It was such fun today, exploring and taking pictures with a long-time friend who loves photography as much as I do.

The lilacs are in bloom, and the native maple trees are full of plump catkins and bright green leaves, and the river is swollen with runoff from nearby snowfields.

Today we explored in the Snoqualmie River Valley. Next time, who knows? But I know it will be just as much fun as today.



We went out for the day with our old car club today, for a drive along the Sound, then ending the day at the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge.

The property was once a dairy farm, with dikes to hold back the river water (and the tides), and create grazing land for the cows. It's a beautiful spot, currently chock full of Canada geese looking for nesting spots.

I loved the pair of white dairy barns. From this viewpoint, you couldn't tell there were two identical barns, but the trail eventually led to a viewing platform right next to them.

for more information, see Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge


Wandering... Victor Falls

My camera and I headed out on the back roads today, and while following my nose toward Buckley, I stumbled across a brand-new parking area for Victor Falls. I knew about the falls because a very popular mountain biking area bears the name, and had always intended to ride there. But I'd never seen the waterfall before. There is probably a way down to the creek bed for better views (there was mention of a steep root ladder) but I declined... I was satisfied with taking a few photos from the top.

Victor Falls near Bonney Lake
Curtain-type waterfall, 70 feet high


Lone tree

This is my favorite lone tree so far. It stands alone in a clearing, surrounded by monster mango trees that soar into the heavens. The perspective makes it hard to guess the height of this smaller tree, but everything was big in this rain forest near Akaka Falls on Hawaii:  the philodendron leaves that cover the tree trunk, the huge ferns on the forest floor, and mango trees can grow to 90 feet with canopies nearly as wide as the tree is tall.


Broken gable barn

This lovely old, well-tended barn is one of many on the Enumclaw plateau. It stands on a side road that runs hard up against the foothills, with a backdrop of woods and a fruit tree standing guard. At the other end of this short road is my favorite old farmhouse, with its own heritage barn, so whenever I'm out this way, my car always seems to take the detour, so I can check up on them.


Chasing The Mountain

I've been obsessed with our local landmark lately... probably because it's not be visible for days. It's easy to feel withdrawal symptoms when Mount Rainier hides behind its curtain of clouds. At 14,411 feet, it makes its own weather, so even on clear days down here in the lowlands, the mountain can still be shrouded in clouds.

But worse in my eyes are the ever-shrinking viewpoints where you can see The Mountain in a natural setting. I appreciate being able to see it from the freeway, from the Seattle waterfront, from surface roads lined with powerlines. I love seeing it from the Vashon ferry, too. But for me, it's best seen cradled in the foothills, with trees and pastureland spreading out in the foreground.

Mount Rainier in early morning from the Enumclaw plateau, with fresh snow in the foothills

So that's my goal for the next few sunny days: to explore the back roads past the blight of suburbia, but still reasonably close to home. And find those perfect vantage points where I can photograph our mountain to my heart's content.


Moments... life and reruns

This was an interesting week.  Monday and Tuesday we helped on the bottling line at DeLille Cellars. Sorting foils and packing boxes, feeding empty bottles into the machine, labeling and sealing cases, stacking boxes on pallets. Hard work, but we met some nice people and had a good time. We also came home with bottles of Aix, D2, and Chaleur Estate Blanc, nine bottles in all.

True Red came out with us, first to breakfast in Woodinville, then waited outside the bottling truck until we were finished each day.

Tuesday we joined our old car club for dinner at Claim Jumper. We haven't been active for a few years, and maybe it's time to start taking the wee car out to play with her old buddies.

Wednesday, it rained. Oh, joy...

Thursday was a day of perfect spring weather, and while Dave mowed the lawn, I weeded all the patio borders, dug out some unwanted volunteer blackberries, and cut back the ferns.

When the grass got too thick and tall for the lawn tractor, the big boy came out to play.

Friday and Saturday we rested after our labors. Dave did the taxes, and during breaks we watched old M*A*S*H reruns. I started reviewing my landscape photographs from the past five years of road trips, wrote in my journal, and planned a photography road trip close to home.


Baby buck

This morning I opened the kitchen blinds and glanced into the orchard, and there he was:  our baby buck, grazing on the bright green spring grass.

My camera was in the bedroom, and Dave was still in bed. I tiptoed in, grabbed my camera bag, slid open the bathroom window while thumbing the on switch, and missed him. He'd moved out to the pasture, so I got the shots I could with no time to fiddle with settings.

Then I leaned my elbows on the sill, and watched until he moved out of sight, down to the pond.

We'd lived at the farm, in this small rural valley, for 25 years before we ever saw a deer. The valley was just crying out for deer, full of horse pastures and orchards, ringed with wooded hillsides. A lot of people besides us had horses, and there was hay and grain in barns up and down the valley. But we never saw any deer.

My neighbors who had vegetable gardens thought I was crazy, because deer can become a real nuisance. But I never had anything on my place that I couldn't share with a couple of deer. They're welcome to apples from the orchard, and all the blackberries (and blackberry canes) they can eat. There's always tall grass to shelter them, and a pond for water. I lost more lettuce and spinach over the years to my flock of geese.

Then five years ago during a cold winter, we had a 4-point buck and a doe spend the day with us, and from then on, we'd see deer a few times a year. This small buck is new. We've seen him twice in the past couple of months, and he still hasn't grown his antlers for the year. I didn't see the doe today; maybe she was bedded down in the front pasture.


Red barn

I'm craving a road trip in the worst way, but it's a bad time to get on the road. So I'm feeding the wanderlust by reliving my favorite road trips from the past couple of years.

One trip I do plan to take this spring is to photograph my favorite Washington heritage barns, starting in Kittitas County. They have the only barn quilt trail in Washington, perfect for this lover of barns and quilts.

Broken gable barn between Colfax and Pullman, in the rolling hills of Palouse country



Sometimes you get the best look at the sunset when you look toward the east.

Rolling hills of the Palouse at sunset, October 2011