Merge & Al's Excellent Adventures

4 min read

Sunny Sequim (pronounced Sk-wim)

Day 4 – Sequim may be in the Pacific Northwest, but it definitely wasn’t raining. Because it’s in the rainshadow of Olympic Mountain range, it gets very little rain, and that makes it perfect for growing lavender. In the late 20th-century this area was actually known for dairy farms, but slowly they became non-profitable. The entrepreneurial farmers realized that Sequim was at the same latitude as Provence, France, and with the perfect growing conditions here, many of the dairy farms converted to lavender growing operations. Today, this area is known as the lavender capital of North America, and second in the world, behind Provence, France. But more about lavender a little later, we actually started our day at another must-see attraction in the area, the Dungeness Spit.

At 5 miles, the Dungeness Spit is the longest land spit in the United States. We hiked down from the parking lot about 3/4 mile to get to the beach, explored a little, and then Merge was ready to make the return hike.

The trail starts on the bottom left of this photo and the lighthouse is on the top right
The red circle is where the lighthouse is … 5 miles out

But Al the Adventurer decided to trek further to see how close he could get to the lighthouse at the end of the spit. So Merge left him to it, returned to the car, and read her book. About 90 minutes later Al returned, and he actually had gotten about halfway to the lighthouse before he decided to turn around. Bravo!

The blue dot is how far Al hiked on the sand before he decided to turn around
Merge took this photo of Al (circled) as she was climbing back up to the parking lot. This gives a sense of how long the spit is.

Since by now we had worked up an appetite, it was time to find a place to have lunch. We decided to go into the town centre to explore a little and see what we could find. After cruising a couple of the main streets in the town, we settled on Jose‘s Famous Salsa. And yes, apparently Jose is a real person, and he made his fortune with his special salsa recipe. But now he runs this restaurant/bar. It was a delightful little place, a single waitress was managing the entire restaurant, and she did it masterfully. Our lunch was delicious, and the best part was that the free tortilla chips came with a visit to their salsa bar. Five different kinds of salsas in varying heat levels, and a variety of condiments. Yum!

The restaurant and bar
The salsa bar!!

Now it was time to learn more about lavender. We visited the B&B Family Lavender Farm, which is actually next to the Airbnb we are staying in. The farm is run by Bruce and Bonnie McCloskey, their daughter Kristy, and son-in-law Zion. Kristy gave us a short but very informative tour of the premises. Turns out that lavender is actually pretty easy to grow. You have to water it weekly for about the first six months after planting, and then, other than a quick trim every year, you can pretty much neglect them for the next 25 years. After about 25 years the plants are ripped up and the process starts all over again. But just because the growing is easy doesn’t mean that running a lavender farm is easy. The hard work is what happens once the lavender is grown. Harvesting is all done by hand, they are bunched and a hook attached by hand, and then they are hung up to dry for about 3 weeks. Then, depending upon their end-use they are either shipped off in those bunches for wholesale purposes, or the buds are stripped and sold wholesale, or one specific kind of lavender is distilled down to produce essential oils and hydrosol. If you use a stainless steel still, you have to wait about a year before the oils is ready for market, but if your still is copper, it is ready for market immediately. Who knew that lavender could be so complicated?! They have a nice little store with all kinds of lavender products, so of course we did some shopping. Tours are free.

Lavender everywhere
More lavender everywhere
The lavender is bunched and hung to dry for about 3 weeks
This is the copper still they use to extract the essential oil

Tomorrow we leave Sequim and get back on the road to Port Townsend. We have read that Port Townsend is a Victorian paradise in the Pacific Northwest. We can’t wait to find out more.


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