Cruising the West Coast to San Francisco – Rainy Day Armchair Travel

Two years ago we took a cruise from Seattle down the West Coast with no masks, no vaccines, and of course – no covid! Those were days of carefree travel and I can’t wait until they return!

But until then I thought I’d revisit our trip (our second ever cruise) with some of my favorite memories.


We left Seattle under stormy skies and I lamented booking so late in the year.

But the rain stopped as we sailed out the Straight of Juan de Fuca and we enjoyed sunshine every day thereafter.

Cruising to Astoria

The next morning I woke at sunrise and took my morning promenade.

It wasn’t long before we arrived at the mouth of the Columbia River and were piloted into Astoria.

Astoria was founded in 1811 by John Jacob Astor who funded the expedition but never set foot in the town. I have set foot many times but enjoyed seeing it from another angle – from the ship at sunset.

Onward to San Francisco

After a day at sea we arrived in San Francisco, slipping stealthily under the Golden Gate bridge – or so it seemed to me. (Click on pictures in the gallery to enlarge them.)

Watching the sunrise over the city is still one of the highlights of our trip.

Later that day we visited Alcatraz, taking the boat from the pier next to ours. (Which is why I didn’t purchase the shore excursion from the cruise line for almost double the price.)

I know it was a prison with a creepy past but honestly it makes a great tourist destination!

Afterwards we explored more of the waterfront before heading back to the ship for dinner and sunset.


We woke the next morning in Monterey, only two hours south by car but the ship took us slowly while we slept.

This was the only port where we took a tender to shore – see how small is the tiny orange boat next to our ship.

For our shore excursion that day we traveled along scenic 17 mile drive through Pebble Beach to Carmel. One of my favorite stops was at Bird Rock where sea lions, seals, pelicans and gulls share the accommodations.

A Day at Sea and North to Victoria

Why Victoria? Why not a return directly to Seattle? Because of the Jones Act which prohibits foreign ships from carrying passengers from one US port to another without stopping at a foreign port.  No it doesn’t make sense to me but Victoria is fun to visit anytime.

There was all the usual charm of the capital city of British Columbia.

But there was something new for me on this trip – a visit to Fantan Alley in Chinatown, Canada’s oldest.

After a full and wonderful week we crept back into Seattle the next morning where yes, it was raining.

Ready to be home again, but already plotting the next cruise.

Maybe next year. 🙂

~ Susanne

Golden Gingko

I first discovered the Gingko Biloba tree a few years ago when I was walking on the Cedar River Trail. Since then I try to visit each fall to catch it in its golden finest.

Today was the day! 🙂

~ Susanne

Half the Fun is Getting There! On the Road to Yellowstone

Some destinations are better than others and certainly Yellowstone is one of those. Still, half the fun of any road trip is getting there!

We left Seattle after Labor Day and headed east on I-90 over Snoqualmie Pass where I never get tired of the views.

But the mountains don’t last forever and it wasn’t long before we crossed the mighty Columbia River

welcomed to the other side by wild horses! The Wild Horses Monument, officially called Grandfather Cuts Loose the Ponies, looks so real I updated this post so you’d know it’s a sculpture.

Then we were in a strange wasteland where all was barren and full of sagebrush, and creatures from outer space dominated the landscape. No wait, they’re wind turbines!

Windfarms have sprung up everywhere – harnessing the wind for power – and not I hope wiping out bird populations.

After riding through the desert of the Evergreen State the trees finally reappeared near Spokane and soon after we entered into Idaho.

Time to stretch our legs in Wallace!

Established in 1884, Wallace sits at an elevation of 2,728 ft. and boasts a population of 925. Self described Silver Capital of the World, over 1.2 billion ounces of silver have been mined there. A fun town nestled in the mountains, we loved walking on its historic streets.

(Click on pictures in the gallery to enlarge.)

We visited the old train station – now a museum –

and admired the Stardust Motel – at least its kitschy sign.

Later on we spent the night in Missoula, and the next day took the road less traveled through Montana

enjoying the ghost towns of Nevada City and Virginia City – more on that here if you missed it.

We arrived in Yellowstone that afternoon, welcomed by a herd of buffalo and their young, ready for more adventures.

I’ve already shared some pictures from our trip – Yellowstone in Color – but I only scratched the surface and suspect there’ll be more to come.

~ Susanne

Eerie Places and Things

Anything can look eerie in black and white.






and of course …


Did I scare you? 😉

Just for fun – and for Sunday Stills Photo Challenge – Eerie.

~ Susanne

Outdoor Decor in the Garden

I thought I might miss another Sunday Stills photo challenge for lack of material until Terri suggested my garden. I hadn’t really thought of my garden as having any ‘outdoor decor’ but as I considered further I saw it really does, starting with the garden shed.

When we moved into our house over ten years ago one of the first things we did was add the shed. A carpenter friend of ours built it and it’s solid as a rock; my husband painted it and keeps it tastefully decorated.

Not only does it provide storage for garden tools and supplies, it also provides privacy from the neighbors in back (we need that since the woods were razed behind us.) And it’s become a place for Bob to mount the birdhouses he builds and exhibit his latest finds. I took the soggy wet pictures today – after a week of heavy rain from the Pineapple Express.

You’ll notice artifacts everywhere including a wooden man sitting against the shed, and an old bike under the tree.

I had my doubts when I first discovered the bicycle but since then I have grown to appreciate Bob’s genius in putting it there as it has become a focal point all year round.

One final thing I love about the shed is its proximity to the hummingbird feeders. I sometimes hide in it with the door slightly open to stalk – I mean photograph – the hummers as I did today. This beauty did a flyby after he was done feeding to let me know he saw me hiding, but was thankful nonetheless for the fresh sugar water.

Sharing with Sunday Stills who inspired this post on Outdoor Decor.

~ Susanne

Perspective on the Green River Gorge

The Green River flows from Washington’s Cascade Mountains for 65 miles becoming the Duwamish River before emptying into Puget Sound.

There are many places to enjoy the river but my favorite is from the one-lane bridge over the Green River Gorge.

You get a different perspective of the Gorge from below, if you’re willing to pay the $5 to walk the rickety stairs to the waterfall which we did last year.

It was five dollars well spent, don’t you think?

Sharing with Becky’s PastSquares, Perspective.

~ Susanne

Monday Musings

Stormy weather all week, within and without.

It makes for some pretty windshield art as trees drop the last of their leaves.

Inside, Benji has the morning crazies and after a bit of play I send him outside to cool down

while I make lattes for me and mom.

~ Susanne

After a Long and Busy Week

It’s good to rest.

Happy Sunday from Susanne and Benji. 🙂

Morning Hunter’s Moon

I was up in time this morning to see the moon hanging low in the western sky so after making my coffee and feeding the cats I decided to run outside and capture it before it set.

The Hunter’s Moon is the first full moon in the Northern Hemisphere of the fall season. It should still be full tonight so if the skies are clear I’ll try again as it rises. If I miss it, I’ll have to wait for the next one – November 19th.

~ Susanne

Peak Fall Color at Coulon Park – Too Good Not to Share

My life has become very busy lately and I’m finding I have less time to blog. It’s okay – life calls. But in between two appointments today I managed to swing by Coulon Park and found the trees at their peak color. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

It was too good not to share. 🙂

~ Susanne

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