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Tacoma; Quiet Waters; A Smart Weed; Knotty Art

The nearest city to Fort Lewis, where The Coach is staying a few days, is Tacoma. Last night I went downtown for dinner, but had some problems… Restaurant A was kinda dumpy; B was a college dive; C was closed for renovation; D, Pacific Grill, was great, and I had a delightful server, Diane, who made sure I ordered the right menu items and kept my Pinot Noir glass charged. This smoked salmon appetizer was exceptional; I also had a grilled salmon entree. (I would have liked to have caught the salmon myself, but they aren’t running right now. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!)

The restaurant was just down the street from Tacoma’s old Union Station, with its beautiful copper dome. Opened in 1911, it is no longer a railway station, but is used for weddings and exhibits.



This morning I went kayaking on American Lake, which is shared by Joint Base Lewis-McChord (where we are staying) and the local community. I wanted to get out early before the power boaters and jet skiers disturbed the silence that blankets lakes early in the day. My regimen while My Lovely Bride is away is to launch the kayak and paddle briskly for an hour, returning home for breakfast about the time the noise comes up. I do carry a small digital camera in a zip-lock bag, so that if I capsize or get drenched, it may survive with minor damage.

I did share the lake with a couple of other boats, but no ski boats or pesky jet skis. This gaggle of Canada geese (Branta canadensis) – distant cousins of mine, perhaps – were keeping a tight cruising formation worthy of Navy destroyers just off my port bow. The lake’s luxurious water plants make a good feeding ground for waterfowl.

My initial guess on plant identification for this pretty pink floating variety was a fragrant water lily, but after extensive floral research, I identified it as the insultingly-named water smartweed (Polygonum amphibium). It is an important plant, providing seeds for waterfowl, marsh birds, upland game birds and songbirds. Indians used it as an antiseptic and as a poisoning cure.

This partially-submerged log with an empty knothole and blooming wildflowers caught my eye. The wildflowers probably arrived as partially-digested seeds in bird droppings (birds are very handy for that sort of thing).

A close-up of the knothole shows interesting textures in the wood as well as algae (or perhaps moss?) growing near the high water line. I tried sighting through the knothole to see if maybe it had been used to show the location of pirate treasure, but was unable to locate the chest of booty.

Finally, just to show that I take water safety seriously (maybe more so than in my mountain biking?), this selfie proves that I am wearing a proper Coast Guard-approved PFD (personal flotation device). I also carry a hand-operated pump to bail out the cockpit in case of an inadvertent water entry (capsize). Fortunately, neither has been put to the test… recently.

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