I assure you that two days in an industrial truck is not something anyone needs to add to their bucket list. But I will tell you this: this little jaunt showed me that any trip can be great, or at least have lots of great components. You just have to look for the beauty and fun while rigorously ignoring what isn’t perfect.
The truck had to be in Tacoma at the crack of mid-morning, so we left at an hour that’s – for me – ridiculously early. Jim was fueled by too much coffee while Regal and I were fueled by nothing, clinging precariously to hope that the truck was more comfortable than it looked.
It was not.
This is what my guys look like when they drag their butts out of bed at the crack of dawn for our next big adventure. Regal: you got me out of bed for this??? Jim Roberts: I’ve had enough coffee, thanks…
Fortunately, if you really look around you’ll find fabulous things to see, even in rush hour traffic through the city. I go crazy for unique vehicles, outsider and pop art and – being from Chicago – adore really good graffiti, so this incredible truck made me shriek with delight.
PHOTO: MOBILE OUTSIDER ART – heading south on I-5 through Seattle, WA 6/29/18
Jim’s truck was being serviced in an industrial section of Tacoma, so Regal and I had about an hour to amuse ourselves. The area was pretty desolate, just block after block of industrial buildings and abandoned lots. But even there, if you look for it, you’ll find something to surprise and delight you.
Our first surprise was a huge plane passing right overhead. It’s low altitude and angle of decent made it appear to be landing on top of the building in front of me.
PHOTO: Passing through an industrial sky. Industrial area, Tacoma, WA, 6/29/18
Even in the most desolate areas nature springs back to reclaim the land at every opportunity. Here, within a tiny strip of roadside wasteland next to an abandoned industrial lot, beauty spreads it’s leaves and petals over man-made scars…
PHOTO: Tacoma, WA industrial area. 6/29/18
It’s all too easy to miss the beauty out of habitual focus on the unwanted, but we can train ourselves to revel in life’s ability to renew and transform.
Finally, the truck service completed, we headed to Point Defiance. Our first top was the marina area, where the juxtaposition of man-made objects and Mother Nature under a slate sky simply made my mouth water.
PHOTO: Point Defiance, WA 6/30/18 – A mixed media collaboration between man and nature in rust and wood.
Next door, at the park itself, steep cliffs of sand had eroded, exposing the twisted roots of the great trees sheltering the beach. In places the trees managed to remain upright despite their precariously undermined perch. In others the trees had tumbled forward onto the beach.
PHOTO: EXPOSED. Point Defiance, Tacoma WA – 6/29/18
The beach itself is like so many on the Washington coast, littered with stones in every conceivable shape and color. Even beautiful raw agates can be found if you take the time to look. My favorite find – perhaps of the whole year – is this fantastic sculpture by the sea goddess herself. Beautiful multi-colored stones woven together with the roots of seaweed.
In addition to nature’s bounty, some areas of the park are beautifully landscaped and in full bloom this time of year. I was particularly fascinated by the bottle brush bushes and other plantings that were attracting swarms of buzzing bees of many species.
Our partial day at Point Defiance was certainly not sufficient to see all there is to see in the area, gave us a tantalizing taste of the area. The second day of our trip would be a slow meander along the coast as we headed for home, but we will certainly return for a closer look.
IF YOU GO …
Point Defiance Park is a 760-acre park featuring the Point Defiance Marina, Zoo & Aquarium, Gardens, Five Mile Drive and Hiking Trails, Owen Beach with Kayak Rentals, Fort Nisqually Living Museum, Off Leash area and more!
Location: 5400 N. Pearl St., Tacoma, WA 98407.
Parking is free.
Find more info here: metroparkstacoma.org/point-defiance-park/