A Resident’s Perspective – Exploring the Chehalis-Western Trail

Written by Panorama resident, Judy Murphy. April 2014.

The 22-mile trail was built on the bed of the former Chehalis Western Railroad, which was used throughout much of the 20th century to haul logs to mills and ultimately to Henderson Inlet.  At its southern end it connects with the 14.5 mile Yelm-Tenino trail, and the northern terminus is at Woodard Bay.  That makes for a beautiful bicycle trip in any season.

Canada GeeseMy interest is usually closer to home, however, on the short section between the Panorama dog park entrance to the trail and Herman Road SE.  Halfway in between there is an overlook on Chambers Lake.  It’s a great place to sit and observe ducks in winter, Canada geese, the occasional bald eagle, red-tail hawks, and red-winged blackbirds.

Along the trail there is a marshy wetland lined with willows on the lakeside and mostly woods, with some houses, on the other.  This habitat attracts a variety of birds as well as other critters.  I have seen raccoons and heard a coyote once and bullfrogs.  Of course, there are many other more familiar critters–dog walkers, bicyclists (beware, they go fast!), joggers, and parents with strollers.  But during the week, and especially at rainy times, the trail is often yours to savor alone.

Marsh Wren

Perhaps my favorite year-round bird on the trail is the marsh wren that inhabits the cattails by the overlook.  If you sit on the bench in the spring you will hear his near constant chatter, and if you are patient you may catch a glimpse as he sits on top of a reed and calls to mark his territory and attract a mate.  He has built several nests by the overlook.

Another year-round resident is the yellow-rumped warbler, though I most often see it in the spring.

Yellow-Rumped Warbler

Yellow-Rumped Warbler

The red-winged blackbirds whistle and call all year, and other common chatterers include chickadees, spotted towhees, swallows, juncos, song sparrows and robins.  I used to see a hummingbird perched atop a particular tree before the leaves appeared in spring.  Now and then mallards will waddle across the trail to look for nesting spots.


Western Tanager


In spring and summer you might see Western tanagers, black-headed grosbeaks, flickers, bushtits, kinglets, and cedar waxwings.  Listen for the witchety-wich of the yellowthroat in the willow thickets (but they are devilishly tough to see from the trail).

Winter is the season for waterfowl.  I enjoy looking for wood ducks, which are so beautifully colored. Buffleheads are cute little diving ducks, and the males’ handsome black-and-white heads stand out among the coots, ring-necked ducks, wigeons, and Northern shovelers.  I also like to look for nests, easily seen in the bare trees, to admire how their seemingly frail structures can withstand the harsh rain and wind of the winter.

In the fall, the lake can be hidden in the mist of deep fog, and you will wonder that you could be so close to home.

Chambers Lake in the autumn fog

Chambers Lake in the autumn fog

In any season, this small portion of the trail is a birder’s delight, and even if you aren’t keen to go out with binoculars and look for birds, just listening for the cacophony among the trees is good for the soul.

For details about the trail, go to http://www.co.thurston.wa.us/parks/trails-chehalis-western.htm

Murphy Bio


A Resident’s Perspective – It’s More Than the Beauty of Campus

Written by Panorama resident, Bob Bowers. April 14th, 2014

Julia and I spent Saturday and Sunday at her beach house on Kamiliche Point near Shelton.  It is a heavenly place when the weather is beautiful…..Puget Sound fluctuating with the tides, shore birds returning, a few boats plying the waters, Mount Rainier visible on the horizon.  In any weather it is a great place to be.

Circle Lane in SpringBut, then, Sunday afternoon we returned to campus.  As soon as we crossed 14th Avenue on the way home, the campus blossomed. Trees and grass in rich hues of green.  Rhodies beginning to bloom.  Flowers of all colors brightening flower beds.  I felt myself feeling very grateful to be living here.  But, as I reflected, it is more than just the beauty of campus that makes me glad I’m here.

Around my neck is my SARA pendent, letting me know that the Benevolent Fund and Panorama care enough about my safety and welfare to connect me at all times with helpers if I need them.  I think of the social workers and emergency responders and the security department who quietly and untiringly keep us in mind as they maintain safety and security.  I know I can get help from them when I’m physically and mentally challenged by what is going on in my life. I think of the Convalescent Center that will care for me when I face physical or mental  challenges that seem to be too much for me. I think of the folks at the clinic, the dentist, the rehab folks, the banks, and the pharmacy who try to help me keep my health and sanity. And, there are people who love me and express their concern.

It’s not just the beauty of the flowers, or the superb entertainment and venue of the auditorium that make me glad I’m living in Panorama. Tonight Julia and I will go to the Panorama Auditorium to hear another soft and sweet performance by one of our favorite performers. What a place to live out our retirement!

As I walk the paths of this campus I’ll give you a nod and a word of greeting.  You do the same for me.  We are both fortunate to be here.  Let’s make the best of it for the good of all of us.

Bowers Bio

Introducing the Newest Addition to Our Campus

Dale Chihuly, Panorama Icicle Tower, 2014, 10 x 5 x 5’

Dale Chihuly, Panorama Icicle Tower, 2014, 10 x 5 x 5’

Dale Chihuly’s Panorama Icicle Tower was installed on Monday, April 14, 2014 by two members of Team Chihuly.

This is Chihuly’s second installation at Panorama. It is an astonishing 10’x5’x5’ and is comprised of approximately 230 yellow, red, and orange hand-blown glass elements.

Chihuly’s Towers evolved from his Chandeliers. The first Tower was made for the narrow vertical space of the American Craft Museum stairway in 1997. Subsequent projects continued to challenge Chihuly to create large sculptures for spaces where the ceilings could not bear the weight of Chandeliers, or spaces without ceilings, giving life to the development of this important series.

Chihuly's Panorama Icicle Tower

Dale Chihuly, Panorama Icicle Tower (detail), 2014, 10 x 5 x 5’

“The idea of a Tower just came from looking at one of my Chandeliers and imagining what it would look like upside down.” –Chihuly

There will be a formal dedication ceremony on June 10.

Smart Decision in Our Retirement? – Part 3

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw on March 28th, 2014.

First visit to Panorama

Our daughter Melody and son-in-law John came home to Las Vegas after interviews for jobs in Lacey, WA, and after visiting Panorama and other retirement communities for us.  (Don’t miss my blog for February and March 13, 2014.) Recall their response, “Mom, Dad, you don’t want to go anywhere except Panorama,” and my challenge with hubby Chris’ not wanting to pack up, move, or even to see Panorama.  Also, we had a big paid-in-full lovely home with lots of “stuff.”

I studied the literature and DVD much more than Chris.  He agreed we’d visit Panorama and other places with one definite “but we’re not going to sign anything.”

“No, Chris, we’re not signing anything,” I said, “we’re just going to look and compare.”

Evergreens at PanoramaIn March we flew to SeaTac with Mel and John, rented a car, and headed to Panorama to drive through the grounds as a preview of our tour the next day.  We were overcome with the beauty and majesty of the mature trees, large and small bushes, red, pink, white rhododendrons everywhere we turned.

“Look, at the residents out walking and visiting, even waving to us.”  We observed all we could on that quick ride.

Later our kids introduced us to so much Washington has to offer like Budd Bay, quaint downtown Olympia with many little unusual shops, and the capitol.  Also, famous Pike’s Place Market, with fresh fish eateries everywhere.  We marveled at the lush greenery along highways, little country roads through high trees. I was envisioning our family and friends coming and having loads around for them to enjoy.

“I am so excited to pick the brains of some Panorama residents,” I said to David and Jean, residents driving us the next morning from Ramada Inn to nearby Panorama.

We were excited to meet Rachel Dobry in person. She was more lovely and considerate than imagined. I had calculated (and I’m not a mathematician) about how much I thought we could afford, since Chris had lost his 34 year retirement with a bankrupt airline.

We toured homes in that price range in the areas best for us: Woodland Ct., Chambers Lake Lane, Chalet apartments, and Marina Lane.  Each residence had a beautiful view and seemed perfect to me. I wanted to explode with excitement, but didn’t want to scare Chris. After all, we’d agreed we weren’t going to sign anything. There was more of Panorama to see, too.

It seemed too good to be true.  Was it?  We’d get some straight-forward answers from the resident hosts, Jean and David, at the free lunch in the beautiful campus Chambers Restaurant!  What did we learn about other retirement-living places we’d visit?  Surely you’ll want to find out in my next blog in a few more weeks.

Mary Jo Bio

Parkinson’s Awareness Month at Panorama

 April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month.

Nearly one million Americans live with Parkinson’s – approximately 30,000 here in Washington including dozens at Panorama. Fortunately, Panorama has many programs offering help and support to residents coping with this disease.

Panorama Social Services facilitates a Living with Parkinson’s support group. The group provides an opportunity for residents with Parkinson’s and their caregivers to come together to share and receive information from guest speakers, staff and each other. Topics include self-help tips, nutrition, art and music, speech therapy, legal advice, exercise and more.

Studies consistently show exercise helps alleviate Parkinson’s symptoms so Panorama offers a Parkinson’s Exercise Class twice a week at the Aquatic and Fitness Center. The class is taught by a certified Movement Class Instructor.

These groups are an essential way for residents to maintain a healthy, supportive and engaging lifestyle at Panorama. “It reminds us that we are not alone,” said the spouse of one resident who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s eighteen years ago. The partnership among residents, staff and professionals in the community is what makes our programs special.

Parkinson’s Awareness Month will conclude with a showing of the PBS documentary My Father, My Brother, and Me on April 30th at 1:30pm in the Panorama Auditorium. In the hour-long film, journalist Dave Iverson shares his story of how he, his father, and his older brother were all diagnosed with Parkinson’s.  Iverson sets off on a personal journey to explore the scientific, ethical, and political debate that surrounds the disease. The film is both educational, inspirational and a must see for everyone. There will be FREE Parkinson’s publications, worksheets and information on how you can support research toward finding a cure.

If you would like more information about these and other programs, please contact the Living with Parkinson’s support group facilitator and Campus Social Services Worker, Sara Wasser at 438-7776.



A Resident’s Perspective – Kids and Seniors

Written by Panorama resident, Mike Turner, on March 18th, 2014.

There’s an adage that goes something like “as people age they become more childlike.”  I’m pretty sure it’s not meant as a compliment.  From my point of view…I think the adage may be correct, but for very different reasons.

Let’s take kids first.  Kids are naturally inquisitive and want to know everything about everything.  If you are a parent you must remember the constant “why?” from your kids when they were young.  They want to know how it works, where it comes from, what does it do.  Watch a child in the woods or the backyard or along the seashore.  They can be fascinated and spend lots of time looking at moss on a rock, a leaf, a fish in a stream, a bird in a tree, a special shell found on the beach, looking closely at all the kinds, colors and shapes of grains of sand on the beach and don’t get them started on tide pools and museums.  They can be fascinated by a book and read it or want it read to them over and over again because they keep finding new things in the story.  They plant a small backyard garden and are fascinated by nature as she reproduces herself in those vegetables that they planted.  This is kids being kids.

So what happens when they become seniors?  They do the exact same thing.  They want to know how it works, where it comes from, what does it do.  But this time the interests are much broader.  Take a look at the residents of Panorama.  They go to lectures on nature, science, art, music, politics.  They take trips to see new things, places and take the time to learn about and see something new.  They attend performances, discuss books at book club, take nature walks, and plant those same gardens at the Pea Patch to see nature reproduce herself and enjoy the rewards of their work.

This is seniors being seniors.  Kind of like kids huh?

Another thing about kids is their ability to believe.  Kids believe in fairy tales, Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, monsters under the bed…some good, some bad but their imaginations, their sense of wonder is always there making their lives interesting and exciting.  Here’s an example.

In my past I was a ride operator at Disneyland.  On a warm spring evening I was working on the Submarine ride.  The sign on the front of the ride said, “Disneyland Submarine Ride.  A Voyage Under the North Pole.”  I was standing outside the ride answering questions and guiding people into the ride when a young man around 7 came up to me.  He wanted to know if the trip was really under the North Pole.  Trying not to break the magic I said yes and told him I thought that he would like it.  He asked me how long the trip was and before I could answer he said that he had read that subs can go under the North Pole but that they were gone for months and that he and his family were on spring vacation and he had to be back at school on Monday.  I told him we would get him back on time.  A kid who believed.

I have another Disney story, very similar, but this time two senior ladies.  I think you will see the parallel.  This time I am working at Pirates of the Caribbean.  Standing outside again talking to the guests when two ladies, perhaps early 80’s, came up to me and said they had a question.  One of them went on to tell me how much they liked the ride but wondered about something.  She described the beginning of the ride in the bayou with houseboats and the fireflies in the trees.  She wondered why the fire flies didn’t fly away.  These ladies were believers and were curious.  Kind of like a kid right?

I told her I knew that answer.  Once again not wanting to break the magic, I told them they were giant Brazilian fireflies that we brought to a farm that was behind the park.  That they go through six months of training so they learn to fly in one spot and that it costs about $5000 per firefly for all of this.  She turns to her friend and says, “See Irma I told you it was something like that.”

Now that’s a believer and someone with a sense of wonder.  So maybe the adage is true, kids and seniors really are a lot alike, and that is a compliment.

Mike Turner

Panorama Disaster Preparedness – Map Your Neighborhood

District Map-no numbers copy

In a disaster, your most immediate source of help will be the neighbors around you.

The Panorama Resident Council, with support from the Panorama Corporation, is sponsoring Map Your Neighborhood training for resident disaster preparedness.

In line with the national “Map Your Neighbor Hood” program, our campus has been divided in to small “neighborhoods” based on the homes that are located nearest each other. To gain a clear idea of this, picture the homes that you can see while standing in your front yard. This is your “neighborhood” of immediate sources for disaster assistance.

For each of these “neighborhoods” a captain and co-captain have been assigned. Some volunteered on their own while others were approached due to their personal skills and qualities. During the month of April, these captains and co-captains will be undergoing Map Your Neighborhood training which addresses the following:

1) The “9 Steps to Take Immediately Following a Disaster” to secure your home and protect your neighborhood.

2) The skills and equipment each neighbor has and how they would apply in a disaster situation.

3) Identifying the nearest locations of natural gas and propane tanks in your neighborhood.

4) Developing a contact list that identifies neighbors with specific needs

5) Working together as a team to evaluate and take the necessary actions

If you would like information on Map Your Neighborhood training for Thurston County residents, visit the Thurston County Emergency Management site.

A Resident’s Perspective – Thoughts on Rain

Written by Panorama resident, Sandy Bush, on March 17th, 2014.

“It always rains in the Northwest” was the comment that friends sent us off to Panorama with. We will have been here a year come May. The wonderfully kept secret of weather issues is amazing. This statement comes after a night of rain starting at about 1 AM .  It really rained!!! The street gutters had accumulated water when we got up.

However, by 9:15 AM the sun came out. Having been a couple of “weather nuts,” we have followed weather maps, and radar returns since 1966. We are finding a fun reality of weather in the Panorama area of the Northwest.

Panorama and Lacey are communities situated between mountainous areas. The Olympics scrape a lot of rain off before we even see it here. Then the storms coming from the East and down from Canada often spend their water content before getting here. The storms that come up from the south or southwest are the ones that carry the moisture. Locals and long time residents say this has been an unusual year and not so wet as some. It may be different in subsequent years.

The storm events here, when there have been days of rain, are nothing like the horrendous pulses we got in Northern California with ripping winds and erosion and flash flooding. Those came between long time spans with no precipitation and so were doubly hard on the land mass.

What we so enjoy here is the rain that falls at night and by mid- to late-morning when we are done with home chores and venturing out, we often don’t even need the old bumbershoot!!! Squalls happen and then they clear. Another observation of a friend here spoke of vertical rain here. The wind-driven horizontal or slanted rain there could be horrendous. Rain here almost becomes a non-event.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat do we get from all this? The lovely green-ness that is so much more pleasing than the dried, parched land for 6-8 months in the land to the south. We aren’t necessarily telling everyone that Seattle and Bellingham weather isn’t Panorama weather, but we chuckle often when asked, “are you in hip boots yet?”

Sandy Bio