Walking their goose

The wind hit hard this morning, and by 9:30 our power went out. So what do we do with no electricity? We go geocaching. We're working on some challenges currently, and had a lead on a few caches that will finish up at least three different challenges.

As we started down a neighborhood trail near Milton, I dropped everything and grabbed my camera when I saw this family out for a walk:

Two kids, a mom, a dad...  and their pet goose. The woman told me that they got her as a gosling, and as the only one of her kind, she imprinted on the family. She follows them wherever they go, including on their daily walk.


Taylor Mountain

We started the day at Testy Chef, with twin mugs of coffee and corned beef hash and eggs. Then we moved up the road to the Taylor Mountain trailhead, packed tight with trucks and horse trailers, and a few hikers like us.

We plan to spend most of the day here, hiking and geocaching. We've never explored Taylor Mountain, and there's lots to see. We ended up walking more than 13 miles, and picked up 16 caches along the way. We talked to women on horseback, and petted dogs, and for the most part, enjoyed the trails.

Except for the 1.6 mile slog uphill on a gravel road, to reach the first summit. 

At the top of that first climb was our first cache, and DW was a bit nervous about bears up on the mountain, because of all the fresh bear scat on the gravel road. So when a woman on horseback came down the hill, we chatted with her for a while. She's ridden here for years, and usually does see at least one bear (and had seen one 3 miles up the road). But except for one who had a cub with her, the bears usually just head the other direction when they see her.

We stopped just downhill from the first trail crossing, and a couple of mountain bikers crossed the road there. We took the downhill trail, through a beautiful wooded hillside. We picked up a few geocaches along the way, crossed a couple of braided creekbeds (easily forded, after our hot summer), and found this amazing tree.

I am not a tree climber, but this one was calling my name. It practically had a staircase going up from the trail side, and handholds to let me ease down into the slot for a picture. My feet dangled six feet off the ground, and getting back up was harder than sitting down. I really wanted to get out on the far seat, but chickened out. My feet would have dangled ten feet off the ground!

We criss-crossed the mountain, hiking trails, then gravel roads, and back to trails again. We didn't see any more mountain bikers, but this would be a great place to ride. 

My favorite trail led us uphill on a newly routed trail (we could see remnants of the old trail as we hiked) that led through some old growth forest.

There were many of these enormous Sitka Spruce trees scattered along the hillside, impossible to photograph and so impressive. The hill was steep so I couldn't stand against the tree for scale, but those ferns came up to my waist. And this picture shows only half of the tree's height. 

The trail traversed the hillside, then gradually switchbacked down to a creek. It's popular with horseback riders, and the trail builders did a great job of making the trail horse friendly. I loved the wide and shallow stairs in one place, framed with timbers and filled with gravel, to help horses (and hikers) get down a steep hill to a ford across the creek. We didn't follow it to the end, but climbed over a stack of logs to the old trail, so we could find a geocache near the creek. We took a water break there, found a few pieces of bright red jasper in the creek, and climbed back out on the old trail.

When we traversed the hillside of the huge old growth trees, we probably came the closest to seeing a bear. We definitely heard one, a huge animal crashing through the brush on the hillside above us. We stopped and looked at each other, then kept walking, loudly... and talking loudly, and tapping our hiking poles on rocks to make noise. DW even found a bear bell app for his smart phone, but it was really annoying.

We talked to a couple of women on horseback, with a beautiful white German Shepherd along for the ride. Then we headed higher up on the mountain, in search of more caches and trails. We raided the blackberry bushes along the way; that's where we found the most bear scat. And huge areas where the bushes were smashed flat, where bears had been. Hmmm...

I came home with a new nickname today: Bear Bait. Anytime I fell behind, usually when I stopped to take pictures, Dave would call out "come on, Bear Bait." 

We ended our day (after a quick dusting off at the car) at the Issaquah Brew Pub.

Today was a good day. 


Barred, or Spotted?

We hiked through Cedar Creek Park again today, and this beauty flew across the trail in front of us, and landed on a nearby tree.

I don't know my owls, and aren't sure whether this one is a Barred owl, or the more uncommon Spotted owl. I do know that he (she?) was very curious about us, especially when I started hooting at him. Each time I tried to imitate his call, he'd swivel his head around and stare at me.

It was dark in the woods, and I had trouble getting pictures in focus. These turned out the best.




We were relaxing on the deck late afternoon, when Jeff and Anna arrived. Our nephew was with us a few weeks ago with the rest of my family, and I was pleased when he asked if he and his girlfriend could come out another weekend.

And did they spoil us? Oh, yes! They were so happy to be at the lake, they wanted to cook dinner for us. They arrived with baskets of food: gourmet coffee from the restaurant where Anna works. King crab and snow crab to boil. Fresh produce from my sister's garden, with greens for a salad, and corn on the cob. And wine to go with it all.

They made themselves at home in my tiny corner kitchen, and even set the table. The food overflowed the outside table, we dug in, and the meal was awesome.

Favorite days...

Today was my favorite day. Not the best day of all my days, but a day spent doing some of my favorite things, in a place I love.

This morning I woke just ahead of the sunrise, and grabbed my camera as I ran through the woods to the outhouse. The run rose bright red, thanks to the smoke from the eastern Washington wildfires that's blown west in the past couple of days.

I carried my mug of coffee out to the deck, and drank it while I caught up on my journal. The lake was flat calm, and the air was the strangest color because of the smoky haze. I wrote, and sipped, and watched the day come to life.

When I tired of writing, I pulled out my current quilting project. It's a Grandmother's Flower Garden, all hand pieced. It's one of the iconic traditional quilt patterns, made from It's a labor of love, and a test of my hand piecing skills. And it's a quilt I've wanted to make ever since I first learned to quilt.

There isn't a better place to sew than here, on the deck on a summer's day, looking out over the peaceful lake.

When I got tired of sewing around mid-afternoon, Dave brought out a couple of beers and our books, and we sat and read until Jeff and Anna arrived. It will be a fun weekend!


Home, with salmon

The boys (and girl) came home from Alaska this afternoon, and it took two vehicles to get them and their fish back to the farm. I drove the fish and the cousins, and heard all about the wedding and the fishing on the drive home.

Twelve boxes of salmon filled 2/3 of the Pilot.

A picture of the stack and three of the happy fishermen seemed like a good idea. Then the cooler went into the back of the pickup, and we started filling it up. Thankfully, their 500 lbs of fish fit.

Our last dinner with our Colorado family was simple: salads and sandwiches and beer, outside on the patio on a perfect summer evening. They leave at 4:00 am tomorrow for the long drive home. I'm going to miss them.



The boys headed for Alaska this morning for a few days of salmon fishing. I headed east, to visit friends who just moved to Lake Wenatchee. It was a fun, relaxing weekend with good friends and lots of good food and wine.

Early Saturday morning, the smoke rolled over the ridge and into the valley. It's a grim reminder of the many forest and range fires that are burning across the state. By Monday morning, the rising sun turned red as it rose through the pall of smoke.

As I drove home over Blewett Pass, I never drove out of the smoke. The layer hung against the hills, clinging to the landscape. I finally drove above it when I reached the 3000 ft. summit of Snoqualmie Pass.

I always stop to photograph Ingalls Creek, especially when the leaves begin to turn color in the autumn. With the hot, dry summer we've had this year, the mountains are showing fall colors already.


Thinking in black and white

I've had a lot of fun lately, changing photographs of people to black and white. I find it's one subject that always looks interesting when you focus on tone and contrast, instead of color.

Our cousins Rob and Rich, and Rob's wife, Ranae, are heading home with ten of these boxes of Alaska salmon tomorrow morning. That's 500 pounds!


Surrounded by trees

In the woods is one of my favorite places to be. I love trails that wind through the trees, the canopy of green that reaches to the sky, and the distant views that make me stop dead in my tracks and reach for the camera.

This trail is in a park near our house, which we discovered one evening when out geocaching. We walked and explored and looked for caches, and today we went back to hike. It's surprising to find a park here that's full of huge trees and ferns and steep hillsides, that hasn't been bulldozed into housing tracts. Thankfully this place is safe.



Yesterday we took the Colorado relatives to Whidbey Island, checking off one of Ranae's "must do's." We met Dave's brother and sister-in-law near Deception Pass, and all spent the day together.

Before walking across Deception Pass bridge, we stopped for a couple of pounds of fresh cooked shrimp to share.

Then we walked and explored. And took pictures. And laughed together.

And then we grabbed a picnic table down at the water's edge, where we could watch boats cruise by while we ate.

Lunch was at a favorite bar in Coupeville, which was crazy busy today. But we were happy to pull up stools to the bar, and have lunch there. That's us, reflected in the mirror behind the bar.

Don't you just love taking photographs of family, and making memories together?

After lunch we spent time on one of our favorite beaches. The kids took off for a long walk north, and we went up the road to find a geocache. And I found some driftwood to bring home, including a new piece to shape into a walking stick this winter.

They also loved climbing in and around Fort Casey. (I did, too.)

And we did an earthcache there. Cool.

Then we had to say goodbye to the island, and hopped a Washington State ferry back to the mainland (check another item off Ranae's list). We met up with Tom & Val's daughter and son-in-law for dinner.

And then we went home to crash.

It was a very good day.


Against the wind...

I spotted this beautiful yacht out past Deception Island at the western end of the passage, while we were walking across the Deception Pass bridge.

You can just see the tall mast of the sailboat, to the right of the small island.

By the time we'd walked under the far end of the bridge, and were walking back on the other side, the boat was halfway through. I stood there and watched as the boat braved the current and eddies, making quick work of the hazards, and coming safely out the other side.

I felt like cheering as I watched it pass safely around Strawberry Island.

Isn't the water the most beautiful color? 


Miata envy...

This guy was grazing his way through my flowerbeds this morning, when he stopped dead and looked out toward the driveway.

There was nothing out there, so I have to assume he was just admiring my little red roadster!



There are mostly blue flowers in my garden. For some reason, I gravitate to them above all other colors. I try others, like the brilliant whites of Nicotiana, and the pale pinks of Sweet William, and the bright orange of poppies. But I always come back to the blues. Maybe it's because they seem to thrive in my garden, outlasting the others.

This lace-cap hydrangea is hurting in the heat; you can see the dried bits of bloom in the picture. Still, it bloomed, and for that I am grateful. I love photographing this plant; the blooms are so very interesting, and you can't beat the color!

In 1998 I planted a deep blue hydrangea in a huge pot on the patio, and it thrived until this June, when it died in the heat. This fall I'll replace it with another deep blue hydrangea, and amend our acidic soil until it blooms a true blue. But I'm thinking about also planting a white one, just to see if it thrives.


Farmhouse bathroom...

After way too many months of ignoring the bathroom remodel, and having way too much fun traveling, this week we're focused on our new farmhouse bathroom. And on the cat search. These are two things I can do at the same time.

Dave added another GFI outlet at my end of the counter, and today I painted the ceiling and walls. I'll paint the medicine cabinet tomorrow. We found the perfect vanity light fixture, with ultra-bright LEDs. The double towel bar is up, and I picked out a white shelf/towel bar to hang over the toilet. 

Next up is to paint all the trim boards: baseboard, door trim, shoe molding, and plywood beadboard panels. I'm going to make a blind for the window, maybe two of them so I can change when I'm in the mood for different colors.

This is the beauty of an all-white bathroom:  the color will come from towels and flowers and things that are easy to change.

Like maybe the gorgeous periwinkle blue of my favorite hydrangea.


Berries for breakfast

The heat is getting to the blackberries faster than I can pick them. We walked a trail near home a couple of days ago, and one of the best things about the walk was the 200 foot stretch of blackberry vines to nibble from.

DW mowed most of our blackberries last week, but he always leaves a couple of patches for me to pick from. And some of the best berries come from bushes (I use that term loosely) that grow near the house. It's easy to dish up cereal in the morning, then walk out and pick berries to add to the bowl.


The baby buck grazed his way through the flower gardens this morning, and ended up nibbling new blooms and berries from the blackberry vines by the house. I stood watching with my camera in hand, and DW said, "Don't you have enough pictures of deer?" Maybe. Maybe not.


Privacy screen...

Our neighbor loves our pasture, and the more overgrown it gets, the better they like it. It makes a great privacy screen for them. The horses used to keep the grass and weeds under control, and we only had to mow the blackberries. I miss watching the horses graze in the pasture.


Mowing day...

This is the second trip around the pastures with the big John Deere this year, which (I think) is a record for DW.

However much he grumbles about the time it takes to mow our acreage, I think he secretly enjoys his role as Farmer Dave. He dons the waxed canvas hat and his work jeans, and off he goes. I love to watch.

I think he may actually mow once more this year, probably this fall. That will set the record for sure.


Orchard in the heat

The orchard is suffering in this heat. The fruit is coming on fine, but the leaves are a bit crispy. I hope it rains soon. We need it.

The red Delicious apples look beautiful, already starting to turn red.

The baby buck was grazing under the trees this morning.