Honfleur, France

Our second trip to France (the last one in 2001) and this time to the Normandy region with four days in Paris at the end. I’ll break the photos into four posts, each one titled with our base of operations for that portion of the trip: Honfleur, Bayeux, Cancale, and Paris. The map shows the location of each with the exception of Cancale, which is between Mont Saint Michel and Saint Malo.

France Map

October 11: We take off from SeaTac on a direct Delta flight to Paris. Arrive just in time for sunrise over the city.

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After renting a car at Charles de Gaulle and spending some time trying to get the GPS to speak English, we head northwest to Honfleur, at the junction of the Seine and the English Channel. Honfleur has been used as a port for at least 1,000 years and was the departure point for Samuel de Champlain in 1608 when he discovered the St Lawrence River and founded Quebec City.

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La Petite Folie, a B&B in a building from the 1830’s, was our home for three nights.

La Petite Folie on Rue Haute

La Petite Folie on Rue Haute

Spiral stairs up three floors

Spiral stairs up three floors

A great place to begin the day

A great place to begin the day

The salon

The salon

Out exploring, we drove over to Deauville, a prestigious seaside resort, home to an annual American film festival, horse races, a large casino, and a lot of very expensive summer homes. Evidently the famous people cleared out before we arrived in mid-October.

The boardwalk and the beach virtually all to ourselves

The boardwalk and the beach virtually all to ourselves

Promenade des Planches, where beach closet are dedicated to famous actors and moviemakers that have come to Deauville

Promenade des Planches, where beach closets are dedicated to famous actors and moviemakers that have come to Deauville

All that promenading sure works up an appetite. Luckily, Le Ciro’s was right on the boardwalk and had a table available.

A table with a view, please

A table with a view, please

And since one reason to go to France is for the food, and this area is known for its seafood, what better place to start?

Lorette thinks we have come to the right place

Lorette thinks we have come to the right place

Zombie shrimp helping me to finish my Bouillabaisse

Zombie shrimp helping me finish my Bouillabaisse

After a meal like that, we couldn’t imagine doing a repeat for dinner so we stopped by the local equivalent of Costco and stocked up on supplies for a ‘light’ dinner in the salon back at the B&B.20141013-IMG_3981 20141013-IMG_3984

Honfleur is an ideal place to walk off some of those calories. Here are some photos from a stroll around town….

The channel leading to the port

The channel leading to the port

The old port (Vieux Bassin)

The old port (Vieux Bassin)

La Lieutenance, the one surviving gatehouse from the Hundreds' Years (14th century)

La Lieutenance, the one surviving gatehouses from the Hundreds’ Years War (14th century) to protect the harbor

St Catherine's Church, built of wood by boat-builders in 1466

St Catherine’s Church, built of wood by boat-builders in 1466

Honfleur was spared significant bombing during WW II so there are many examples of half-timber buildings

Honfleur was spared significant bombing during WW II so there are many examples of half-timber buildings

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Despite the name, we never ate here

Despite the name, we never ate here

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After walking around town on cobblestones, it was nice to discover the promenade along the Seine leading to the English Channel and Honfleur’s beach.

Looking back toward town

Looking back toward town

In the distance: the Normandy Bridge, one of the world's largest cable-stayed bridges, built to withstand winds up to 160 MPH

In the distance: the Normandy Bridge, one of the world’s largest cable-stayed bridges, built to withstand winds up to 160 MPH

A ship leaving port

A ship leaving port

At the end of the promenade: the beach

At the end of the promenade: the beach

France is a very dog-friendly place…

Hygienic canines welcome

Hygienic canines welcome

… but evidently it is not appreciated when dogs poop by your front door.

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OK, last night in Honfleur and we walked to what turned out to be one of my favorite restaurants, Le Bréard.

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I can’t remember the names of all these dishes but this meal will give you an idea of why I enjoy French food so much.

Amuse-bouche

Amuse-bouche

I think this was another amuse-bouche!

I think this was another amuse-bouche!

This soup was the entrée, or what in France is called an appetizer or starter

This soup was the entrée, or what in France is called an appetizer or starter

Pork for the main course or le plat principal

Pork for the main course or le plat principal

Some Normandy cheeses along with a Calvados

Some Normandy cheeses along with a Calvados

And a soufflé for dessert

And a soufflé for dessert

After that wonderful meal, it’s back to La Petite Folie for a good night’s sleep before driving to our next stop.

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A Little Brother/Sister Bonding

My sister, Ena, came out last week for our (almost) annual visit. Since she doesn’t drop by that often, we try to pack as much into the week as possible. Here are some photos from the week that was.

Day 1 (Sunday), we drove down to the Olympia Farmers Market and stopped by a little Indian restaurant for lunch.

Curry Corner in Lacy

Curry Corner in Lacy

No photos of the farmer market but we did load up on seafood for dinner.

Oysters for an appetizer

Oysters for an appetizer

Pasta and clam sauce for the main course

Pasta and clam sauce for the main course

Day 2 was a drive down to the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, just 10 miles from home.

About a five mile walk from the parking lot to the end of the boardwalk and back

About a five mile walk from the parking lot to the end of the boardwalk and back

A family selfie

A family selfie

The next day Lewey wanted to take Ena to one of his favorite walking trails.

Chambers Bay Golf Course, home to the 2015 US Open next June

Chambers Bay Golf Course, home to the 2015 US Open next June

Day 4: Gig Harbor and a cruise around Puget Sound.

Lunch at the Green Turtle

Lunch at the Green Turtle

Seafood with a Thai peanut sauce

Seafood with a Thai peanut sauce

Gig Harbor with Mt Rainier in the distance

Gig Harbor with Mt Rainier in the distance

Part of the Gig Harbor fishing fleet

Part of the Gig Harbor fishing fleet

Leaving the harbor

Leaving the harbor

A nice day to be out on the water

A nice day to be out on the water

Sailing toward the Tacoma Narrows Bridges

Sailing toward the Tacoma Narrows Bridges

Sailing under the Tacoma Narrows Bridges

Sailing under the Tacoma Narrows Bridges

Nice hat!

Nice hat!

Over on the Tacoma side, the waterfront community of Salmon Beach

Over on the Tacoma side, the waterfront community of Salmon Beach

Tacoma with Mt Rainier as a backdrop

Tacoma with Mt Rainier as a backdrop

Having seen Mt Rainier from the water, Thursday we drove up to Crystal Mountain Ski Area to get a closer look.

The mountain in winter

Crystal mountain in winter

A gondola ride to the top

A gondola ride to the top

Ena by John

Ena by John

 

John by Ena

John by Ena

Lorette was off on Friday so we had to decide what to do with the one day left of Ena’s visit. The Washington State Fair or Mt St Helens? Mt St Helen’s won.

Of all the visits we have made to the mountain, this was the best weather

Of all the visits we have made to the mountain, this was the best weather

At the end of the movie, the curtains open and this is the view

At the end of the movie in the visitors center, the curtains open and this is the view

Ena and Lorette behind one of the millions of trees that were blown down during the eruption in 1980

Ena and Lorette behind one of the millions of trees that were blown down during the eruption in 1980

Well, that’s all of the people photos. These last few are some scenes of the mountain from Johnson Ridge.

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The picture on top shows the mountain before the eruption

The picture on top shows the mountain before the eruption

All of the downed trees face away from the blast

All of the downed trees face away from the blast

A closeup of the crater

A closeup of the crater

 

 

Seabrook, Washington

We finally got the schedules of six adults, four children and three dogs coordinated to plan a week together on the Washington coast. Here’s the place we landed:

Seabrook

Seabrook is a planned community, only about ten years old. The houses are based on architectural styles found in seaside towns around the country.20140819-IMG_6865

Ocean Song was our cottage for the week.20140817-IMG_6814

A shot from the front porch around sunset as the fog begins to roll in.20140816-IMG_3791

And another photo of some found buoys on the carriage house wall.20140817-IMG_3793

A very dog-friendly place.

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Lewey, checking out the neighborhood, finds a hiding place in an old growth stump.

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The stairs down to the beach.

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Where the sea meets the land.

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Lewey’s happy place.

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Jennifer, Lewey, Forest, and Pearl.

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George and I using Google Maps to navigate through the fog.

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Are we lost?

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The hot tub came in handy after long walks on the beach.

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Sam working on a puzzle.

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Lewey helping with the puzzle.

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Dave and Griffin: like father, like son.

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Bubble guns were a big hit.

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Griffin.

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Penelope

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George, the grill master.

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No trip is complete without a couple of games of Mexican Train.

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A trip to the local seafood store yielded a few crabs for dinner.

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And the award for the slowest crab eater goes to…

Dave

Dave

An interesting phenomena was occurring while we were there. Thousands, maybe millions, of these small jellyfish-like creatures called Velella Velella were washing up on the shore.

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Not to be left out, some crabs decided to join the party.

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A side trip to the local museum to check out tsunami debris.

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And another day trip up to the Olympic National Park.

Lake Quinault Lodge

Lake Quinault Lodge

This is the rain gauge by the lodge in the previous photo. Last year’s total rainfall was 8 feet, 6 inches. the record: 15 feet.

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Griffin and Penelope decide to take a plunge in the lake while Alicia keeps a watchful eye.

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Nearby stands the world’s largest Sitka Spruce.

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58 feet 11 inches in circumference, 191 feet tall, and estimated to be about 1,000 years old.

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Well, that about wraps it up for the week…

Glad everybody had a good time. Thanks for not stepping on me while you were here.

Glad everybody had a good time. Thanks for not stepping on me while you were here.

 

Niagara Falls

Boy, are these photos late! We’ve been back from Canada for four weeks and I’m just getting around to posting some photos. The trip started off with a flight to Toronto and a visit with old friends and former neighbors from Texas, Henry and Tina. Since we had only one full day to sightsee, Henry and Tina gave us two choices: whiz around Toronto or take a drive over to Niagara Falls. We picked the latter.

Here’s a view of the falls on the American side along with the bridge connecting the US and Canada.

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And the obligatory photo of tourists with the falls in the background.

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And here is the much more impressive Canadian side. If only those tourist would get out of the way.

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A close-up of the Maid of the Mist. We decided to not find out if our cameras were waterproof.

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Instead, we opted to take a stroll through the Great Falls Portal, a tunnel bored through bedrock that goes behind the falls.

Henry in the tunnel, 150 feet underground; 650 feet long

Henry in the tunnel, 150 feet underground; 650 feet long

Ponchos included in the price of admission!

Ponchos included in the price of admission!

Tina braving the elements

Tina braving the elements

All that excitement created quite an appetite so we found a little place with a view for lunch.

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One last waterfall photo before resuming our tour. And, despite my post on Facebook, this wasn’t taken from our canoe.

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This part of Ontario is one of Canada’s leading wine-producing areas so of course we had to check out one of the local wineries.

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Henry and grapes for ice wine

Henry and grapes for ice wine

Tina in relaxation mode

Tina in relaxation mode

Wine at Inniskillin

Wine tasting at Inniskillin

Next stop was the village of Niagara-on-the-Lake, just across the river from Old Fort Niagara on the US side.

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A quaint village with plenty of tourists the day we were there but still charming. Loyalists from the colonies settled here after the American Revolution. If I ever come back, here’s where I would stay:

The Prince of Whales Hotel

The Prince of Whales Hotel

Built in 1864

Built in 1864

Our driver and navigator

Our tour guides

And just in case Humphrey ever reads this blog, two flora photos.

Coleus?

Coleus?

Ladybug

Ladybug

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fungi

It seems that several family members have been photographing various fungi lately. With the damp, cool conditions that we have ben experiencing, mushrooms are thriving. So here’s my contribution to this latest family obsession: photos of mushrooms in our neighbor’s yard.

First, here’s the culprit who started it all:

Jennifer

Jennifer

And a sample of the various varieties growing wild in the neighborhood:

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Shortly after these photos were taken, the yard guys mowed the lawn so pictures are all that remain. Maybe all those little bits of pulverized mushrooms will become the spores for the next crop?

Artichokes

Earlier this year I bought a couple of artichoke starts at the farmer’s market just to see what they would do. Well, they actually grew and produced several chokes on each plant. Here are some photos of the result.

Several weeks ago

Several weeks ago

I probably waited a little too long to harvest them but yesterday was the day. The following photos show some interesting shapes and textures.

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Apparently humans aren’t the only species that appreciate the finer qualities of artichokes.

A Banded Garden Spider

A Banded Garden Spider

And finally, one I left on the stalk is going to seed.

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Tonight we’ll find out how they actually taste.

Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge

Last week I spent a couple of hours at the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge which is just a fifteen minute drive south of us. The Refuge is an estuary formed by the Nisqually River as it flows from Mt. Rainier into Puget Sound.

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The area was diked in the early 1900s to enable farming in the rich alluvial soil. Since most estuaries in Washington have been filled, dredged, or developed, the area was set aside in 1974 as a wildlife preserve. In 2009 the dike system was removed, reconnecting almost 800 acres with the tides of Puget Sound.

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There are many trails and two miles of boardwalk. The boardwalk first passes through a woodsy area with fresh water ponds and lots of songbirds. Altogether there are over 300 species of birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, and amphibians in the Nisqually NWR.

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Lily pads

Lily pads

After leaving the forest, the boardwalk skirts a pair of barns, left over from farming days.

Twin Barns

Twin Barns

At this point, the walk starts over the newly created wetlands.

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I happened to be there during low tide. I’ll plan the next visit when the tide is high to see the contrast.

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The observation platform at the end of the boardwalk. Two miles out; two miles back.

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Lots of birders come here to work on their life list.

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I saw these two guys on the way back. If I could figure out what they were, I might be able to start my own life list!

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Summer Flora

One of my experiments this year is an attempt to grow artichokes. Starters were available at the farmer’s market in the spring so I figured if they were selling the little plants, somebody must be growing them. I bought two and put them in large pots by the driveway. Lo and behold, when I returned from my trip to Georgia and North Carolina, little artichokes were starting to form. Here’s what they look like now.

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While I had the camera out, I took a couple of shots of the Shasta Daisies in the back. As you can tell, there are two different varieties. Both are enjoying the sunny weather.

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Road Trip, Part 5: The Last Leg

In order for this to be a real road trip, we decided to take three days driving back and explore parts of Idaho and Washington that we hadn’t seen before. The first night was in Sandpoint, Idaho at The Lodge at Sandpoint, on the shore of Lake Pend Oreille  (pronounced Pond-o-ray).

The Inn at Sandpoint

The Lodge at Sandpoint

Not that we were roughing it at the Glacier Chalet, but this place was pretty upscale in a northwest lodgey kind of way.

Fireplace in the main lodge

Fireplace in the main lodge

View from our room

View from our room

As if the setting and accommodations weren’t enough, there are two excellent restaurants on the property.

Martinis on the deck at Forty-One South

Martinis on the deck at Forty-One South

Sushi at Shoga

Sushi at Shoga

And back at our room, here’s a final look at the view before bedtime.

Pleasant dreams!

Pleasant dreams!

Did I mention that Lorette is taking flute lessons? She needed to practice so we stopped at a vacant Forest Service campground on the way to our next destination. Three deer, two elk and a moose wandered in to hear the concert.

A forest etude

A forest etude

Next stop was Winthrop, Washington.

Old west theme attracts all sorts of people

Old west theme attracts all sorts of people

To our surprise, Winthrop has an award winning brewery and a terrific little French bistro.

The Arrowleaf Bistro

The Arrowleaf Bistro

Steak Frites

Steak Frites

The final leg of our trip was over Washington Highway 20, the North Cascades Highway, which is closed in winter because of heavy snow and frequent avalanches.

Looking back the way we came

Looking back the way we came

One of the avalanche zones

One of the avalanche zones

Taking a break from white knuckle driving

Taking a break from white knuckle driving

One of the lakes supplying Seattle's water

One of the lakes supplying Seattle’s water

This was one of many waterfalls that were plentiful due to the snow melt.

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The highway bridge had a grated walkway so we could walk out and look down. Not recommended for people with acrophobia.

Sweaty palms!

Sweaty palms!

A fitting last stop: lunch at the Marblemount Diner for classic road food: fish and chips, a grilled ham and cheese sandwich, and…

Strawberry rhubarb pie a la mode!

Strawberry rhubarb pie a la mode!

And so ends a great road trip!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Road Trip, Part 4

Road Trip, Part 4 wraps up our week in Glacier Park. Here are several photos of the Lake McDonald area:

Glacier Parks mountains started out as sedimentary deposits as long as 1.6 billion years ago

Glacier Parks mountains started out as sedimentary deposits as long as 1.6 billion years ago

McDonald Creek’s opaque color is the result of glacial grinding of rock into fine particles that become suspended in water.

McDonald Creek

Lake McDonald Lodge was completed in 1914. A fine spot for lunch!

Lake McDonald Lodge

And a view of the lake:

Lake McDonald

Our cabin was the perfect place to observe National Martini Day on June 19…

Martini

While the river flowed by and wildlife came out to browse.

Feet

Deer

The Park Service has come to see fire as a natural occurrence and today, only fires that threaten structures are actively fought. In 2003 wildfires burned 13% of the park.

Old and New

Old and New

Finally, the day before we were scheduled to leave, Going To The Sun Road opened. Here are several photos from the drive up and over Logan Pass.

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Wild Goose Island on St Mary's Lake

Wild Goose Island on St Mary’s Lake

Just east of the pass can get 100 feet of snow during the winter

Logan Pass can get 80 feet of snow during the winter

Lots of water features in June

Lots of water features in June

And so ends our week in Montana. Now for the drive home.

Half this stuff must be Diane and Jacks, right?

Half this stuff must be Diane and Jack’s, right?