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?

 

 

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

Road Trip

Each year (more or less), Lorette and her sisters get together for a sibling bonding experience and include spouses. This year the rendezvous point was a log house in Montana just outside Glacier National Park. It has been a long time since we have had a real road trip so we decided to drive. One night on the road going over, a week at the ‘chalet’, and two nights coming home. In the next couple of posts, I’ll include some photos of the adventure.

If they still made steamer trunks, I’m sure we would have several. But since we don’t, why not use as many suitcases and miscellaneous bags as possible?

Hope the cat isn't in here somewhere

Hope the cat isn’t in here somewhere

First night’s stop was in Spokane. In order to prepare for a rustic Montana experience, we stayed at the Davenport Hotel, a nicely renovated gem from the early 1900s.

The Davenport

Inside, a photo of the Palm Court on the main level. Not pictured: Martinis to celebrate driving the first leg of our trip with no incidents (and no cat stowaways).

The Palm Court

Spokane turned out to be a great spot for the first stop. Several of the Walla Walla and Columbia Valley wineries have tasting rooms there so we dropped into Cougar Crest for a little sample before dinner at Wild Sage.

Wild Sage Tapas Platter

Wild Sage Tapas Platter

Duck

Duck

Upon returning to the hotel after dinner we found Mr. Lewis Davenport, the hotel’s original owner, in the lobby reading his newspaper. Turns out he enjoys knitting so he and Lorette struck up a friendship.

Knitting Buddies

Knitting Buddies

The next day was nice and sunny as we drove into Montana.

A spaceship disguised as a cloud?

A spaceship disguised as a cloud?

No road trip would be complete without exploring diners along the way. Heather’s Country Kitchen in Plains, MT makes a killer hamburger: handmade patty, grilled onions and mushrooms covered by melted swiss cheese, lettuce and tomato, with a side of hand cut fries.

Think: Jimmy Buffet singing the cheeseburger song

Think: Jimmy Buffett singing the cheeseburger song

On to Glacier Park. We picked up Diane and Jack at the Kalispell airport and drove to our home in the woods where we met Linda and Larry who had driven from North Dakota. Lodging for the next seven days: a log house on the North Fork of the Flathead River just outside the park entrance at West Glacier.

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

Here are two views taken from the front deck: one looking north; the other, looking south. The park boundary is right across the water.

North

North

South

South

And what better way to end our first day at the cabin than with dinner on the deck?

Cheers!

Cheers!

Mountain Lodge Farm

Last weekend a couple of friends and I drove out to an open house at Mountain Lodge Farm, a goat dairy and creamery not too far from Mt Rainier.

How would this be for your morning commute?

How would this be for your morning commute?

Along the way, we were observed by some inquiring eyes:

Sasquatch?

Sasquatch?

The goat barn:
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“Welcome to my world…”
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Just a few of this year’s crop of baby goats:
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Feeding time:

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With full tummies, it’s time for a nap:

Goat Pile

Goat Pile

One of the guard llamas checking out a suspicious character:

Brian and Nickel

Brian and Nickel

 

 

More Flowers?

No, not more flower photos! I know, when I started this blog, I intended it to include a range of stuff… food, travel, interesting things seen while walking the dog, that kind of thing. So far, I can’t seem to get away from posting photos of flowers.

Since it’s still spring in the Northwest, new blossoms are popping open almost every day. So, here are a few examples of the current crop. And one non-flower picture just to prove that I look up now and then.

 

The peony  that only had one blossom last year

The peony that only had one blossom last year

A Peony bud

A Peony bud

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Lupin

Lupin

Poppies don't last long but they are pretty while they're here

Poppies don’t last long but they are pretty while they’re here

And for the non-flora photo. We were going to the symphony last weekend in Seattle and I caught this shot of the building next door to Benaroya Hall.

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A Few More Flower Photos

A couple of years ago we planted several Peonies. That first year all we got was foliage. Last year we got a bloom, but only one. This year it looks like patience has paid off as there are multiple blooms. Here’s the first to open:

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And while I had the camera out… might as well take a couple of more posy pics with the new macro lens. Sunflowers from Costco:

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…and some tulips from the local market:

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OK, that’s probably enough flower pictures! I’ll try to broaden this blog’s perspective with my next post.