A Trip to the Olympic Peninsula

The week after Memorial Day, I took a solo trip to the Olympic Peninsula, to use up some vacation hours, and get away from the constant stress of work.  I jumped in the trusty old RDX (old, from 2008), drove onto the Kingston Ferry (where the fare-taker asked if I was really a senior!), and headed over to the beautiful Olympic Peninsula of Washington State.  It was a nice day, and I was going to familiar territory.  No maps or charts needed-just point the car in the right direction and go.  Down Highway 101, west toward Sequim first.  I spent two days in Sequim, and one day in Port Townsend.

I arrived in Sequim around 3:30PM, and checked into my motel.  Then, I took a drive up into the hills south of town, to visit property owned by a work acquaintance.  He is a sailor, and found a nice piece of land near the John Wayne Marina.  He gave me directions, and I found it fairly easily.  This is the view from that piece of hilltop property.

View from Shaun's property

He wasn’t joking when he said he had a view of the water!

I was impressed by the house of one of his to-be-neighbors.  Nice place!

Million-$ house

After that, I drove down to the John Wayne Marina.  I have to say that the name is more impressive than the place.  But it has a nice quiet beach.

Beach-John Wayne Marina

View-John Wayne Marina

I still had daylight left, so I drove back to Sequim, and out to the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, where I had plans to spend the next day.  It was too late to go down to the Spit, but I drove along the approach road, and stopped at a couple of the overlooks there.  I actually got some very nice pictures.

There are lots of these bushes at the top of the bluff, with pretty flowers-they are wild roses and are everywhere.

Wild rose

This is the view north over the bluffs down to the Dungeness Spit.

Bluff Overlook

Here’s the view looking south.  All the way to the right (west) is Port Angeles.

Looking South

Straight down below.

Beach and dead trees

This is the Spit itself, to the north.  It is five miles long, with a lighthouse at the end.

Dungeness Spit

And look what I saw!  A Bald Eagle, flying below me.  When was the last time you saw a bald eagle flying below you?

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Actually, they are pretty common here in the Pacific Northwest, but it’s still a thrill to see one.

The next day, after a lazy morning doing nothing at all, I headed down to the Spit for a hike.  I actually got to use my National Park Senior Pass for the first time, as the refuge is part of the Olympic National Park.  It was foggy, and that fog did not lift all the time I was on the path and down to the Spit itself.  Well, I already have hundreds of Dungeness pictures from previous trips, so I took a lot of artsy pictures in the fog, and even captured some wildlife.

The path down to the Spit is through a stand of second-growth timber, and is actually very pleasant.

OrangeFlowers

I have no idea what these orange flowers are, but they are common around the Spit.  Followers?

Weird trees

I was taken with this apparently-live tree growing around a dead one.

Path to the Spit

Above is the path down to the Spit.

And, of course, what’s a National Park without some guilt?

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I found a nice “nurse log”, where a dead tree nourishes new, living plants.

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As I rounded a bend in the path, I got my first view of the Spit below, in the fog.

First view of spit

Some of the trees beside the path looked positively eerie in the fog.

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Path in fog

As did the Spit itself.

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I really loved all the beautiful driftwood on the beach.  Many of these must have been huge trees when they were alive.  And people have added their enhancements over the years-lots of little piles of rocks in the branches and crevices.

Huge driftwood log

big logs

Doesn’t this one look like a log-shark?  It sure did to me! Or maybe a wolf?

log shark

Beaches in Washington tend to be rocky, rather than sandy.  This is due to the fact that granite and basalt form much of the foundation around us, and what falls off ends up on our beaches.  Even the rocks are beautiful.

Rocks sand surf

Rocks

I took this one-minute video, to give you a sense of the beach that day.

Behind me, to the east, is a small bay, in the crook of the Spit as it winds its way north.  A little white-crowned sparrow was sitting on a piece of driftwood, seemingly posing for me.  I didn’t get too close, but he let me take his picture.

portrait of sparrow

And then he turned around.  What a pretty bird!

sparrow facing

More pictures of the bay, and the grasses along its beach.

quiet bay

beach grasses

I’ve always been fascinated by driftwood, with the bark still on it.

driftwood closeup

And a couple of more sights on the path back up the hill to the car.

tree grows funny

empty nest

The next day, I drove up to Port Townsend.  I first stopped at Chetzemoka Park, overlooking the harbor and downtown.  Here is what I saw there.

TallFir

Chetzmoka rhody

Chetzemoka arbor

flowers

Plants

After spending a while at the park, I went to check in to my bed-and-breakfast inn, the Ravenscroft.  It is a beautiful building, and I had a nice room on the second floor.

Ravenscroft

B-n-Bveranda

Here’s the view from there.

View from BnB

In the evening, I took a stroll downtown.  Port Townsend is a touristy place, with lots of nice gift shops and restaurants.  Its harbor is picturesque, and I found some features this time that were not there the last time I went!  It looked like someone had fun piling up the jagged rocks, making “rock people”.

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RockPeoplePier

The next day, I did some sightseeing around the area, where I had not been at all.  I first drove through town, and admired the many old houses around.  PT has a reputation for having many Victorian-era houses that are well-kept (and very expensive).  Many have been re-purposed as apartments or bed-and-breakfast inns like Ravenscroft.

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Then, I drove south out of town, and headed east toward the water.  I discovered Indian Island Park, which consists of Lagoon Beach and Mystery Beach.  They were really beautiful.  I especially got a kick out of the river-pools running into the main body of water, because they were shallow enough to observe all the crabs-dozens of tiny guys under each rock and on top of the rocks too.

Lagoon Beach

LagoonBeach-river

How many crabs?

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This is Nordland, Washington, on Marrowstone Island.

NordlandHarbor

BlueBoat-Nordland

Pier-Nordland

All too soon, it was time for me to head back to Port Townsend to catch the ferry to Whidbey Island.  When I boarded the ferry, I took lots of pictures of the PT harbor, and the fleet of sailboats out that day.

Ferry-Salish

PT-Harbor

PT-Sailboats

Ferry-wake

Once we hit Whidbey Island, I exited the ferry and headed for the south end of the island, from which I was to board another ferry to Mukilteo, near home.  The last sight of my trip just totally made me laugh.  The car in front of me in the ferry line pushed every one of the standard Progressive buttons, and was not at all shy about advertising its persuasions.  Typical!

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Resist Hate, except for President Trump!

All in all, a delightful getaway.  I had a great time, and came back refreshed.

Springtime in the Skagit Valley of Washington State

See the header picture on my blog?  That was taken a few years ago in the tulip fields of the Skagit Valley in Washington State.  Hubby and I took a drive up there this afternoon, and it was a perfect day for it.  Sunny, but with beautiful clouds in the sky, and temps in the low 60s.  All of these pictures were taken out the window of the car where I was a passenger.  There were fields that were plowed and ready for planting.

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We saw some beautiful barns, no two exactly alike.  We Washingtonians tend to be free thinkers and idiosyncratic.

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Given that it is the last week of the annual Tulip Festival, there were the roads, with cars parked along every side.

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And this is what everyone was looking at, and taking pictures of.

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We are so fortunate to live in such a beautiful part of the country, and to have these farms and fields so close to our suburban home.  It never gets old, ever.

A Trip to Southern California, First of Two Posts

A Trip to Southern California, First of Two Posts

This week, we went to Southern California for a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar, the subject of which was Politics and Principles.  The venue was a nice Hilton Hotel  near the John Wayne Orange County Airport.  Over two days, we had a President’s Club reception, a nice dinner, with remarks by Dr. Larry Arnn, the President of the college, and an excellent lecture by Andrew Roberts, on The Importance of Churchill for Today.  He brought, and signed, copies of his book on Churchill.  Which weighs about 5 pounds!  I bought one, and from just the first few pages it is going to be a joy to read.

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The second day, there were talks by Peter Schweitzer, who spoke on the corruption of America’s political elite (which we are all familiar with already); Dr. Arnn, who discussed American Principles and Public Policy;

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Christopher Bedford, on Trump and the Media;

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And Dr. Shelby Steele, who discussed the current state of race relations in America.  I know of him through his excellent writing in the Wall Street Journal, and I was excited to hear him speak.

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I was very lucky, because on Saturday as we were just packing to leave, I actually met Dr. Steele in the hotel corridor, so I got a chance to exchange a few words with the man, who is very gracious.

The Hillsdale program ended Thursday at 3:00PM, so we had the rest of the day free.  We headed over to the nearby South Coast Plaza Mall, which is any shopper’s dream.  Inside the main court, we saw their wonderful Chinese New Year display.  They did the Year of the Pig proud!

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That’s a pretty happy pig, sitting on all that gold!  But you really have to look up to get a real feel for the holiday.

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The epitome of Festive!

On Friday, we headed up to Santa Monica, to meet a Ricochet friend of ours.  Ray really wanted to see Venice Beach and its Canals, and our friend offered to take us on a stroll, and then out for lunch.  It was a bit later than we planned, but we had a nice walk.  Just in case you are not familiar, the “canals” of Venice, California, are narrower, and much shallower than the real Venice!  But one of the canals is named The Grand, and people whose houses back up to the canal milk it for all it’s worth.

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That’s their house number on the left!  Very creative painting on their wall.

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Very pretty, but that water is about two feet deep.  No danger of drowning if you fall in.

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We figured that the owner of this yard was a modernist type of artist.  Both the tree with the crows, and the legs above, are in the same big yard.

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When was the last time you saw a dinghy with a figurehead?

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This is definitely Southern California!  Ripe lemons!

Of course, when we were done and back to the car on the main road, what should we see across the street?

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Yep, the homeless encampment.  It was like we’d never left home.

 

 

Snow-Capped

I got out this afternoon with the camera.  There are a lot of plants and structures that are snow-capped.

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That Japanese Maple in the back yard sure looks funny with its tiny asymmetrical cap.

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Our neighborhood has a surfeit of dentists.  The office has some nice landscaping, all capped with snow this week.

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These concrete structures are found at Silver Lake Park.  I have no idea what they are, but they look like raised mausoleums at a cemetery.  Capped with snow.

Snow Birds

I love watching the birds that come to our seed and suet feeders in the back yard.  Especially when it’s snowing.  Here’s who showed up the last couple of days.

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Our Varied Thrush has a bug in her beak!  They are carnivores, like their Robin cousins.

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A pair of Song Sparrows.  They were fighting Juncos and Chickadees for the feeder stations.

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Junco atop the suet feeder, waiting his turn at the seed feeder.

Below are visitors from previous years.

WinterWarbler

My very favorite has to be the little masked Townsend’s Warbler. Isn’t he cute?

Thirteen Bushtits at once on the suet feeder
Thirteen Common Bushtits on our Suet Feeder, January 2012

I could just watch them all day long.

Pacific Northwest Snowstorm-Updated

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This is our back yard last Sunday.

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This is the parking lot at work Monday.

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This is right out my front door about a half-hour ago.  We love standing at our kitchen window and watching the birds at our two feeders (seed and suet).  The cat likes watching them, too.  We will get 4-6 inches this weekend, and I will post more pictures later.  I love snow!

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Kikyo watching out the second-floor bedroom window.

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Our backyard this morning!  The snow is so heavy, it knocked over both of our old Arborvitae that have been here since 2000 when my house was built.