After the Storm

We heard the wind howling in the night but woke to overcast skies and promising sunbreaks.  We thought we could beat the storm’s next wave and so headed out to Coulon Park for a morning walk.  We found everything windswept, clean and fresh, and eagles soaring overhead.

Golden Larch trees were clustered together and at their peak color.

This tree stood alone, uncovered, desolate and beautiful against mostly blue skies.

Sailboats were safely moored and undeterred as always.

But skies grew grayer over the boat launch.

We made it back without wind or rain. We love this walk.

~  Susanne

A Walk on the Cedar River Trail

What a difference a day makes!  This morning brought brief snow flurries to the region (the earliest I can remember) but yesterday was mild with only light rain. I’m happy we took our walk on the Cedar River Trail yesterday. The Trail follows the river 17 miles beginning from the Cedar River watershed in the south, through Maple Valley and Renton in the north, to where the river flows into Lake Washington.  We often walk the northern portion of the trail where it passes by the Renton Boeing Plant but found yesterday’s walk further south even better.

We accessed the trail at the Cedar River Park on the Maple Valley Highway and found it quieter and less traveled as it weaved through park and forest.  Fall colors were brilliant and leaves still abundant on the trees and the ground. The fragrance brought up childhood memories of when we’d pile up the fallen leaves and jump into them with abandon.

We saw spawning salmon making their way slowly up the river home, and some who’d already completed their mission.

And we found this part of the trail had gone to the dogs.

Yes, these dogs have their own park and were happily running and chasing newfound friends.

As I am writing this tiny snowflakes are still falling.  Perhaps yesterday was fall’s last hurrah.

~ Susanne

A Walk in the Rain at Soos Creek Botanical Garden

Our first storm of the fall season was supposed to land today, bringing heavy rain and gusty winds up to forty miles an hour.   It still may.  But this morning I decided to brave what looked like ordinary rain and headed to Soos Creek Botanical Garden for a walk.

I’m so glad I did. It was exquisite.

~ 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

A Walk in the Woods at Flaming Geyser State Park

Another summer day and another walk in the woods, my first at Flaming Geyser State Park.  Now before you get too excited, I must disavow you of the notion that there’s an actual flaming geyser in the park.  No.  Sorry.  It petered out many years ago;  see empty depression in the ground below for confirmation.

But I am promised by the brochure that it did in fact exist once in this very spot. Yes, in 1911 some miners tapped into methane gas and saltwater 1,000 feet underground, and fire and water shot up 25 feet in the air!  I wish I could have seen that!   They also say that the fire continued for many years until the methane gas finally ran out, so all that’s left is the name, Flaming Geyser. But no matter what they call it, the park is still quite wonderful.  First of all the Green River flows through it with good accessible shoreline for swimming, fishing, boating and inner tubing.  It has a designated area for remote control model planes (and drones these days), as well as horse trails and large grassy picnic areas.

And there are wooded trails with river access!  What more do you want?

And so we walked the easy path through the woods, alongside of giant ferns and berries and shrubs and trees of all sizes and shapes, most of them dripping with moss.

Along the path I saw this tiny orchid like flower which added a nice splash of color to the mostly green landscape.  It’s called impatiens capensis, or more commonly, orange jewelweed or orange balsam.  Pretty isn’t it?

After a mile or so the trail connected to the river and we stopped to rest and watched the happy drifters go by.

We also watched a flock of ducks swim furiously up river in the opposite direction.  They seemed to take turns being the leader, running to get to the front of the pack while the others hung back.  They bobbed underwater when the mood struck them (for food I assume) and stopped by the pools to hang out. They seemed to be having as much fun as the human drifters in their inner tubes.

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The 65 mile long Green River flows from the west side of the Cascades, passes through the Green River Gorge, then through Auburn and the Kent Valley, and finally becomes the Duwamish River which flows into Elliott Bay in Seattle.  Last week I walked an urban trail next to it in Tukwila.  I seem to keep bumping into this river and it’s all good.

~ Susanne

An Urban Walk on the Green River

Today I went to the big warehouse store in Tukwila and noticed for the first time that it was directly next to the Green River Trail. (Costco, you heard of it?  And no, I really don’t shop here much, too crowded.)  Anyway, back to the Trail.

Hmmm, I said.  I need a walk today and this will have to do.

Of course I much prefer the Green River where it flows wild nearer its source further east as seen at the Green River Gorge earlier this year.

But I was here not there and so after my shopping I decided to block out the industrial noise and walk along the river like I meant it.

There were many colorful wildflowers in bloom and I especially loved the bright yellow yarrow,

and the sweet peas, which for some reason grow more happily here than at home.

Around the bend it was quieter and I found some shade and a lovely pond.

I even enjoyed the dry grass where lived this little blue flower.

Beauty is where you find it. The Green River Trail right next to the Costco store.  It will have to do for today.

~ Susanne