From the Puget Sound Urban Nature Series
MUKILTEO LIGHTHOUSE PARK
Beaching it on the Puget Sound
by REBECCA BAILEY
The soothing, rhythmic roar of waves lapping on the shore.
Salty, sea mist on your face.
Watching shore birds create a rhythm all their own, scattering and regrouping every few seconds as waves crash across their feeding ground.
A foghorn calling out its ominous warning to the giant ships silhouetted on the hazy horizon.
The distinct smell of seaweed.
Finding tiny animals with odd little names like chiton, limpet and sculpin living in little pools among and under the rocks.
It's moments like these that get me to the beach. Again and again.
And, for all of us who are fortunate enough to live near the Puget Sound, a variety of beaches are a mere few minutes from our homes.
These beaches range from flat and sandy to rugged and rocky and everything in between. And they offer an easy way to spend a few hours hours decompressing.
Mukilteo Lighthouse ParkA favorite near my home is Mukilteo Lighthouse Park. This little gem of a beach, which was formerly a state park and deeded to the city in 2003, is located near the Mukilteo Washington State ferry dock.
It has a beautiful shoreline with outstanding views of Whidbey and Hat islands.
Small though it may be, it is abundant in its distinct beach characteristics. Something that we often overlook when hanging out on the beach.
A nicely pebbled shoreline provides a nourishing habitat to a variety of intertidal organisms or "marine critters" as marine biologists affectionately refer to them.
Driftwood is piled along the back shore of the beach. Some of the big logs naturally drifted in from the ocean or were tossed there from storms. Others were placed there as part of the restoration effort that was completed a few years ago by the city of Mukilteo.
Sea birds often perch on the larger rocks that are near the shoreline.
Occasionally, always-curious harbor seals swim by, poking their heads above the water. Marine birds bob along, as well.
It's also a favorite place for crows to congregate for a meal, looking for picnic leftovers or distressed marine critters.
(As a side note, I once heard John Marzluff, who is a University of Washington professor and author of In the Company of Crows and Ravens, speak about the intelligence of crows. They are much smarter than we think. Crows have been observed leaving gifts, such as shiny pieces of metal, for people who feed them. Fascinating. In the preface he asserts, "Crows and people share similar traits and social strategies. To a surprising extent, to know the crow is to know ourselves.” You could say that about a lot of things. But crows? He's convinced me to pay attention and I often watch their delightful antics. I'm pretty sure he has something there.)
Anyhow, crows aside, after a short walk of hunting for intertidal organisms, it's a soul-soothing place to sit for a few minutes (as is any beach). And it's a lovely place to journal or to add an observation to your Nature Joy List.
Seagulls crying overhead, waves gently lapping on the shore and even the blaring horn from the nearby Mukilteo ferry anchor you. Make you smile.
Look west from the beach for a view of Whidbey Island and the Olympic mountains, which hold their own great adventures.
Look north and to the east, for views of Hat Island and the city shorelines of Mukilteo and Everett.
Look up for a gloriously, wonderful sky, beautiful anytime of the year (and anywhere).
Amenities are good here. It's an accessible beach park with a nice playground for the kids, a boat launch, a covered picnic area and benches.
During low-tide summer days, volunteer Beach Watchers from WSU are on hand with a touch tank to teach about and show a variety of marine critters from the Sound.
I think a beach day might be in the making. How about you? Do you have a favorite beach?