A Summer Day in May

Summertime and the livin’ is easy here in the Pacific Northwest.  After the longest rainy season on record, summer arrived with gusto this week with temperatures in the seventies and eighties.  We poor, cold, and waterlogged natives embraced the sunshine and are soaking up the long overdue rays while they are here.

That includes me as I head to Coulon Park in the heat of the day where I find the irises in bloom and bright as the sun,

and these walkers blending in with the green.

The view of Rainier to the south was striking as always..

but the Olympics floated in the haze somewhat ghostly to the west,

reminding me that I will welcome the cleansing of the next refreshing rain.  I am after all, a  true native.

~ Susanne

Cedar River Trail and the Big Birds Beside

Today was overcast but just right for a morning walk along the Cedar River Trail.

The river was flowing gently while reflecting the flowers and trees alongside its banks,

and the ducks were enjoying the flow.

Boeing!

It wasn’t long before the Big Birds came into view. The Trail meanders along the river and through Boeing’s Renton Plant, home to the best selling commercial airliner of all time, the 737.  (Did you know a Boeing 737 takes off or lands somewhere every two seconds?)

The Boeing Renton Factory opened during the 1940’s and produced the B29 Bombers used during World War II.

When I was growing up Seattle was known as the Jet City and everyone knew someone who worked at Boeing. Boeing is still the largest private employer in the state of Washington.

The 737, which went into production in 1967, is still manufactured at the Renton plant and can be seen lining both sides of the river.

We talk with a guard who points out the 737 MAX currently under construction, distinguishable by the unique ‘pincher’ on the end of its wings.

We follow the trail to the south end of Lake Washington and stop to enjoy the views.

On our return I see this tree in spring dress and am reminded it is just getting warmed up..

and will light up the trail in the fall.

We’ll be back for the show.

~ Susanne

Mt Rainier Up Close and Personal

Did you know there is a Paradise on earth?  Well yes, there is!  And it can be found at Mt Rainier National Park!

After being teased by beautiful local views of the mountain we decide to take the drive to the National Park for an up close and personal look at Mt. Rainier.  No, not for the first time, but for the first time this year.  A sunny day is promised and the roads are clear.

We arrive at the south entrance to the Park at Longmire, and after lunch at the historic National Park Inn, take the drive up to the Paradise Visitor center.

Mt Rainier National Park was established in 1899 and was the fifth U.S. National Park.  It was the first to be designed from a master plan to include entrance arches, rustic buildings, scenic lookouts, trails and visitor centers, becoming a pattern for National Parks to follow. We stop at many viewpoints and waterfalls on our way to Paradise.

Near the top we spot a red fox by the side of the road who wisely climbs the snow bank to safer ground.

We arrive at the Visitor Center at 5,400 feet and enjoy close-ups of the 14,410 foot volcano, the second highest mountain in the continental U.S.  It is also one of the snowiest places on earth.

It is from Paradise that climbers make their way to Camp Muir at 10,188 feet so they can rise under the darkness of night for the climb to the top. Over 10,000 people a year attempt the climb and almost half as many make it.  With binoculars, you can already see climbers making their way up to Camp Muir. Others are content to play in the snow a little closer to the ground.

After our visit we head back down for a short hike at Longmire in an area where meadows meet the forest. We take the boardwalk through hot springs, skunk cabbage and fragrant woods.

Under the tree canopy I tell Bob to look for the buried treasure ahead.   ‘X marks the spot’ I say, but he walks on by.

We complete the loop, following the trail into golden meadows where more views of Mt. Rainier await,

until we are finally back to where we started.

On the drive home we pass by the Recycled Spirits of Iron Sculpture Park near the small town of Elbe.  For just a donation you can walk among the unusual sculptures created by artist Dan Klennert which we did,

finishing up with a song.

And so after a wonderful day under sunny skies at the most beautiful mountain in America we head back home, once again counting our blessings that we live in such an amazing part of the world.

~  Susanne

A Spring Walk at Coulon

A perfect day begins with a trip to Starbucks and a walk at our favorite park on the shores of Lake Washington. We tried twice earlier this week to do just that but each time were turned back by the cold, wind, and rain.  One time we made it to the park only to sit in the car and drink our coffee with this view.

What a difference a day makes!   We woke today to a different reality:  crisp, clear, and sunny with a temperature of 64 F in the forecast, the highest this year.

We head to Gene Coulon Park in Renton with drinks in hand and are rewarded with the bluest of blues and air fresh and washed clean.

We weren’t the only ones out.  This mama duck and her babies were enjoying a swim together…

While this turtle basked in the sun alone.

These stony folks were committed as always to walking….

And the trees were blossoming and fragrant.

What a glorious day!

We are reminded again why we live in the Pacific Northwest.

~  Susanne

Tiffany Park Woods Revisited

Behind my house in Renton there are 22 acres of woods.   You can see them through the fence in my backyard where they provide a wonderful backdrop of green making my own gardening efforts easier.

I have enjoyed their quiet beauty and the birds and wildlife who live in them. I’ve welcomed the deer who occasionally peer through the fence and let them prune my raspberry bushes when I forgot to close the gate.

Of all the friendly birds that have stopped by my yard (and there are many), my favorite was the red crested pileated woodpecker. I’ll never forget watching that giant bird with the bright red plume as he stopped for a drink and made my bird bath look small.  I have never seen another one in the wild.

It has already been a couple of years since we learned the woods had been sold.  At the time, neighbors voiced their complaints to the city and various hearings were held. Environmental studies were performed and inventories of wetlands, trees, birds and mammals were taken. But things being as they are it was only a matter of time until the clearing of the land and the building of the houses would begin.

I wonder how the trees feel about it?  Do they know the white tag or the blue tag or the pink tag pinned to their bark determines their fate?  Have the animals perhaps sensed what is coming and already relocated to more permanent homes?

Recently some friendly men came by and we asked them when work would begin.

“Soon,” they replied.

“But we have heard that for years,” we answered and laughed together.

But this time it really is soon. Their mission is to prepare the infrastructure to support the new homes.  Tree felling will begin within weeks and utilities should follow after. The peace and quiet will be gone for too long a time I fear. I wish it was already over and done.

I thought I would take a final walk through the woods before the logging begins and photograph what will be lost.  I follow the trail where young boys run and play and older boys walk their dogs.

I come across this comfy stool fit for a fairy.

and I find ferns with new spring fronds unfurling ..

The bleeding hearts are in bloom…

and the salmonberries are blossoming.

And of course there are the trees.

I find this tangle that will likely stick together while coming down.

They are ordinary perhaps, these Tiffany Park Woods, nothing special except to those who live near them.  Or in them.

I remember the first time I heard the deep hooting of the Great Horned Owl in the dead of night.  I wondered at the size of an owl that had such a booming voice resonating in the woods.  I got up hoping to catch a glimpse of him but of course it was too dark. Silly I know.  There are other owls too but I don’t know what kind. I’ve tried to remember the rhythms of their calls so I could look it up the next day.  But by morning I have usually forgotten.  I will miss the owls.

I grew up next to woods in West Seattle and have fond memories of the many hours spent in them; running on the trails, making beds of the ferns, and playing the games of childhood.  Maybe children don’t play in woods anymore.  But I still believe there is value in having some patches of wilderness in urban spaces.

The woods in Tiffany Park will soon be gone but my woods in West Seattle still remain.  For that I am thankful.

~ Susanne