A Walk in the Woods at Shadow Lake Preserve

It’s the middle of November and we have clear blue skies and fresh air in the Great Northwest.  So if you can’t get out where you are, why not come along with me and walk through the woods at the Shadow Lake Nature Preserve?  Just a few minutes south of my home in Renton I was welcomed by this charming sign.

I entered the woods and followed the trail,

which led to the boardwalk through the Shadow Lake Bog.  The 5,000 year old peat-moss bog was the inspiration for the Preserve and is up to 45 feet deep in places under the boardwalk.

I had the trail to myself with the exception of unseen critters – and perhaps fairies? –  who live here.  I heard only birdsong.

The private preserve was formed by local citizens who understood the value of protecting our beautiful woods and wetlands.

For more information visit the link ShadowLakePreserve.

~ Susanne

Benji and the Perch

It may be time to upgrade Benji’s perch.

~  Susanne

Crazy for Purple

Who doesn’t love purple?  Not me for sure!  So I went through some recent photos to share for this week’s prompt from Travel with Intent.

I found these leaves on a hydrangea recently at Soos Creek Botanical Garden. I admit my own hydrangeas never look this good.

How about a macaron to go with your coffee?  I wish I had one but this picture will have to do.

Or maybe you’d like to take a ride across the Spokane River in one of these – they weren’t running when I was there earlier this year so maybe next time.

Finally I would be remiss if I didn’t pay tribute  to my favorite flower, or should I say herb?  Yes to both!  So here’s to lavender,  this picture taken at the Sequim Lavender Festival.

Purple.  It never fails to cheer!  🙂

~ Susanne

Hood Canal, Dosewallips and Pleasant Harbor, a Journey Back

Let me introduce you to some new places in Washington. New to you, not to me for Hood Canal has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. Canal? No, not really. Hood Canal is a fjord, a natural inlet of Puget Sound on the Olympic Peninsula, deep and raw and undeveloped – abundant with clams and oysters.  But it’s the shrimp I remember most from my grandparent’s place at Pleasant Harbor.

Our family would pile into the car and make the long drive from Seattle where grandma ran the restaurant – later a store – and grandpa had a shrimp boat. We spent long and lazy summer days walking down to the beach to play and swim and fish. One summer I was there when reporters came and took pictures of grandpa (and me) and featured us in the Seattle Times Pictorial Magazine. You can see that story here if you missed it.

I spent more time at Hood Canal after my mom and stepdad and sister – the last remaining child at home – moved to Brinnon.  Across the street from Hood Canal and against the backdrop of the mountains and forests of Olympic National Park,  the air was fresh and clean and scented with smoke from wood burning stoves. I visited many times throughout my college years and beyond, bringing friends and later my husband, with me. Mom would take us to the Dosewallips River or up to Rocky Brook Falls. Or she’d take us into the woods hunting for mushrooms, especially chanterelles which we ate soon after fried in butter.

It had been too long so last week we visited the area and to shorten the drive took the ferry across and the Hood Canal Floating Bridge, one of the longest in the world.

I’ve crossed it many times, but this was the first time we had front row seats while we were stopped to let a ship pass through.

After a detour to Port Townsend for lunch, we headed south on 101 past Quilcene to Brinnon. You’ll miss the town if you blink, but we didn’t and saw nothing much had changed.  We continued next door to Dosewallips State Park and were treated to a herd of elk, down from the high country to feed.

After watching those marvelous animals – or shall I say they watched us? –  it was time to head to our next destination, Pleasant Harbor.

Okay so the sign wasn’t there;  it remained rooted safely back in the sixties.  In place of the store where shells and rocks and candies once lined the shelves and Elsie stood behind the counter ready to sell you those fresh caught shrimp, was a rundown building with cars about. But the road was still there – the one that led down to the harbor – the one my brothers and sisters and cousins and I had walked to the docks where grandpa moored his shrimp boat.

But it was steep and gravel and one lane only and we were reluctant to drive it.  And we were just as reluctant to leave our car at the top and walk down the road as daylight was running out. So we continued on 101 hoping there would be another way.  And then we saw the new sign ahead;  and a new road that although steep was paved with two lanes and would take us safely down to Pleasant Harbor.

I closed my eyes and I was eight years old again and saw the dock where we dropped our lines down the barnacle encrusted pilings; where we saw the perch feeding in crystal clear water and yanked them up when they took our bait. There’s no fishing better than that.

So it was a day well spent on Hood Canal where time stands still and boats rest under the setting sun.

No wonder they call it Pleasant Harbor.

~ Susanne

P.S. This post was inspired by Lorna’s prompt, at Gin & Lemonade, ‘Time warp.”

Some words I don’t use

Perusing some of my older posts and found this one. I like words. But words don’t always like me. I still don’t use these. 🙂 Do you have words like that?

Cats and Trails and Garden Tales

LOL.  No, don’t use it.  I envy people who do. So convenient and concise. But it’s not for me. I tried it once and felt like an imposter. Haha, no problem.  Heehee, occasionally.  LOL? Lol?  Never. There must be some deep seated emotional reason I can’t use it but I haven’t figured out yet what it is.

Bucket List.  Nope. There are many things I want to do, plan to do, places I would like to go and plan to go.  Good enough. I just can’t put it into the context of “before I kick the bucket.”  Why spoil the dreams and all the fun of planning with that?

To die for.  As in, “this cake is to die for!”  Sigh.  It may be really good cake.  The best I have had in a long long time.  But “to die for?”  Um, no.  I don’t think so. …

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The Earth in Layers at the Grand Canyon

We spent a few days at the Grand Canyon last year and got to experience its magnificent beauty from many angles at different times of day. The picture below was taken while the sun was rising near Mather Point.

The next few pictures, which include views of the Colorado River were taken during the noon hour.

At this point the Colorado is flowing through Granite Gorge,  and is at ‘rock bottom,’  Vishnu Basement Rocks formed 1,750 to 1,660 million years ago, the very foundation of the continent.

I wish I would have paid more attention in my Geology class.  But here’s the story according to the Park Service brochure I kept from that trip.

‘Grand Canyon reveals a beautiful sequence of rock layers that serve as windows of time. The carving of the canyon is only the most recent chapter, a geologic blink of an eye, in a long story. The long story includes rock nearly two billion years old in the bottom of the canyon, land masses colliding and drifting apart, mountains forming and eroding away, sea levels rising and falling, and relentless forces of moving water. Several factors make Grand Canyon’s geology remarkable.  Many canyons form as rivers cascade among mountain peaks, but Grand Canyon sits incised into an elevated plateau. The desert landscape exposes the geology to view. The strata revealed preserve a lengthy, although incomplete, record of Earth’s history.

Finally,  here’s one more picture of the Canyon just before sunset.

For this week’s prompt from Travel With Intent, Earth.

~ Susanne

Shorter Days and Early Sunsets

We gained an hour last night – which really means we lost it – and the shorter days mean early sunsets.  So I took advantage of the break in the rain and walked to the park this afternoon before five. The clouds hung low and heavy in the horizon, at first the color of peaches and cream, then changing to grape and lavender.

A neighbor was out with his children, all bundled up, rosy-cheeked and happy.

I found my favorite winter tree near the boys playing basketball.

A blimp-cloud loomed large overhead seeming ready to invade

but minutes later turned charcoal gray and harmless.

I really do like this time of year, regardless of the rain, for the fresh air and early sunsets.

I returned home as happy as those youngsters.

~ Susanne

Home is Where the Lap Is

After years and years and generations of cats it was finally time to replace the old chair in my office. I was waiting to see how Benji would react as nobody enjoyed that chair as much as he did.

I found the perfect replacement.  It was soft and plush and fit the space in my office nicely. What would Benji think?

Poised on the bench, I was ready with my camera to see what he thought of the new chair.  I expected him to inspect it, maybe circle around a bit before jumping up for his afternoon nap.  And I was ready to start the training to keep him from using it as a scratching post, as the old chair had become.

I called him into the room for the big reveal and he jumped onto my lap across from the empty chair. Not what I expected.

“Benji, don’t you notice anything different?”

“No Sue, what?” he replied.

“The chair, Benji. I finally got a new chair for us. Don’t you want to check it out?”

“I’m pretty comfortable here with you Sue.  You know how much I like your lap.”

So the other training would wait.  There would be no lesson today except for one: home is where the lap is.

Sweet boy that Benji.

~ Susanne and Benji

Return of the Salmon

It happens every year in the Pacific Northwest. Salmon return to the rivers and streams of their birth to spawn.  Three main species of salmon return to the Cedar River in Renton:  the Sockeye, Chinook and Coho.  The Sockeye is the most abundant and I recently visited the Cedar to see them make their journey upstream.

The glint of the salmon in the river surrounded by autumn leaves reminded me of this week’s prompt from Travel with Intent, Golden.

~  Susanne

Dreaming of the Road to Hana

Not Hana, but the Road to Hana, a narrow, winding, white-knuckle drive through tropical forest, over one lane bridges, with dramatic views of waterfalls and the Pacific Ocean. Yes, this is the ultimate road trip and you’ll find it on the island of Maui in Hawaii.  Perhaps I’m thinking of Maui today because I wish to escape from the monsoon rains that have finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest.  (It was inevitable.) Perhaps you also need to escape for reasons of your own and if so then this post is for you.

Now assuming you do not actually live in Maui,  you first need to get to the island.  That is NOT a road trip.  Once there however, you can hit the road like we did leaving from our hotel on Maui’s south side,  heading north toward Kahului.  According to Wikipedia,  “although Hana is only about 52 miles (84 km) from Kahului, it takes about 2.5 hours to drive even when no stops are made since the highway is very winding and narrow and passes over 59 bridges, of which 46 are only one lane wide. There are approximately 620 curves along Route 360 from just east of Kahului to Hana, almost all of it through lush, tropical rainforest.”

What’s not to like about that?  Well believe it or not, all those curves can be rough for those who are prone to car sickness.  Not knowing for sure we took the advice of a friend and rented a convertible and made the drive top down, with fresh island air filling our senses and yes, it was awesome.  In fact, I wish I was there right now but this little reminiscence will have to do.

We left early in the morning in hopes of beating the crowds – well, it was worth a try – and once past Kahului,  headed east through Paia – worth a separate trip of its own – and soon we were are on that famous winding road.

The only tough part would be to decide where to stop, for there are all kinds of charms and attractions and they are marked on maps you pick up for the drive. Gardens?  Yes, we stopped at the Garden of Eden  (honest) where we got a peek at this lovely waterfall,

and a look at this view apparently made famous in Jurassic Park.

We saw many more waterfalls alongside the road or at the end of short hikes so here are a couple more.

As far as stops go, did I mention the banana bread?  Famous along here. We stopped by the village of Keanae where we saw this charming stone church, built in 1856,

and enjoyed our fresh-baked banana bread while watching the waves crash on the shore.

It was all wonderful but I think my favorite stop was at the black sand beach – the beach that starts with a ‘W’ – that I can neither say nor type.

For me this was a real ‘pinch me’ moment;  like seriously, how lucky was I to be on a beautiful and remote black sand Hawaiian beach??

And so I was overcome by the Joy of it all as you can see in the picture below.  (Please ignore the boy in the background.  My husband took the picture and I don’t currently have the software or skill set or energy to crop him – the boy that is –  out!  😉 )

After a few hours we  arrived in Hana which you might have thought was our destination.

But no, as you have probably guessed by now,  it was the Road to Hana we were after and we enjoyed it immensely.  Many people turn around at this point and go back the same way they came (recommended by tour books and car rental companies) but no, not us.  We took the advice of those in the know and continued our journey around the lonely backside of Haleakala where we had the road to ourselves,  save for a few cows.

The Road to Hana; it puts the Road, back into Road Trip.

~  Susanne

P.S.  This post was inspired by Gin & Lemonade’s prompt, Road Trip.

A Little Cat Humor

“Watcha doin’ there Benji?”

“Takin’ my bath, Sue.  Getting ready for the big trip.”

“What trip is that Benji?”

“I don’t know.  Wherever it is your going.  I’d like to come along if you don’t mind.”

“But Benji, you really don’t like riding in the car.  Have you forgotten? I think you’d be much happier at home. But I’ll bring you back a present, I promise.”

And a few days later I did.

He was enthralled.

~ Susanne

Ready or Not

It’s 4th grade and I’m at the school that looms large in my memory.

We’re sitting on the steps under the overhang of the building,  a covered entryway somewhere between in and out.  School hasn’t started yet and it’s almost 8:30.   I’m with my best friend Joyce and we’re playing a game called ‘Safety Sam,’ my mom’s invention.

No props just pure imagination and we’re preparing to go on a trip to somewhere and pack our invisible bags.

And then the low rumbling begins.

And the ground starts moving.

Back and forth.

‘Safety Sam’ is the name of the game and we quickly jump off the steps and run outside to the playground.

Mrs. Halgramson is there blowing a whistle, and early arrivers are gathering together and many are crying which I find strange.

‘Our house is cracked, and things were falling off the shelves!’ they say.

To me and Joyce it’s a game, but to others fear and destruction.

The date is April 29, 1965 and it’s my first earthquake but not my last. You can read more about it here.  http://www.historylink.org/File/1986

Other places in the United States have hurricanes.  Tornados.  Flooding.  In the Pacific Northwest we have earthquakes and are always being asked the question:  Are you ready for the Big One?  But exactly how does one prepare for an earthquake?

This post was inspired by Lorna’s prompt over at Gin and Lemonade, Prep.

~ Susanne

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