Rebels By Bus

Slow Travel With Low Carbon Footprint

Taking advantage of our mild (so far) winter

We’ve recently had many more blue-sky days than usual…perfect for another bus adventure!

This past week I had a lovely day trip to Theler Wetlands, in Belfair (north Mason County).  Sam and Mary E. Theler moved to Belfair in 1926.  In the mid 1930’s they purchased 500 acres between Belfair and Allyn for $4,500 (!), which was subdivided into lots for housing.  The Theler’s generously gave land to the Belfair school, including the 75 acres where the Mary E. Theler Community Center and Wetlands trails are located.

This is an easy solo short day trip.  I caught the Mason Transit Bus (route 6) at the downtown Olympia Transit Center at 9:20.  The bus also makes stops at any of the bus shelters heading up Harrison Avenue towards Highway 101.  The cost is
$1.50 for adults (50 cents for age 65 and older).  This first leg of the trip takes you to the Shelton Civic Center, arriving about 10:10.  The next bus (Route 1) didn’t leave until 10:45, so I had plenty of time to walk a couple blocks to Sage Book store (116 W Railroad Ave # 102) for a short lattee.  Carolyn Olsen, long-time successful Shelton businesswoman, has created a wonderful atmosphere at Sage.  Regulars gather around a huge old oak table to tease and share stories.

The next leg of the trip (Route 1) was in a smaller van-type bus.  This route goes north on Highway 3, past Deer Creek, the Grapeview Loop (Stretch and Treasure Island are reached from this road), as well as Allyn.  The water was still and calm; riding the bus you are high enough to see things that you cannot see from a car or truck.

I requested that the driver drop me off at the Theler Center.  He pulled over by a light-controlled sidewalk, in order for me to safely cross Highway 3.  The friendly volunteers at the Center provided a map of the wetland trails (which was much easier to interpret than the map on Theler’s website), and directed me to the start of the trails.

Following the Rock Wall trail, I passed through a lovely metal gate and down a very well maintained (hard packed soil, with pea gravel) trail.  A short boardwalk followed, which led me to the North Mason Schools classroom and exhibit center.  This is also part of the well-labeled native plant collection.  From the learning center area, I headed to the first trail:  Salt Marsh, which is all boardwalk and ½ mile roundtrip.  Next I went on the longer (1.5 miles each way) River Estuary Trail, with close views of the northeast end of Hood Canal’s merger with the Hood River.  In this section I saw many birds:  tohees, Canadian Geese, two heron, juncos, etc.  Better yet, I saw NO people on the trail!  How peaceful…

Along the trail are many well placed benches.  I nibbled on my lunch along the way, enjoying the brisk, but pleasant sunny day.  About 12:30, I headed back to the Theler Center in order to catch the Route 1 bus heading back to Shelton.  The bus stops on Highway 3, right in front of the Center (but you must signal the driver that you want him to stop!)  I got on the bus about 1:15, returning to the Civic Center around 2:05.   (Note:  You could also catch the Route 2 bus at the Theler Center.  This route gets you to Shelton, but you travel on Highway 106, through Union…. another lovely route!)

The next Route 6 bus left at 2:40, so I walked a half block to the Mason County Historical Society Museum, located at the corner of 5th and Railroad Avenue.  The museum is housed in the former Shelton City Hall, built in 1914.  The museum is open Tuesday through Friday 11 – 5:00, as well as Saturday 11 – 4:00.  There are many interesting exhibits, including many pictures of logging practice of years gone by.  A bonus:  the museum was having a book sale ($1 for hardbacks; 50 cents for paperbacks).  I bought several books; all for a good cause!

My last leg of this journey was uneventful; returning to downtown Olympia at 3:35.  Check back to see what other adventures are in store for Mason County journeys; such as avisit to Allyn to walk the labrinyth at St. Hugh Church.


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