My little huntress. You pull me along like a ship’s sail billowing, dragging my reluctant stagnant heart toward joy for your thoughts and your ways are simple, guileless and true.

You take in at this very moment, every rustling leaf, flying bird, small scurrying thing. The minutest detail of being, the soft scent language of the breeze, and those savory ghosts left behind in the night by some prowling thing that vanished into the undergrowth. You revel in its fragrance, scrutinize and consider.

And what surprise might come around the bend? You are neither nationalist nor patriot, nor are you swayed by ancient texts or great ambitions. You do not see the differences in features or colors or language. Everyone is your friend, and I am drawn along in your wake, offering up explanations.

And should you come to a crossroads, you stall with a backward glance inquiring, “Are you coming? Will you be right along? I cannot lose sight of you.”
My little beggar. At the end of the day you wait and wait casting about sad eyes until the time is right. You love everyone but you worship at my feet. You lean into me and caress my cheek, you lean into me and you sleep. And all I can hope is that, though I will not have you for all my days, that we will have us for all of yours.


Tenino, Washington


Nestled in the rolling hills of South Thurston County is a little historic district known as Tenino, WA.  Tenino must be pronounced properly and some would describe it as 10-9-0.  There is mystery surrounding the origin of the town’s name.  The similarity to a series of numbers led to conjecture over the possibility that the number could be related to the railroad system that ran through these parts.  However, no train number or any such thing could be traced in the railroad records… and the theory died.  Originally this place was called Hodgden Station for the land claimant Stephen Hodgden which leads credence to the other name theory.  It is said that Tenino is a Native American word meaning “crossroads” or “meeting place”.  Hodgden station was a way station on the Oregon Trail to its terminus in Tumwater and beyond.  The lay of the land makes this tiny community a natural crossroads North, South, East and West.  The Old Highway 99 which was Washington’s Interstate before the Freeway system can still take you from Seattle to Portland, and Hwy 507 junctions here as well, running between Yelm and Centralia and beyond.  Perhaps at one time Tenino was a crossroads for earlier people such as the Salish. But the true meaning of the name may be lost to the passage of time and out of memory.

Tenino is a Stone City and contains certain natural and man-made wonders.  How many towns can boast a public swimming pool in an old sandstone quarry with a cascading waterfall, which legend would have you believe is more than 100 feet deep with cranes and equipment still lurking at the bottom beyond the reach of man?  The city park extends beyond the pool with baseball fields, hiking and intercity biking trails, a Quarry House from the days of Stone extraction, the Depot Museum, and a one room school house called the Ticknor School.  At the Depot Museum you can learn all about Tenino’s Depression Era Wooden Money.  Yes, Tenino had its very own legal tenure, which has been newly minted in 2013 and can be obtained at Scotty B’s 50 Style Diner and used in most establishments in town.

2 Blocks north of the Tenino City Park is the Historic District which is evidence of the boom that came about in the early part of the 20th century.  You will find the locally quarried stone in much of Tenino’s architecture and a self walking tour brochure is available at the Depot Museum.  Most historic buildings in town currently house small businesses like gift shops, antiques, restaurants, the Scattercreek Winery and Aunt Kate’s Chocolates.

There are several natural areas of interest like the two Sandstone quarries outside of the city park, one of which can be seen cut out of the hillside on the south end of town.  Continue down south Old Hwy 99 and view rare natural Western, WA prairies near Colvin Ranch which is of interest in and of itself as the Ranch is still owned by one of our area’s Pioneer families, though they have donated some of the original land claim to prairie preservation.

Besides Colvin Ranch there are several agricultural areas around Tenino like the Alplaca Ranch,  Nelson Ranch and the farms of the Skookumchuck Valley including plant nurseries that open to the public in the spring.  It’s a beautiful drive out the Skookumchuck and you’ll be rewarded at the end of the valley with a visit to a natural area with access to the Skookumchuck River.

Tenino will be a stop on the newly proposed Thurston Bountiful Highway which takes that back roads from the Nisqually Valley looping around to Tenino and then continuing to the Capital Forest.1656169_244644302376223_9746021_n

Tenino, WA is known around South Puget Sound as quirky little town.  I’m not altogether sure how it came by this reputation.  But its citizens embrace the distinction.

When to visit?  The best time to visit Western Washington is in the late spring until October if you strive to miss the worst of the rains.  Tenino offers several summertime perks.  The Farmer’s Market is every Saturday from June through September.   The Tenino Depot Museum is also seasonal through the summer.  Two wine tours happen annually in May and September.  Oregon Trail Days and Four Square Mile Music Festival are the Fourth Weekend of July and include the Oregon Trail Days Parade and the Blue Ribbon Pie contest.

Where to Stay?  There are no Hotels in Tenino however there are nice places to stay in nearby Centralia or Tumwater.  Offut Lake Resort offers cabins, RV sites and camping, plus fine dining at the Lady of the Lake Restaurant.    From the resort you may even be able to hear the wolves of Wolf Haven just down the road.   Visit or give them a call at 360-264-2438.  If water parks appeal to you The Great Wolf Lodge is another place to stay and located just 10 minutes from Tenino in Grand Mound.

Places to Eat?  In addition to Lady of the Lake, Tenino has several restaurants:

Sandstone Café: Breakfast & Lunch at 273 Sussex Ave W.

The Old 99 Diner & Espresso 472 Sussex Ave W

Don Juan’s Mexican  Kitchen 639   E Lincoln Ave

Scotty B’s 50’s Style Diner 500 Sussex Ave W.

Local Tourist Information:

 City of Tenino

Farmer’s Market

Wolf Haven International

Offut Lake Resort and Lady of the Lake

Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound

Camping the Dosewallips and Cold Weather Survival


      I have made it clear to my son’s Boy Scout Troop that I would like to outlaw camping between the months of November through April.  I love to hike in the winter, no problem… so long as I am  moving, all is well.  I like camping… in the summer when conditions might turn adverse, but they will more likely be fine.  However, camping in February in the Pacific North West, on the boarder of a rainforest, nearly guarantees foul weather.  So with the proposed February backpacking campout, I had my misgivings, but I diligently checked the weather forecast and lo a window of clear sky from Saturday to Sunday morning…. perfect.

    The drive up the peninsula along the Puget Sound was perfect, but as we drew near our destination the snow and rain mix came sporadically which was ominous.  We turned off into the Dosewallips area and came quickly into old snow,  6 inches of old wet snow.

Now if you could see past what promised to be a cold and wet experience, the Dosewallips river was breathtaking; a true mountain river running blue in it’s rapids with great boulders scattered in the midst of it so perfectly like they had been placed there by the mighty hand of God.  The trees were classic rainforest, completely engulfed in mosses and licorice fern and the running water trickling through the forest converging into little riverlets and waterfalls and rushing toward a union with the Dosewallips.


      Our intention was to hike up to the Dosewallips campground about 5.5 miles, but conditions on the trail were slow, and some of the boys and maybe an adult or two were struggling at about 1.5 miles.  So we were flexible and went back to the Elkhorn Campground around the 1 mile mark.  At this time I could barely feel my little toes, and I knew that when we stopped walking, I was going to get cold really fast.  We had all dressed in layers and adjusted those layers to keep from overheating.  The worst thing to do is to work up a sweat and then stop in the cold.

     Once we reached camp everyone naturally started setting up their tents.  As I looked around I saw 2 methods for setting up in the snow.   Some tents were set up right on top of the snow, others stamped down the snow thoroughly before setting up.   With both methods observed I can attest that stamping down an area is essential.   The snow melts as you lay on it, and for those who put their tents on fluffy snow the ground becomes uneven, causing unevenness in the ground tarp.  This created areas where the melted snow ran in between the ground tarp and the tent which led to wet sleeping bags and very unhappy campers.

     The next order of business was fire.  A group of boys were dispatched to dig a latrine while the rest of us gathered firewood…. very saturated wet firewood.   As an interesting side note, one of the adults on our trip was in the Army and had been dropped during his survival training in the wilderness (I’m not sure how long) but the story I heard was that when they dropped him he was given 2 matches, and when they picked him up he still had one left, which he has framed in his home.   So I went with this gentleman to gather dry tinder.  We went to the evergreen trees and looked up.  We couldn’t cut anything of course, but we looked for dead bits and branches that came away easily.  The first cedar we found had all kinds “needles” turned rust colored that we gathered and bundles together tightly.  We also found some dead small branches up underneath the trees that we broke up and bundled.   These tight bundles create greater mass and less air so that they don’t burn up too quickly, and a slower burn will help dry out the wetter wood.  Now the larger logs that we gathered also needed to be cut into small pieces so that they would catch easier.  This fire, in the rain, with wet wood needed plenty of feeding and tending.  We used an army issue plate to fan the fire (save your breath if possible), and diligent gathering and stoking.  Here are the results:


     When it’s hypothermia weather, cold and wet, fire is a lifeline.  Once the coals were developed we could dry out the things that had succumbed to the rain and I thawed my little toes.

Which reminds me, my shoes were definitely sub-par.  My hiking boots fell apart right before the trip, and being a busy mom I didn’t have a chance to drive to the city and get a new pair, soooooo I went in my tennis shoes.  I know, not too smart, but I truly did not anticipate snow.  Now, what is that Boy Scout Motto?  Be Prepared?  Oh, ya.  So just because I didn’t anticipate it does not mean I shouldn’t have been prepared for it.  The good news is I had plenty of wool socks and I had a plastic garbage bag.  I cut little booties out of the garbage bag and put those down in my shoes before putting my stocking feet in there.  I also dried my shoes by the fire every chance I had.  So I did just fine but it would have been far better to have a sturdy pair of waterproof hiking boots.   Your feet really are everything when you’re out in the wilderness.

On our Boy Scout outings the boys plan their own meals and cook them.  They make their plan and provide a shopping list for an adult to go pick up.  If it’s not on the list, it isn’t purchased or provided.  I bought my son a hiking cookbook.  It considers weight in the recipes and lists all ingredients and tools needed to create these items.  My son was not present at the planning meeting so he had no idea what he was walking into, however I’m not sure if it would have been any better if he had planned, considering he has never read the cookbook I provided.  You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.  Three things I noticed about their food… it was heavy, they had no cooking oil, and they did not have the proper tools to cook.  For example, pancakes for breakfast with no surface to cook them on, and no oil or butter to ensure that they did not stick.  They cooked them in a mess kit pot and the cakes would not turn and ended up a goopy mess.  My son said he felt like he had eaten gruel all weekend, but the lesson is that next time he goes on a trip like this he will think about weight, oil and cooking implements.

The adults on the other hand had beef stroganoff for dinner with real steak, and fresh baked cinnamon rolls, pancakes and eggs for breakfast.  The cinnamon rolls were made in a homemade light weight Dutch oven.  Coals went underneath a round pizza like plate, three aluminum legs held a second pizza plate on top.  The center was wrapped in aluminum foil.  Then more coals went on top.  Using this contraption the cinnamon rolls were baked to perfection.  Then the top section was removed and the bottom pizza plate was used to cook the pancakes.  Here are some other great ideas for homemade ovens:

One last note about this trip.  While camping I was reading Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder and in the first chapter Laura tells about her father’s method for smoking meat.  His smoker was made out of a hollowed tree with a door in the front and a little roof on top.  He would hang the meat on nails inside the tree, then build a fire out of fresh green hickory wood chips and then close the door and let them smoke for several days never letting the fire die.  On our drive home we saw this by the roadside:



Every once in a while our steady Pacific Northwest rains and mists turn into storms as they did last night. It was near dark and the winds were whistling down our chimney and I thought, “Time for a walk”. So I bundled up and grabbed my reluctant husband and headed for the hill for a bit of exercise. The hill is the road stretching up behind our house. It’s long and it’s steep and from up there the hills beyond stretch on and on to the horizon. Last night the Douglas Firs, straight and fearfully tall swayed drunkenly in the high winds. The rain coming in sideways blasted my face and when we reached the top I threw off my hood and thought of Whitman:

I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable, I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world. – See more at:

It was dreadfully exciting. There was a moment that I looked up into the trees and envisioned a widow maker careening down on us, and that maybe Josh and I shouldn’t walk so close together, you know, so our children don’t become orphans. So I ran down the hill like a reckless child, just this side of maintaining control. I love free entertainment. Free as the air we breath and my two feet beneath me.