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

Cedar River Trail and the Big Birds Beside

Today was overcast but just right for a morning walk along the Cedar River Trail.

The river was flowing gently while reflecting the flowers and trees alongside its banks,

and the ducks were enjoying the flow.

Boeing!

It wasn’t long before the Big Birds came into view. The Trail meanders along the river and through Boeing’s Renton Plant, home to the best selling commercial airliner of all time, the 737.  (Did you know a Boeing 737 takes off or lands somewhere every two seconds?)

The Boeing Renton Factory opened during the 1940’s and produced the B29 Bombers used during World War II.

When I was growing up Seattle was known as the Jet City and everyone knew someone who worked at Boeing. Boeing is still the largest private employer in the state of Washington.

The 737, which went into production in 1967, is still manufactured at the Renton plant and can be seen lining both sides of the river.

We talk with a guard who points out the 737 MAX currently under construction, distinguishable by the unique ‘pincher’ on the end of its wings.

We follow the trail to the south end of Lake Washington and stop to enjoy the views.

On our return I see this tree in spring dress and am reminded it is just getting warmed up..

and will light up the trail in the fall.

We’ll be back for the show.

~ 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

Walking along the Cedar River

We finally have a reprieve from the rain and decide to walk the Cedar River Trail.  The air is clean and fresh, the pathway clear..

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We come across this brilliant golden tree and pause to enjoy….

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And pass this flock of big birds on the banks of the river..

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Until we reach the southern shores of Lake Washington into which the river flows

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We return refreshed.