Snoqualmie Close Up

We took a day trip yesterday to one of our favorite local attractions: Snoqualmie Falls.

Up the road we found the river flowing deep and wide, silently through the little town of Carnation.

We stopped at Tolt MacDonald Park where the foot bridge is the best place to watch the river flow and also frames the farmland and Cascade Mountains nearby.

~  Susanne

Happy Monday from Cats and Trails and Garden Tales

Cats

After waking up all groggy and sleepy-eyed I ended up in my office with my morning coffee for a quiet time.  Tiger joined me and appreciated having the prime real estate to himself since Benji was outside.  He asked for nothing more than a little love and attention which I gladly gave.

Soon contented, he sprawled out among his toys for a morning nap without fear of  the little one’s harassment.

Trails

After I was revived Bob and I went for a morning walk at our favorite local park where all was cool yet sunny, vibrant, and clear.

Garden

After our walk, I visit the garden.  It’s early but the herbs are already cheerful and bright and loads of strawberries have set on and should ripen soon.

Cats Revisited

As I write this it’s now Benji’s turn in the office but he prefers sleeping in the chair and that puts a big smile on my face..

and his too.

Happy Monday from Cats and Trails and Garden Tales!

~  Susanne

Day Trip to Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually Wildlife Refuge

We often neglect the things in our own backyard as being too local or too familiar.  And so it was for me with the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge which I had passed by many, many times on my way to somewhere else.

“Someday,” I would say to my husband Bob, “we’ll have to stop.”

But we never did.  All these years.  Until today.  After being sick and housebound all week, Bob was desperate to get out and enjoy the summer weather we were having.  The Nisqually Wildlife Refuge would be perfect for a day trip and simple hike.  After stopping by our favorite coffee shop (you know the one) we headed south for the hour drive to the Refuge.

A little background first for those of you unfamiliar with the Nisqually. There is a big beautiful mountain in our neck of the woods which has more glaciers than any other peak in the continental United States. One of those glaciers on Mt. Rainier is the Nisqually, the source of the river that flows from the mountain into Puget Sound, forming the rich Nisqually River Delta. The Glacier and River were named after the Nisqually Tribe who have lived in this area for thousands of years.

The Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1974 to protect the delta and its diverse fish and wildlife habitats. It was renamed in 2015 to honor Billy Frank Jr.,  a Nisqually Indian activist for Native American rights, who played an important role in getting treaty fishing rights restored to local tribes.

We arrive at the Refuge and after browsing through the Visitor Center, take the Twin Barns Loop Trail, an easy boardwalk through riparian forest. Here we are dwarfed by enormous maple trees which overshadow us. The air is warm and fragrant, and rich in the chatter of birdsong.  The peace is pervasive.

The boardwalk continues through the Refuge to several overlooks including the Nisqually River Overlook below.

Further down the trail we meet a photographer who shows us pictures he took of baby Great Horned Owls.  He’s carrying two large cameras, binoculars and a tripod.  I’m carrying my new and much smaller camera but am not skilled, nor patient enough to photograph birds – yet.  I am content rather to watch them flit through the brush and listen to their music, and luxuriate under the tree canopy.  I do manage to photograph more sedentary fauna and flora including this frog and turtle sunning themselves….

and these cattails releasing their seeds from velvety tops.

The Loop Trail was enough for today and we were both rejuvenated by our visit to this wonderland.  We vow to return again for the other trails and to experience the Nisqually River Delta in all four seasons.

~ Susanne

A Summer Day in May

Summertime and the livin’ is easy here in the Pacific Northwest.  After the longest rainy season on record, summer arrived with gusto this week with temperatures in the seventies and eighties.  We poor, cold, and waterlogged natives embraced the sunshine and are soaking up the long overdue rays while they are here.

That includes me as I head to Coulon Park in the heat of the day where I find the irises in bloom and bright as the sun,

and these walkers blending in with the green.

The view of Rainier to the south was striking as always..

but the Olympics floated in the haze somewhat ghostly to the west,

reminding me that I will welcome the cleansing of the next refreshing rain.  I am after all, a  true native.

~ Susanne

Trek to Tacoma and Ruston Way

Okay, so full disclosure here:  I am a native Seattleite through and through and very loyal.  When I grew up here you only passed through Tacoma on the way to somewhere else (usually to grandma’s house) and you did it quickly while holding your nose due to the Tacoma aroma.  (A large pulp mill was the main feature of the city.)

But in the past few years, there have been some wonderful developments in this city to the south including a UW extension campus and some very nice museums.

Today was sunny and we were looking for something to do outside.  We considered the Tulip fields north of Seattle but shunned the terrible traffic we knew we would encounter. (We’ll save those beautiful tulips for a weekday because we can.)

Instead we head to Tacoma and explore Ruston Way, an area we had heard about but never been to. What a pleasant surprise!  It turns out that Tacoma has a very pedestrian friendly waterfront perfect for exploring. We find beautiful views, sculptures, docks and old pilings, under mostly blue skies and with half the number of people (at least) you would expect to find on Seattle’s waterfront.  (Not to mention free parking.)

We stop to get the time from this sundial and found out it was going on noon; it obviously did not spring ahead for daylight savings time.

We get a history lesson when we come across Chinese Reconciliation Park which commemorates the forced expulsion of the Chinese population of Tacoma in 1885.

We walk the winding path in the small park and learn about a very ugly period in our history.   One of the stone plaques reads:

Anti-Chinese sentiment was fueled by a widespread economic depression in the 1870’s that depleted the job market. Anxious to blame someone for their woes, unemployed and frustrated workers made Chinese immigrants scapegoats because of their race, culture, and willingness to work for lower wages. The Chinese became targets of violent rallies, riots and local laws that limited their rights.  National political pressure only encouraged the intolerance of the Chinese people as Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.  This was the first U.S. immigration law to single out a specific nationality for discriminatory treatment.”

I marvel at the similarities of today.  Is there nothing new under the sun?

When it’s time for lunch we head up the road and find an entirely different look at Ruston Way.  It is bustling with new development, businesses, lodging, theatres and restaurants.  Children are roller skating and families are riding in surreys.  Clearly it is up and coming.

On our walk we meet a young woman who recently moved from Seattle to Tacoma. Forever the Seattle snob (refer back to my first paragraph)  I inquire.  “Really??  Why?”

“We got priced out of Seattle,” was her reply.   “And I’m finding I love it here.”

Okay so she was not a native.  She was originally from Nebraska and had only lived in Seattle the previous eight  years.  To her, it was about the same.  Only affordable.  And less crowded.

I’m starting to get it.  I will always love Seattle but it is no longer the Seattle of my youth. But then, neither is Tacoma.

~  Susanne

More than half way there

After a rendezvous with winter earlier this week (was it really only six days ago?)

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the rain quickly followed and washed the snow away leaving only heavy clouds by yesterday.

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Today the sun emerged victorious giving us a foretaste of spring.  Still cold but perfect for walking so we headed to Gene Coulon Park on Lake Washington, where children played and walkers of all ages joined us on the path. The lucky ones sailed by in their boats.

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dsc02937-2Even Mt Rainier made an appearance.

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A small reprieve in the dead of winter to give us hope for spring to come.  Be encouraged.  We are more than half way there.

~ Susanne

Seattle’s Best Kept Secret – Kubota Garden

Today is sunny, the sky a heavy blue, the temperature a frigid 26 degrees;  a great day to visit Seattle’s relatively unknown Kubota Garden.

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Kubota Garden was the dream of master landscaper, Fujitaro Kubota who wanted to display the beauty of the Northwest in a Japanese style. Mr. Kubota, who immigrated to America in 1907, acquired the land to build his garden in 1927.

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It was already a designated historical landmark when the City of Seattle purchased it from the Kubota family in 1987. According to the City’s website, “The Gardens are a spectacular setting of hills and valleys, interlaced with streams, waterfalls, ponds, bridges, and rock out-croppings with a rich array of plant material.’

Indeed. We wander alone through the park, save for one friendly walker who wishes us a happy new year, savoring the quiet and beauty of the trees and ponds and bridges and even the boulders left from the last glacier 12,000 years ago… .

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My favorite spot is Heart Bridge crossing Mapes Creek, which feeds many ponds in the area.  Here I take too many pictures and am not sorry at all.

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There are many other ponds in the park, this one frozen over….

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After our short, invigorating walk we head to the car but not without one more picture for the road…

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Then on to the nearby bookstore where over lattes, hot chocolate and pastries we plan our return this spring to see the garden in bloom and in color …

Happy New Year!  🙂

~ Susanne