Lying Awake at Night

Do you ever have those nights when you can’t get to sleep? You lie awake, tossing and turning but can’t get comfortable.

Your mind is racing and everything looks worse the more you think about it.

Me too.

Happy Monday from Benji. ūüôā

~ Susanne

Textures of Coulon Park

I went to the park with textures in mind and this is what I found.

For Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, ‘Textures.’

~ Susanne

Maiden Voyage of Our E Bikes on the Cedar River Trail

It’s been a cold and rainy fall but we managed to find a good day to take our new E Bikes out for their maiden voyage.

We started at Cedar River Park and followed the Cedar River Trail south through the woods where the trees were a riot of color.

We paused to watch the salmon continue their journey up the river –

and continued our way across an old railroad trestle bridge.

We followed the trail to the other side – where it continued near the Maple Valley Highway along the river.

(We flew down the path and my bike wanted to go faster than the posted 10 mph speed limit – I couldn’t help wondering who would know.)

About halfway down the 17 mile trail we discovered Cavanaugh Pond Natural Area and took the path to a hidden, peaceful section of the river.

The area was new to us.¬† According to King County’s website, “Cavanaugh Pond is the only Class 1 wetland in the Cedar River Valley, meaning that it is of the highest quality of wetland ecosystems. There are stands of alder and cottonwoods on site, and current restoration projects are working to control invasive vegetation and establish native forest. Cavanaugh Pond supports spawning sockeye salmon in the fall and provides year-round habitat for other fish and wildlife species.”

Bob was happy to find a new spot to fly fish;¬† ‘catch and release’ only during the summer in case you wondered.

I was happy to find a place to sit and watch the river go by. We’d be back.

But back to the E bikes.  They worked great!  They were easy to operate and made riding fun and effortless. Yes, you peddle but your peddling gets regular boosts.  Hill coming up?  Need a little more power?  No problem,  just flip the switch for even more help!

So the verdict is in and it is YES – we highly recommended electric bikes!

~ Susanne

The Cruise Continues to Monterey

So here we are on day 5 of our cruise,¬† pulling into our southernmost port of call¬† at sunrise –¬† Monterey.

Today’s¬† arrival was different than the others. For the first time in my limited cruising experience the ship remained anchored in the bay.

Which meant we would be ferried to shore by tender, a little boat like this one below.

I wasn’t looking forward to it.¬† I mean really – so many people – in so many little boats?¬† Surprisingly it worked fine.¬† The departure times were staggered by group so there was little waiting and everything moved smoothly.¬† Our group was based on our shore excursion.

Now the thing about cruising is you only have so much time on shore, which means you have to make the hard choices. Monterey is famous for its Aquarium but we’d been there before. So we chose a trip to Carmel along the famous 17 mile drive.

17 Mile Drive

According to Wikipedia, “17-Mile Drive is a scenic road through Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove on the Monterey Peninsula in California, much of which hugs the Pacific coastline and passes famous golf courses, mansions and scenic attractions, including the Lone Cypress, Bird Rock and the 5,300-acre Del Monte Forest of Monterey Cypress trees. The drive serves as the main road through the gated community of Pebble Beach..”

We were happy to be on a bus after walking all over San Francisco the day before.  We could relax and leave the driving to someone else. And the tour guide was a knowledgeable local who shared lots of stories Рabout the (rich) folks whose homes we would pass on our way to Pebble Beach and Carmel.

There were  nature stops too. Our first was at Bird Rock, shared by sea lions, harbor seals, and many birds including brown pelicans, cormorants and gulls.

The road we traveled went through forests of Monterey Cypress which only grow here.

We stopped by the ‘Lone Cypress’ which unfortunately lost half itself in a storm last year. No, not this one –

This one.

Pebble Beach

Next up was Pebble Beach Golf Course where we neither ate nor drank nor played golf, though these folks did.

Maybe next time.

Carmel

We arrived at the small town of Carmel  Рyes, where Clint Eastwood was once mayor Рfor lunch and shopping.

I wished we’d had more time.¬† It’s clearly worth longer than the hour and a half we’d been allotted. We’ll add it to our list of future road trips.

Then it was back to Monterey where we were ferried back to our ship,

for a lovely dinner

at sunset.

The next two days would be spent at sea as we headed back to the Pacific Northwest for our final stop in Victoria before returning to Seattle.

Stay tuned for that! ūüôā

~ Susanne

Stalking the Hummingbirds

They don’t seem to mind. I hide behind a nearby tree and wait for them to appear. Sometimes I wait in vain and when I return to the house they come and feed.¬† So who’s watching who?

Occasionally they indulge my passion – as payment for the food I guess.

These pictures are from our first few weeks of fall.

They’re Anna’s Hummingbirds and their dress is somewhat plain – until with a turn of the head, a flash of brilliant color appears.

~ Susanne

Cruising to San Francisco

It was day 4 and I woke with a start to my husband’s announcement that we’d just passed under the Golden Gate Bridge. And I’d missed it!

No matter. The best was yet to come as we headed toward the Bay Bridge, backlit by sunrise.

We sailed silently into San Francisco Bay careful not to wake the sleeping city,

and when we docked at the Port of San Francisco this was our view.

Out in the bay – the Rock.

On a nearby hill,  Coit Tower.

And in the distance, the Golden Gate Bridge.

There was no need to rush. We arrived at 7:00 a.m. and wouldn’t sail again until 10:00 p.m., our longest day in port.¬† So after a leisurely breakfast we disembarked and headed over to Alcatraz Landing.

Alcatraz

Why the fascination with the island prison?¬† For those of us from a certain generation, I suppose it started with ‘The Birdman of Alcatraz’. At least it did for me. Never mind that Robert Stroud conducted his studies earlier at Leavenworth and wasn’t allowed to have birds at Alcatraz.¬† ( I guess “Bird Doctor of Leavenworth” didn’t make for a good Hollywood title.) With later generations, it would be movies about the attempted escapes.¬† Regardless,¬† it’s a popular attraction and I was happy I’d booked our 10:30 tour well in advance.

It was clear and sunny as we sailed to the island, past views of the city where the Star Princess was part of the skyline.

Alcatraz was straight ahead and it wasn’t long before we arrived at the dock.

For thousands of years, Alcatraz was just a lonely island. In 1859 a fort was built as part of a defense system for San Francisco Bay.¬† Used as a military prison from 1859 – 1933, it later became a maximum security federal penitentiary.¬† From 1934 to 1963 it housed some of the most high risk and notorious prisoners of the era including Al Capone and George “Machine Gun” Kelly.

We headed up for a self-guided tour of the former prison and found the accommodations  rather grim.

When we had our fill of prison life, we made the return trip back to the waterfront.  After lunch we split up and I headed to Pier 39 to visit the Sea Lions who moved into the area after the 1989 earthquake and decided to stay.

But mainly I walked, walked and walked some more along the Embarcadero accruing more steps on my Fitbit than any other day on the cruise.

We returned to the ship for dinner and went up top to watch the sunset.

The next morning we would arrive in Monterey, our southernmost port of call, and enjoy an excursion to Carmel this time by Tour Bus.

Stay tuned for that!

~ Susanne

Snug as a Bug in a Rug

On a cold and rainy day – it’s good to be Benji –

snug as a bug in a rug.

~ Susanne

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