October 04, 2010

Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan

A couple of weeks ago we headed to Bellingham/Fairhaven. It's a good jumping off point to explore Mt. Baker and Artist's Point. Even from Bellingham, it's an hour and a half drive to Artist's Point (cuz you have to stop for coffee, of course). We planned to walk the Chain Lakes Trail until we were satisfied. It was more important to go for a pretty drive on rural roads and get outside than to clock lots of miles.

As we started out on the Chain Links Trail, a large lenticular cloud hung over Mt. Baker. The cloud would remain right there for our whole adventure. But that's what part of makes mountains cool - those lenticular clouds.

Getting closer to the mountain. You can spot a hiker on the trail to show you the scale of the landscape. Really magnificent. You can see how perfect the weather was this day. I peeled off the layers I wore not long after we started walking.
For more scale, you can see S on the trail on our hike back to the car. That is Mt. Shuksan, the other reason for the trip. Between the two peaks
Here is Shuksan from the parking lot. I like the contrast of the dark green trees, the red rock, and the white snow and glaciers. Below is Shuksan from the Picture Lake pullover. There is a paved trailed all the way around and this is the money shot when you drive to Mt. Baker/Artist's Point. It was a bit late in the day (or too early, depending on whether you want morning or early evening light) to avoid some glare. But the flaming reds and oranges were too inticing to ignore snapping a few shots.

August 14, 2010

Around Town Observations

Brilliant hydrangeas on the campus of Seattle University.

July 29, 2010

Mystery Solved

What is it? A sand dune? An air bubble? A very big lost sock?
Ahhhhh, napping kitty!
Wake up!

July 24, 2010

Olympic Peninsula - Hurricane Ridge and Hoh Rainforest

A quick get-a-way to Olympic peninsula the 15th and 16th to celebrate my birthday a little early. We couldn't have asked for better weather. At the Vashon ferry dock the fog shrouded everything but once at Southworth we knew we'd have a beautiful day. Above is Hurricane Ridge, part of the Olympic National Park. You access the mile-high Hurricane Ridge via Hurricane Ridge Parkway in Port Angeles. We claimed a bench, wheeled over the cooler, and lunched on various goodies with this panorama a our view.
I wonder what S spies.

Descending Hurricane Ridge Parkway we pulled over to admire the view of Mt. Baker. Looks like it' floating over The Straight of Juan de Fuca (SJDF) and the city of Sequim (skwim).
In this shot you can easily spy the Dungeness Spit, part of the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, arching out into the SJDF. Click on the photo to enlarge it and I bet you can just make out the Dungeness Lighthouse towards the end of the Spit. It's about a 5 mile walk to the lighthouse. I've done this hike to the lighthouse and back. You need to time it with a low tide to get the most of the experience.
A lone barge.
The next day we went to the Hoh Rainforest, also in the Olympic National Park. It's not my first time to the Hoh but it's the first time I had to wear sun screen while visiting. We had blue skies and sun. We saw some amazing trees and mosses, ferns and lichens. This tree split and fell. I should have put S in the shot to lend a sense of scale. Take my word, these are giant "splinters" of wood.

I love to look at the patterns in the trees.
And I must say I'm a sucker for any kind of lichen.

Again, it's hard to grasp the size of this tree but it's easily as wide as my car.

Elk encounter #1. Click on the photo to enlarge so you can see the large male elk with full rack in the photo. A park ranger lady is in the middle of the shot wearing a dark jacket. Another ranger then shoo'd the elk, waving his arms and barking out noises. I guess the wildlife is used to humans and the elk was seemingly uninterested in anything but eating. However, wildlife is wildlife. Appreciate it from a distance. Look but don't touch or feed.
OK, there was just no way to get the whole fallen tree in the shot especially because of the slope in the trail. I'm standing at the top of the tree. Actually, I'm standing a good 10 feet from the top. S is standing several feet from the base. Click on the photo to enlarge. You should be able to make her out wearing a dark shirt and light shorts. It's amazing. This was once standing up. It fell but didn't break? There are not breaks in this tree. It just hugs the curve in the land.
Elk encounter #2: Getting closer. Yep, that's a male elk, again with full rack. Not sure if it's the same elk from earlier. Guess it doesn't matter. He came walking across the trail, munching along. Everyone stopped and stepped back and just watched. Good humans. No false moves were made. No sudden noises. Just cameras clicking.
Off he goes.
Along the 18-mile road to the visitor center you spy a sign that says simply Big Spruce. Big, indeed.

July 18, 2010

Art House Co-op Sketchbook Project

I received my sketchbook for the Art House Co-op Sketchbook Project! Very excited. The idea is simple - create in the sketchbook and mail it back. The book then becomes part of the permanent collection at The Brooklyn Art Library. Notice the bar code? This makes it possible for you to check-out my journal if you happen to be visiting the The Brooklyn Art Library or the tour of the library comes to your town. Here is a map of the tour. Not terribly extensive, I know. Still, I'm going to be in a library and I'm going on tour. How cool is that?

There are few rules. It looks like a bigger list than it is. Some of this is technicality info. Basically, do whatever you want to your book as long as you retain the original dimensions.

* If you didn't complete last year's sketchbook, you can't use it for this year's Project. You have to sign up again.
* Your book must remain within the dimensions of 5.5 x 8.5 inches. It can open up to something wonderful (of any size), but it must fold down to the original dimensions. You are welcome to unbind, rebind or alter the book in (almost) any other way. If you want to use a thicker stock of paper, go for it!
* Your barcode must remain in place on the book - no moving or covering it. An altered or unreadable label means we have to disqualify you from the tour.
* You are free to alter, design, and work on the cover of the sketchbook! In fact, it is encouraged not to leave the covers blank.
* The theme is a great starting point, but in no way is meant to be a restriction. If you feel restricted, loosen up and just have fun. We will not judge or disqualify you by your use of the theme. Be creative!
* Your book must be postmarked by January 15, 2011. No exceptions.
* We do not offer refunds for people who do not finish their book, period.
* All sales are final! Please read the rules if you are unsure about signing up. Please realize that we are not some big time corporation and we get no outside funding. There are two of us putting on this entire project and all submission fees go back into it.
* If you do not receive your sketchbook due to a shipping issue, you have until November 15, 2010, to notify us. After that date, we are unable to issue refunds or resend the sketchbook.
* We reserve the right to switch sketchbook books, brands or sizes at any time without notice.
I have no special plans for the sketchbook. Just going to fill it like any other journal book I'm working on. This means doodles, collage, watercolors, acrylics, ink pens, markers, colored pencils, pastels, etc. Could be anything. Should be fun.

July 07, 2010

Colorado Road Trip

Back in mid-June we headed to Colorado for some Denver time and then a road trip. I've finally sorted and posted the pics with a bit of narration. I tried to keep things short and to the point. The pics do most of the talking. The trip was great fun. K & D were our main hosts. D & K & L made other days in Denver tons of fun. We weathered heat and sun and bloody noses (from the altitude) but all in the name of fun. Don't forget to click on a photo to enlarge it.Riding the Link Light Rail to the airport was easy. We only checked one bag between us and it was rolled easily from our place of employment to Westlake Center where we hopped on the train. For $2.50 we didn't worry about traffic or parking. The rail drops you at Sea-Tac at the far end of the parking garage level where ground transportation is located.
Instantly, we're in Denver. Well, what could I tell you about waiting in the airport or riding in a plane. Both were uneventful and that's just how we like it. Our first day in Denver we spent with D & K & L. They were excellent hosts the whole day. Here is K at the farmers market showing off her skills. Brunch was at Lola and it was delicious. Take a look at the menu. I had the "al pastor" benedicto. I never order pork in a restaurant and I never order eggs benedict. Lola put a new twist on an old dish and I ate every last crumb. I need to learn how to make the masa-buttermilk biscuit.Some of the Lola decour. I really dig the Southwest and Day of The Dead influences.Much like Seattle, Denver is teeming with bicyclists. Unlike Seattle, Denver is flat. I'm just sayin'. Denver also has this cool bike sharing program, Denver Bike Sharing. You can join by the hour, the day, or even the year. A whole year is just $65! There are lots of membership options. The baskets carry advertising (hey, non-profits gotta pay the bills too). It's a great idea for health reasons, environmental reasons, traffic reasons. But, come on, Colorado, we need to get helmets on riders. Make it a law already. Will that make everyone wear one? Of course not. But MORE people will wear one. I noticed a big difference between Denver and Seattle riders. Way more riders in Seattle wear helmets (it's the law).Here is the beautiful cat belonging to D & K & L. Her name is, forgive me if I get it wrong, Addie.
And here is their dog, Kopi. Very handsome.Coffee is and always will be an important part of our travels. We really like coffee and we seek out the local java joints wherever we go. We were pleased to find plenty of independent coffee options on this trip. The first is Buzz Fill'er Up Cafe just a half mile from K & D's place, our Denver hosts.The coffee was so good I thought we were having a Jesus moment once we hit the open highway. Off in the distance I swear I could see Jesus.I was right, it's Jesus. But it doesn't look like a kind, sweet Jesus. It looks like Jesus is pointing at the passing drivers, giving them a stern warning: Slow down, wear your seat-belt, don't text and drive!Kenosha Pass is just one of several mountain passes we traverse on this trip. Colorado west of Denver is all mountains. East of Denver is flat, flat, and then flat. We knew what we were doing when we planned our route. I think we got the prettier, more interesting side of the state. We wanted mountains so we really had no choice but to go west.

Kenosha Pass is 10,000 feet high in the Rocky Moutains. Route 285 takes you over it and beyond.I wish I could remember the town in which I pulled over to snap some shots of this cemetery. The graves were elaborate works of folk art and personal touches. No granite slabs here.This is a really beautiful valley. There is a turn out from the highway, a large parking area and this view. I wish I could remember what it's called.Fast forward miles and miles and here are are getting pretty close to Ouray, Colorado, one of my favorite stops on the trip. Ouray is in a beautiful valley (when you're in the mountains you see lots of valleys and it's great) and surrounded by mountains on three sides. The "Switzerland of America" but without any kitschy Swiss stuff. In Washington we have a "Bavarian" village and I think if I were Bavarian I'd be insulted. It's over the top with cornucopias painted on the Safeway and little else than beer and brauts to eat. I know it's for tourists but it's also for people who need a place to sleep on their hiking, climbing, rafting vacation.

Here is some of the pretty red rock we'd see in various parts of Colorado. Some is bright orange like this. Some is deep orange, like Native pottery.
Here is the dining room at Spangler House Bed & Breakfast. Steven and Jill are great hosts. Steven makes a delicious breakfast. We stayed here two nights and really enjoyed it.In Ouray, I felt like I was in Ouray, not Switzerland. Yes, it caters to tourists too but in a Ouray way. Two-thirds of the original Victorian buildings remain and are still used as residences and businesses. I can buy Native American pottery, bug spray, a latte, and a plate of Southwest Mexican food. Definitely eat at the Bien Tempo and get the spicy camarones. Here's a shot of the ceiling, covered in dollar bills. We watched a waitress shoot a dollar up there. You put your tack on one side of the bill pointing up. You put a magnet on the underside to keep the tack sitting on the bill. Then you fling it all toward the ceiling and it sticks.In Ouray we took a hike on the Ice Park Trail. Really nice hike. Great views. Not sure what animal this was but it made a nice meal for something.We left a rainy and chilly Seattle but on this trip we had nothing but sun and heat. Sometimes that was nice. Sometimes it wasn't. But at 7,792 feet it was really nice.Not only is it warm in Colorado, it's dry. Real dry. Hydration is key. We drank and drank and drank and were better for it. And sunscreen. Lots of that too and we used 70 SPF. No fooling around.
Aspens! S's favorite tree and Colorado has plenty of them.Here comes a thistle.

I dig lichen. I love that they can grow just about anywhere - the arctic, the desert, a toxic waste pile. They are survivors. Some are leafy, some are spongy, some are flat against where they grow, like the white one in this pic. They come in so many different colors and textures. I just dig 'em.
Wild geraniums.
OK, the black fuzzy thing is a spider. Not exactly sure which parts of it but it's a spider. When I tapped the rock it scurried into the web. I wanted to SEE the spider but couldn't coax it back out and wasn't about to destroy it's web.
Back at Spangler House, plotting our course.
Here is the resident mama deer at Spangler House. We were fortunate to see mama and her two twin fauns. They were tiny and spotted with big ears, really adorable.
She slept here for a couple of hours.
Pretty good cuppa at Mouses's Coffee & Chocolate.
Plenty of tasty sounding drinks but I stuck to my usual. I really just like a straight latte, no flavor, no sweetener. I want to taste the espresso and I want to taste the creamy, foamy milk.
Colorado's state flower is the columbine and it's everywhere. We're lucky to have them in Seattle too and plenty in our yard. They come in just about any color you can imagine. OK, so this shot is not the Colorado Blue Columbine (aquilegia caerluea), the official flower, but you get the idea.
While S was looking in a shop called The Blue Pair, I stepped into the lobby of a building next door. Check out this stamped tin ceiling.
While we were shopping in another store I spotted this cool handle on an old cabinet used as a display case.
Driving out of Ouray with the San Juan Mountains to gaze upon. Not at all a bad way to start the day.
Ah, more coffee. This day we are in the tony ski town, Telluride. We tried to ride the gondola but missed it by, literally, one spot. We were next in line watching the folks ahead of us try to cram the whole family and two small dogs into the moving gondola car before it took off from the platform when the attendant got a message on his radio - no more rides - gondola closed. ?? No reason was given and no estimated time of re-opening. So we walked around and found Between The Covers. Books and coffee in the mountains? Pinch me.
Our destination this day was Crested Butte. We'll have coffee there soon. In the meantime, we hiked in the tiny ghost town of Gothic, just north of Crested Butte. Gothic is basically a giant outdoor laboratory, home to the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory. You can spot experiments of one kind or another here and there in a field. The small general store has cool t-shirts (of course, I bought one) with various prints of critters. I love to buy t-shirts (got 3 on this trip) and I want to help support the lab.
Gothic is at 9,485 feet so we took it slowly on our hike. Just more time to enjoy the surroundings. The local foxes aren't too shy of people. Just outside a house and right under the badminton net this fox was stalking breakfast.
Not bad, huh?

More aspens.
I like bugs, what can I say? These ants were BIG and had striped butts. They were really groovin' on the bud of this plant. Not sure if that's helpful to the plant or not.
This chipmunk sat frozen in this tree until I was just a couple feet from it.
Now that's a view!
This marmot squeaked at us as we approached. Well, maybe he didn't squeak at us but he squeaked loudly. It's a piercing sound. Notice the marking on his back. I played with the exposure on this photo to enhance it.
Back in Crested Butte we explored the streets. Loved his giant buddha outside a small restaurant. And around the corner from the buddha? Coffee!One side of the building housing the coffee shop is covered in license plates.Camp 4 Coffee had what we needed.From Crested Butte we mad a long haul to Glenwood Springs. Along thw way we drove through Black Canyon of The Gunnison National Monument on the North rim (CO highway 92). Spectacular. There aren't many places to pull over but the link will take you to the National Parks site and you can see some dramatic shots. We did stop at this pull-out for lunch to take advantage of the covered picnic area.Hey, finally in Glenwood Springs. This area is known for its hot springs. Here is the main hot springs joint and the pool.Another shot, this one including I-70. If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you can probably see all the construction going on. What a nice treat on this already narrow and twisty highway. Once you are past the construction, it's a pretty ride through this canyon.Hey, Washington, even Colorado has medical marijuana.We weren't crazy about Glenwood Springs but we did find a Sacred Grounds coffee shop with free computer access right across the street from a good book store.About eleven miles south of Glenwood Springs is Carbondale and we really liked this town. Found really good grub at Eco Goddess Edibles. I had this: and it was delicious. S had the egg salad. I never think to get egg salad because I'm always afraid it will be really dull. This wasn't dull. Those focaccia breads really hit the spot too. Hey, in a flash we are back in Denver at Denver Museum of Nature and Science. This is diorama heaven! Here is the nice view of City Park and the Denver skyline.
Dig the totems.
Now we are at the Cherry Creek Fresh Market (farmers market) eating the veggie and goat cheese tart. And that's the end of the photos. I really pared it down to make this relatively quick to view in one setting. For that same reason I didn't write much. Just wanted to post some pics and nail down some highlights of the trip. It was a lot of fun. We had good hosts, good food, good hikes and scenic views. Next week we hit the Olympic Peninsula for an early birthday celebration (my birthday).