Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Treasure Hunter

If you asked me to consolidate Karen’s favorite activities under one label, I’d have to say treasure hunting.  Like a basset hound catching the scent of a snowshoe hare, she’ll strike out on a treasure hunt at every opportunity.  Had she been born in the 17th or so century, she probably would have tailed pirates to dig up the chests of gold and jewels they buried on desert islands.

Fortunately times have changed so Karen has been forced to find other outlets for her passion -- activities like the quest for the ultimate bargain at thrift stores, pretty rocks on beaches or the photo ops that most of us never notice.

These activities have become a major part of our road trips.  After blowing it numerous times, I’ve finally learned that whenever we pass a sign that says “Thrift,” “Used,”  “Salvation Army” "Goodwill" or “Value Village” the wisest course of action is to surrender -- just turn off the road and savor the glow in her eyes -- like we find so endearing in young Children on Christmas morning.  Forget covering miles, forget the passage of time, just enjoy her look of triumph when she emerges with an expensive Norwegian sweater or delicately printed blouse worn perhaps once. 

I’ve tried the tactic of saying “how about if I come back in an hour,” certain that she’ll see how ridiculous that sounds since we only have a few hours left in the day to get to a destination that is exactly that far away.  “Wonderful,” she’ll say and off she prance into a store about the size of a large closet to spend the allotted time trying on every sweater they have on the racks.  When she returns she may have just one or maybe none and will be fast friends with the clerk and have exchanged email addresses with half the clientele in the store. 

Then again, she may have real treasure.  Here in Petersburg, she once spent 50 cents on an externally beat up folder of prints of fish and wildlife from the state of New York.  Since I had graduated from high school in NY, she thought I might be interested.  “Wow,” I said.  “I wonder who the artist was?”  Denton!  A few hours later, after looking up the value of all 50 of the prints, still in mint condition, we realized that Karen had scored $5,000 worth of artwork for that 50 cents.  Not a bad return on her investment!

Since we never seem to see these “treasure” shops where I want to set up my easel, painting locations need to be selected where there is a beach or at least a river where she can wander about in search of another kind of treasure, the ultimate rock.  Those quests are perfect since she forgets all about time when she’s out in the natural world. 

This year I figured I could get some painting in if we opted for five nights at Manitou Lodge near Rialto Beach on the northwest coast of Washington.  It’s an isolated fragment of Olympic National Park where rock treasures abound.  Unfortunately for my artistic objectives, I got so caught up in photographing the rocks, the pounding surf and the sunsets that I neglected to do much painting.  

            The forest around Manitou Lodge often lured us away from Rialto Beach

As for Karen she packed enough rocks home that the US Geological Survey is going to have to remap the coasts of Washington and Alaska to account for all the rocks transferred north in our sagging car.  It was her personal contribution to continental drift.  Ah, but that Christmas-morning glow in her eyes as she stacked the rocks in the car made it all worth it.

A couple is caught in the foamy surf that continuously pounds the shoreline of Rialto Beach, waves that over countless millennia shape the cobbles on the beach.

Judging by the number of personal examples of rock art that we saw, Karen is not alone in her fascination with the rocks on Rialto Beach.

                        Piles like this abound on driftwood logs all along the beach

       Even the waves themselves contribute to decorating driftwood with polished rocks.

                   Another treasure for Karen, this photo op with a Savannah Sparrow.

Further down the coast, Ruby Beach, another isolated fragment of Olympic National Park provides more opportunities for photography and rock hunting...

As well as playing with hyperactive dogs.  (Yes, the dog is in mid air)  Here the rocks were more scattered, but no less fascinating.

                             Karen's discovery of natural foam art on Ruby Beach

The front row of trees along Rialto Beach never ceased to excite us, particularly at sunset.

                      Back home, Karen sorts her latest contribution to continental drift.


casey said...

Love that rainbow rock art in the driftwood frame! Amazing. :)

Susan Christensen said...

I MUST get to these beaches! Your photos are treasures. -sus

Don and Karen Cornelius Artwork said...

Sus: Both you and Flossie will love them. Maybe you should go down and meet your sailor there. Rialto Beach is just half a day from Seattle.

Diane Eatherton-Watt said...

Great photos Don...sometimes I take photos to paint later on, but they remain great photo's forever. As always...painting is better done when you can capture what you feel around you and not just what you see.
I'm looking forward to more posts from you!

Don and Karen Cornelius Artwork said...

Thanks, Diane: We're always taking photos for painting subjects, for our yearly calendar and more recently for our blog. Any excuse works. Our problem is deleting the ones that we'll never want to look at again. It's so hard when you see one little corner of a photo that might make a good painting -- a photo that otherwise has no redeeming value.