Garden Fossils

Resting in the shadows near the stream,

joined by friends

I notice ferns imprinted on rocks,

like ancient fossils.

~ Susanne

Tree Art and Sunset at Seward Park

We took a walk last night at Seward Park through woods of Douglas-Fir, lit up by Maple.

Near the lakeshore this golden Madrona was beautiful alone,

shortly before sunset over the lake.

~ Susanne

Tipsoo Lake at Mt Rainier

In my last post I told you about our maiden voyage in the R Pod, where we camped at Silver Springs near Mt Rainier. In this one I’ll share more pictures of the wonderful mountain scenery we enjoyed, starting with Tipsoo Lake.

Located 15 minutes east of the Silver Springs Campground this lovely subalpine lake is set in a glacier-carved basin at an elevation of 5,298 feet. Loved to death on summer weekends, we were fortunate to find it relatively unpopulated on a weekday, one of the benefits of retirement. We took an easy stroll around the lake and saw patches of snow and lots of wildflowers, including magenta paintbrush, and avalanche and glacier lilies.

There was also this view of Yakima Peak,

and of course, Mt. Rainier.

Then it was over Chinook Pass to check out the rivers on the east side of the mountains for future fly fishing trips. Douglas-fir was soon replaced by Ponderosa Pine and as the temperature increased we decided to cool off in one of the rivers.

Soon signs of civilization appeared and we stopped by the Gold Creek Restaurant for dinner. Thus, I was spared from cooking that night and I have to say it made me a happy camper.

Back over the Pass, and we had another view of Tipsoo Lake and the Mountain behind,

before arriving at Silver Springs Campground where all was quiet and peaceful at twilight.

The next morning after our campfire,

we headed to Sunrise for more views of Rainier and Emmons Glacier but lest I weary you with my pictures I will save that for another time.

~ Susanne

R Pod at Silver Springs

What’s that you say?  A travel trailer that’s what!   After months of debating we concluded our camping days were not behind us yet and so we got ourselves a trailer – specifically an R Pod.

Light and compact, complete with small kitchen, bed, and bath, it seemed the perfect fit for camping in the Great Northwest and we took it for its maiden voyage this week.   A shakedown of sorts and I will tell you later how it (and we ) fared.  But first let me show you the wonderful sights at Silver Springs Campground, an easy 2 hour drive south just outside the Sunrise entrance to Mt Rainier National Park.

First, the trees!   Wonderful old growth forest of Douglas-fir, cedar and western hemlock provided the setting, as fragrant as they are beautiful, and that my friend is why we camp.

A River and a Spring

The campground sits along the milky White River,  the source of which is Emmons Glacier on Mt. Rainier nearby. Some sites are next to the river, ours was not.

But it didn’t matter for we found a smaller, bubbly stream behind our site that flowed throughout the campground.

We discovered  its source, ‘Silver Springs’ (hence the name of the campground)  on our evening walk just after sunset.

Isn’t it charming?  We thought so.  But that’s enough about the campground for now.  The next question is:  how did we do??

The takeaways!

  1. My husband is a natural at driving and maneuvering the R Pod.  I’m here to direct and assist as much as I can (which is to say, very little.) It’s okay;  he loves to drive,  I love to passenger.  He’s the mechanic, I am not.  We make a good pair.
  2. Silver Springs is a great campground with endless opportunities to fish, hike, and gaze at nearby Mt Rainier’s beauty from every possible angle.
  3. Campfires are awesome and worth the price of admission alone.
  4. Never underestimate the power of pillows!  Really, I’m not kidding.  Let’s just say we forgot ours and tried all manner of lumpy objects to use instead, unsuccessfully I might add.
  5. Make a list, check it twice and perhaps you won’t forget your pillows (or toothbrush) ever again.

Oh sure, we learned lots of other things about operating the trailer but I won’t bore you with them.  The bottom line is that we’re happy to have it and look forward to more trips this summer.  I’ll share more pictures from our adventure at Mt Rainier in my next post.  Stay tuned.

~  Susanne

A Journal through the American West, Part 2

“Take me back to the Black Hills, the Black Hills of Dakota,” sang Doris Day as Calamity Jane, and ever since I wanted to see those Black Hills. And so I did, some years ago, when we packed our camper and headed east from Seattle to South Dakota, and I recorded our adventures in an old fashioned Journal.

Click here for the first part of the story in case you missed it. Otherwise come along for Part 2 as we leave Devil’s Tower in Wyoming and enter South Dakota.

We take the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway to Custer State Park where we’ll camp the next three days. Scenic Byway indeed, for we enter a world of rugged peaks, fragrant pine, colorful deciduous trees, meadows, and alpine lakes. We pass through mining towns, resorts, fishing holes, and parks, finally arriving at Stockade Lake where we have the campground nearly to ourselves.

The next day we explore Custer State Park, where according to the park’s website, “nearly 1,300 bison roam the prairies and hills .. which they share with pronghorn, big horn sheep, elk and curious burros. Visitors often enjoy close encounters with these permanent residents along the 18-mile Wildlife Loop Road that winds around the southern edge of the park.”

Yes we do; we drive the Loop Road and see bison around every turn.

The Black Hills are more beautiful than we imagined and Mt. Rushmore more impressive too. We take another scenic highway (too many to remember) to see the faces staring out of the rock above and walk the path around the base of the monument.

The next day we’re off to Badlands National Park, a mysterious landscape of eroded buttes and pinnacles, mixed grass prairie, and home to one of the world’s richest fossil beds. We take a short hike in the park and enjoy its quiet rugged beauty.

On our way back to Rapid City we stop for dinner and meet a friendly Native couple – he’s a Lakota Sioux and she’s Navajo – and feel welcomed by this beautiful land and its people.

All too soon it’s time to leave the Black Hills and return west. Fortunately our favorite park is still to come: Yellowstone National Park. We travel the spectacular Beartooth Highway from Red Lodge Montana to Yellowstone’s northeast entrance, climbing high past snow fields, alpine fir, and finally above the tree line. We see marmots, frosty lakes, craggy mountain peaks, and oh the views below as we reach Beartooth Pass at 10,947 feet. Wow! This turns out to be one of the highest and most scenic highways we’ve ever travelled.

As we descend, the lakes begin to thaw, meadows and rushing rivers appear, and we see two moose feeding in the woods. And then we are in Yellowstone’s immense Lamar Valley, often called America’s Serengeti, home to bison, elk, coyote, grizzly and wolf. We stop to take in its raw beauty, then continue to Mammoth Hot Springs where we’ll camp the next two nights.

The next day we head to Norris Geyser Basin, one of the hottest thermal areas in Yellowstone, where we see geysers, boiling springs, and mudpots, all in a steamy landscape.

Afterwards we drive to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and find it grand indeed!

According to Wikipedia when trapper Charles Cook first saw the canyon in 1869, he wrote, ‘I turned and looked forward from the brink of the great canyon, at a point just across from what is now called Inspiration Point. I sat there in amazement, while my companions came up, and after that, it seemed to me that it was five minutes before anyone spoke.”

After seeing the colorful Canyon you can understand how Yellowstone got its name.  We complete our tour with a drive through Hayden Valley, then it’s back to Mammoth Hot Springs for our last night in Yellowstone. The next morning we embark on the final leg of our journey, and two days later, we’re back in Seattle.

Twelve days, two National Parks, four National Monuments, one enormous state park, scenic highways galore and too many animals to count, and we are home! I hope you enjoyed this Journal through the American West. Thanks for coming along!

~ Susanne

A Summer Walk in the Park

There’s nothing like summer in the Pacific Northwest and what better way to enjoy it than with a walk at Coulon Park on the shores of Lake Washington?

Where sky and lake meet in perfect shades of blue and sailboats await the call.

Where turtles bask in the sun

and the ghost of Mt Rainier watches over all.

Out and about at Coulon Park where the bluest skies you’ve ever seen sometimes really are in Seattle.

~  Susanne

Sincerely, Benji

Sue asked me to draft a letter so she could close it with the salutation,  ‘Sincerely, Benji.’

I don’t know why but here goes.

‘Dear Sue,  I like sitting on your desk when you are there.  You are my best friend.

Sincerely,  Benji’

*****

Thanks to Benji for playing along  so I could use that exquisite (my opinion) picture of him.

Wouldn’t you trust a cat with a face like that?

~  Susanne

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