Flying over Washington

On a recent flight to Southern California I pulled out my phone to snap a few pictures of the scenery below. Once again I sat on the wrong (that is, the right) side of the plane and thus missed the best photo opportunities of Mt. Rainier.  (Note to self: it’s the LEFT side that gets you the close-up the Mountain.)  Still you can’t go wrong flying over Washington and I captured a decent shot of Mt. St.Helens instead, yes the one that blew her top back in 1980.

After a wonderful week (record-breaking oven temperatures notwithstanding) I arrived back in the Evergreen state and took this picture shortly before landing at SeaTac.

Happy to be back in Washington, the land of the blue and the green.

~  Susanne

Palm Beauty

I’m from the Pacific Northwest and love the cool climate and the dark evergreen forests of giant Douglas Firs. But I have to admit that the Palm trees of southern California have a majestic beauty of their own, surviving and rising above temperatures of 114 degrees F. (yes, this week.) Here are a few of them for you to enjoy.

Looking forward to returning to the Evergreen state and a cool 75 degrees.

– Susanne

A Journal through the American West

Before there were blogs there were journals – remember Lewis and Clark? I too kept a journal on a road trip through the American West, from Seattle to the Black Hills of South Dakota.

It was a bright day in May when we packed up our camper and left Seattle heading east. We crossed the panhandle of Idaho and spent our first night in St. Regis, Montana, where we woke the next morning to sunshine streaming through the windows, birdsong and rabbits scampering about the campground. What could be better?

After our morning coffee we proceeded through Big Sky Country, a rugged land of mountains, rivers, and wide open spaces. Our first stop was Helena, where we toured the capitol building and saw Charles Russell’s gorgeous mural, ‘Lewis and Clark meeting the Flathead Indians at Ross Hole.’

Charles Russell, Western artist and storyteller, was born in St. Louis in 1864 and moved to Montana at the age of 16 to fulfill his dream of becoming a cowboy. He produced over 4000 paintings, drawings and sculptures, of cowboys, the Plains Indians whom he greatly admired, and wildlife, which he called ‘nature’s people.’ We stopped by the CM Russell Museum in Great Falls dedicated to his life and work and I picked up some postcards of his paintings.

Of course you can’t travel in Montana without reminders of Lewis and Clark. Meriwether Lewis was greatly impressed by the beauty of the Great Falls of the Missouri River calling it “the grandest sight I had ever held.” We visited the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center overlooking the Missouri, and nearby Giant Springs, one of the largest freshwater springs in the country.

Our final Lewis and Clark stop was at Pompey’s Pillar, east of Billings, a huge outcropping of Sandstone rising 150 ft above the Yellowstone River. It was here Clark carved his name in the rock he named after Sacagawea’s son. The carving is the only remaining physical evidence of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Clark recorded the event in his journal, “.. at 4 PM I arrived at a remarkable rock… I marked my name and the day of the month & year. July 25th, 1806.”

We took the trail to Pompey’s Pillar to see the carving which is now protected under glass.

Continuing into northeastern Wyoming, it wasn’t long before the landscape changed from the golden, rolling hills of cattle country to green forest and red rock. We’d entered the Black Hills and began to look for the mysterious Devil’s Tower around every turn. When we finally saw it rising above the landscape, it didn’t disappoint (though my pictures might.)

We were delighted to discover our campground was at the base of the 1,267 foot basalt tower and we fell asleep under it’s otherworldly presence.

The next day we walked the easy trail around the Tower enjoying the sunshine, breathing in the fresh piney air and watching climbers tackle the massive Rock.

Soon we would enter South Dakota where more adventures awaited: Mt. Rushmore, Custer State Park and Badlands National Park. Too much to tell here so I will save that for Part 2 of a ‘Journal through the American West.’

~ Susanne

Weekly Photo Challenge – Orange

Okay so I made it up myself. I miss the Weekly Photo Challenge and decided to do my own to carry me through the week.

The word is ‘orange’ of the sweet, juicy variety and also of the capital Orange variety, for here I am in Orange, California, enjoying sunny weather and temperatures in the mid eighties. Until Friday that is, when temperatures are expected to soar to a sizzling 105 or more depending on which weather app you believe. (!!!)

Here then to celebrate ‘orange’ are some photos from Old Town Orange where the oranges are tasty and the flag flies high in the town square.


Happy 4th of July.

– Susanne

Happy Benji

This is Benji and I love being a cat.

Everything I do makes me happy, especially whatever I am doing currently. Sleeping on my new perch is a good example.

First I take a deep breath and stretch as long as I can. You should try it – it feels so good!

Then I turn this way and that to find the very best sleeping position which I enjoy as long as I can.

Sometimes I turn around just for the fun of it. All positions are good.

You might think I’m too big for my perch, but no, not at all.

See how well I fit?

~ Benji

A shrimp story

A recent visit with a long lost cousin reminded me of our shared grandparents and history at Pleasant Harbor on Hood Canal.

Cats and Trails and Garden Tales

Just off of Highway 101 where it runs along Hood Canal there was a small restaurant with a home in back and attached store in front.   They were owned and operated by Floyd and Elsie Chapman and the sign in front read “ELSIE’S PLEASANT HARBOR.”  Hood Canal is a narrow shimmering fjord about 50 miles long and averaging 177 feet in depth.  The clear, blue, water is filled with abundant life and on its shores are plentiful clams and oysters.  Pleasant Harbor is a quiet natural cove on the canal and that is where Floyd moored his shrimp boat.


On a sleepy day in 1963 Floyd was outside in his blue overhauls and captain’s hat, working the fire under a large kettle where the day’s catch of shrimp was to be cooked. He’d been up since early that morning when he had gone to drop the traps in the canal.

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Wisdom from Cats in the Garden

I wandered in the garden one morning

and found Tiger and Benji apparently at odds.

It was mostly Tiger who needed cheering up.

“Hey Tiger, you handsome boy!  How are you doing?”

“Oh I don’t know Sue.  I don’t feel very handsome.  Did you notice the carcass in the yard?”

“Yes Tiger, I noticed.  A mole.  Great job!”

“It wasn’t me Sue.  Benji caught it. That boy is fast!  You should have seen him out here in the lettuce this morning.  It was brilliant.”

“He knew just when to strike and brought the beast down without a struggle.”

“That’s great Tiger,’ I replied.  “The mole was destroying the garden and needed to go. I’m happy Benji took care of it.  So what’s the problem?”

“Don’t you see Sue?   I  used to be able to do that.  Not anymore.  Let’s face it.  I’m finished.”

“Oh Tiger, you mustn’t think that!  You did your part. It’s time to let the boy do the dirty work.  Who wants to kill moles anyway? They’re not good for eating.”

“You’re right about that Sue. But I just feel so useless sometimes.”

“You’re not useless Tiger!    Your presence alone keeps the varmints away.  Honestly, I love how you wander in the garden and enjoy the moment.”

“You remind me to stop and take time to smell the roses.”

“And the lavender.”

“And the bounty of the garden. Did you notice the raspberries are ripening?”

“And look!  Our first year for thimbleberries!”

“Yes Sue, I noticed.  And how about those strawberries? They really smell good!”

“Indeed they do Tiger!  Youth has its place, but if everyone ran around in a frenzy all the time, hunting and wild-eyed,  how would it be? There’s got to be some mature felines to provide guidance and wisdom to the young.  You’ve got a lot to give.”

“Aw thanks Sue.  I could give Benji a few tips alright.   I don’t really feel like hunting moles anymore,  though I may be up for an occasional vole now and then. Mostly I’d rather be here where I am, in the garden visiting with you.”

“You and I are more alike then you know, Tiger.”

~ Susanne

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