Sunday, May 31, 2009

Tahoma for Tea and more

    Saturday started out quietly and then Jey-hu reminded me we had an 'afternoon tea party' to attend. His business is installing entertainment systems (home theatres, intercoms, security, etc.) and a client of his was opening up a Chinese Tea Room so we were invited to attend. It was a lovely event featuring the Chinese artist, Liang Wei, who has developed quite a following internationally. (You can see his website by clicking on his name.)
    After the tea, we drove a short distance down to a viewing spot to see the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and watched a couple who had recently gotten married have their pictures taken among the old pilings. An interesting choice for such an event. I captured a shot of the groom checking out the time on his watch and I wondered if he was concerned about making a honeymoon airplane deadline, or was he getting bored with all the women directing him to stand in certain places while the photos were being taken? Or both? But we had our own agenda for the day, so we left the happy couple on the wierd beach and headed over the bridge and up the island. There are now two bridges over the Narrows and there is a toll for those who wish to leave the Olympic Peninsula heading east. "Galloping Gertie," the original bridge renowned for its undulations and sometimes even violent movements, constructed in the late 1930's, twisted itself into oblivion in the high winds of November 1940 and ended the joy ride that many people drove miles to experience - that of driving on a bridge in motion.
    After lovely scones and cookies, there was no reason to stop for anything else to eat, so we just zipped along under clear and sunny skies to the ferry boat at Kingston which would deposit us in Edmonds. 
We saw two "Cobras," the AC Cobra sports car popular in the 1960's and one was a red one with the white stripe down the middle of the hood and the other was a traditional dark blue. 

The occupants of that one were cheerful and waved at us. So Jey-hu waved  back. We arrived at the ferry just after one had filled up so we had a little bit of a wait. We used the time wisely taking pictures of ships transiting Puget Sound.... There were three (3!) of these behemoths heading out - probably for Alaska - all within a short time of each other. I pondered the numbers of people who were on board and whether or not this was their first shipboard experience. As Jey-hu and I were discussing cruising,
an older fellow approached us and wanted to talk about the camera and the telephoto lens we were using. He was originally from Holland but settled in the U.S. long ago and then to Whidbey Island about a decade ago. He shared his sailing experiences with us and he apparently was a photographer himself at one point in his life. He might not have been much of a sailor,
by his own report, but he was interesting to talk to and that's what this journey is all about... making contact with other life forms!

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Sushi Treat

    Yesterday I was able to find my way from Everett to the Greenlake area of Seattle to meet up with my oldest daughter and her daughter for a sushi dinner. I am not sure who was more excited about our get-together - me or my grand! We shared some of our adventures since last summer...  I got to hear about some horseback riding and swimming trips and I was entreated to tell more about my journeys across all the states between Florida and Washington. I showed her some of the pictures we took recently at Rosario Beach (see profile of me above taken by Jey-hu) and on top of Mt. Erie.
   But the dearest question my little Grand asked me was just before we parted: "Granny, how many more days do we have before you have to leave again?" And I was very happy to see how big her eyes got when I said, "Too many to count because I'm going to be living here... we'll see a lot more of each other now."

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Ferry Nice Day

   With remarkable sunshine pouring down on us, it didn't take much to convince Jey-hu it was better to spend the day showing me around his native Washington than to roll logs off his front yard or sort through auto parts in the back garage. "Let's go to Anacortes," he announced just after 1 p.m. "OK," I replied, being the difficult one.
   We weren't alone. This lovely '58 Edsel (I'll admit I thought it was a '57 but was corrected by the professional antique car collector I was riding with...) was being given an outing by a senior couple and we followed them on some back roads for quite awhile. The drive north on Route 9 took us up to Marysville and then over to Mount Vernon, a slightly different version from the eastern village of the same name. Located at the edge of the Skagit (Skah-ghit) Valley where a lot of crops are grown and shipped out, it is home to a large population of immigrants, primarily from Mexico, and the green-white-red flags were flying from many front porches as we drove by. The mountain, hard to see in the haze but rising up behind the other mountains, is Mt. Baker, one of the four highest mountains in Washington. A quiet volcano, it is considered part of a glacier and has snow on it at the top (10,780 feet!) most of the year.
   From Mt. Erie, a considerably smaller hump in the earth by comparison, we could see for miles and miles, and on a less hazy day, the impact of Mt. Baker might have been even more impressive. Still,  Jey-hu was trying to cut through the haze to
get a close up shot with his telephoto lens. After awhile we walked around to the other side of Mt. Erie and got this wrap-around view of the rest of the peninsula - huge! This is a must-stop-and-see spot if one is anywhere near Anacortes.

It's not that hard to reach, and is not very well advertised. The road up to the top is narrow, steep and curvy - 15 mph all the way. 
   Then it was on to the Deception Pass and Jey-hu took me to Rosario Beach first where we could walk around the point to a place where we could see the bridges over the pass from below. Some scary paths, if you ask me, but the view was well worth the challenge. This is one of Je
y-hu's shots. I was breathless watching him take it as he was standing on a path with little edge and it was slanted precariously toward the ocean. Jey-hu said he used to come over to this area to visit relatives when he was growing up and remembered an uncle who had a horse that used to come over to the house when he was ready to have his feet trimmed and just waited for the uncle to do it. As we have been driving around, Jey-hu shares a lot of his memories of his Washington childhood and like so many places, much has changed, but it is wonderful to hear about 'those days.'

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Mountain Loop Highway is closed

   After pretty nearly waxing the paint off the M3, Jey-hu said it was time for us to take a jaunt for the afternoon on the Mountain Loop Highway. The road out of Lake Stevens (WA) heads easterly toward Granite Falls and Silverton (so small you'd miss it with your eyes open!) and although we tried to get to Darrington, the road was still snowed in.    It was chilly, but the sun was really warm and up until about 4:30 p.m. we were enjoying riding in the convertible. Then suddenly it got a whole lot colder and we gave up stopping for what might be good photo ops and headed for home. Still, we got a few good ones.... the snow-capped mountain peaks here are called the "Big 4 Mountain" because when the snow melts, some of the remaining snow sticks to the edges and lays out in the form of a number "4" on the western end of the slopes. Long ago, in the early part of the 1900's, there was a hotel called the Big 4 Inn on a railroad line purchased to provide this unique vacation experience. But the destination resort failed after the 1930's and ended up burning to the ground. Today all you can see is the remains of the lodge's fireplace. While we were there, a bunch of children were seated up inside the old fireplace watching their parents prepare the Memorial Day weekend cookout nearby. What amazes me is how many people were up on this highway, even camping in spots where there clearly was more than a little snow on the ground!
It was delightful to see the Trillium blooming alongside the road and to hear the melting 
snow brooks chase down through the fir trees to meet up with the Stilquamish River (Don't hold me to the spelling or the name - I'm still learning them.) I saw a man carrying his ice chest across the river, walking IN it and wearing only a t-shirt! Hardy souls up here in these north woods!!
   And just as we were driving out of the high mountain range, we saw a black bear run across the road and up into the woods. (If you want to learn more about this creature, I've provided a wonderful link to help. This is a family-oriented blog, after all.) He (or she) stopped and looked back. We stopped and Jey-hu grabbed the camera. Then all we saw was the back end of the bear hightailing it for deeper woods. Fun!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Still Retired... but barely

Today Jey-hu took me to work with him. He had some wires to run on a boat and with my nautical experience, he thought I might enjoy the day and be of some assistance to him. As the sun was timid in the morning, I had no idea how lovely the day would become and by the time we finished at the marina, we had a lunch at a place called "Scuttlebutt's" where the clam chowder would make a Cape Codder blush!
Then it was off to Mukilteo (it is pronounced
moo-kit-ee-oh - I think the "l" is silent) to run some more line in a private home under construction. On the way, Jey-hu stopped at the park so I could get out and get my bearings. The view you are seeing here (the second picture to the right) is a little south of the Everett Naval Base station and the marina we visited can be seen just to the right of the jetty. Aren't the clouds magnificent?
After all these days of clouds and drizzle and then rain, it was really nice to have some sun again. Jey-hu says, "There's no place nicer than here when the weather is pleasant." I'd have to agree - today at least!
The worksite is along the waterfront with a view very similar to the photo above. The owner, a woman, wasn't there, but the site was bustling with men working on various projects. Jey-hu and I started running the lines and I wrapped the finished connections with electrical tape. Then he showed me how he installs the security lines for various doors and windows. Gee, I never realized how that was done!
As we headed for home, we drove past Boeing Airfield and he pointed out the large jet which is being used to ferry back to Everett the fuselage of the new 787 "Dream Liner." If you look at the large fin in this shot, you can get a sense of how huge the aircraft is they are building, never mind how enormous the one is they are flying it back in.
All in all, it was a most interesting day for this retiree, and while I actually did a little 'work,' it did not require me to turn in my retiree badge.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Just a quick update

   Our drive from Yakima was on one of the sunniest spring days so far and we enjoyed some beautiful views along the way. In particular we stopped at a pullout and got this shot of Rainier from the eastern side.
   Then it was on to meet Jey-hu's sisters and mother and we had a delightful time in Tukwila - all these native names are tongue-twisters for me!
 We arrived in Everett on Monday afternoon as the sun was setting and in spite of the threat that Jey-hu had left his keys inside the house, we were able to get in and get the car unpacked.
   Today the sun is shining (for a little while anyhow) and I took a shot of the porch to try and see if I could get a shot of the mountains hidden behind all those glorious tall fir trees, but as you can see, it wasn't about to happen. I think if I can convince the neighbors to trim a few branches we might have a better view... well, that's a project for another day.
    Meanwhile, I'm getting ready for another photo adventure - to take shots of the heart-shaped lake nearby and perhaps a few of the wildlife. Yesterday I saw an eagle soaring overhead, but I didn't have my camera with me.

The adventure isn't over yet....

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Yakima, WA first stop in the state

   Our departure from Park City was slightly delayed due to trying to squeeze everything back into the Murano after having unloaded much of it during the week. It did finally all fit, and we had a very cool (30 degrees!) and bright morning start.
   Apparently not many people were on the road this Saturday, so we made very good time out of Utah and into Idaho. We arrived in Boise in time for tea with D and J and D's son also came over to join in some of the hilarity.
   After a couple of hours, it was time to head further west to try and make Washington state before nightfall. We managed to make it to Yakima, but it was well after dark by the time we settled in for the night.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Getting ready to roll again

   After a lovely week in Park City, Utah, Jey-hu and I are packing up the car for an early start on Saturday morning to go off to Boise, Idaho, my former stomping grounds. Then on Sunday we will be in Washington State and attending his family's "Mother's Day" dinner gathering for his mother. 
   Yesterday we took a drive up Lamb's Canyon and then across the Interstate into Little Dell's Canyon which led us to Emigrant's Pass, where the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) made their journey into what is now Salt Lake City. It was a bright and sunny day, with a few puffy clouds and a very cool northerly breeze.
 While in Lamb's Canyon we had a picnic lunch and Jey-hu tried to capture a few butterflies on film - well, not film anymore since we both use digital cameras. 
We also had a squirrel stop by to see what we were doing.
   The day before we did a short trip to Antelope Island, a three-mile wide, almost seven-mile long island in the middle of the Great Salt Lake, which has become a nature preserve. As we passed over the causeway, the smell was pretty intense. And the bugs were even more invasive on the northern end of the island. At first we wondered why no one seemed to be getting out of their cars. We are quick learners! The founders named the island after antelope found there, but there were none to be seen on this trip, although we learned there are supposed to be some still in residence. Instead we found ourselves in the middle of the Bison herd with lots of very cute calves bounding around.
 A couple of women were standing outside their car taking pictures, completely unaware of the potential danger if the herd spooked. 
Fortunately the bison were intent only on crossing to get to the greener grass and followed the leader. 
We could truthfully say we shot a lot of bison and left them on the road.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Chlorophyll helps with altitude effects

   Our digs in Park City overlook the base chairlift for this mountain resort. We have also learned that the lobby is at 6,800 feet of elevation. As we are at the next-to-top floor of the hotel, we estimate we are closing in on 7,000 feet and it's taken Jey-hu a little longer to adapt to the lower oxygen levels. We went to the local health food store on Day Two and found some liquid chlorophyll combo which, when added to water, helps to increase red blood cells and the effects of drinking more water are also helpful at this height. The consultant warned me not to be alarmed if the solid output developed a green color. I think it's now green enough it could be used for fertilizer... I feel like I've been chewing cud in an alfalfa field.
   We decided to take some time to explore the area and chose to drive up past the 'old' town of Park City up into the mountains surrounding it. Where there once was a mine, a new hotel or village is under construction with what appears to be a cable car track up the mountainside. 
   There is still snow at the higher elevations, and we made our way up into some pretty posh neighborhoods. Some have ski runs that go right past the house so that the residents can slap on the boards, slide to the next lift, ski all day and glide home again. Southeby's, a high end reseller of resort property, has a number of signs up, but not as many as might be expected. Perhaps the owners have a little more resiliency in the leaner air... 
   Before sunset we headed back down into 'old town' to see what our dinner options might be. Although the feel of an old western mining town has been preserved, seeing retail outlets for Rolex, Chanel and other shops for the rich and shameless took away some of the illusory charm.    Without too much discussion, we ended up eating at some place with 'bistro' as part of its name. The only conclusion we could make is that restaurants with fewer than 10 letters in the name are quite inclined to have menu items with foreign names at higher prices. The food was not as remarkable as hoped. Still it was fun to be out and about and watching the locals, although fewer in number due to this in-between period of winter and summer for commerce.

Monday, May 4, 2009

A Rainy Ride to Utah

   The drive from Colorado to Utah was cloudy to start and then the rain started coming down. All plans to divert from I-70 to see the Arches or Moab were discarded as being pointless since the rain was rather heavy with no likelihood of letting up.
   The last night in Colorado was not at all delightful as we were tired from driving and selected a no-star resting spot which was depressing, to say the least. But up and at 'em early on Saturday, we made good time and arrived unscathed in Park City, Utah before tea time. If you click on the link and look at the mountain webcam for the base, you can see our view from the room we had. If you don't look at it soon, the snow will be all gone. This mountain resort has very little snow left as of today and is getting ready for the summer season. 
   Many of the shops are closed and few restaurants are open for business. But looking up the slopes made me want to plan a winter journey back here, except that the elevation (almost 7,000 feet!) leaves me breathless (literally!).
   A trip to Salt Lake City and Bountiful after a couple of days brought us to my St. Augustine friends and we found a fairly new Mexican restaurant in a nearby town which had very fresh and tasty fare for our lunch. It was nice to get down off the mountain and into some sunshine, even if only for a little while. Those clouds you see off to the left in the picture on the right soon gave way to more with a light rain. We're here in Park City for a few more days and if the weather holds, we might try to see some of the tourist treats before we head off for Idaho and Washington.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Garden of the Gods - Colorado

   After several glorious days with a relative in Boulder, CO, it was time to head south to Colorado Springs to meet up with friends of Jey-hu and we discovered a park nearby called "Garden of the Gods." The unique sandstone monuments carved by wind and weather have drawn photographers and rock climbers from all over. (If you click on the link I've established, you can learn all about the red rocks and how they developed.) We spent several hours walking around and taking pictures. It seemed as if no matter what angle you looked at a rock structure, there was something about it that made you want to capture it.
   Dinner with new friends is always delightful, but it was more fun for Jey-hu to make contact with a couple he hadn't seen for over 20 years! D and S live in Canon City and were kind enough to drive up to Colorado Springs so we could enjoy some time together.
   The next day it began to rain and got much cooler, so we opted to save a trip to the Royal Gorge for another, sunnier day and instead headed northwest toward Breckenridge over the 11,500 ft. summit. Then it was on to Frisco and a little repeat driving past Vail toward Utah. We ended up stopping for the night in Grand Junction, which turned out to be considerably less grand than expected.