Bicycling The Foothills Trail with a Stop by Wilkeson

Nothing takes me back to childhood more than getting on a bike. And nothing keeps me riding today more than my electric bike. That, and a good bike trail!

We found one on a recent sunny day – the Foothills Trail – a 21 mile paved trail built on top of an old railroad bed. We started our ride in Orting – a small town with a big mountain – and headed to South Prairie on the most scenic section of the trail.

Mt. Rainier kept watch over the first leg of our journey,

till we passed through farmland

and intercepted the Carbon River.

The river’s source is the Carbon Glacier on Mt. Rainier, and got its name from the coal deposits found in the area.

We rode the 7.5 miles to South Prairie before returning to Orting, 15 miles roundtrip – not bad for the first trip of the year! By then we were hungry and went looking for lunch in Wilkeson, a short drive up the road.

Established in 1877 and incorporated in 1909, Wilkeson became known for its coal cooking ovens and natural sandstone. The town was recently featured in the Seattle Times and the Carlson Block Pizza was not only recommended but touted to be the best pizza in the state.

We found the pizzeria in the former Carlson Hotel, built in 1910. Unfortunately they didn’t open until 3:00 and we were too hungry to wait.

So we walked the short block through town;

not even stopping by the ‘coke ovens’ – though we did the last time we passed through Wilkeson on the way to Mt. Rainier.

It was here that raw coal was heated at very high temperatures to burn off impurities to make ‘coke,’ refining over 10,000 pounds of coal monthly, during its heyday.

We also didn’t stop by the school; built in 1912 from sandstone, it’s the oldest still operating school in the state. Wilkeson sandstone also provided the material for the Capitol Building in Olympia.

For lunch we went to Wally’s Drive-In in Buckley where the burgers were delivered to our truck fifties style. We could have sat inside and though the burgers were great maybe we should have ‘got ribs?’

We’ll be back to ride another section of the trail and time it right to sample some of that pizza in Wilkeson.

Here’s a link to the map if you’d like to join us! 🙂

~ Susanne

St Patrick’s Day Walkers

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from the stony walkers at Coulon Park!

~ Susanne

Surprised by Snow

Last week spring was here – maybe even summer – with blue skies, sunshine, and temperatures reaching 60 degrees. But this morning I woke to big, beautiful, sloppy snowflakes falling – winter’s last hurrah I guess.

I love the snow, but there’s a time and a place for everything – now is not the time for snow. Daffodils are blooming in the Skagit Valley and I plan to make the trek later this week – weather permitting – just as I did in 2019. There was no trip in 2020 and you know why.

Ready for spring in the Pacific Northwest! 🙂

~ Susanne

Black and White on the Oregon Coast

I don’t take many pictures in black and white but my favorites are from the Oregon Coast. A few years ago we took a trip down the coast in January, and stopped at Ecola State Park just north of Cannon Beach. The weather was windy and rainy but I’d never seen this view before and was determined to get some pictures anyway. I didn’t shoot them in black and white, these were the stormy conditions at the time!

We made a similar trip in June and it was just as stormy at Cannon Beach though this dog didn’t seem to mind.

Nor did my husband.

Down the road we stopped at the Yaquina Head Lighthouse – slide to see the original – prettier in color I think.

Finally I’ll close with a seagull who seemed happy to pose for me in black and white.

We’re already planning our next trip down the coast. Rain or shine, I can’t wait. 🙂

Inspired by Sunday Stills Photo Challenge, Black & White.

~ Susanne

Finding Beauty in Rainy Day Walks

I pretty much have to. I’m from Seattle where rain – or the threat of rain – happens often, especially November through March. And while we only get an average of 38 inches a year – far less than many other U.S. cities – it’s distributed over 152 days. That’s a lot of rainy day walks.

And so I get out with my husband and walking companion on this journey of life, carrying umbrellas, despite the myth that locals don’t use them. We do. When we remember.

We did remember at Federation Forest where all was lush and green and fragrant from the rain.

And at Point Defiance where we found raindrops on roses last fall.

And last week in Olympia, where the rain arrived just as forecasted, making everything wet and dreary and mousy brown.

But even then I found beauty in the raindrops on Capitol Lake,

and the song sparrow near shore.

Inspired by Sunday Still’s Photo Challenge: Rain.

~ Susanne

Benji – A Question of Heritage

“Hey Benji. I’ve been doing some research and it’s all beginning to make sense now.”

“What’s beginning to make sense, Sue?”

“You are Benji. Did you ever wonder where you got your beautiful, distinctive markings from? Especially your spotted belly?”

“You mean this, Sue?”

“Exactly Benji!”

“‘And your fur is so soft! Softer than any cat I’ve ever had.”

“Aw come on, Sue. I bet you say that to all your cats!”

“No really, Benji I mean it. You’re unique. Not only outwardly but you still have the energy of a kitten even though you’re 5 years old! I had a hunch so I read up on the Bengal Tabby and I couldn’t believe how much it describes you!”

“Go on, Sue.”

“Bengals are exceptionally intelligent and curious cats. They’re energetic, athletic, and love to jump and climb and perch on high places. Sound like anybody you know?”

“They’re also highly active and demand lots of interaction.”

“Okay Sue. I’ll embrace my heritage! But what’s your point exactly?”

“My point is Benji, it helps me understand you! If one of your ancestors was indeed an Asian spotted leopard – which is where the Bengal came from – that would explain your urge to jump and climb and play -nonstop. Why you run around the house pestering me and drop your toy at my feet again and again. I thought it was too much but now I know you’re just living out what’s in your genes. You can’t help yourself! See?”

“Sure Sue. Whatever works for you. Now can we play some fetch!”

“You got it Benji.”

~ Susanne and Benji

An Iridescent Kind of Morning

Okay I borrowed the word from an Instagram challenge but I thought it fit this morning’s sunshine in the garden.

Yes the bike is part of the garden. I had to laugh when I found it planted there by my husband a few years ago.

But he was right; it’s become a backdrop to the changing of the seasons.

Last month it looked like this.

Next month it will look like this.

It’s all good.


Looking for White

For this week’s Sunday Stills Photo Challenge I went looking for white and found it..

in the clouds

in the waves

in the falls

and of course, in the snow.

~ Susanne

Good Morning Moonshots

This morning I woke early – too, too, early – could it be the cats wanting out at 4:00 and back in again at 5:00?

I made my coffee and went to my office and saw the moon shining through the window. I’m already up I thought.

So I grabbed my camera, turned off the porch light and ventured out in slippers and robe for a few snaps of the moon.

How did your day start? 🙂

~ Susanne

Lightroom Fun in Maui

No I’m not in Maui now – I wish I was – but I am exploring Lightroom – Adobe’s Lightroom Classic. I just finished a class on the software – virtually of course – and decided to subscribe for a year. (A 7 day trial wasn’t enough.)

I was overwhelmed at first – everyone else in the class already used Lightroom. But the more I’ve played with it, the more I like the features. So I thought I’d resurrect some old pictures from Maui to practice on and share them with you too!

I’ll start with Haleakala – a massive dormant volcano that forms 75% of the island of Maui. The summit is 10,023 feet above sea level – with another 19,000 feet to the bottom of the ocean making it taller than Everest. It’s a fabulous landscape with great views and you’d be forgiven for thinking it was Mars.

If it was, this would be the new space station.

Next up are some Maui Beaches to lift you out of your winter doldrums. On some of them you’ll see a watermark with my name – I’m still experimenting with that.

I’ll close with some beautiful hula dancers from a a luau in Wailea who matched the colors of sunset.

I’m still learning but for now I like how easy it is to crop, edit, and resize pictures in Lightroom, as well as tagging them for easy retrieval.

That’s all for now.

~ Susanne

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