Geocaching

 

In May of the year 2000, Selective Availability was removed from the Global Positioning System, which allowed small containers to be specifically placed and consequently located using GPS by the general public.  And thus geocaching was born.  If you’re new to geocaching, you’ll find it is a challenging & fun treasure hunt type activity for people of all ages.  Caches are hidden quite literally all over the globe and avid geocachers are usually in the hundreds to thousands of finds.  Geocachers have also adopted a motto of CITO, Cache In Trash Out, in an effort to help clean up our environment while having fun!

 

While the origin of geocaching required GPS equipment or at the very least coordinates and a compass, users may now use their smart phones to navigate as well.  Traditionally a geocache is a waterproof container containing minimally a logbook.  The caches can range in size and difficulty to reach/find.  If the cache is nano, micro or small, it will most likely contain just the logbook.  If the cache is medium size or larger (like trash can size!), it may also contain trinkets, tradable, trackables or a variety of other items.  There are other types of caches like virtual caches or a BIT cache for example that do not have traditional logbooks.  Some of the more difficult ones require puzzles to be solved!  As this hobby has expanded over the years, there has been no end to the creativity cache hiders have come up with to make a challenging find.

 

A Seattle based company, Groundspeak, is basically geocaching company headquarters.  They run the official website and app for geocaching. Users can choose between a free, basic membership or a paid, more detailed membership.  Basic membership allows the user to see geocaches on a map that are within a certain geographic radius to their immediate location.  As the user travels, the available geocaches change with location.  The available caches are low in difficulty level for the beginner.  With a paid membership, users may search any area for hidden caches, regardless of the current location.  These members also have access to much higher difficulty level caching.  Each cache appears on the map with a cache name, location, description and often a hint.  The user can scroll through other user’s comments that have attempted the same cache.  These can be useful if the cache has been lost or removed, other comments will help prevent a newbie from searching for a cache that may no longer be there.  Users track their finds on the app and sign the logbook.  If the container has items for trade (usually small toys or trinkets), be sure to add something in for other users.  Trackables are items that are specifically made with a tracking number to trace its history of location.  If you are fortunate enough to find some sort of trackable, you may take the object and log its tracking number.  Many trackable have traveled all over the world!

 

There are websites, Instagram accounts, Pintrest boards and multitudes of other forums dedicated to geocaching.  Millions of people from all over the world love this hobby.  As a matter of fact, Hugh Jackman is a dedicated geocacher!  If you’re interested in trying something new, download the free app and give it a try.  There are a handful of easy caches hidden right here in Union.

Local and Near-by Services & Amenities

When living in small community, often a concern is access to the services and amenities that we use in our daily lives.  But not to worry, we’ve pulled together an overview of the basics and where they are located.  Alderbrook does have many services located right here in Union.  And for those other needs we are close to towns and urban centers that provide additional options and opportunities when needed:

 

Emergency Services- 911

Gas

  • Texaco 1031 E McReavey Rd Union, WA 98592 1.9 miles 6 min

Post office

  • 310 E Dalby Rd, Union 1.3 miles 5 min

Phone/Cable

Gym

Resort/Spa/Retreat

Local Dining/Bars

Groceries

  • Safeway 600 W Franklin St, Shelton, WA 98584 11.5 miles 19 min
  • Wal-mart  100 E Wallace Kneeland Blvd, Shelton, WA 98584 10.2 miles 15 min
  • Fred Meyer  301 E Wallace Kneeland Blvd, Shelton, WA 98584 10.2 miles 15 min
  • Union Country Store 1031 E McReavy Rd, Union, WA 98592 1.9 miles or 6 min

Parks

Boat Launch and/or Public beach access

Printing & Shipping needs

Interior Design

  • Zech Interiors NE 11 Old Belfair Hwy Suite B Belfair (360) 552-2733  16 miles  25 min.

Other

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Birding

 

If you’re already a bird watcher, then this is probably information you already know, but in case you’re not or you’re an amateur bird watcher and could use some extra information, we’ve got some for you.  The Washington National Audubon Society has eloquently compiled 8 magical answers to “Why watch birds?”  Read them here.  #8 is especially poignant.  There are a recorded 346 different bird species in Washington, a majority of which can be seen right here in Western Washington.  The Audubon Society also has pulled together birding loops throughout Washington and offer maps to order on their site.

 

The Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is a premier spot for bird watching in our area.  Over 200 species of birds can be seen here including the Great Blue Heron, the Great Horned Owl and the Rufous Hummingbird.  Here the Nisqually River Delta is formed where the fresh water Nisqually River meets the salty Puget Sound.  It is one of the last remaining deltas in the state that is untouched and protected in 1974 and set aside for wildlife.  In 2009 the estuary was restored reconnecting 762 acres with the tides of Puget Sound.  Visiting this unique refuge can be done any time of year and there are scores of different birds to see regardless of the season. The refuge is just under an hour from Union.

 

The Annual Olympic Birdfest takes place every April.  It is timed to overlap wintering birds and the beginning of spring migration.  There are many options of events and field trips to choose from over the course of the festival dates.  Choose from all day trips, boat excursions, bird drawing classes, nature walks and much, much more.  Events range from free to $80, check out the event list for specifics. These events take place in numerous areas throughout the Olympic Peninsula.

 

Late April, in Hoquiam is the annual Grays Harbor Shorebird & Nature Festival. “EACH SPRING, hundreds of thousands of shorebirds stop to rest and feed in Grays Harbor estuary on their migration northward. Coming from as far south as Argentina, these Arctic-bound shorebirds are among the world’s greatest migrants. Some birds travel over 15,000 miles round trip! Tens of thousands of shorebirds feed on the open mudflats in the estuary. This concentration of birds offers people a great chance to view a number of shorebird species, and with luck, to see the birds fly together in beautiful formations while trying to escape the fastest creature on earth, the Peregrine Falcon.”  Hoquiam is located about 1 hour 15 minutes from Union.

 

In October, near Vancouver, WA is the annual Ridgefield Birdfest.  Ridgefield Birdfest is more than just bird watching and there is plenty for both birders and non-birders.  There is an arts & crafts marketplace, food vendors, a parade, storytelling and of course, birds!  Ridgefield Birdfest has been taking place for more than 15 years and is really a family friendly happening for people of all ages.  Ridgefield is about 2 hours from Union.

Mushroom Foraging or the Art of Mycology

 

 

Due to its climate, the Pacific Northwest produces a majority of commercially valuable wildly harvested mushrooms.  Washington State is particularly well situated for a cornucopia of wild mushrooms. If you are already an expert, then you probably already have your favorite secret spots marked out.  If you are new to the mycological world, don’t worry, there are tons of websites and organizations dedicated to help you on your way to safely starting to forage.

 

The most important part of mushroom foraging is identification.  There are so many thousands of types of a fungus, many of which are poisonous, so getting the details correct is essential.  Whether you’re hunting for chanterelles, morels or dozens of other delicacies, you’re in the right place.  And if mushroom foraging seems like something you’d like to become serious about, look into joining the Puget Sound Mycological Society.  The society holds monthly meetings for members and additionally classes and special events.  They have a very inexpensive annual fee and provide a lot of benefits to members including field trips, newsletters, book discounts and even mushroom identifications before each meeting.  Where to look for mushrooms really depends on the type you’re looking for.

 

So for the novice searcher, taking a class or joining a group would really help point you in the right direction.  Mushroom foraging 101 gives a visual guide to basic mushroom identification and where to start looking specifically in Western Washington.

 

http://mushroaming.com/Pacific_Northwest is also a great visual reference/guide to mushroom identification specifically in the PNW.

 

http://northernbushcraft.com/mushrooms/ provides a visual guide to edible mushrooms in the PNW.

 

Often at the Alderbrook Resort & Spa classes are offered on mushroom foraging for as little as $10 per class.

Visit Oregon

If you’re looking for a trip destination with odd, unusual or completely different things to do, visit our neighbor to the south, Oregon.  More specifically, Western Oregon.  Pretty much a straight shot down the highway will take you to Portland, Mt. Hood or Florence.  Each destination has something completely different to offer, experiences to be had and amazing sites to see.  If you haven’t already, there is no time like the present to visit Oregon!

Portland has become a destination city in the US.  About 2.5 hours from Union, Portland is situated on the just south of the Washington border. The city has grown and expanded over the years to become a hot spot for breweries, arts & culture, both fine dining and quirky eateries and of course, outdoor activities. Every weekend in Portland March through December 24th, there is the Saturday Market. A huge market filled with local and guest vendors peddling everything from hand-made creations to delicious delectable. It is certainly a weekend event not to be missed. Portland is also well known for its unusual motto: Keep Portland Weird. You’ll find bizarre museums, “alternative” lodging, unusual ghost stories, wacky festivals and let’s not forget, The World Naked Bike Ride. So get ready to expand your horizons, break out of your comfort zone and never feel out of place on a visit to Portland.

Near Florence, OR situated on the central Oregon coastline are the most epic of sand dunes. You’ll have to travel about 5.5 hours from Union to reach the dunes, but if you enjoy off-roading, hiking, photography or any number of other activities in an other-worldly place, pack up and head down. So other-worldly in fact that Frank Herbert was inspired to write Dune after visiting here. Rent ATV’s, dune buggies or take a tour because there are over 40 miles of dunes & coastline to explore.

Mount Hood is the highest point in Oregon and the 4th highest in the Cascade Range. About 3.5 hours from Union, located just east of Portland along the Columbia River Gorge, the area boasts breath-taking scenery. Hike it, bike it, paddle it, sail it, fish it, ski it. Experience this magnificent part of our area and finish the day off with a locally brewed beer. There is actually an “Explore the Gorge Beer Trail”!! Stay at the Timberline Lodge, hike the Bald Mountain Trail or discover the Lost Lake.