From the desks of little Ben and the Tiger

Allow me to introduce myself to you.  This is little Ben and I am new around here. What a long week I have had in my short life!  Where shall I begin?

First of all I got captured.  Captured!  (“Rescued,” if you prefer.)  I was taken suddenly from the messy house where I was born (a real cat zoo!)  to a place I call the hospital, where I was poked and prodded and fussed over.  Once I was feeling better they moved me to the library with other cats where people came to visit throughout the day.  I was the smallest one in the room so I took to hiding.  I was just getting comfortable when my new people came (Bob and Sue and Grandma) and took me to their house.  Rescued again I guess!  It’s much quieter here in my new home than at the zoo or the hospital or even the library and so far I like it. I haven’t seen my brothers or sisters yet or any other cats for that matter, but I think I smell them.  On the perch. And on the shaggy carpet.  Sometimes I even think I hear them in the night.  Is it a dream?  Or a longing?  I don’t know. For now I am just enjoying the peace and quiet and sitting on grandma’s lap.  As much as I like.  All day long.

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Today was a new day and they opened the door for me. I’d been hoping (not demanding) they would.  I got to explore and visit upstairs. Nice!  Now I know for sure there’s another cat here!  I smell him everywhere.  I saw his food bowl.  (Sampled it actually. Pretty good.)  It must have been him I heard in the night!   I am small and different and I can hardly wait to meet him.  I hope he likes me.

~  Little Ben

Tiger here.  Something’s going on that’s for sure.  Everyone’s acting strangely.  I can’t quite put my paw on it yet.  Sue’s being extra nice to me. Bob too.  Attending to my every cry.  Sensitive to my every move.  And I’m dreaming more. Something squeaky and tiny.  Coming from the basement?   I don’t know.  I used to have roaming privileges throughout the house but lately grandma keeps her door closed.  To keep me out?  Highly unusual.  Not that it matters much.  I prefer my kingdom outdoors any day.  Every morning I go outside and play in the sunshine.  Drink from the stream. Watch (okay, chase) the small ones in the bush.  But the days are growing shorter and cooler and soon I will come in earlier at night.  Then what?  Will grandma’s door still be closed?  I hope the mystery is solved by then.  I hope it is something good.  I will keep you posted.

from the Tiger

Tiger

Introducing little Ben- the Tiger Cub

Day 1  Sue here.  As I sit in my office on the third floor of our home Tiger is relaxing on the floor nearby.  After a final deep cleaning behind the ears (who can sleep with dirty ears?)  he’s ready to call it a day and is drifting off into kittyland.

DSC01082 (2)Little does he know that two levels below, there is a little Tiger cub hiding under grandma’s bed. We visited Seattle Humane Society today and brought home a new kitty as a companion for Tiger. His name is Ben. Or Benji.  We’ll see what sticks.  He’s a 10 month old tabby.  A mini Tiger with golden almond eyes and a scruffy ear.  Brown and gray like his new big brother. They told us he came from the home of a hoarder, a place with 40 cats!.  We picked him out when we saw him snuggle in the bosom of another sleeping cat.  Ah, that’s the one, we said.

Tiger lived with his big brother Shadow for 7 years.  But Shadow wasn’t the healthiest kitty and he is no longer with us. We miss the sweet fluffy boy, but are happy for the years they had together.  Now it seemed time for a little brother to be added to the family. Tiger can show him the ropes of the cat kingdom.  How to hide in the bush.  Chase moths.  Hunt moles.  And drink from the flowing stream in the backyard.  But not yet.

We’ll let Ben decide when to come out of hiding. He has everything he needs in his room below.  When he is comfortable with us in his new home, we will begin the introduction process, slowly, swapping the cat’s scents and toys. Supervising visits.  We want their first meeting to be all good. Tiger has given no indication he knows anything of the intruder.  So we have the time we need.

Day 2  We’ll that was quick.  The little rascal is out and ready to explore his new world! Fearless!  So here’s Ben!

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~ Susanne

Still dreaming of the Bow

Having returned from the Canadian Rockies I began poring over my pictures and noticed how much ‘the Bow’ permeated our trip with its beauty. We first met the Bow River where it flows through the Banff townsite.

We followed it to the Falls nearby.

And viewed the Bow Valley from the overlook at Tunnel Mountain.

We followed the river along the Bow Valley Parkway on our drive north to Lake Louise.

Further north we found the exquisite Bow Lake off the Icefields Parkway.

Yes, I’m still dreaming of the Bow.  Can you see why?

~ Susanne

Canadian Rockies Adventure 2016 – through Glacier to Banff and Jasper

Rocky Mountains.  Craggy peaks.  Lakes and rivers and waterfalls. Scenic Highways. Glaciers.  Bears!

This was the 4th time we made the journey from the Pacific Northwest to the Canadian Rockies and this time we went east through Glacier National Park and north to Banff & Jasper.  Words fail me as I try to describe the beauty we beheld as each new day opened up vistas more spectacular than the day before. I hope I don’t weary you with my pictures but what else can I do?

Glacier National Park.

You’ve heard of it.  This gorgeous wilderness park with glacier carved valleys in the northwest corner of Montana.  Famous for mountain vistas, pristine lakes, Going-to-the-Sun road, and …  let’s not forget …   grizzly bears!

We entered the park on the west side, expecting to travel the famous road east..  Alas, we were cautioned by the rangers that our camper might be a bit too big for this white knuckle drive on the road carved into the mountains. (I have to admit I was relieved as we would have been on the outside narrow lane, and I on the passenger side, would be looking over the cliffs where no guard rails exist.) Thus we made our away around to the east side of the park to St. Mary Lake which is where our lodging was for the night at Rising Sun Motor Inn. We were not disappointed.

St. Mary Lake

The next day we decided to drive the easier side of the famous Going-to-the-Sun road up to Logan Pass. We had clear skies at the start but the pass was cold and rainy and socked in with clouds.

By the way, those who prefer to enjoy the scenery while leaving the driving to someone else can take the charming 1930’s red buses known as  “jammers”  (for the sound the old standard transmissions made as drivers “jammed” the gears) across the scenic road.

Bob talked with one of the drivers who said he loves his job!  Wouldn’t you?

Grizzlies!

No trip to Glacier is really complete without seeing a grizzly bear and we were lucky to see one on this trip. Shortly after entering Many Glacier  we came across a ‘bear jam’ and joined those who pulled over to watch this big boy eating ripe berries. The hump on his back confirmed he was a grizzly.

On an earlier trip to Glacier when we were still tent camping, (in the last century) we pulled into (and out of in a hurry) a campground at Many Glacier when we saw a sign that read something like ‘Fatal maulings have occurred at this Campground.’  Um, really?  Needless to say we spent that night at historic Many Glacier Hotel.

Of course many people do safely hike in Glacier but it is best to do so in groups and led by a ranger if possible, and wearing bear bells to alert the bears of your presence (I prefer to sing loudly) and carrying bear spray which I suppose you would spray into the face of a grizzly if you were attacked. (!!)  We did it ourselves on an earlier trip.  Hiked, that is. This time we were content to watch the big boy from the side of the road, while secure inside our truck.

Onward to Banff

Glacier was amazing. Banff  took it up to the next level.  We headed north into Alberta, visiting the city of Calgary where the prairies meet the Rockies and the mountains seem to appear out of nowhere.

Once we arrived in Banff we found all the best sights to be within easy reach.  Our first stop was to Cave and Basin National Historic Site, the birthplace of Canada’s national parks. There we enjoyed seeing the underground hot springs and walking the path outside among the bubbling thermal waters.

Five minutes from the townsite we visited the lovely Vermilion Lakes.  I honestly didn’t expect much of something so close to town and easy to access. But I was wrong!  These lovely lakes reflected the best and most tranquil views of Mt Rundle and nearby peaks.

And this is the only place in the park we saw elk.

We camped the next 2 nights at the Tunnel Mountain Village Campground across from Mt. Rundle overlooking the beautiful Bow Valley. We went for a short walk and stopped at the overlook where a friendly young man offered to take our picture.  After we continued on our way we heard the hysterical laughing (I don’t know how else to describe it) of the girlfriend who just received a marriage proposal from the nice young man.  We assume that meant yes.  Nice setting for such things, I guess.

After two days, we took the scenic Bow Valley Parkway to Lake Louise Village where we would spend our third night inside the park.  The Bow River is below:

The first major stop on the Bow Parkway was Johnston Canyon, perhaps the most popular and overcrowded hike in Banff. It was early in the morning so we were able to find parking easily and make our way along the catwalk to the lower falls where a fellow hiker offered to take our picture.

Later on the parkway, we came across this mama bear (black bear though brown in color) and her 2 cubs.   The pint sized cubs moved around too much to get a picture of them. That put the bear count at this point at 4!  Already a record!

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Next was Lake Louise where I felt I had walked into a glorious oil painting. What can I say about this gem that hasn’t already been said?  (Well, now that you ask, I can say to go very early in the day or later in the evening or you will not get anywhere near this popular lake!  I’m talking major traffic jam!  We got there after 6 pm on a Sunday evening and avoided the crowds.)

Same with the equally beautiful Moraine Lake which once graced the back of the Canadian twenty dollar bill.

We spent the night at the Lake Louise Campground in our hard sided camper (yes, it had to be hard sided.)  Tent campers had to stay in the other campground with the electric fence.  Yes, really!  (Any guesses why??)

When we checked in, the ranger let us know that a grizzly bear had been spotted in the campground that day and if we saw him we should keep our distance and not stress him. (We not stress him??? Oh, yes ma’am.  Don’t worry, we will not stress the bear for we will be hiding in our camper!)

Onward to Jasper

We survived the night with nary a grizzly sighting and the next day we headed to Jasper on the Icefields Parkway.  Okay, so this is another world class, amazing drive and I can’t possibly show you the hundreds of pictures I was compelled to take!  But I will show you the beautiful Peyto Lake as seen from the overlook.  Pretty, huh?

Onward we went to the Columbia Icefields, one of the largest accumulations of ice south of the Arctic Circle, where numerous glaciers can be seen from the road.  We stopped at the Visitor Center and …  wrong!   Absolutely jammed with the tour bus crowd!  No matter. We just wanted to see the glaciers which wasn’t hard to do since we were surrounded by them!

Later that night we stopped for the evening at a lodge near Sunwapta Falls, another beauty. I was crazy with taking pictures by then but what could I do?  Isn’t that what a road trip and a new camera are for?  So I give you this one of Sunwapta Falls.

And this one the next day: the equally spectacular Athabasca Falls.

After arriving in Jasper townsite and finishing up lunch, we headed to Maligne Canyon.

On the canyon road we set a new record for bear sightings.  So here’s #5,  Mr. Black Bear and the closest yet.  Poor boy.  Just wanted to eat his berries in peace, without all those gawkers!

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We continued on to Maligne Lake, passing Medicine Lake on the way (this lake comes and goes, due to holes in the bottom!)

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Finally here’s a look at Maligne Lake, our last major destination in the Canadian Rockies. The last time we were here (yes, in the last century) we took a boat tour, but not this time…

From Jasper we would head back west for home.  And it was okay because by now we were done. I don’t think we could have stopped and looked at another mountain, glacier, river, waterfall, or turquoise colored lake!  (Though I’m pretty sure we would stop for another bear. And we did in fact stop to look at beautiful Mt. Robson in British Columbia the next day!)  I guess you could say we were travel weary and ready for home!  But we took with us all the grandeur and splendor and beauty we could absorb!  We highly recommend you do the same!

~ Susanne, from the comfort of home! 

Canadian Rockies here we come! Again!

Apparently every 10 years or so we hear the call to go north.  So for the past few weeks I’ve been putting together our next road trip to the Canadian Rockies. This got me going through my old scrap books (I used to do a lot of them before the digital age) and I was reminded that this will be our 4th such trek northward.

As I do for all my vacation planning, I visited AAA for maps and tour books and also bought lonely planet’s guide to ‘Banff, Jasper & Glacier National Parks.’  Thus I began plotting our route and making the necessary camping and lodging arrangements for the coming trip (in the nick of time it turns out).  Our current plan is to head east to Glacier National Park in Montana, north into Alberta with a stop in Calgary, to Banff, Lake Louise, the Icefields Parkway and to the northernmost point in our trip, Jasper.  We’ll return west and south through British Columbia and home again to Washington.  A nice packed loop.

The first time we made such a trip was in the last century (I love saying that) and we were, needless to say, younger than we are today.  We hiked to some of the most popular and spectacular vistas in the Rockies without much thought given to the length or difficulty of the trail. (Okay, mostly true. We’ve never been mountain climbers.)

I took the picture below on a hike to Mt Edith Cavell where Angel Glacier hangs from the side of the mountain.

DSC00497We also hiked the famous trail from Lake Louise to the Agnes Teahouse and the Beehives and I don’t remember it being particularly hard.  So I was surprised to read in ‘lonely planet’ that we had gained 1,624 feet in elevation on this ‘moderate to difficult’ trail.  Surprised, because these days I tend to look for ‘easy to moderate’ with minimal elevation gain. What a difference a century makes!

According to lonely planet, “It’s a fine, well-marked route taking in forest trails, hidden lakes and scenic viewpoints, as well as a famous teahouse ~ but it is formidably steep (especially around the Big Beehive), so bring plenty of water and take regular rests.”  It goes on to say that after leaving the teahouse you will reach the Big Beehive after a mile of “relentless leg-shredding switchbacks.”   Apparently there was a time when I hiked trails with leg-shredding switchbacks. Not so much today. So just in case we don’t make it up there again (thinking we won’t but hey, you never know) I give you this picture of Lake Louise from the Beehives as proof of my previous climb.

DSC00508No that is not a big swimming pool, it is the true and actual Lake Louise when viewed from above. Chateau Lake Louise is on the left far, far below.  And yes, I really did take that picture.

By the way, this reminds me of the time we brought a group of 20 teenagers to this very spot on our second trip about 10 years later. Some of them got so close to the edge of the cliff on that same hike that I had to pull them back from the brink while reminding them that there were no guard rails and we were in fact in the wilderness.  Even now I shudder to think of the responsibility we bore to bring all those teenagers home again to their parents and preferably in one piece.  (Sometimes I ask myself,  “what were we thinking??, did we really do that??” and the answer is yes we did!  And had a good time too!)

Here are a few more pictures from the Canadian Rockies from those first 2 trips.

the Lovely Lake Louise at ground level:

The lovely Lake Louise

the ever young husband at Moraine Lake:

The young husband at Moraine Lake

Our third trip north came roughly 10 years later, this time in the month of May and finally in this century.  We dropped Jasper from the itinerary and added the nearer Waterton Lakes which is on the other side of the border from Glacier.  Though smaller in scale we found it to be as beautiful, quieter, and less crowded than the larger parks to the north.

It was also the only place we got to see a bear in the wild. We enjoyed following him slowly in our truck, watching as he foraged on the side of the road till he finally ran off and jumped into the river.  Like a National Geographic special!

From Waterton Lakes we went on to Banff and Lake Louise,  where this time we found the lovely lady mostly covered in ice and not the same milky green we remembered from our summer trips.

Lake Louise under iceSo here we are again, embarking on trip #4, coincidentally almost 10 years after the last one.  Aside from the people in the pictures, I wonder what else has changed?  How will we find Lake Louise this time?  Will we hike to the Beehives?  Or be content with memories and photos from earlier treks, finding new adventures closer to the ground?  Stay tuned for answers to these compelling questions and to view the pictures from our latest trip to the Canadian Rockies.

~ Susanne

Mt Rainier on a summer day…

We don’t usually make the drive to Mt. Rainier on a sunny Saturday in the middle of summer.  But this past weekend that is exactly what we decided to do, heading from Renton through Enumclaw  to the Sunrise side of the mountain.  We didn’t make it all the way to the Visitor Center (6,400 ft) as we opted out of the bumper to bumper traffic at the entrance gate. No matter. The mountain is not limited to the boundaries of the park and we found incredible views nonetheless.

It’s Mount Rainier, after all.

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Tiger the therapy cat

Hey there.  It’s me. Tiger, the handsome tabby and therapy cat.  What’s that, you say? Therapy Cat??    Okay, so maybe I’m not officially “certified”  (yes there is such a thing.) And I don’t visit nursing homes like some of my cousins. Or hospitals. Or prisons.  (Well, I have been to jail but that’s a different story!)

Certified or not, I can make you feel better!  Watch me sleep and hear my purr motor and you will instantly relax.  Pet me and you will lower your blood pressure.

Utter relaxation ~ that's what I'm talkin about
Utter relaxation ~ that’s what I’m talkin’ about

More importantly, I will listen to you.  Yes, you heard right.

I am a great listener.

We cats hear it all and keep it to ourselves. The words you say when you think you’re alone. The words you don’t say.  We can read you with our “feline sense.”

Yes, it’s true. Give me a minute here and  I’ll show you what I mean.  Just say anything. Go ahead.  Anything.  I’ll respond.

Yes, I'm listening. Go ahead.
Go ahead. I’m listening.
Really???
Wow! Really??
You're serious?
Are you serious?
Hmpf! Imagine that!
Incredible.
Hahahahahahaha!
Hahahahahahahahaha!
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No really, I understand.
Don't worry. I'll always be there for you.
Convinced?

~ Tiger ~

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