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…

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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?

 

 

Road Trip, Part 3

Mid-week and the Going To The Sun Road still has not opened for the season so we are exploring the park around the edges. First stop was the Isaac Walton Inn in Essex, Montana, half way between the west and east entrances to Glacier. I love this place. It was built in the ’30s as a hotel to be near a new entrance to the park that never materialized. Despite a rocky start, the Inn today caters to hikers, cross country skiers, railroad buffs, and sisters looking for a place to have lunch.

Isaac Walton Inn

Isaac Walton has a great collection of railroad memorabilia. It is on Amtrak’s Empire Builder line which runs from Chicago to Seattle and trains still stop here (if you flag them down). Formerly part of the Great Northern system, today Burlington Northern stages helper engines on the tracks by the Inn to assist trains over the Continental Dive at Marias Pass.

Would have been a better photo if the trains had cooperated

Would have been a better photo if the trains had cooperated

Named for the Mountain Goats in Glacier

The Mountain Goats in Glacier were the line’s symbol

Notice the fine print

Notice the fine print

Next stop was the Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier. This is one of many hotels and chalets built in the early 1900s by the Great Northern Railway to encourage tourists to come to the area.

A picturesque setting

A picturesque setting

In the grand tradition

In the grand tradition

The only mountain goat we saw was in the lobby.

Mountain Goat

The historic Red Jammers in Glacier Park were built in the 1930s by the White Motor Company. They were fully restored in 200-2002 by the Ford Motor Company and converted to propane to be more environmentally appropriate for the park.

A three hour tour in an iconic Jammer

A three-hour tour in an iconic Jammer

Nice to be able to look at the scenery when someone else is driving.

Two Medicine Lake

The tour included a boat trip on Two Medicine Lake.

The Sinopah was built over 70 years ago

The Sinopah was built over 70 years ago

View from the water

View from the water

One more photo of the Red Bus.

Looks like we'll have to walk back to the lodge.

Looks like we’ll have to walk back to the lodge.

Safely back at the cabin after a long day. Just in time for cocktail hour.

Cheers!

Cheers!

 

 

 

Road Trip, Part 2

Sunday was our first full day at the cabin so we set out to explore the area. Since we were on the west side of Glacier, we decided to drive up the North Fork Road, a mostly gravel road just outside the park. Still a lot of snow on the higher elevations as well as evidence of earlier forest fires.

Mountain Meadow

Mountain Meadow

Snags from an old fire

Snags from an old fire

One plant that actually benefits from fire is Beargrass which is often one of the first to reappear in the burn area.

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Polebridge Mercantile has been around for 100 years or so. Good place to stop for a beer, or ice cream, or a fresh baked muffin… or all three.

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There is even a little restaurant next door with a front porch suitable for knitting should one be so inclined.

Working on a Father's Day Project

One thing about Polebridge, it’s pretty far from anywhere so you might want to think about filling your tank before setting out.

Gas: $6.50 a gallon

Gas: $6.50 a gallon

Back at the cabin, a couple of rafters float by

Floating the Flathead

Floating the Flathead

The first night, we had steak cooked on the grill. The second night it was every person for him/her-self to come up with a creative way to use the leftovers. Here are two of the results.

Steak Salad

Steak Salad

Steak Fajitas

Steak Fajitas

And what better way to end the day than with a glass of wine by the campfire?

Goodnight Moon

Goodnight Moon