Late Summer Hike

Sunshine and still summer according to the calendar, but it felt like fall on this recent hike along the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie.  Over the river and through the woods and under the watchful eye of the Cascades we went; a familiar river but our first time together on Trail  #1003.  The trail is open to mountain bikes (we saw none) and horses (we saw evidence) but we encountered only a few hikers like ourselves on foot.

We walked through the quiet forest floor then crossed the river over the footbridge.

Bob took the lead through the tunnel of dense forest canopy

and I followed slowly, distracted as always by my camera.  Here I got a peek of the peaks through the trees,

and here a Fomitopsis Pinicola, a common type of fungus where children may carve their names onto its soft white surface (don’t ask me how I know this.)

We walked an hour or so through the forest, stopping to rest by the river and eat our snack (candy bars and water, everything tastes better in the woods), before heading back.

We got a late start today so will have to return another time to make it to the hot springs, the promised reward at the end of the trail.


The Shared Experience of the Solar Eclipse

Greetings from Alki Beach in Seattle where we experienced the 2017 Solar Eclipse. Yes, it was awesome.  And no, I didn’t plan to watch it from here. I woke up this morning bright and early to clear blue skies and a brightly shining sun (did he know what was coming?), ready for the big day.

We planned to go to the Boeing Museum of Flight where they were handing out 1,000 pairs of solar glasses to watch the eclipse; inside it would be live streamed from around the country. Perfect!  I thought.  What better place to watch an eclipse than with the sky experts?  Certainly 1,000 pairs is a lot, is it not?  And so we arrived at 8:30 a.m., early enough to obtain the glasses we thought, and if not, at least early enough to watch it on the big screen inside (stifle your laughter right now.)  But ten minutes from the Museum the traffic slowed considerably and it wasn’t long after that we saw the line which seemed to go on for miles and miles and miles and it was then that we realized we were very late to the dance, unlike these people near the front.

So then dear, where shall we go now? I asked the driver.

And that is how we ended up at Alki Beach in West Seattle where we found great views of the City (periodically shrouded in fog), plenty of free parking, and lots of fellow eclipse watchers, many equipped with the coveted glasses and many, very happy to share them.  As twilight descended almost imperceptibly upon us, there was quiet, friendly, chatter, a passing of the solar approved glasses and a marveling at what we were witnessing.

No, we were not in the path of totality so we didn’t have complete darkness.  But we did experience a mysterious dimming of the lights that’s hard to describe.  Kind of like you were wearing sunglasses, someone said.  And when I was offered the solar glasses at various stages, I had those few seconds to peer into another realm, where I saw a waning orange sun and a dark moon creeping across its face, until the sun became a slim crescent.

When the time of peak darkness was over, we said goodbye and went for a walk on the beach.  The tide was as far out as we’d ever seen it; coincidence or not, we don’t know.

As the sun slowly reemerged, ‘Here Comes the Sun’ played on the radio nearby. An awesome experience.  I hope I live long enough to see another.

~ Susanne

The Work Continues

This morning I woke up to the usual noises of destruction (I mean construction) behind my house in what was once called the Tiffany Park Woods and went to take a look.

This is what I saw.

Which is all fine and good but I certainly hope the brakes are in good working order.

~ Susanne

Solar Eclipse – Will You Watch it?

Yes, I knew it was coming; they’ve been talking about it for months. That once in a lifetime event on Monday August 21, 2017, a solar eclipse coming to a neighborhood near you!  Once in a lifetime, counting from when the last total solar eclipse crossed the contiguous USA in 1918.  But those from the Northwest may recall the eclipse in 1979, something of a non-event in the Seattle area because of cloudy skies. Clear skies are in the forecast for Monday, so this will be something to see.  Or not, read on.

No, Seattle is not in the path of totality;  for that we’d have to travel to Oregon, along with the other billions so headed, resulting in unprecedented traffic, which for this area is saying a lot. Honestly, I’m not that desperate.

Still, according to those in the know, we will experience 93% totality here, that time when the moon will almost completely block out the sun, starting at 9:08 am and bringing darkness at 10:20 a.m.  Silly girl, don’t you want to see that??  Of course I do!  Oh why then did I wait so long to get those eclipse glasses?  The event of a lifetime overhead but I can’t look up!

There are still a few places this weekend where they will be handing out the coveted glasses until supplies run out. I will head to one of them and hope for the best.  We shall see (no pun intended.)  If I’m not one of the lucky ones, I guess I could build my own viewing device no matter how hokey it may appear; instructions abound on the internet. But is watching a shadow on a piece of cardboard really the same? I think not.

For a planner like me, I sure blew this one.  How about the rest of you?  Do you have plans to watch the solar eclipse?

~ Susanne

The Turtles of Coulon

Of all the things to be enjoyed at Coulon Park….

the boats and planes

the docks and piers

the elusive mountain

I think the best may be the turtles.

~ Susanne

A Visit to Bellevue Botanical Garden

One sunny day earlier this summer my husband had to be in Bellevue so I hitched a ride and had him drop me off at the Bellevue Botanical Garden.  He was longer than we thought he would be, so I got to enjoy a very leisurely 3 hour visit, strolling through the garden at a snail’s pace, starting with the centerpiece, the Perennial Border.

The award-winning Perennial Border has year-round displays of flowers and according to the brochure, “is an example of a distinctively American-style-mixed-border and a living demonstration of what works best in Northwest gardens.”  I walked the paths through this living work of art admiring the variety of plants, their unique shapes and sizes, textures and colors.

I wandered through the Waterwise Garden and the Fuschia Garden,

the Native Discovery Garden and the Yao Garden, pausing to enjoy the hydrangeas along the trails that took me from one to another.

From the Lost Meadow Trail, I was delighted to discover this.

A nature trail through pristine woods, complete with a 150 ft suspension bridge over a steep ravine where you enjoy views of native understory and second-growth forest without trampling the forest floor. Oh, there is nothing like the Woods!

As much as I love cultivated gardens, I am partial to the Northwest Woods.  I was happy to wander alone on the peaceful paths under a canopy of big leaf maples and western red cedars, where birds and other wildlife make their homes undisturbed.  I was thankful these woods had been preserved and added to the Bellevue Botanical Garden. And I couldn’t help but wonder: what if the 22 acres known as the Tiffany Park Woods in Renton, those woods that were recently razed to the ground so ninety plus houses could go up; what if those woods had been preserved for all to enjoy, even as these woods in Bellevue had been?  I guess we will never know.

I continued back up the trail and waited for my ride and promised myself I would come back again to this wonderful place.

~ Susanne

Canby, Oregon 

Willamette River Crossing and Sunset

~ Susanne

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