Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer Solstice

We have passed the Summer Solstice and as if that were a deadline for the sun to start shining, it finally did come out, like a shy maiden, yesterday. I spent much of the afternoon pulling weeds and unwanted grass from the pathways. It is still too wet to mow anything.

I was surprised by an invitation from Jey-hu to go out for dinner, and we decided to take our cameras for an after-dinner walk near the Everett Marina, overlooking Port Gardiner Bay. The wild roses were just past their bloom except for a few, and their scent was heavenly. I loved the composition of the tall trees with the verge of grass sort of winding along the rock berm, even though it's a little out of focus, it reminds me of a French Impressionist painting - a little.

As long as there was some sunshine, it was quite pleasant, but the clouds increased, the sun began to set and a chill in the air sent us running back to the car for warmth. It is hard to believe that from this point on, the sun will be setting earlier rather than later. It has been quite amazing to have sunlight until almost 9:30 p.m.!
I don't know the name of this flowering plant, but it had the faintest shade of yellow, and with the yellowing light of the fading sun on the grass and on the buildings in the distance, it was a great combination of yellows.
I saw in the distance a small sailboat scudding across the bay, making a good tack to the marina entrance before it got dark. I liked the colors I found when I downloaded the shot at home. I have just purchased a Canon PowerShot SX20 IS to replace the POS Sony CyberShot which is only good if nothing is moving... even in a breeze. I love this new camera. It is a bridge between my Canon EOS Rebel which is still in Colombia and the pocket digital, and it comes with a zoom lens - not removable, however - which goes from 28mm to 500mm! That was the focal length I used to get the sailboat shot.

One of the last bits of sunshine blazed through the moist moss on the rocks below, and I had to see if this would look as good on 'film' as it did to my eyes.... what do you think?

But the day came to an end and this is how it looked....

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Another dining delight!

Granite Falls, Washington is a small town about 20 miles from Everett. Established in 1903, the village now hosts a major event for railroading history and offers visitors a chance to see more of what was Granite Falls in the past by attending the Museum. Every October, on the first Saturday, "Railroad Days" celebrates the logging and mining industries, an era long past.

The picture of the main street above simply doesn't do this little jewel any justice whatsoever. The real key to a visit here is taking time to walk up and down and view the old buildings which have been converted to more modern industry, but still hold the framework of the past.

And once here, there is a great dining experience awaiting you, unless it's Sunday. The "Teriyaki Wok" is closed that day, but is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. every other day. Just off the main street on Granite Avenue, this charming, clean and bright establishment offers a varied menu at VERY affordable prices!

Every time we've eaten there - now numbering four - we have tried something new and have never been disappointed. It's hard for me to decide now whether to go and do a reprise of what I have already enjoyed or be adventuresome... this time I tried the Tempura Shrimp and Jeyhu had theTeriyaki Chicken and Beef with vegetables. We were able to have tea and an appetizer and not spend more than $20.

We talked with the proprietor and his wife afterwards and learned that he came over to the United States in 1976 from Korea. They started the business after he had worked for many years for others closer to the cities south of here.

Why did he choose Granite Falls? "There wasn't any competition here," he said. Great answer!

The young lady on the right is their wonderful service provider - she takes orders, serves and cleans up and always has a big smile.

A steady stream of people were coming and going as we stayed to eat. Ordering out is a pretty popular option and the regulars seem to just call in and say "my usual," and come by and pick up their order hot off the line.

So if you are planning to drive the Mountain Loop Road, plan to make a stop in Granite Falls, whether for lunch or dinner (depending on the direction you choose), and you will be quite glad you did!

Oh, and plan to take some time to hike along the North Fork of the Stilisquamish River (seen below).

Monday, June 7, 2010

Wild Rogue Rodeo

The Rogue River runs through a valley, also called Rogue River Valley and so it's not much of a surprise there would be a rodeo called 'Rogue' Rodeo and they added "Wild" to the name to provide another element of intrigue, I suspect.

This weekend I went to this valley to see the "Wild" portion and was somewhat disappointed in the tameness of the event. Only a few young men opted to ride a bucking bronco bareback and even fewer took the same route with a ravaging bull. There were a few additional cowboys who tried to stay on a "wild" horse with a saddle, but their rides were foreshortened by some exceptionally fine action on the horse's part.

In fact, prior to the start of the rodeo, I saw several horses in a pen and I was almost certain they were discussing their part in the upcoming show. "You are such a wuss; you always let them stay on you for the full 8 seconds," I heard a large black gelding nicker to his palomino buddy. That one replied, "You have an evil nature. You pitch them off and then strut off to the end of the ring and you never even look back." Darth Vader, (I think this link to the Pendleton Rodeo shows this magnificent animal in an outdoor performance.) I would later learn, had just such a reputation and he did indeed almost float over the sand with his victory of throwing another cowboy off before the bell rang. No one else knew I was clapping to let the horse know how much I appreciated his performance.

The cowgirls rode by with their banners, for the advertisers, the clown told his silly jokes, and everyone waited for the last segment where the bulls are ridden bareback by foolish young men who are fearless, or appear to be. The announcer promised that this rider was "an all-American, top contender, 10th in the standings... " and before he could complete his spiel, the bull had taken his toll and the top contender was sitting on his bottom. So it went through about six or seven competitors and finally one was able to stay on for the entire twisting, turning, bumpy ride. I didn't know that even the bulls were scored on their reputation for delivering a tough performance and so each fellow who was able to stick it out earned his score based in part on the bull's abilities.

I ate too much kettle corn (a sweet and sour, lightly salted popcorn), drank too much watered-down soda and made a bad choice to eat some nachos with yellow liquid referred to as cheese, but it was suspected to be some pure industrial waste product, a prime-evil glue. The next day I was not hungry for anything.

While a short drive around the area was planned, again it was a rainy weekend so the views were almost as mono-tonal as the rodeo was monotonous. We passed the huge grain building that represents the community's focus on growing and several fertilizer plants. As the rodeo was over, we also saw a lot of animal transport trailers heading out of town.

The day journey included a drive to a nursery which brought me closer to the Table Rock outcropping which has several hiking trails nearby. The last time we only had time to shoot it as we drove by, but this time I was able to get out of the car, stabilize my shooting finger and get this nice view with the mustard flower in bloom.
From one area, off in the distance I could see the snow-covered old volcano referred to as Mt. McLaughlin, close to 10,ooo feet in height. If you look at the photo below, you might be able to see it yourself, just to the right of one telephone pole (closer) and to the left of the other one (farther away). It is just one very large earthly protrusion, standing all by itself. All in all a pleasant weekend, even with all the rain and clouds, and in spite of it not being quite as 'wild' as anticipated.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A ducky day

Finally a spot of sunshine! It being a holiday for most - hard to be 'holiday' minded when retired - we decided to drive to the harbor for bit of a walk after being cooped up inside. I forgot to bring any morsels of bread or crackers for entertainment, but it didn't matter. The birds were there and waiting nevertheless.

I'm a little late on the seagull-of-the-dayshot, but here is my contribution....
The surprise was that in the midst of plunking myself down on the pavement to get to eye level with the seagulls, a paired couple of mallards joined us and the female was quite unafraid and as you will see,
got very close to me - didn't even have to use the close-up feature on my pocket camera. I think she was even smiling... but then perhaps ducks do that on a regular basis. What was nice was that the sun had been out long enough to warm up the pavement a little... see the shadows under the birds?