LOCAL WALKS: The Tide’s Out at Bowman Bay

Bowman Bay is in Deception Pass State Park, a favorite place of mine. Straddling Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands, the park comprises over 4,000 acres (1619 ha) of marine habitat, fresh and saltwater shoreline, old-growth forest, rocky headlands, wetlands, and more. The protected waters of crescent-shaped Bowman Bay, on the Fidalgo Island side of the park, attract campers and kayakers from spring to fall. When the weather is nice Washington’s busiest state park is usually too busy for my taste but on a winter weekday it can be almost deserted.

There’s a rocky promontory that requires careful footing and a little exertion to get up and over. If the tide is very low you can walk right around it, on the beach. The tide doesn’t recede that far very often – during normal low tides the water is still at least a foot deep at the bottom of the promontory. But sometimes there are REALLY low tides. During “minus tides” walking around the rocks on the sandy beach always reveals something new (and yes, it’s nice to walk around the steep part of the trail instead of over it!). Once there was a colorful jellyfish the size of a dinner plate floating in the water; several times I’ve found tiny snail egg clusters in rock crevices which are normally submerged.

Last week there were minus tides during daylight hours so I went to Bowman Bay to wander the sandy beach and explore muddy Lottie Bay behind it. It was a clear, beautiful spring day so I wasn’t alone but I found pockets of peace, especially when I focused intently on, well, you’ll see…

1.

2.

3.

4.

5. Looking up, I saw a group of kayakers paddling across the bay.

6. At my feet, fragments of seaweed floated on gentle waves.

7. A sandy beach on one side, rocky headlands on another – this is what makes Bowman Bay so interesting.

8. Poking around the rocks, I found a snail the color of a creamsickle.

9.

11. High among the rocks, a small colony of Menzies’ larkspur was nestled into a safe spot where no one could pick them. I was excited to see these beauties! I had only one lens with me and it doesn’t reach very far but that was OK – I was happy enough just to see the larkspurs.
12. The rocks are always worth investigating.
13. At my feet, more beauty.
14. The biggest driftwood pieces, those that have been here a long, long time, have intricate swirls of lichens painted across their surfaces.

15. Swirls in the driftwood, swirls in the sand.
16.
17. Muddy-bottomed Lottie Bay faces the pass between Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands, where the water is deep and the current runs fast. The low tide revealed a tangle of snail tracks is revealed in the mud. Or maybe they’re hermit crab tracks. Or?

19. A pair of walkers relaxed in the sun on quiet Lottie Bay. When the warm sun hits the cool water, clouds of mist rise and blow across the beach. The mist swirled around my legs that day. Two remnants hover over the forest in this picture and slowly burn away.
20. I focused on wind-blown detritus. The wind can cut hard into Lottie bay, blowing strands of eelgrass into trees that lean out over the water’s edge. This tangle must have happened during intense winter storms coinciding with unusually high tides because what you see was at eye-level. One has to wonder about the power of the wind, wrapping and tangling everything up like messy package, so high off the ground.

21.

22. The same scene, a moment later, with different processing.
23. A little human intervention keeps this piece of Bullwhip kelp in place.

24. The muddy bottom of Lottie Bay at minus tide. The sensuous, sinewy curves of this giant driftwood log seem to be breathing a sigh and relaxing into the mud. It reminds me of sculptures of the reclining Buddha.
25. On my way back to the parking lot a dandelion seed-head caught my eye. The cycles of life…

***

In a few days I’ll be back on the east coast visiting friends and family in Massachusetts and New York. It feels very strange to be packing a suitcase and planning plane travel again after the long, COVID hiatus. I am out of practice.

I hope to return with interesting photographs. For me it’s all about paying attention, really looking, and finding interesting visual delights. Actually, that process describes my daily life. The part that can be challenging is translating what I notice into engaging photographs. We’ll see how it goes!

***

The tide’s out.

70 comments

  1. J’ai toujours adorรฉ les traces sur le sable, alors j’aime tout specialement les premiรจres.. Ainsi que les 21 et 22..merci Lynn et une belle journรฉe.. Sourire

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  2. Walking around where normally everything is covered by the sea must be a great experience, dear Lynn.ย 
    It is very fortunate to be able to concentrate in such a way that you block out the presence of other people.ย  The sea and camera help.ย  The first four photos (with the polished “egg” that seems to expand its perfect curves to the surroundings) catch me.ย  They make me want to draw – simple lines for the beginner, complex networks and moods for the expert, which I am not.
    ย Rocks and driftwood can hardly be distinguished in some pictures, they follow the same laws of nature when they change.
    ย I also find the three photos wonderful, in which I can see the different materials that the wind has woven around a piece of driftwood.ย  The colors are too beautiful and the artist shows how you arranged the scene in the picture area.ย  By the way you structure these areas, I keep learning for everything I do.
    ย Thank you for the extraordinary walk, dear Lynn.
    ย And I wish you good luck and joy for your trip to the east coast.ย  I’m looking forward to your photographic souvenirs!

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    • It has been hard to handle replies on the phone, with little sleep – sorry for the delay. Yes, it’s good to be able to concentrate and block out the distractions – I guess the other side of that is getting too lost in the details. ๐Ÿ™‚
      It’s interesting to notice pattern similarities across different materials like sand, wood & rock. Looking out the plane window I was thinking about the myriad ways water shapes landforms on all scales from microscopic to continental.
      How nice to think that something here informs you – visual learning is a continual process, right? Looking, thinking….thank you for your thoughts, Ule, and have a good week. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. splendid! another lovely meditative set. love the patterns in the sand.

    โœจ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ•‰๐ŸŒฑ๐ŸŒฟ๐ŸŒณ๐ŸŒป๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ•Šโ˜ฏ๐Ÿ‰โœจ

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    • It’s a very good experience, and now that I’m on Long Island, near New York City, it is even more clear how lucky I am to live in the Pacific Northwest. Quality of life is more important than money!! Thank you, Robert, and I hope things are getting easier where you are.

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  4. I always enjoy walks with you, Lynn. Looking up, down and all around are the best ways to actually ‘see’ the beauty in the small details that surround us.

    # 4 is a favourite with the tiny pebbles sitting in the fine lines left by the receding tide.

    They say the best lens is the one you have with you on the day, but like you, I always miss a longer telephoto if I’ve left mine at home on a nature walk.

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    • Your remark about lenses is true – we are glad we have something but we can’t help wondering what we might have done if we had that long lens. I’m so glad you enjoy these walks – and I bet there are similar things happening on Australian beaches. It was really fun to see all those patterns, and luckily I could find enough of them unsullied by footprints.
      But wherever you are there is always something interesting to see, even if it’s the light on the blinds. Have a great day!

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  5. A pleasure again, to follow your steps once more, Lynn. Nr14 is my fav. the movements; the colors; a rich piece of Art that needed your eye to be found. ๐Ÿ™‚ In Nr4 I like the reverence to a tree with fruits; and Nr6 is also great; makes me feel the gentle waving… Keep walking and pushing that shutter! See you.

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    • Joe says Hi Harrie!
      #14 is a small part of a huge piece of driftwood. That log has been there a long time so I’ve photographed it before. It’s good to be able to work at getting a better image of something, right? I didn’t think of the tree with fruit – cool! The gentle waxing was exactly what I was feeling in #6, so I’m pleased that got across. I will keep walking and pushing the shutter, AND posting. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Hope you’re having a good weekend. I will get back to your blog eventually!

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  6. What a fine set of inspiring images ๐Ÿ™‚
    I like them all but if I had to note a couple I am particularly drawn to then… #3 is understated and has a real sense of quiet. #16 is a wonderful shot. Nicely seen, composed and captured – Beautiful.
    Best wishes
    Mr C

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    • Thank you so much, Mr. C, it’s good to have your feedback. Sometimes I go back and forth with composition, other times it just falls into place. Maybe you’ve had the same experience. Best wishes to you, too!

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  7. Your photographs are absolutely stunning! So much detail even in the shots of just designs in the sand. I love the wide variety of shapes and textures in your pictures. Be safe on your trip back East, and I look forward to your pictures!

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    • What a great comment to read, Peg. Variety in life keeps us going, right? We’re safe so far, but oh, it’s a long time since we’ve dealt with New York heat and humidity! Thanks a lot for your enthusiasm; that keeps me going. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Thanks, Gunta, I’m glad you were able to see the (big) kids. We’ve seen the same thing with nephews and nieces on this trip. I hope you’re getting some shore time these days. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  8. The seaside allows for beautiful looks and this post reveals well the wonders it hides. For me, the first four images already make the post. Beautiful!
    I am sure that soon that little “practice” in traveling will be passed and Lynn will be ready for everything to embrace and capture on this trip.
    I wish you a good vacation and good walks!

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  9. Hi Lynn, A minus tide is such a gift! Your sand patterns are mesmerizing- excellent clarity and composition. Love your creamsickle snail, your great sighting and captures of the Pileated Woodpecker and your driftwood is gorgeous. The tangles on the branches are interesting, too. How wonderful that you are traveling east. Enjoy the city and I can’t wait to see what you find with your lens. Safe travels!

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    • :-)) – you understand minus tides! Thank you for your close attention. One thing I am really enjoying is seeing all the deciduous trees looking so green and round and lovely on the roadsides – remember that? And irises in gardens, yummy. But I will be happy to get away from the noise and stress around the city. Take care!

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  10. Alas, you’ve just reminded me I will not be making it to Deception Pass again this year. I guess I’ll have to do it vicariously, like your other readers. (Do you “read” pictures?)

    Your #6, gentle waves pic looks like an abstract painting, or something that might come out of a Topaz effect. Almost not real.

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    • Yes, I think we read pictures, and I appreciate that you read mine. ๐Ÿ™‚
      I’m sorry you won’t make it up here, Dave, and I hope you do have a trip or trips planned. I’m happy that you found the waves photo with the floating seaweed interesting. Reflections are always good top play with, too, especially when you remember a polarize. ๐Ÿ˜‰
      Have a good day!

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    • A vote for wind-blown detritus, yea! ๐Ÿ˜‰
      And #6, where I played with a polarizer, I’m glad you appreciated that. The trip has been difficult but there have been many rewarding moments. Thanks, Alison, and thanks too for being patient with me about visiting your blog – I have a lot of catching up to do.

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  11. This is such a lovely post, Lynn. The sand patterns always appeal to me, the first four by the patterns of receding water around pebbles. Number 13 is a favorite…the patterns of color and shades in the sand are more subtle than the rivulets but form such a beautiful background. Best wishes for a safe and enjoyable trip east…

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  12. Such a lovely comment, too, Mic, I appreciate it.
    That bit of seaweed landed at the perfect spot and relaxed into the perfect curve; it was a gift that made me smile. I’m sure you would enjoy the meditative nature of this little beach. Maybe someday, who knows? ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • ๐Ÿ™‚ This place feels so welcoming, especially at low tide. It was closed early in the pandemic and when they re-opened the park, I was in heaven, walking on that just-hard-enough sand and thinking about how nice it was for the park to be free of humans for a time. Of course, the trick with the sand abstracts is finding them without footprints. It’s not a busy place by eastern standards but on nice days there ARE other people around. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Creamsickle escargots – totally weird! Thanks, Steve.

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    • That’s good to hear, Denise…I love this spot. it has offered so much. A few years ago I barely saw the sand patterns. I’ve been looking at the way seaweeds are left on the beach, too. Thanks for your visits and comments!

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