Wandering around Walla Walla...

It's the wrong time of year for landscape photography in the Palouse. But it's a great time of year for geocaching, and exploring the back roads. A few hours out in the wheat fields, a visit to one of our favorite wineries, then dinner at Saffron. A very good start to a three-week road trip.



There's a boardwalk trail in the valley below, part of a wetlands and nature preservation area surrounded by warehouses and light industrial businesses. When I was growing up here, this valley was all agriculture, full of truck farms and nurseries, horse farms and dairies. There was no freeway, no warehouses, only one narrow road up each side of the valley. The Green River winds its way through the valley, from side to side, and along its entire length. It's beautiful, and it also used to flood. So few people lived there, and those decades of flooding created the most amazing rich soil for growing.

This remained the status quo until a flood control dam was built up in the foothills to control the flooding. And that was the death knell for agriculture in the valley. Today there are still a few truck farms, some wonderful farm stands, and one Thoroughbred horse farm, but there

The last few years, the county has been working to preserve what's left of the open space. The Springbrook Creek trail is one of these areas. We took a walk there today, on the first cloudy and cool day we've had for a while. And to my delight, the shrubs that line the walkway were covered with tiny lavender flowers.

Before we walked back to the car, DW looked them up on the internet. I was surprised that these beautiful flowers are in the belladona family, related to petunias, potatoes, garden tomatoes, flowering tobacco, and deadly nightshade.


The Oaks

For a couple of weeks now, I've been working on a lap quilt made of Civil War fabric colors and my favorite 9-patch blocks. It's the seventh quilt top since March that I've designed and pieced, ready for hand-quilting.

Fitting my quilting in with other projects and hiking and geocaching can be interesting, but I've worked out a routine. In the morning I sew, and in the evening I carry my basket full of pieces to the living room, and after dinner I watch a movie or television with DW, while I pin the next round of seams. Today I'm nearly done; by nightfall, the blocks will be done and ready to join together with sashing and borders.



Madison has never seen anything she couldn't cuddle up to.



Canada geese on the Green River



Sleeping in until 9:30. A shower and hair wash felt heavenly. Oatmeal for two, hoping the milk was still fresh. Watching Haven while catching up on cache logs and reading my journal notes, and looking for fly fishing gear on the Internet. Emptying packs and sorting camping gear from fly fishing gear, and getting started on laundry. Leaving to cache about 4:30, and checking out a local pub for a sandwich and beer after finding three very evil geocaches.

Home after dinner to relax, I finally got my first look at the 160+ photos from the long weekend, fingers crossed they turned out the way I hoped. The weekend wasn't just about fly fishing. I set myself some goals about practicing with Manual mode. I've used it rarely with my Nikon, but this weekend I finally had the time to experiment when the photos didn't matter, and it suddenly clicked. I'm remembering what was second nature back in my early days with a Pentax SLR camera. Now I just need to keep practicing.



I was torn between fly rod and camera today.

Water is a constant presence here... a deep emerald green pool that wraps around a point, gently growing more shallow until it spills over a shelf of stones and into a rocky corridor of rocks and splashing water, on its way downstream. Where it passes through yet more pools, a beautiful link of huge rocks joined by green water.

It's peaceful, and addicting, and I want to come back again.


In camp...

The water went on for an early morning cup of tea, and breakfast. It's nice that DW is doing the cooking this weekend. We love our antique white gas stove, especially when paired with modern hard anodized cookware.

We posed for a family photo, in our L.O.S.T. | 2016 t-shirts.

And then a few of our group packed up their gear and hiked out. One is starting a new job, and one has a homework assignment due on Monday. We were glad they made the trek with us, even if they could only stay one night.

A day hike in 90 degree temperatures? Bruce, Emily, and I opted out, deciding to stay beside the cold river. We fished, and I took a nap, and read, and fished, and soaked my ankle. The family of ducks (12 of them) floated past, and snoozed on the riverbank.

Tonight we cooked dinner, then walked down the river to fish. In the white water rushing out of a deep pool, I got my first strike of the weekend. But as much as he hit my dry fly, I couldn't hook him. But it was still fun.

Then we rigged up a table for cards, finished off the red wine that Mary brought, played Bull-shit and looked at the stars.


Family time...

I've waited for this weekend for a year: the second annual Mayer kids backpacking trip. We're hiking up above Staircase, up the Skokomish River.

I've waited eagerly. Even though I badly sprained my ankle just two weeks ago. And even though my pack weighs 28 pounds (not counting my Nikon dSLR, water bottle, bear spray, or Gorp... I didn't weigh those. Didn't want to know). And even though it's supposed to be in the 90's this weekend.

The chance to spend time with my sisters and brothers from DWs family is priceless. And so is the chance to fly fish without having to pack up and drive somewhere. To have the river just steps from camp, to grab my gear any time I want and wade out into the river and cast my line in.

I had to take it easy this weekend, to walk with a hiking pole, and not go too far. With the most beautiful deep green pool just off the beach where we camped, that wasn't a hardship. I sat in the sun and soaked my foot in the cold water, and fished, and took photographs of DW and his siblings.

There were two casualties today: DW broke the tip of his fly rod, and just an hour later, his brother broke his fly rod off at the handle. Luckily, two of the girls decided not to fish, so there were fly rods to share.



Sometimes, when you're deep in the countryside, you meet three girls, walking along the hill tracks in the dusk, spinning. They each have a spindle, and onto these they are spinning their wool, milk white, like the moonlight. In fact, it is the moonlight, the moon itself...  All they have to do is to see that the world gets its hours of darkness, and they do this by spinning the moon down out of the sky. Night after night, you can see the moon getting less and less, the ball of light waning, while it grows on the spindles of the maidens. Then, at length, the moon is gone, and the world has darkness, and rest, and the creatures of the hillsides are safe from the hunter, and the tides are still.

Then, on the darkest night, the maidens take their spindles down to the sea, to wash their wool. And the wool slips from the spindles into the water, and unravels in long ripples of light from the shore to the horizon, and there is the moon again, rising above the sea, just a thin curved thread, reappearing in the sky. Only when all the wool is washed, and wound again into a white ball in the sky, can the moon-spinners start their work once more, to make the night safe for hunted things.

     -- from "The Moon-Spinners," by Mary Stewart (c) 1962