It’s probably not news to you that 2020 has been a year of upheaval. Between a global pandemic, political strife, racial divisions, and wildfires, this year has also fundamentally reshaped the economy. Like millions of others, I found myself out of work this year. To be honest, it’s not an especially great time to be job hunting — competition for full-time roles is intense and many organizations are hesitant to hire while the future is so uncertain. However, businesses and nonprofits still need customers and donors. To reach their audiences through the noise takes exceptional copy. And writing copy is what I do. So, I’m excited to announce that I’m launching my own freelance copywriting business.
For nearly a decade, I’ve helped businesses and nonprofits strengthen their brand, generate media interest, increase sales, attract and retain talented employees, and raise money for their cause. I’ve worked with small organizations just getting started and one of the country’s most recognizable brands. Writing clear, concise, compelling content is something I’m passionate about. I’m eager to help organizations that are making a difference in their communities tell their story.
If you’re interested in working with me, let’s talk! You can find out more about my qualifications, experience, and the types of projects I can help with on the Servicespage of my website. Simply scroll to the bottom of the page to send me a message. I’ll also be posting more on the blog about the business as I build it and I’ll share some copywriting tips and tricks along the way. Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll reach out if you’re interested in hiring me for freelance projects!
When you picture the ideal spot for kayaking, what comes to mind? An isolated river or lake in the woods? Or on an urban waterway surrounded by bridges and skyscrapers? When we got our kayaks last winter, I couldn’t wait to try them out somewhere totally new — my own backyard.
Tacoma is a peninsula, surrounded on three sides by the waters of Puget Sound. Much of that water is easily accessible from one of the city’s waterfront parks. Many times, I’ve walked along the shore and wondered what the city must look like from out there. This summer, I got to find out. Kayaking is an excellent way to get outside for fresh air and exercise as you practice social distancing. It’s also a sure-fire way to beat cabin fever and reminded me of why it’s so important that we preserve ecosystems like the Salish Sea.
Now, without further ado, here are three of my favorite spots to kayak around Tacoma:
Two-mile scenic waterfront dotted with parks and beaches in Tacoma’s North End
Ruston Way was the first place we tried kayaking and it’s still our favorite spot. Ruston Way’s many parks and gently sloping beaches provide plenty of opportunities to launch. Parking is tight, meaning you’ll probably wind up carrying your kayaks across a busy road or down the sidewalk a ways, but generally, you don’t have to park too far from the water. Both Dickman Mill Park and Cummings Park offer great spots to put in. The water here is generally calm with some wakes from passing boats, but we had plenty of room to paddle just off shore. Within a few minutes, it felt like we were miles away from the bustle of the city.
Ruston Way’s industrial history means there’s a lot to explore. The remains of 38 piers are scattered along the shoreline. Once the home of Tacoma’s lumber mills, warehouses and copper smelters, these pilings and concrete ruins are now home to seagulls, loons and cormorants while seals play in the surf.
Thea Foss Waterway
1.5-mile inlet between downtown and the Port of Tacoma
Between the sight of the Murray-Morgan Bridge towering 60 feet above you, sailboats and yachts coming in and out of the marina, and the downtown Tacoma skyline, the Thea Foss Waterway is full of spectacular sights. We put in at Thea’s Park, located on Dock Street. There’s very limited parking, but there is a public dock here, making this the easiest place on the list to launch from (we didn’t even get our feet wet!). Because of the boat traffic, Thea Foss is a less leisurely place to paddle, but if you’re aware of your surroundings and steer clear of the larger vessels passing through the marina, there’s a lot to see and explore.
Scenic views of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Tacoma’s West End
Titlow Beach was by far our most challenging kayak trip, but it was well worth the effort. While there’s plenty of parking at the park, you’ll need to carry your kayaks and gear across the train tracks and down a flight of stairs to reach the beach, which can be slippery at low tide. Unlike the more serene waters of Commencement Bay, the Tacoma Narrows are known for strong currents and can be dangerous if you stray too far from shore. The day we came was especially windy, which meant we had to contend with some pretty significant swells. Sticking close to the beach, we paddled north until we reached a point where we could see the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in the distance. We also enjoyed beautiful views of Gig Harbor and Fox Island. On a clear day, I suspect you could also spot the Olympic Mountains.
We got soaked paddling at Titlow Beach. It was cold and windy, but it was also a stunning reminder of how lucky we are to live in the Pacific Northwest, where we’re all just minutes away from nature.
Tips for Urban Kayakers
You don’t have to buy a kayak right away — there are plenty of places to rent kayaks to get a feel for the sport before you invest in your own gear.
Get an early start, especially on weekends and holidays, to find a good place to load and unload your gear and be prepared to fall back on Plan B if your first choice location is too busy.
Always wear a personal flotation device and be sure it fits properly.
Check the weather conditions and tide tables before you go. You don’t want to come back after a long afternoon of kayaking to discover that the beach where you put in is now underwater or find yourself battling the elements when a small craft advisory is in effect. Knowing the current weather conditions can also help you plan your route, so you can take advantage of a tailwind on the return trip.
Busy waterways can be hazardous and larger vessels may not be able to see you or change course to avoid a collision. Stay away from ferry routes and shipping lanes and always keep an eye out for approaching vessels.
Stay at least 300 yards from orcas and 100 yards from seal pups, if you encounter them on your excursions.
Are there other kayaking spots around the Tacoma area that I missed? Let me know what areas I should check out in the comments. Thanks for reading!
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Jonny Eberle is a writer, photographer, filmmaker and paddling hobbyist in Tacoma, WA. His writing has been featured in Creative Colloquy and Grit City Magazine. Follow him on Twitter and subscribe to the mailing list today.
Earlier this week, as I walking from my day job to the Starbucks where I write my freelance articles, I passed a dead crow. The crow was lying on its back under a tree by the side of the road; wings spread and legs in the air. It had apparently frozen to death in the icy spell of Arctic weather that entombed the Puget Sound in a layer of frost this week.
Passing the corpse of the unfortunate crow every day inevitably got me thinking about life. Death does that to a guy.
In less than a month, I’ll be starting my twenty-fourth turn around the Sun, which makes me a member of the Millennial Generation — the children of the young Baby Boomers. As a consequence of having grown up alongside the Information Age, there is a lot of market research done to convert us into spreadsheets and then into money. Everywhere I turn, I am bombarded with a glut of new research about my generation. According to dozens of studies and articles, I’m supposed to be obsessed with video games, living at home with my parents, struggle with critical thinking, unwilling to work hard at my job and suffering from a technologically shortened attention span. I’m also at a competitive disadvantage thanks to the recession and economists predict I will never enjoy the same high standard of living as my parents.
It’s a pretty grim picture.
But when I look at the data, I don’t see a picture that looks like me. I may work two jobs (and still can’t keep my apartment warm), but I’m self-sufficient and I work hard to stay that way. I’ve never owned a video game and while I can be a little scattered sometimes, I like nothing more than to sit down with a good book or have a deep, challenging conversation.
It can be difficult to have faith in people during hard times. Maybe our best days are behind us. I honestly don’t know. The economy and rising sea levels may swallow me and there’s a distinct possibility that there’s nothing I can do to change it. All I can control are my own actions. I may be a Millennial, but I still know how to get things done. I think we can still fix the problems that are plaguing the world, if we decide we want to put in the effort.
Call me idealistic, but I’m going to make a difference somehow, even in a small way. Not because I’m sure it will do anything, but because I have the will to act. And maybe to prove the critics of my “lazy” generation wrong. I will not let this crow die in vain.
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Jonny Eberle is a writer in Tacoma, WA, where he probably thinks too much about the mysteries of life and death. As he searches for his purpose, you can follow him on Twitter.
Ten adult salmon wait patiently in five inches of water. A foot above them, a culvert spills cold fresh water into the bay. All around them lie the scattered corpses of others who didn’t make it, pecked on by ravenous seagulls. It is low tide and the fish are temporarily trapped on their long trek upriver.
Every year in the late-autumn, the rivers of Western Washington swell with salmon who have come to spawn and die. After up to five years at sea, instinct and a keen sense of smell bring the salmon back to the very mountain streams where they were born to give birth to the next generation of their species. Some of these powerful creatures swim hundreds of miles upriver, some all the way to the rocky interior of Idaho to lay their eggs.
It is one of nature’s most incredible sights to see these large fish charge their way against the current to find little sandy pools where their young will be safe. They thrash and jump, splashing their way past rocks and each other in a desperate struggle to get home. Some have traveled thousands of miles from the salty waters of the North Pacific and navigated the Puget Sound’s extensive network of inlets and channels to reach these creeks.
This has been a dry year in the lowlands of the South Sound. Some the streams are barely flowing at all. Every so often, a silvery salmon can be found on a gravelly beach, where it drowned in the air before completing the journey.
As I watched those fish fight their way to their birthplace, I was struck by how little we have in common. Aside from the obvious physical differences, humans don’t really have that innate drive to return home. Or do we?
There are those who live close to the land, refusing to move from their family’s plot of earth. Even among the wandering travelers, we all feel relief upon returning to familiar surroundings. Around the holidays, it’s hard to deny a tiny instinctual tug in the direction of home and family.
I guess what makes us different from the salmon is our ability to choose. Where they are bound to a single stream, we can choose a new stream. While humans always feel an attachment to far away places they used to live, we are also capable to spreading out and domesticating strange places. I’ll always miss the streams I used to call home, but this new stream can be home, too.
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Jonny Eberle is not a fish. He is a human being who lives in Tacoma, WA. He waxes philosophic here and in the streams of Twitter.
Time is frozen in the hills above the Puget Sound. Small particles of water are suspended in the air. A cloud has descended on the city and holds it in its clammy grip. Sounds are close and sharp, but far away sights blend into the wash. You are stalked by people unseen.
The world is smaller. An entire planet seems squeezed into the space of a city block. The end of the street feels like the end of the universe. It’s beautiful; it’s claustrophobic. You breathe fog into your lungs. Water vapor goes in cold and comes out as hot steam.
A horn blows on Commencement Bay, which feels so far away it might as well not even exist. You shuffle into the white abyss. You could be the last person on Earth, but you let yourself be swallowed by the hungry fog.
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Jonny Eberle is a writer in Tacoma, WA. A recent immigrant from Arizona, he’s still fascinated by ordinary things like fog and rain and water. You can follow him on Twitter at @jonnyeberle.
It’s been seven days since I found myself in the mysterious, far away land that is the state of Washington and I think it’s slowly beginning to dawn on me that I’m staying. Will flew home on Tuesday and much of the early excitement has cooled off. I generally have my days to myself now. My girlfriend is gainfully employed, leaving me plenty of time to explore.
Everyday, I come in over the bridge (sometimes in dense fog, which is disconcerting) and have free reign to go wherever I please. If I want to wander through Old Town or go to Trader Joe’s, no one can stop me.
But the thing I keep coming back to is the water. The Puget Sound is over 100 miles long and covers a total area of more than 1,000 square miles; riddled with fjords and streams. Tacoma itself is surrounded by water on three sides. Water is all around.
For someone who spent his entire adult life in the high desert of Arizona, nothing could be more foreign. In the desert, water is precious and scarce. Some people haul freshwater 50 miles just to drink and wash with. It’s so hard to come by that the Arizona State Constitution makes it illegal to deny someone a glass of H2O. Water is life-giving. Every drop must be saved. Water can also be devastating — monsoon rains flood canyons and sweep through burn areas, leaving nothing but destruction.
In Washington, the water is calm and ever-present. Life is teeming everywhere you look and no one worries about the Sound drying up. What a luxury it is to know that the water will always be there. And what a strange concept for someone who came up from the drought-stricken dry forests of northern Arizona to wrap his head around.
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Jonny Eberle is a water-obsessed Arizona transplant living in Tacoma, WA. You can follow his blog right here and also follow him on Twitter.
Incidentally, this is my 150th post on this blog! Thank you so much for reading!