Chambers Creek Properties, University Place, WA
January 31, 2009

I hadn't slept very well after having a strange conversation late at night, actually early in the morning, and so found myself awake early with the sun shining. Going for a walk helps to clear the head and so I headed out on the town to go some place new.

I had never been to Chambers Creek before, though I drove by it several times a week on my way to the local climbing gym in Tacoma. I had been intending to go into Tacoma to a different park, but a soccer match caught my eye and once I was parked I realized that there was big park right next door.

The conversation was strange not so much due to the content, though that was odd enough, but rather because of the timing. I didn't know why it had happened and that bothered me, which was probably why I didn't sleep very well and hence led me to the new park. The land along the Sound between Steilacoom and Point Defiance in Tacoma was, at one time, a source of high quality gravel. I didn't even know that gravel had grades, but a sign told me that Steilacoom grade was considered the best.

The gravel pits had since gone away and the county was in the process of rehabilitating the land into a golf course and park. The golf course looked pretty dumpy to me, but not being a golfer perhaps that is how it was supposed to look. Remnants of the gravel pit operations had been left in place by the county and I was glad that they had: It is good to be reminded of what a place once was and where our materials used to come from.

Other than head clearing, I was out and about to test out a new-to-me camera that I had just gotten in the mail earlier in the week. My old Nikon D70, which I bought used back in 2006, had taken too much of a beating in the outofdoors and was not especially reliable any more. Aside from the less serious problem of globs of dirt on the sensor (or maybe dried salt from the Pacific?), there were several dead (hot is a better term) pixels as well. The camera had refused to shut off ever since it took a dunking in the Scud River during the summer of 2007. I left it out in the rain overnight while in the Pasayten Wilderness during my hike of the Pacific Northwest Trail. It went for several swims in the Pacific Ocean later that summer. Sometimes it doesn't bother to write photos to file. Other times I get weird colors, or sheared images.

And so I broke down and finally bought another used camera, this time a Nikon D60. I hadn't intended to buy this particular model as Nikon did not include an autofocus motor in it: Most modern lenses have motors built in. Unfortunately I only own one modern lens, but it is the one I use most often. The camera has a theoretically higher resolution than my D70, but I can't tell the 6 MP D70 photos from the 10 MP D60 photos.

At the end of my last posting from Waughop Lake, I promised that I would write something more interesting, more entertaining. Something about Lint and me and a train and a nose full of bourbon (called a Chilly Willy in technical, hiker trash speak). Well, that nonsense will have to wait for another time and another place. Lint, by the way, is a real person and if you want to be entertained for a while, you can read about his Canada to Mexico hike on the Continental Divide Trail.

I walked along the pathway and enjoyed the sunshine, which has been a rare commodity since I got back from Argentina nearly a month ago. There were many people out doing the same, most with dogs or small kids, families and couples and even a few groups of friends. A single person here and there kept the others honest. Old people. People with canes. The community was out in public space together, and I liked that.

With the walking came calmness once more. I realized that the conversation had taken place because I was living too far out in the future, thinking too much about what would be happening in six months time rather than enjoying the here and now. Rather than finding fulfillment with what I had and who I was, where I was and what I was doing, I was trying to reach out for something that wasn't there, hoping to find it some other place.

As I neared the end of my Pacific Crest Trail hike back in 2003, I realized that the only thing I had at home to go back to was my job and my stuff, neither of which I especially had any strong attachment to. Back then I had been living most of the year with the sole purpose of doing something interesting in the summer. It took me several years for me to change that mode of living and from time to time I slip back into it, as I had for the last two weeks. But I was back in the present now and felt much better due to the walk and the photographic process. Ok, next time I promise something fun!


From Lakewood, drive Bridgeport north until you get to University Place. Make a left on Chambers Creek Road, near the Fred Meyer. Drive this until you get to the Sound. There is ample parking on the left. If you start going north again, you've gone too far. You can, however, drive further north and get to another parking lot. You can put the Sound View and Grand View trails together to get a 3.25 mile loop. The walk way is paved the whole way, though there are a few steeper sections that the elderly or infirm might have difficulties with. I'm not sure how the land is classified, as it seems not to be designated as a park. However, Pierce County manages it.