In January we spent a weekend in Ellensburg with friends, and on the last day I went out in a snowstorm to photograph the farms and barns on the hillside where they live. I have a lot of favorite pictures from that afternoon, and most have never been published before. Because of the blowing snow, the photographs from that day look more like paintings.
In February, it rained. And it rained. And then it rained some more. Rainfall records were broken. I'm not sure it ever stopped, based on the number of photos with rain droplets, and photos of flooded pastures! But it made for a lot of interesting, if soggy, opportunities.
March was a month to explore county open space parks, in search of geocaches, but also in search of new trails close to home. We did two geocaching events, one on the cold side of the state. There were no good photos from that weekend, sad to say. My favorite place we explored during the other event was an old soldier's cemetery near Orting, high on the side of a hill. I loved the solitary cross amidst the sea of plain white stones.
In April, we started planning road trips for the summer and fall, and jump-started the season with a trip to Leavenworth to visit friends. We walked prairies in bloom in SW Washington. And the cherry trees bloomed.
May brought us to our cabin for our annual "opening" day. It was Madison's first visit, and we took one of our favorite drives, circumnavigating Hood Canal. In one of the state parks along the canal, I pulled the tall grass away from the base of a tree, and found this perfect nest.
In June, Madison turned one year old. She's been a complete joy ever since she moved home with us last December. We hit the road for a couple of weeks in Oregon, with hiking near Mount Hood, and geocaching near Bend.
In July I helped with my quilt guild's annual quilt show, and my Aussie sister and brother-in-law arrived for a visit. But I confess that the event in July that sticks in my mind is a different encounter: with a baby timber rattlesnake. I was reaching for a geocache at the base of a tree, and lucky for me, the tiny snake wasn't in the mood to be social.
In August I sprained my ankle, my African violet bloomed (a big deal, really!), and we toured the Boeing Everett plant for the first time ever. It's true that it's a good thing to play tourist in your own town once in a while! Best of all, we spent a week in Walla Walla and the rolling hills of the Palouse. And I finally got to see this spectacular old barn with its fence of wheels.
September brought the long-awaited road trip, to Colorado by way of Utah, and home through Montana. We hiked on the Continental Divide, discovered petroglyphs in a little-seen canyon, and went fishing on Blue Mesa. And I had another encounter with a rattlesnake, a full-grown one this time.
But the coolest thing I did in September was babysit a fire lookout for four nights. At a mile high, the air was crystal clear and the weather was picture perfect, and we had a stunning view of Mount Rainier. We sat up late and watched the stars, and woke at first light to photograph the dawn's light hitting the mountain. It was hard to choose just one picture from the hundreds I took during those four days, but I do love this one, taken just before dawn on the third morning.
Fall came late this year, and by mid-October the leaves had only just begun to turn color. We made our fourth trip around Mount Rainier, this time spending a few nights and doing some hiking south of the mountain.
In November we spent a few days at the cabin, unfortunately during a stormy period. On the one sunny day, we drove up Puget Sound to Port Townsend and Port Angeles, then back along Hood Canal. It's one of our favorite drives, and we always try to do it in the fall, when the trees are changing color. This time we were lucky enough to catch the passenger boat arriving in Port Orchard.
The first snows of the season came in December, and that was enough incentive to spend a cold, snowy day exploring the Snoqualmie Valley. We know it well, all the back roads and the views, but snow on Mt. Si completely changed the landscape. It may be the only time I've seen the Snoqualmie River lined with trees just changing to fall colors, with Mt. Si covered in snow.
Well, that's it... 2016 officially ends in just a couple of hours. I have great hopes for 2017!