Ohanapecosh! A Day Trip to Mt. Rainier

I’m lucky to have Mt. Rainier National Park in my backyard – close enough to make a day trip whenever the mood strikes. Yesterday it did and we headed south to Ohanapecosh.

The Ohanapecosh River is perhaps the most beautiful river in the park, originating from the meltwaters of the Ohanapecosh Glacier on the southeastern slopes of Mount Rainier.

Here we stopped at the campground for lunch and to revel in its glorious color,

and to watch the young and the brave jump into its cool waters.

Afterwards we went to the Grove of the Patriarchs for a look at some of the largest and oldest trees in the park. The trail down to the river was easy, then we crossed the wobbly suspension bridge one by one.

Fortunately the crowds stayed by the river while we went ahead mostly alone, into the solitude of the Grove of the Patriarchs, one of the nation’s outstanding examples of old growth giants.

We walked almost with reverence among giant Douglas Fir and Western Red Cedar, some a thousand years old, reaching heights of 200 ft.

After resting under the canopy of the old trees, we made the trek back to the top; and there was still time to visit the Mountain at Sunrise,

where we found another idyllic place for a picnic

joined by this cutie.

And then we called it a day.

~ Susanne

Matching Cats – Who Wears it Better?

We picked up a blanket a few years ago to use in our camper but it was inevitable that the cats would make it their own. Who wears it better?

The Most Interesting Cats in the World

This is Tiger, the mature one in the house.  I don’t always pose like this; but when I do it will be on the most luxurious blanket I can find.

This is Benji and I agree you’re lookin’ good for your age Tiger.  But you can’t overcome youth.

It’s a tough call but I think Tiger nailed it with his swagger above.

But this week, Benji was the winner when I posted this picture on Instagram for a Photo Challenge where the topic was ‘Matching.’ Click the arrow for the full effect.

View this post on Instagram

Hooray for Benji! Photo of the day. 😻

A post shared by CatsandTrailsandGardenTales (@catsandtrailsandgardentales) on

~ Susanne, Tiger and Benji

A Strange New Fall and a Skinny Fair

It seems that by the time summer finally arrives in the Pacific Northwest it’s already on its way out. And while I always welcome fall, this year will hardly be typical.

Back to school? Learning will start online, something not dreamed of when this brick and mortar was built 100 years ago.

And the Washington State Fair- formerly known as the Puyallup Fair – a fall tradition operating for the past 120 years – save for the break during World War II? Cancelled.

Though there will be a limited drive-thru offering of Fair Food, where you may find some of this:

You won’t be able to enjoy this.

Or this.

Which will only make us appreciate more, all the simple things we once took for granted, when they return.

At least that’s my hope.

~ Susanne

Celebrating Benji with the Photoshoot from 2019

I don’t mean to weary you but I’ve devoted this week’s blog to celebrating Benji, the little cat with the chopped ear we rescued from Seattle Humane four years ago. So far I’ve shared highlights from 2016, 2017 and 2018. Today I’ll wrap up the series with a look at 2019.

But before I do I wanted to reflect on my favorite story from 2016, “The Many Faces of Benji,” where I did a photoshoot for a fictitious magazine, American Rescue Cat, and he responded with gusto.

It was a pure work of fiction – until 2019 that is, when life imitated art.

The 2019 Photoshoot

In the spring of 2019 I was resting in the backyard by the stream when Benji came to join me on my lap. This is not unusual – he is a snuggly lap cat. I took pictures – also not unusual –

until that sweet boy looked straight into the camera.

Around that time I learned of a Photo Contest on Cat Human Relationships; there would be entries from around the world and 12 winning photos would be included in the 2020 Calendar for International Cat Care, a charity based in the UK, and sold as a Fundraiser. Hey, why not? I entered.

In September last year – on my birthday in fact – I was notified that Benji was a winner and learned later that his face would adorn the month of May. There was no cash prize – only the kitty that made the cover got that – but we were happy to be included and to receive copies of the calendar and a few kitty prizes.

And so my little story from 2016 seemed to come true in 2019.

Thanks Benji. 🙂

We now return to our regular programming.

~ Susanne and Benji

Celebrating Benji with a Little Cat Humor

It was four years ago that we brought the sweet Benji home to live with us and this week we’re celebrating by looking back. Today I’m bringing you highlights from 2018, starting with a few of my favorite photos and one of my favorite stories from the year.

A Little Cat Humor

“Whatcha doing there Benji?”

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

“What trip is that, Benji?”

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

“But Benji, you 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 and Benji

Celebrating Benji – A Look at 2017

“I didn’t think it would be this hard Benji.”

“What’s that Sue?”

“Picking my favorite story of you from 2017. There are too many!

Whether you were helping in the garden

or thinking cat thoughts;

Watching You Tube

or sleeping in camouflage,

you lived life with gusto! You still do!

But much of 2017 was spent learning to get along with your big brother. I was so happy when you and Tiger began to figure it out.

So I decided to share your story of how you were mentored by Tiger, who helped make you the mighty hunter you are today.”

The Mighty Hunter!

This is Benji and I am a mighty hunter.  Tiger taught me well.

First, he said, you must listen with your whole body until you sense the presence of the varmints underfoot. This I practice.

Do not be quick to attack, he said.  Conserve your energy.  Wait. Watch. You will know when it is time.

When you discover their lodging, he said, but they refuse to surrender, you must dig and dig until you rout them out.

Rest if you must but do not lose heart.  If they escape today they will be there tomorrow for you to surprise.

These things I practice for I am Benji, the Mighty Hunter.

~ Benji

Well said, boy.

~ Tiger

That’s all for now.

~ Susanne and Benji

The Best of Benji

“Okay Benji, it’s time to celebrate! This week is all about you!”

“Isn’t it always Sue?”

“Well. Yes. But I mean on the blog. It was four years ago that we brought you home from Seattle Humane. You looked so sweet and innocent back then. Little did we know …”

“Know what, Sue?”

“How much fun you would be Benji! And how much excitement you would bring us!!”

“We do what we can Sue.”

“Yes Benji, anyway, I thought we could celebrate this week by sharing a story from each year you’ve been with us. Here’s my favorite from 2016.”

The Many Faces of Benji

“Hey Benji, I’d like to take some pictures of you to submit to American Rescue Cat magazine.  They’re looking for their next Cover Cat. Just pretend I don’t have a camera.”

“Sure!  Love to!”   he replied.  “How’s this?”

“Hmmmm,”  I said.  “Very nice.  Only I’m looking for something more relaxed.  Maybe you could tone it down just a bit.”

“Okay, okay.”  he said excitedly.  “I know exactly what you mean.  Something more like this?””

“Great Benji,”  I said. “Really good.  Only ….. well the eyes,  Benji.  Maybe we should forget the props and just go for a headshot.”

“Sure!”  he said.  “I can do it!  How about this?”

“Good Benji, good. But I’m looking for something a bit more natural. Say, why don’t we try again tomorrow when we’re both fresh?”

“Okay ” he said.  “I give up.”

“That’s it Benji! I got it!”

The End

More to come,

Susanne and Benji

Fun with Photos of Mt Rainier where Size Matters

For as long as I’ve been blogging and including pictures in my posts I’ve had a conundrum – file size matters. As you probably already know there is a limit to how much media space you have, depending on your plan. I upgraded a long time ago because of that but even my current plan has its limits.

My Sony RX10 camera takes wonderful pictures but of enormous size. For instance the original of the photo below is a whopping 17 MB which makes it prohibitive to post. Cropping it will reduce the size but also reduce the content of the picture.

I haven’t purchased any software that might deal with the problem. But this morning I did discover (rediscover?) Paint. I wanted to add a border to a picture I took on our recent visit to Paradise at Mt. Rainier, and lo and behold, found the ‘resize’ function and shrank the photo to 10% of the original size. If there’s a difference in quality I can’t discern it. Oh Happy Day!

Here’s one more for good measure where the original was close to 15 MB and the resized version less than 1 MB.

I don’t know how often I’ll bother with adding a border but now I have a tool to deal with the file size of a picture I’d like to post intact.

How do the rest of you photographers deal with this issue?

~ Susanne

Bicycling the Sammamish River Trail

It had been a long time since we’d bicycled the Sammamish River Trail.  It was one of our favorites when we lived in North Seattle, but after our move south we found new trails to ride.  But yesterday was perfect for a bicycle ride so we ventured north to ride the trail along the Sammamish River,  19 miles round trip, powered by electric bikes, which made up for the passing of years.

We started at the Bothell Landing, a lovely historical park complete with play areas and boat rentals.

From there we followed the paved and mostly flat trail along the river through the Sammamish River Valley.

There were a few surprises along the way, like this giant dragonfly and tiny windmill in the distance.

And across the river Washington State’s oldest winery, Chateau St. Michelle. Maybe another day. 🙂

The Sammamish River runs 10 miles from Lake Sammamish to Lake Washington and like many rivers in the Northwest was modified in the last century to deal with flooding. A once curvy 30 mile river with cool shallow waters, its bank thick with willows, cattails and rushes, was converted into a straight deep channel with minimal vegetation. While this helped the farmers, the salmon and other wildlife were negatively impacted.

Now the river is being restored, with boulders, cobbles and gravel added to its bottom, and new vegetation added to its banks to attract wildlife and provide shaded pools for salmon to thrive.

We stopped in Redmond for lunch, went as far as Marymoor Park before heading back to our starting place in Bothell. An easy 19 mile round trip, made easier by the boost of power provided by our electric bikes. Nothing wrong with that.

~ Susanne

The Hummers of Summer

No not this kind, though there was that too – a ride through the woods in a genuine surplus army rig – but that’s another story.

I’m speaking of the other kind – the hummingbirds that live in my yard and frequent my feeders daily.

I get the best pictures in the winter – when the foliage is gone and they stand out against the background. Still I managed to get a few decent shots of the birds this summer.

By the way, if you look very closely you may notice ants floating toes up in one of the feeders above. It’s quite disgusting to me though I’m not sure it deters the hummingbirds. In any case, I purchased a new feeder with an ant guard and put it up yesterday. It’s the one on the left below. The hummers are still inspecting it but hopefully will use it soon. It remains to be seen whether the ants will too.

That’s all for now.

~ Susanne

%d bloggers like this: