Garden Cheer

Sometimes when I am weary I go to my garden and just by being in the presence of green and color and life and fragrance I am cheered. I especially love the lavender.

The bees love it too.

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And then there are the strawberries.  Tiger likes to drink from their leaves after the rain is over…

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I like the glorious red of the sweet berries ..

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Forty Years Ago…….

I once had a conversation with my grandpa who told me he’d recently found himself saying “forty years ago… ” and he remembered back when he was younger how some older folks would also say “forty years ago” and wasn’t it curious that he now found himself saying the same thing and I remember him telling me this little tale in his slow grandpa voice about forty years ago…..

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~ Susanne

Two birds and a bridge

You keep to your space and I’ll keep to mine….

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Fort Bragg, CA

Coast Redwoods

Off we go on another road trip down the beautiful West Coast (and best coast) of the USA, headed toward the majestic Coast Redwoods!   We leave Seattle and after three days cross the border into California on Highway 101 enjoying the same awesome ocean views we had grown accustomed to in Oregon.

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But now we move inland to take the scenic parkway through old growth forest gazing upward while we look for the tops of the giant beauties before us, the Coast Redwoods, the tallest living things on earth.

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We hike deep into the woods through giant trees and ferns and moss-covered maples, then move on to the next roadside attraction, The Big Tree.

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This beauty, estimated to be 1500 years old towers 304 feet over us.   Some friendly travelers take our picture with the Tree and we return the favor.

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Coast Redwoods grow in a narrow strip along the Pacific Coast of California and southwestern Oregon. Its cousin, the Giant Sequoia, grows only on the western slope of the Sierra Nevadas. The Coast Redwood is the taller of the two growing up to 380 ft high while the Sequoia is greater in total size growing up to 32 feet in diameter.

We continue to the Avenue of the Giants driving slowly through the majestic trees that dwarf the road below…

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Stopping for an easy loop trail through Founders Grove where we see this beauty….(the tree I mean)

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And continue around fallen ones leading us to ask the question, ‘if this tree fell in the forest and nobody was there to hear it would it make a sound?’  And the answer is a resounding ‘Yes!’

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After two days in the land of the giants we say goodbye and head back to the coast on highway 1 where we are rewarded with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. We are still impressed.

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~ Susanne

Snoqualmie Dreaming

I love living in the Pacific Northwest where we are surrounded by an incredible landscape of mountains, rivers, forests and seas.  Within a couple of hours you can be at Mt Rainier

Mt Rainier
Mt Rainier

or Olympic National Park

Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park
Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park

or Columbia River Gorge.

Columbia River
Columbia River

Or you can opt for closer to home and still see some killer scenery in less than an hour.

One favorite local drive is to Tolt-MacDonald Park in the Snoqualmie Valley.  Snoqualmie.  Even the name is beautiful, don’t you think?  The park showcases the river and a 500 ft suspension foot bridge that frames the surrounding views of rolling farmland and the Cascade foothills.

Snoqualmie River
Snoqualmie River

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We visited the park on New Year’s day when it was crisp, cold and clear and perfect for a short drive.  Even the grass was beautiful that day.

Icy grass
Icy grass

And on up the road is famous Snoqualmie Falls which is always worth a stop to view the falls from above

Snoqualmie Falls
Snoqualmie Falls

and to make the short trek to see them from the river below.

Snoqualmie Falls
Snoqualmie Falls

Of course today I am only dreaming of these places, as I look out the window at gray skies, light winds and intermittent rain.  A typical Seattle Memorial Day weekend.  ~ Susanne

Tiger – a new day

Good Morning all. Tiger again.  The first light of day has begun to dawn through the closed blinds and I must needs go out to hunt the small ones who reside in the bush.  I hear them through the walls.  I sense them in my whiskers.

Bob is up and Sue tosses.  She is the one I must wake but though my eyes speak she doesn’t hear.  I must resort to the mew, though she does not appreciate that, I have learned.  But what can I do?  The small ones will escape and I need the chase to release the energy stored up overnight in my limbs.

“Mew,” I say quietly so only she can hear.  She stirs but does not rise.

“Mew,”  I say again a bit louder but still there is nothing.

“Meow!  Meeowww! ” I say again so she has no excuse to pretend she does not hear.  Some movement but still the door remains closed.  I hate when the door remains closed.

I begin to panic as I hear the small ones get away.

“Meow!   Meowwwwww!   Meowwwwww!”

“Oh Tiger!” she says and she is up and finally opens the door.

My day has begun.

Morning Tiger
Morning Tiger

 

Never wake a sleeping Tiger

Okay, so I like to sleep. It’s one of my favorite things.  In fact, I don’t know what I like best, batting around small rodents who dare to cross my kingdom or stretching out on Sue’s bed with the room heated up to a toasty 74 degrees while TV provides the buzz that sends me to kitty lala land. On second thought, that’s the clear winner.  Sleeping.

Sleeping Tiger
Sleeping Tiger
Yep, that's me
Yep, that’s me

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Sleeping –  It’s what I do best.  ~  Tiger

 

Happy Garden Herbs

Is there any plant so cheerful or faithful as the herb?  I stepped outside this evening when the rain was falling lightly and found my herbs all aglow..

Rosemary, lavender, oregano, chives

Rosemary, oregano, chives, and lavender.

 

Tiger’s Corner – It’s me again.

It’s me again.  Tiger.  The handsome one who lives here.  Oh, I don’t mean to be vain, but you know how it is, when you’ve heard it your entire life.

“Oh, isn’t he beautiful!”   or   “He has the most penetrating green eyes.”

Yeah, I get that a lot.  Always the eyes.

Of course that’s not all I heard.  “Not exactly the smartest one in the litter,” they said.  Yes.  I heard that too.  They thought I couldn’t understand but I could.  Cats have feelings too you know.   So I set out to prove them wrong. I think I have. And now I don’t care.

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I don’t care

Great American Road Trip – the long way home

So this is it.  Come along for the final installment of a four part series on our Great American Road Trip.

After 21 days on the road we were just past the half way point of our epic journey across the USA which started in Seattle, took us through the heartland and up the Blue Ridge Parkway into Virginia, Pennsylvania, and  New York  and back home again. We were now in Virginia, birth place of these United States of America and home to many historic sites including Jefferson’s classic home Monticello.

And Colonial Williamsburg, the restored capital of colonial Virginia where men and women of the American revolution lived.

After leaving Virginia we headed north into Pennsylvania’s gentle and fertile farm country where we stopped at the York Harley Davidson factory and shopped in the Amish town of Bird in Hand while looking out for horse and buggy.  (Yes, we saw them.)

We also managed to squeeze in a visit to Hershey (yes, THAT Hershey)

and Steamtown National Historic Site which tells the history of steam railroading and its role in the development of the country. It also had the biggest collection of trains I have ever seen. This place made Bob happy.

Our next stop was one of the most anticipated: the Adirondacks in upstate New York, a beautiful mountain region of six million acres and the largest protected natural area in the lower 48.  (I bet you didn’t know that.  Neither did I.) Here were mountains, forests, lakes, streams, verdant valleys and steep cliffs.  And hundreds of small communities including Lake Placid, site of the 1980 winter Olympics where the USA upset the Soviets to take the gold in a game called, “Miracle on Ice.”  Score!

We were there in early September and got to see the trees start to change color. And we visited the charming Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake which reminded me of our own San Juan Islands in the Pacific Northwest.

Whether it was this reminder of the Northwest that tugged at our hearts or something else, it was about this time in our trip that something  changed, quietly at first.  It wasn’t just that fall’s breath could be felt in the air.  Or that climbing into the camper bed every night was taking more and more effort.  And it wasn’t because of that slight panic that sometimes happened when we got lost and were hunting for a campground in the dark much later than we’d planned, and sometimes in the rain. Or that we were tired of both my camper style cooking and eating out at diners along the way (which we were.) No, it was more than all that.  A kind of travel weariness had set in, a missing of things familiar. A longing for ordinary days.  We were still a long way from home but it was in New York that home began calling us to press on, perhaps a little more hurriedly.

But we were not done yet.  On our 31st day we were camped at Indiana Dunes National Lake Shore on the southern shore of Lake Michigan.  And in one of our more spontaneous excursions we boarded the train at nearby Beverly Shores station leaving the solitude of that beautiful park and our camper behind..

and explored the great city of Chicago which was unexpectedly beautiful, as seen from the Hancock Tower.

The next day we were westward bound again, stopping only when convenient to the highway.  One such stop was in Minnesota at Blue Mounds State Park,  where we walked through a remnant of preserved prairie grass to pink quartzite cliffs, while warm winds blew through tall wildflowers and  grasshoppers danced around us.

And still we pressed on. On into South Dakota’s Badlands where the air was crisp and the sky clear blue and where we seemed to have the place to ourselves…

Our time in the Badlands included a visit to a genuine prairie homestead made of sod and included a friendly colony of white prairie dogs (the only ones in the world) who were everywhere and unafraid;

And was complete with this amazing sunset.

After a long drive the next day with stops by Sturgis and famous Wall Drugs, we made it to Wyoming and set up camp in Buffalo at 4,600 feet. Temperatures plummeted that night and we woke up to snow on the Big Horn Mountains nearby.   Does it seem that I’m rushing the telling?  That is just how it felt at this point in our trip.  Though the scenery was grand, magnificant in fact, we were back in the West now and so close to home we could almost smell it and Bob’s foot was heavy on the gas pedal…….

and so our Great American Cross Country Road Trip which covered 23 states over 37 days and 8,000 miles came to a close.  We loved every single day of the adventure, and would do it again in fact, but as that lovely Dorothy Gale realized after her fantastic journey to Oz was over,  There’s No Place Like Home!

~Susanne

Great American Road Trip – Kentucky and the Blue Ridge Parkway

After nearly 2 weeks on the road we had reached a low point on our cross country journey.  310 feet underground to be exact. We were in Kentucky on the historic tour of Mammoth  Cave, the longest cave system known in the world, with over 400 miles of explored cave.  We would settle for exploring 2 miles of the cave and descended into large cavernous chambers, squeezed through claustrophobia inducing spaces and navigated over 440 stairs.

We had arrived at Mammoth Cave National Park after leaving Kansas and whizzing by the Gateway Arch in St Louis (too rainy to stop), pausing at Camp River DuBois (where Lewis and Clark stayed the winter before leaving on the mother of all road trips), and passing through the beautiful cornfields of southern Illinois and Indiana. We even managed to take in the 100th anniversary of the Kentucky State Fair the day before in the sweltering heat.  We were ready to be in the great outdoors for the next few days.

After our journey to the center of the earth (well it seemed like it), we took a scenic boat ride on the Green River that formed Mammoth Cave, and saw muskrat, beaver and deer (none of which agreed to be photographed.)

on the Green River

After our adventures in Kentucky, we pressed onward to what became one of the highlights of our trip:  the Blue Ridge Parkway, a 469 mile linear park running from the Great Smoky Mountains through the gentle Appalachian mountains all the way to Virginia.

Here again the pace was slow and the views enchanting with mountains, waterfalls, wildlife and wildflowers.  Original homesteads, that were lived in up until the 1930’s, dotted the sides of the road.

It’s here we had our most memorable camping experience of the entire trip at Doughton Park.  While relaxing at our campsite in the warm and fragrant summer evening, we were befriended by locals who serenaded us with their live dulcimer music and shared with us homemade pulled taffy.  Now that was some fine southern hospitality!

So this section of the Great American Road Trip came to a close as we reached Virginia where we would appreciate a real bed for a few days, some home cooked meals and a visit with family including 2 darling grandsons.  Ahh!

See you soon for the final leg of our journey which will take us the long route back to Seattle.  Thanks again for coming along.   ~  Susanne

The Great American Road Trip – and Kansas

I’m resting on the shore, absorbing the heavy rays of August sun, watching a tall, elegant bird, peering into the water’s edge.  There’s a thick, summer stillness and almost imperceptible sound rising from the ripples caused by fish and the insects skirting over the lake. Then lift off as the wings soar.  We are in Kansas.

Six days earlier, we’d packed our camper and headed east from Seattle on an epic road trip across the country with this basic itinerary in mind:  head southeast and across the middle of the heartland to Virginia, via Kansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Head north for the Adirondacks in upstate New York.  Throw in other places as desired.  Mammoth Cave, Kentucky. The Great Smoky Mountains. Monticello. Colonial Williamsburg.  Hershey. Niagara Falls.  And when you’re good and ready, head for home by way of Chicago, and the Badlands of South Dakota.

The Journey across an back

The past week, we’d traveled the open spaces of the West.  We stopped for a look at the Oregon Trail near Baker City  (now THAT was a road trip!),  gazed at the those beautiful arches at the national park in Utah, and crossed the continental divide at Monarch Pass in Colorado.  We didn’t linger long at any of these as we were seeking new sights, not the West we had grown up with and knew so well.

I’ve lived my whole life in the Pacific Northwest and had seen it all.  Mt. Rainier.  The Olympics and the rain forest.  The Mighty Columbia.  The wet and the damp and  the rainy.  On this trip I wanted to see the anti-northwest and that definitely included that flat land,  where Dorothy ran home to get away from that dark  twister.  The very center of the contiguous United States.

Now we were in Kansas camped at Spring Lake RV Resort. It was here we slowed down and heard the cicadas chirping and the fireflies flashing their blips of light in the night sky.  This was new territory for us.

During the next couple of days we’d see Apollo 13 and V1 and V2 rockets at the Cosmosphere in Hutchison  (who knew?)

We’d walk the streets in the sweltering heat at Old Cowtown Museum in Wichita.   And we’d park our camper at Melvern Lake, where we walked among tall prairie grass, and where the ranger assured us, not to worry about the snakes as only four kinds were poisonous. (!)

On our last night in Kansas, we finally did have dark, angry skies and unfortunately it was after we had arrived at the ball park in Kansas City where the Royals were to play our Seattle Mariners.  Heavy rains cancelled the game.

We were ready to move to the next leg of the journey.

~ Susanne

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