Moonrise over Long Beach

A few days getaway to Long Beach.

After dinner we went to watch the sunset over the beach. Just as we were arriving we saw the clouds roll in. Nice, but not a great sunset.

Then I turned and saw the moonrise over the sand dunes and was not disappointed.

– Susanne

Staycation or Vacation? Yes, Please!

This week’s Sunday Stills Challenge explores the topic, so I thought I’d jump in with some vacation and staycation pictures taken during the Covid era.

I’ll start with Oahu where we vacationed in February of 2020.

Little did we know a month later the world would shut down – remember that?

We’re going again next month, and the pictures remind me why. Nothing says vacation like Hawaii!

In between these Oahu bookends we’ve done many staycations out of necessity.

It was March of 2020, and we weren’t even sure we were ‘allowed’ to go out.

Those days were strange, we were in lockdown and our city parks were closed. But Kanaskat-Palmer State Park was off the beaten path, so we took our chances and headed out for a walk in the woods on the Green River.

Can you say refreshing? It was so soothing to the soul! We continued traipsing in the woods close to home throughout 2020 and beyond.

Until the world began to open up again – slowly at first – and vacations resumed of the road trip variety. Vaccinated and safe in our car, we headed down the coast to San Francisco in the spring of 2021, then to Los Angeles the spring of 2022.

We like to revisit our favorite places and that includes the national parks. There was a road trip to Yellowstone last fall for the 7th time and I hope there’s an 8th.

There were trips to Olympic National Park closer to home

and Mt. Rainier even closer.

I could go on and on but I better stop here.

So which is better? Staycations or vacations?

You decide.

But I like both.

~ Susanne

September Kismet and School Daze

September is my favorite month, the blending of summer and fall, a time of beginnings and endings.

It reminds me of those early days of grade school – seven years to be exact – spent at Frank B. Cooper School.

The building is still there in West Seattle, standing strong and proud as the last century, more than a hundred years old.

We used the overpass to get there – up and around and twisty across the busy street – helped by students on patrol.

Inside were sights and sounds and colors and smells of times ago, the pictures below from decades later after the school became an art center.

Still, it hadn’t changed to me.

The stairs were scuffed and worn and carried me back in a school daze to 4th grade. There Miss Warner greeted me, her face and hair and dress all gold, her short hair tightly coiled. Her heels were black and upright – just like the piano she played – the music that encouraged me forever.

Yesterday I planted flowers, Kismet Orange Coneflowers, the color of the sixties like those golden school days. Intense and bright and fabulous.

Kismet means fate or destiny – meant to be – lot or portion.

I think I believe it.

~ Susanne

Doesn’t this Sink Fit Me Perfectly?

“Well yes, Benji. It fits you better than me. But I must insist you NOT play with my charger, okay?”

“Sure, Sue. Whatever you say.”

~ From the sink of Susanne and Benji

Tipsoo Lake and Little Naches River

One day last week we were looking to get out of the house and chose Tipsoo Lake, where we had views of Mt. Rainier and no crowds.

After an easy walk around the lake, surrounded by abundant wildflowers,

we continued on over Chinook Pass so Bob could do some flyfishing. He remembered a turnoff we’d taken last time along the Little Naches River, a deserted stretch of road with beautiful cliffs on one side, and the river on the other.

He found a good spot to access the river and caught four trout just for the fun of it – he’s a catch and release guy.

Afterwards we headed up the road for dinner at Whistlin’ Jack Lodge and Restaurant. We’d passed by many times before without stopping, usually eating at Gold Creek further on. But Gold Creek was closed so we finally gave Whistlin’ Jack’s a try. It had surprisingly good food! It would be a fun place to stay too, since the lodging is next to the Naches River. Maybe next time!

After dinner we headed back up the pass and stopped at the overlook. We had a bird’s eye view of the expansive wilderness of the Wenatchee National Forest – the William O Douglas and Norse Peak wilderness areas to be precise.

“The Cascade Mountains were created by uplifting and volcanic activity along a north-south axis. Formed during the Pleistocene Ice Age approximately 2 million years ago, alpine glaciers flowed from the mountain range into the lowlands. As these glaciers retreated they left U-shaped valleys divided by sharp ridges.

The view from the overlook into the Rainier fork of the American River illustrate this type of glacial formation.”

Soon after we were back at Tipsoo Lake,

and discovered another hidden lake tucked away across the road.

Endless beauty in the Evergreen State, no?

And that’s all for now.

~ Susanne

Celebrating Six Years with Benji

I can’t believe it’s been six years since we brought Benji home from Seattle Humane. A young tabby, with almond eyes and a scruffy ear, we were won over by his sweet spirit and spunky disposition.

Happy Gotcha Day, Benji! 🙂

~ Susanne

Living it Up with the Birds!

When you share about the birds in your garden as often as I do, you become hard-pressed to find new titles for your post, hence the name above! Still, it’s not far from the truth.

The birds do indeed seem to live it up in my backyard where they have trees, housing, food, birdbaths and even a stream to enjoy.

(Click on pictures in the galleries to enlarge them)

Okay, so maybe Bob went a bit overboard on the birdhouses. At least that what I told him recently. Then again, they’re seeing a lot of action this summer.

The nuthatch was busy checking this one out high above the ground.

He also checked out a colorful, swinging, model as a chickadee waited nearby. It’s a tight market – you snooze you lose.

Whichever house they choose, they all appreciate the amenities offered in the yard

Splish splash they were taking a bath!

The brown creeper hides in plain sight – completely camouflaged! Not sure whether he’s interested in the new house mounted nearby.

There are no nesting boxes for the hummingbirds, they’re not cavity dwellers. They build their own tiny nests in the trees though I’ve never seen one.

Still they’re pleased to come to the feeders every day, often reminding me when they need a refill. The Anna’s hummingbirds are year-round in my yard, rain, shine, and even snow.

The males are the handsome ones with the ruby crown and neck. What female could resist him?

And that’s enough of the birds for today!

Until next time. 🙂

~ Susanne

Looking for Yellow on a Visit to Soos Creek Botanical Garden

It had been a while, so when I was finally feeling better this week, I celebrated with a visit to Soos Creek Botanical Garden. It’s one of my favorite local gardens, just a short drive down the road in Auburn.

One of my goals was actually to find some yellows, dark yellows, as in the color you might define as ‘mustard.’

And I found some, in varying degrees of intensity.

My favorites that day were more subtle – in the center of lovely white flowers where the pistils and stamens are (yes, I had to look it up to remember what those reproductive parts are called.)

And that’s not all I found! 🙂

I might have missed this tiny frog if I hadn’t been looking closely!

Photography encourages me to pay attention to the beauty of the world, a color challenge even more!

Sharing with Sunday Stills Color Challenge, Mustard.

~ Susanne

Hiking in Paradise – Reflection Lakes, Bench Lake and Snow Lake

Our last day in Paradise had a bit of everything – mountain views, crystal clear lakes, wildflowers and wildlife. We woke up early and left the Paradise Inn for the trailhead to Bench Lake and Snow Lake, just a few miles down the road.

Stopping to look at wildflowers along the way,

we saw deer in the woods, always a treat.

We continued to Reflection Lakes where there was just a bit of reflecting under clear blue skies.

Soon after we arrived at the trailhead which was almost deserted.

The trail was moderate, 2.5 miles RT to Snow Lake, climbing through meadows and forest, with views of Mt. Rainier behind

and Unicorn Peak ahead.

Sometimes it was smooth and flat under open sunshine,

other times it was steep and rocky

with strange creatures seeming to rise out of the ground to grab me.

There were wildflowers and wildlife both seen and unseen – more on that later.

After a mile we arrived at a fork in the road.

Our original intention was to go to Bench Lake, but we heard from other hikers that the trail down to the lake was a bit of a scramble.

So we continued on to Snow Lake, a good decision it turns out as it was by far the prettier of the two.

After enjoying our snack and soaking in the beauty of the place we headed back down the trail. I scanned the nearby peaks looking for mountain goats – it seemed a perfect place for them to hang out – but came up short.

I should have been looking for bears. As we were coming down, some backpackers told Bob they’d seen a bear on the trail. He didn’t tell me until we were safely back at the car.

Why worry my pretty little head, right? 😉

According to the National Park Service website –

The trail is a succession of gradual ups and downs as it crosses a series of low ridges. The path first reaches Bench Lake after .75 mile, then continues another .5 mile to Snow Lake. Most years these lakes do not melt out until late July and the trail can be muddy until then.. In mid-summer, this area explodes with a variety of wildflowers and an abundance of bear grass. In the fall, mountain ash and huckleberries color the scene. Quite visible is a silver forest of trees which remain from a past fire. Expect good views of Mount Rainier on clear days. There is always a chance of seeing black bears as well.”

Maybe next time. 🙂

~ Susanne

Out of Covid Jail – Hooray!

I got the new test kits in the mail and tested negative last night and today. So, after 12 days I’m officially out of covid jail.

I thought I’d celebrate with these charming sea otters from Morro Bay. (I’ll take any excuse to share them again!)

~ Susanne

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