Mt Baker Wilderness Under Smoky Skies

Despite the smoky skies over Washington this week, we managed to find beauty in the Mt Baker Wilderness Area, which shares its eastern border with North Cascades National Park. We took the Mt. Baker Highway to its end at Artist Point for views of America’s most photographed mountain (so they say), Mt. Shuksan, which actually lies within the National Park.  Sorry to have to show you a less than stellar picture of the famous mountain under smoky, hazy skies but I think you’ll see why photographers flock here.

I took this photo at Picture Lake and admit to ‘enhancing’ the color a bit – no law against that, right?

On our way back down we saw a sign for Nooksack Falls and decided to make the short drive down a gravelly one lane road to see it.  Once there we took heed to the warnings to watch our footing and stay behind the chain link fence.  Sadly some have not and died trying to get the perfect picture. It’s unfortunate that such beautiful falls must come with serious warnings, but nature must be respected.

I’m happy to report that the smoke is finally clearing out for a few days due to cool maritime air finally pushing through. We’ll see for how long.

~ Susanne

On Morning’s Orange Sun

The Pacific Northwest is once again under the filmy haze of smoke from Canadian wildfires resulting in unhealthy air. In the meantime we are awakened by a mysterious and brilliant orange sun.

Can’t wait for the rainy fall season to begin.

~ Susanne

Third Beach at Olympic National Park, but What’s in a Name?

On our recent trip to Olympic National Park, we enjoyed a wonderful hike to Third Beach – and no,  the name does not do it justice.  Just a short drive from Mora Campground, Third Beach lies south of First Beach and Second Beach –  not to be confused with Beach 1, Beach 2 and Beach 3 even further to the south.  (I guess after so many gorgeous beaches they decided to go with a numbering system – you try naming a beach!)

The trail through the woods was flat and well maintained and at only 1.4 miles one way, the payoff at the end seemed too easy.

There were only a handful of hikers on the trail including this little fellow below, to whom we gave the right of way.

It wasn’t long before we heard the roar of the Pacific Ocean and saw the promise of blue sky at the end of the trail tunnel.

And then – Ocean in View!

After scrambling over the giant drift logs that guarded the beach (look closely and you will see my speck of a husband), we were there!

The rugged beach was ours to enjoy, complete with an offshore metropolis, which I shall call the City of Sea Stacks.  (I guess naming things is difficult!)

While Bob cast his line in the surf (for seaweed it turns out)

I accrued more steps on my fitbit by heading down the beach for a closer look at the mysterious sea stacks and small waterfalls tumbling from the cliffs.

It was great to be walking, alone with my thoughts, in the fresh air, enjoying the waves and the surf and the drift logs and giant boulders strewn about.

As I write this I find myself wishing I were there right now  –  spending the night on the beach.

I returned from my walk and found that Bob had failed to catch us lunch so we settled instead for the snack I’d brought along – nuts, crackers, chips cookies, washed down with water and surprisingly tasty.  Then it was time to go:  another scramble over the logs, a long walk through the woods and we were back at the trailhead.  Next up was La Push and First Beach where no hiking was necessary to enjoy the drive-up beach on the Quileute Indian Reservation. (Second Beach does require a hike and will have to wait for another trip.)

Exhausted by our adventures  (18,000 steps for me – but who’s counting?) we stopped at Three Rivers Resort for a ‘Quil Burger’ (it was delicious).  While we were there we learned of another threat, greater than mere fire danger, a nod to the Twilight series based here.

Regardless, we slept peacefully in our trailer that night, and were ready the next day to move on to the Hoh Rain Forest, one of the best remaining examples of temperate rain forest in the world, according to the Park’s newspaper, and that deserves another post.  Stay tuned.

~ Susanne

Let sleeping cats lie…..

Just a few pictures of happy sleeping cats to start your weekend!

Cats and Trails and Garden Tales

I must say that sleeping humans are not that cute (with the exception perhaps of baby humans.)  They are twisted and have messy unmanageable hair and bed-clothes and sometimes thrash around.  Indeed humans do not wish to be seen sleeping, nor to be seen waking up in the morning without a substantial amount of time spent to make themselves presentable.

Not so with cats.  All cats have a particular expression of joy while sleeping and are very pleasant to look at.  Their soft fur stays nice and intact at all times and the feet are particularly cute. Here are some examples.

Tiger is 8 years old and still enjoys sleeping very much.


Not all cats sleep the same but they all sleep cute.  Here is Benji sleeping.  He is not quite one year old.


Any questions?

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Happy International Cat Day!

Who knew??  August 8th is International Cat Day!  Well I didn’t until I was reminded by my fellow bloggers!  And so I couldn’t let the day go by without sharing pictures of my favorite felines:  Tiger and Benji, who went from this:

to this:

Aren’t they handsome boys?

So Happy International Cat Day to all cat lovers and their feline friends everywhere!

~ Susanne

Mora and Rialto Beach, Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park spreads over the Olympic Peninsula in the northwest corner of Washington State, almost a million acres of protected wilderness, with mountains, forests and the wildest coastline in the contiguous United States. A designated World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve it attracts visitors from around the world.  It also attracts us locals and we visited again this summer, this time camping in a remote section of the Park at beautiful Mora.

Mora Campground

Located next to the Quillayute River, and a mile from Rialto Beach, Mora lies deep in old growth forest, dripping green and gorgeous and that’s where we parked our trailer the first two nights. Mora doesn’t take reservations but we got there early in the week and easily found a spot. You may be surprised to hear it cost us a measly $10 a night to camp. Yes, true.  Already a bargain at $20 a night, it’s only $10 for those with a Senior National Parks Pass. Money well spent, I think.

Quillayute River

The Quillayute River is only four miles long, formed by the confluence of the Sol Duc and the Bogachiel Rivers, before it flows into the Pacific Ocean. We stopped by the river on our way to Rialto Beach and I felt transported to an earlier time, almost expecting to see Native Americans in traditional garb, fishing, and weaving baskets from cedar bark.  In fact the Quileute Indian Reservation is home to the Quileute tribe who’ve lived in this area for thousands of years. The village of La Push is its largest community and sits at the mouth of river, just south of Rialto Beach.

We visited instead with a family from France, who had stopped to take pictures of the eagles.

They also pointed out this resting seal to us, a real treat!

Rialto Beach

We discovered Rialto Beach on our trip to the park last year, but I was impressed all over again with its rugged beauty, offshore sea stacks, and the size of the giant drift logs and standing ghost trees on the beach.

I asked Bob to pose in front of one of the logs for scale and he obliged.

Then while he fished in the surf (catching only seaweed)  I walked a mile up the beach to get a closer look at some sea stacks.

On my walk I saw what looked like a giant tarantula but was another tree stump, not completely bleached of color yet.

Though it was cool and overcast, it was a refreshing change from the dry heat we’ve had in the Seattle area most of the summer. We did find blue skies on our visit to La Push and First Beach the next day and on our hike to Third Beach; more to come on that in a future post.

~ Susanne

Can We Come Too?

‘Hey Benji. What are you doing there?’

‘Waiting for you Sue!’ he replied.

‘On the trailer step?’ I asked.

‘Yes!’ he said. ‘Tiger and I talked it over and we want to go camping with you. I thought this would be the best place to wait so you don’t forget us next time.’

‘That’s right,’ Tiger replied. ‘And I think I’ll just stay in here till we go. I’ve been checking it out and it will work perfectly.’

‘There’s lots of room for all of us,’ continued Benji. ‘I can sleep here in the corner. Tiger can have the floor. You won’t even know we’re here.’

‘Nice of you to give the floor to Tiger, Benji. Anyway we’d love to take you but you wouldn’t enjoy it, trust me. Remember how much you hate riding in cars? This would even be worse!’

‘Please Sue. We really want to come.’

”Sorry Benji. Even if you could handle the ride – which I don’t think you could – what would you do at the campground? I couldn’t let you out or you might get lost. (Or even worse – there are bears out there!)  And you and Tiger would get on each other’s nerves all cooped up in here!’

‘Well you have some valid points,’ he conceded.

‘Good. I’m glad you agree. You’ll be much happier at home. And anyway we’re not leaving again anytime soon. So why don’t you go out and chase some mice?’

~ Susanne, Tiger & Benji

Breakfast with a View at Kalaloch

I just returned from a few days of camping in Olympic National Park.   It will take me a while to sort through the pictures of our adventures at Mora, Rialto Beach, Third Beach and the Hoh River Rainforest.  Stay tuned for those to come.  In the meantime, I thought I’d whet your appetite with pictures from the end of our trip,  where we stopped for breakfast at Kalaloch Lodge, before heading back home.

The breakfast and views were incredible.

~ Susanne

Another Sunrise at Mt Rainier

I already posted about our first trip in the r pod to Silver Springs Campground, but I can’t resist sharing another picture of those lovely springs and a side trip we took to Sunrise.

The campground is close to Mt Rainier National Park so one day we took the drive along the White River to one of its most popular destinations, Sunrise.

On the way to the top, we stopped by Sunrise Point and enjoyed a nearly 360 degree panorama of the Cascade Mountains.

Continuing up we arrived at the Sunrise Visitor Center, at 6400 feet, the highest point you can reach in the park by car.

After lunch, we took some of the short trails leading to close up views of the Mountain.

At Emmons Vista we had a good look at the largest glacier by area in the contiguous United States. Emmons Glacier descends from the summit into the White River Valley and is seen left of the triangular rock known as Steamboat Prow in the picture below. What looks like gray land where the White River emerges is actually the terminus of the glacier, where hundreds of feet of glacial ice are covered with avalanche debris from a rock fall in 1963.

More recently (just a few weeks before our visit), another icefall deposited huge chunks of ice on Mt Rainier’s most popular climbing route near Ingraham Glacier, reminding us just how volatile this mountain can be. Fortunately the climbing group that discovered the massive chunks of ice had started their climb later than normal or they wouldn’t have survived.

Happy to be viewing the sleeping giant safely from below. Or as safe as can be considering she is still an active volcano. Life is not without its risks.

~ Susanne

Benji and the Selfie

‘Hey Benji, I’d like to practice taking a selfie. Can you help me out?’

‘Sure Sue, what’s a selfie?’

‘It’s when you use your phone to take a picture of yourself. It seems like everyone’s doing it and they look so good in the picture. My selfies look terrible.’

‘Be happy to help,’ he replied. ‘What can I do?’

‘Well, you’re so photogenic, I thought it would be nice to have you in the picture. The idea is to look as natural as possible.’

‘Sure,’ he said,’ how’s this?’

‘Wow Benji, it’s perfect of you! But I don’t look natural at all, so I’ll just crop me out of this one. Could we try again?’

‘Sure Sue. Sometimes a different angle helps to show off your best side. Here’s mine.’

‘No kidding, Benji! That’s a great shot of you! But not so so good of me so I’ll just do a bit more cropping and get out of there. You have time for one more?’

‘Anything for you Sue. Let’s try the other side this time. It’s not my best, but maybe it’ll work for you. ‘

‘You look good from any angle, Benji! I don’t know what my problem is. Maybe selfies aren’t my thing.’

‘Aw come on, Sue, you’re too hard on yourself. What you need is confidence – we cats have confidence! You gotta look the camera in the eye! Like this!’

‘Yes indeed, Benji! You do have confidence! But as for me, I think I need a lot more practice taking selfies. Thanks for the help anyway, but for now I’ll just take pictures of you. You’re still the photogenic one!’

~ Susanne and Benji

Optimism in July’s Garden

By this time of year my garden seems worn and spent and I sometimes feel it myself. It’s hot and it’s hot and there’s no rain in sight. The lettuce long since pulled, left an empty spot behind.  The potato harvest is over and done and their droopy tops remain.   Even the trustworthy raspberries are mostly forgotten and dried up.  (I’ll spare you the pictures.)

But they had their turn!  Look at what’s in color now!

Tomatoes plump and green as apples.

Baby squash starting to crawl.

Dahlias, proud in pink and red!

And lavender, oh so lavender!

Yes, there’s always room for improvement.  More potatoes.  Succession plantings to fill the gaps.  All good plans for next year.   But that can wait.  For now, here’s to optimism in July’s garden.

~ Susanne

Garden Fossils

Resting in the shadows near the stream,

joined by friends

I notice ferns imprinted on rocks,

like ancient fossils.

~ Susanne

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